Black Rain Review

I’ve meant to write this for awhile, but I haven’t found the time until now. Here’s my review of Ozzy Osbourne’s latest studio disc, “Black Rain”:
Not Going Away: A nice chugging slow to medium tempo song. Lyrically it kind of makes me feel like a sister song to “Gets me Through” from his last album. I think it’s a good album opener. The sequence with different repeated “I’m not going away” lyrics at 3:15 sounds like something from a Marilyn Manson album, actually. It is plauged though with the Zakk Wydle “Wah wah” effect that we’ve been hearing since 1988. I like Zakk. I think he’s a great guitarist for Ozzy. However, that “wah wah” sound needs to go. It’s in a ton of his songs. I was going to count them in this song, but gave up after a bit. The first two of this effect appear at 0:23 & 0:34 of the song. This is more a general remark about Zakk than about this particular song.
I Don’t Wanna Stop: The first single. This took some flak from some folks online about not being “Ozzy” enough. I’m not sure what the heck that means. This song is plagued even more with Zakk’s “Wah wah” (0:38, 0:43. 1:25, 1:33 to start) than the last song. It’s not the most imaginative song, but it’s not a pile of suck that some people like Eddie Trunk have made it out to be. It actually now that I think about it also lyrically related to Not Going Away and “Gets Me Through”. Probably the most “single” feeling of any of the songs. This song has also turned up as a free video download from Xbox 360’s Marketplace. It’s also on the soundtrack for the videogame Madden NFL 08. I also love the bass intro that starts off the song.
Black Rain: Starts off with a harmonica. I wonder if that’s Ozzy playing that. Not quite like the old Sab track “The Wizard”, but a surprise to hear that on a modern Ozzy tune. This song is about oil, and the casualties of humans the oil has caused as far as I can tell. I’ve also read rumours that the album’s cover art which is about “Black Rain” is why the US version has no good cover art, and is just a paper sleeve, although I don’t know how true that is. But as a song, it works. It’s not a terribly complex song. It’s got some pretty simple musical lines, but it seems to work well enough for me.
Lay Your World On Me: I’ve seen a few reviews of this album that rag on this for being a slow emotional, ballady song. Uh, do these people know of Ozzy’s history? Slow Down, Sabbath’s Changes? He’s been doing songs like this since 1972. In a post “Osbournes TV show” era, I guess these kind of things make him seem like an easier target. For that reason I dislike when people rag on him just because it’s an emotional ballad song. Now the song itself doesn’t do much for me. It might be my least favorite, but not jus because it’s a ballad. I just don’t care for the tune much at all.
The Almighty Dollar: The longest track on the album by time (just a few seconds under 7 minutes). An ironic choice for an Ozzy track, as both he and his wife are masters at generating that. But that’s a bitch for another time. This has an odd bass intro that doesn’t sound like it would have existed on earlier Ozzy solo material, and DEFINITELY not on a Sabbath track. Then the bass intro keeps going for the first minute of the song before much else happens. An oddly constructed song. The bass intro seems to not match the style of the “main part” of the song. Ozzy’s vocal delivery on this song seems to be all over the place – parts of it seem like “screaming”. Not one of my favorites. It’s not bad, and I don’t skip it when it comes on, but not one of my favorites outside of the rather “funky” bass line in the intro. It just never seems to “get going” for me despite it being the longest song on the album.
11 Silver: According to interviews, this song is about crystal meth addiction. It’s also a nice faster paced song, and shows why Zakk is a good guitarist. He’s much better than that “wah wah” drivel I posted about further up. One of the better tracks, although I have a harder time following the lyrics than others. I’m writing this as I’m listening to the song, and to be honest, as much as I like it I’m having a hard time thinking of much to say beyond “good song!”. I do like the combination of the guitar riff and the bass track. They are mixed very well together in this song. Like it a lot.
Civilize the Universe: Another track with a bass line that stands out more than usual. You know it seems to be a theme with this album. I wonder if that’s due to the bassist himself, or if it’s due to the way the album was mixed. Don’t know – I’m not THAT analytical about my music. I just enjoy it. Another song where the effect of using multiple vocal tracks at the same time works very well. I like this one a lot, even if I have no clue what the heck it is about. :)
Here for You: The second ballad on the album. This one has more of a classic piano sound. It feels like a spiritual successor to the aforementioned “So Tired”. It’s a bit better than Lay Your World was, but it doesn’t do much for me, actually. Two ballads on this album, and they’re both strikeouts with me. But I don’t dislike his ballads. These just don’t do anything for me, although this one is better than the other one.
Countdown’s Begun: One of the better tracks on the album. I like the simpler guitar intro to the song. Has a nice basic feel, but the song gets going pretty quickly after that. Has a nice good basic riff that drives the bulk of the song. I enjoyed this a lot.
Trap Door: The basic album ends here. This is the last track on the “Regular” version of Black Rain. And wow – is it a great track to end the album with. Trap Door may very well be my favorite song on the album. I like everything about this. The speed, the lyrics, the guitar, the vocal delivery, etc.. This is a very VERY enjoyable song for me. “Nice and crunchy”.
And now we get into the “extra” tracks. There were three extras which are/were available for this album. I know WHY these things are done, but they generally piss off fans, as the majority of people can’t legally get all these songs. Anyway:
Nightmare: Nightmare is available in two places. You can get it on the Japanese version of the CD. You can also get it as a bonus track if you buy the album from iTunes. It starts off with a slow keyboard intro, but doesn’t stay there, so the intro is somewhat misleading as to what the song is really like. The song doesn’t do much for me. It’s kind of bland. Wouldn’t have bothered me if I didn’t get it. It’s another of those songs that isn’t really “bad”, but I just don’t care for it.
Love to Hate: Love to Hate is probably the hardest of the three to get. It was only available to folks who pre-ordered Black Rain from iTunes. That’s it. It’s not anywhere else. If you go to buy the album after it was released, this track was not there anymore, so I expect this one will get pirated pretty good. Stupid decision. The song itself is quite good. In fact, I think it’s the best of the three bonus tracks. Nice guitar riff. Nice vocal delivery by Ozzy. Shame most people won’t ever get to hear this one.
I Can’t Save You: The other exclusive track is available in two places. It’s on the Japanese CD, and it’s also a digital exclusive to MSN Europe. MSN Music in the US doesn’t have the track, and I’ve already tried faking out the system to get the track, and I couldn’t. Zakk’s “wah wah” resurfaces on another track. It’s a good track though. I can’t find anything particularly exciting to write about it, but the chorus is fairly catchy.
I think I’ll do with these bonus tracks on my ripped version on my HD that I do with albums that have these bonus tracks on them; rearrange the song order. For me, the Black Sabbath album Forbidden ends perfectly with the song “Kiss of Death”. Tony Iommi’s “Fused” album also ends perfectly with the track “I Go Insane”, but the extra tracks change the feel of the album. To me, “Trap Door” is a great album ending, so that should be the 13th track. :) I’ll probably stick these extras before Countdown’s Begun. But I digress.
Despite my gaggle of negative remarks above, they’re really just nitpicks. This is a great solid album. Only really one track I don’t care for. I’ve seen it read where folks say this is Ozzy’s best studio album in quite a few. Now I personally liked Down to Earth. I like Black Rain a lot. To be honest, after “The Osbournes”, I wondered how relevant Ozzy would be given his descent from Rock icon into bumbling old fart (as portrayed on the show). Good thing that wasn’t true, as he certainly can still make a decent rock record.

Go buy it. It’s a good album, if it has a weird cover art choice for the US.

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