I was really tempted to think of Ozzy as an anachronism by 1988, as metal had changed one hell of a lot in the last 20 years. But the opening intensity of the guitar gave me hope that maybe he wasn’t! Then that talk box kicked in, and I wasn’t so sure.
The first half of this record is heavier than I was expecting. There’s at least some attempt to acknowledge NWOBHM and even the teensiest hint of thrash, through Wylde’s playing. I might be going to great lengths to stress how relatively modern this sounds given how conservative it sounds, but I do think there’s at least an attempt by Ozzy’s guitarist to sound contemporary. But the drummer is just a drummer and, worse, sometimes his drums are given the ’80s treatment, meaning that they do not sound metal enough – rather they sound poppy. Then there’s Ozzy himself, who definitely sounds like Ozzy, and cannot do any of the things we’ve come to expect from metal sings in the ’80s. But, I still think the first side and part of the second side is decent enough for an old man making metal. It’s better than hair metal is what I think I’m trying to say.
The problem for me is the presence of the ballads and the sequencing of said ballads. They are at the back of the record and so whatever impression the early tracks make on you is exhausted by these ballads which are, well, poorer, ’80s versions of “Changes.” And I don’t like “Changes” at all.
The lyrics are also not great, as you would imagine, given that this is Ozzy (and metal). But that’s far from my biggest problem. (Remind me again why Ozzy gets royalties when he doesn’t write his own lyrics?)
There was so much better metal that existed in 1988, I just can’t come up with a reason why anyone should listen to this over metal being made by younger people.