Sound — 7
Ozzy Osbourne has become as much a reality show icon as a heavy metal trailblazer since the early 2000's, so it's always interesting (and a little nerve-wracking) to hear what musical direction the Prince of Darkness is about to take particularly at the age of 61. The most notable transition that Osbourne has made for his 10th studio album Scream is replacing his right-hand man Zakk Wylde with Firewind guitarist Gus G. Although one might assume that the seamless technical work of Gus G might alter the overall sound of Ozzy, Scream actually is still actually on par with a good deal of the frontman's contemporary work with Wylde. In the end Scream seems to be the brainchild of writer/producer Kevin Churko (the man also responsible for 2007's Black Rain), and he does stick with a fairly tried-and-true musical formula. If there is one standout aspect of Scream, it's the fact that Ozzy's vocal ability is still eerily consistent with his past work. Some singers' style/strength wanes as the decades pass, but Ozzy impresses time after time. Churko's songwriting suitably fits Ozzy's style, but in the same breath it never feels overly inspired. Some material on Scream specifically Let Me Hear You Scream and I Want More does feel a bit cookie cutter in its approach. The choruses are most definitely hummable and you can be guaranteed that radio DJs will churn them out regularly, and in reality that's not the worst thing in the world. For Ozzy, a cornerstone of metal, you just wish for something a bit more. Scream does contain standout tracks that evoke old school Ozzy. Soul Sucker, with a sludgy guitar riff and generally ominous sound, is without a doubt the best track on the CD. The sinister, playfully evil Latimer's Mercy could go toe-to-toe with plenty of Ozzy's material from the 1980's or early 1990's. Gus G, who slings out plenty of riffage, does an excellent job of never alienating the fans who may have been offended by Ozzy and wife's decision to replace Wylde. There is little to complain about with the guitars in general, with Soul Sucker actually sounding like it could be the product of a Black Label Society songwriting session.
Lyrics — 9
With the exception of songs like Latimer's Mercy or Soul Sucker, Scream rarely delves into traditionally darker themes. The Ozzy of 2010 instead opts to reflect on dishonesty in religious leaders (Crucify), spirituality in general (Diggin' Me Down), and living life to the fullest (Life Won't Wait, Time). While it's easy to pine for a bit more wickedness, reality shows and the passing of time really no longer makes that a viable option. The most cryptic (and brief) lyrical content arrives in the final track I Love You All. Ozzy basically conveys what the title suggests, sending a big thank-you to his dedicated fans as his musical career winds down.
Overall Impression — 8
It's difficult not to yearn for the darker side of Ozzy, and Scream satisfies that need occasionally. Diggin' Me Down features a riff that is derivative of Black Sabbath and Soul Sucker certainly fits the bill musically and lyrically. The CD is heavy on Ozzy's more pensive side, which is likely more fitting for the man at this stage in the game anyway. Scream does top the material heard on Black Rain, but it still seems to get caught up in the Billboard singles game.