The metal icon invites some heavy players to a raging rock party with a polish.
No one would ever accuse Ozzy Osbourne of being an Ordinary Man. Biting the head of a bat, pissing on the Alamo, and stirring up the reality TV swamp doesn’t equate to a normal lifestyle. The music has always been the grounding constant. And as Ozzy takes on Parkinson’s and leaves the road on the back burner, it couldn’t be more vital to his being.
Ordinary Man, his 12th studio effort, finds the madman wrestling demons and the leeches of society in a new light. Standing strong while the chaos churns around him, that’s how this album feels, in its highest and flattest moments.
“Heaven can take me, but no one can save me from hell again. You’ll never erase me, I’m back on the road again. – “All My Life”
Those are dark and reflective words of a man looking to the unknown after all he’s seen: the fate of the great beyond is nothing to what he’s had to go through on this Earth.
He still has that sinister smile plastered on his face, though.
Ozzy may attempt reconciling his mistakes and mortality, but he doesn’t abandon his atypical batshit attitude about life.
Lead single “Under the Graveyard” has Ozzy taking stock of the fact that he can’t seem to find reality. A staggered drum beat emphasizes his plea as he howls into the moonlight and calls to a new sound.
Producer Andrew Watt has worked with a slew of pop and rap artists like 5 Seconds of Summer, Cardi B, and, most recently, Post Malone. He helps polish up Ozzy’s sadistic sadness and madness, but almost to the point where it’s hard to decipher the tracks from one another. The lyrics become slightly buried by the similar tones.
Luckily, Ozzy has some killer backup musicians to lift him up. Not your typical session players, though. Drummer Chad Smith (Red Hot Chili Peppers) and bassist Duff McKagan (Guns N’ Roses) predominately feature among other star collaborations.
Ozzy’s duo with Elton John on the title track feels reminiscent of the sound of his idol, John Lennon, giving him his own Beatle-worthy ballad. Elton adds soul to cut through the cheesy lyrics.
One of the standout tracks of the album, “Scary Little Green Men,” even features a surprise guitar spot from Tom Morello. He adds some nice outer rim touches to the heavy hair-raiser.
The best collaboration off Ordinary Man, however, lies in “Take What You Want.” Joining rappers Post Malone and Travis Scott, Ozzy aptly fills the goth godfather spot. It’s a surprising success that gives him his best song in years, and street cred to boot.
There are times when the over production of the record works in its favor. “Today Is The End” is a fuzz fest of guitar effects and voice distortion. But with “It’s A Raid” (feat. Post Malone), it feels like a bad, fast carnival ride. The edginess falls flat.
In between the soft and saturated, Ozzy manages to keep one eye on the past, and one on the future. He’s viewing his timeline with feelings of angst, anger, and intrigue.
Everything is a part of him: the good and the bad. And underneath it all, Ozzy just wants to be viewed as another Ordinary Man when the curtain calls, even if he’s anything but.