After Ozzy Osbourne's supposed retirement with 1991's No More Tears, he decided to make a comeback, enlisting the services of a host of songwriters, and thus rendering Ozzmosis his most project-like offering of his career. The songs on this album were penned by a number of musicians, all with totally different backgrounds; and therefore, they sound quite unlike Osbourne's other solo records, both musically and sonically.
Ozzmosis is a sound cosmos primarily driven by producer Michael Beinhorn, known for his diverse work with artists like Red Hot Chili Peppers, Soul Asylum, Korn, and Soundgarden. While the album still involves the skills of Ozzy's long-time axeman Zakk Wylde, a good portion of his work has been treated to a more modern-conscious sound dynamic, often culminating in effect-laden passages. From the hugely successful power ballad "I Just Want You", co-written by Jim Vallance (Bryan Adams) to the more groovy "Thunder Underground", Wylde plays through an array of distorted sound collections, making it somewhat hard to discern his easily identifiable style. Still, the solo in the latter brilliantly demonstrates his trademark pinch harmonics and minor pentatonic scales squeezed into a brief interlude. Wylde does not get to play as many solos as he did on the previous albums, with one exception being the extended lead of "Denial", characterized by a multitude of processed vocal lines forming an internal dialogue and heavy dose of guitar synths and textures.
The bass guitar work of this album was actually done by various musicians, including original bassist Todd Jensen (Hardline) and James Lomenzo (White Lion). Although neither are credited in the booklet, some of the bass is very derivative of Lomenzo's work, particularly the stuff he dabbled with in Slash's Snakepit and Pride & Glory. It seems Geezer Butler pretty much just recorded over his work, adding in his own touch in the arrangements. The thick bass stomp of "See You on the Other Side", another power ballad whose lyrics were penned by Motorhead's Lemmy Kilmister, is wrung through a dense sound structure albeit sounding a tad too 80's for this album. Also on "Perry Mason", the bass arrangement is stunning, defined by a solid low end. Arguably the best song on this album, "Perry Mason" starts off with eerie keyboards courtesy of Rick Wakeman and erupts with an equally riveting chord progression amidst slamming drum and bass battery. There is even a phenomenal bass solo on this song, and Deen Castronovo's drumming is amazing.
John Purdell has contributed lyrics to several pieces, including the already mentioned "Perry Mason" and the somewhat overlooked "Tomorrow", engaging himself in lines such as "You don't have to leave the lights on | I'm so used to being blind", aptly matching the dark theme of the song. Ozzy's vocals are highly processed and there are unusual sound layerings built around a bass-heavy arrangement. It was definitely interesting to see Ozzy pushing the form of the envelope with this song.
Before Ozzy recorded Ozzmosis, he had grouped with guitar wizard Steve Vai for a project called X-Ray. The duo had written several songs, one of which was "My Little Man". However, rumours have it that the record company wasn't keen enough on those pieces, so they parted ways under the smokescreen that the label wasn't fully behind the group. With its heavy use of exotic scales and complex nature, "My Little Man" is the only piece that made it onto Ozzmosis, albeit sounding rather out of place. Another cut from these sessions was released on Vai's Fire Garden in instrumental form by the way.
The fact that the majority of the songs are either midtempo pieces or power ballads seems to have somewhat diluted the album's diversity. What's worse is on the pieces where Ozzy tries to venture into heavier territory, he falls short, best heard on "My Jekyll Doesn't Hide", a poor attempt at rocking out. Two tracks feature Zakk Wylde's more bluesy leanings, namely the piano ballad "Old L.A. Tonight", a good piece to close the album where acoustic guitars and blues-inflected licks embrace other; and "Ghost Behind My Eyes", another ballady tune with a melodious chorus.
Despite some raving reviews, Ozzmosis is not as strong an album as Ozzy's previous Wylde-era material, but it may indeed be his last record truly worth hearing.
- Perry Mason
- I Just Want You
- Ghost Behind My Eyes
- Thunder Underground
- See You on the Other Side
- My Little Man
- My Jekyll Doesn't Hide
- Old L.A. Tonight