Ozzy Osbourne : Down To Earth

Sabbath star's ill advised solo sojourn

We join Ozzy Osbourne, metal colossus and ghoulish bon viveur, gazing through the window, wondering whether Mother Earth will survive. That's 'Dreamer', a Beatles-y eco-ballad. On 'No Easy Way Out', there's a mantra-like middle-eight that sounds like Ian Brown.

Legends should rarely be let off the leash, and few need tying down so much as Ozzy Osbourne. His old band, Black Sabbath, invented metal, and - thanks to the able machinations of his manager and wife - he still supervises its course through the Ozzfest tour. Ozzy himself, however, has always been prone to sentiment and finger-wagging - all of which fill his several dozen solo albums. These were all underscored by nods to whichever style of metal was in vogue at the time. There's a poodle period, of course. But thankfully, no rappers.

This year, the riffs stagger under a hundredweight of fashionable heaviosity.

But they can't disguise a soft heart: "I'm not the Antichrist or the Iron Man",

Oz mopes on 'Gets Me Through', and you want to give him a cuddle. Ozzy's always protested that the Sabs' dark anthems were cautions against Satan, and so 'Down To Earth' is a album of dire warning, against madness, addiction, hatred and letting the Godfather of Metal into a studio unsupervised.

Kitty Empire

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