Heavy-metal godfather at work on follow-up to ‘lazy’ 1995 LP.

NEW YORK _ Ozzy Osbourne’s last release, 1995’s Ozzmosis, was "a lazy record," the heavy-metal godfather admits, so he’s aiming to top it with a diverse new album that will combine epic songwriting with his signature hard rock and power ballads.

The as-yet-untitled album still is in its early stages, Osbourne said, but he hopes to give fans a taste of some new songs during his headlining performances on this year’s Ozzfest tour, which begins July 2 in Palm Beach, Fla.

"I’ve got a bunch of ideas, and I’ve got a couple of semi-finished songs done _ about four or five," Osbourne said last month, relaxing on a couch in his Manhattan hotel suite. "We’ve been writing tons of riffs."

Osbourne and his band are expected to begin recording the album shortly after Ozzfest ends in early September, said Eddie Williamson, a spokesperson for the singer’s management company. The album likely will be released this winter, he said.

Osbourne said he and his touring band _ guitarist Joe Holmes, bassist Robert Trujillo and new drummer Roy Mayorga _ had just finished a demo for a new song earmarked for the album, an uptempo rocker called "The Junkie."

The 51-year-old rocker, with hair almost supernaturally full and dark and face remarkably unlined, was genial and earnest as he discussed his plans for the album. Despite his dark image and his much-discussed penchant for chomping on live animals, Osbourne was hardly a foreboding presence. He wore black leather but eschewed his usual John Lennon-style sunglasses.

"I hope to rock," he said. "I always like to do an album with a rocker, a ballad, an epic track _ a good start-to-finish album. I like to have variety. I like it to be a journey."

Osbourne puffed on a cigarette as he expressed dissatisfaction with Ozzmosis, which included the single "See You on the Other Side." "It was a pretty good album, but it lacked a little bit of emotion _ it seemed to be a lazy record," he said.

Williamson said he was impressed with the demos he’d heard of Osbourne’s new material. "It sounds great. It really is full of energy. Ozzy hasn’t recorded a record in five years, so it sounds really fresh. He has great melodies bouncing around in his head just waiting to get out."

Last year Osbourne finished the final leg of a reunion tour with his legendary band Black Sabbath. In 1998 the tour spawned a live album, Reunion, which included performances of such Sabbath classics as "Iron Man" (RealAudio excerpt) and "War Pigs" (RealAudio excerpt).

Though the tour was billed as the band’s last, Osbourne didn’t rule out future collaborations with the group. "I may end up doing some more with them, but there aren’t any plans for the immediate future," he said.

Sabbath also performed as part of last year’s Ozzfest tour, which this year will feature Pantera, Monster Magnet, Kittie, Static-X and Godsmack, among others.

Osbourne, who began his solo career with 1980’s Blizzard of Oz, founded Ozzfest in 1996.

(This story originally appeared online here)