How Ozzy Osbourne Bounced Back With ‘Scream’
Ozzy Osbourne capped what can only be described as an interesting decade of personal and creative endeavors on June 22, 2010 with the release of his 11th studio album. Scream helped put the focus of the beloved singer’s career back where it should be — on music.
For much of the ‘00s, Osbourne’s exploits had included a diverse and often confusing blend of reality TV (MTV’s The Osbournes), sporadic solo projects (2001’s Down to Earth, 2007’s Black Rain) and opportunistic stocking-stuffers (2005’s Prince of Darkness box and Under Cover album), framed by increasingly infrequent touring with his namesake Ozzfest extravaganza.
Osbourne persistently refused to reunite with Black Sabbath for recording purposes – despite occasional, wildly acclaimed touring revivals. That finally pushed former bandmates Tony Iommi and Geezer Butler to launch the competing Heaven and Hell with Ronnie James Dio and drummer Vinnie Appice. The result was 2009’s well-received The Devil You Know album.
So it can’t be entirely coincidental that Osbourne finally found the motivation to start preparing another solo album (initially to be named Soul Sucka, until fans voiced their dislike of the title) later the same year. Nor that he proceeded to shake things up for the resulting Scream.
The project brought back Black Rain producer Kevin Churko and bassist Rob ‘Blasko’ Nicholson, while adding key new arrivals in keyboard player Adam Wakeman (son of Yes legend Rick) and, for the first time in over 20 years, a guitarist other than Zakk Wylde in Greek-born Gus G.
Listen to Ozzy Osbourne's 'Let It Die'
These shake-ups contributed to perhaps the most daring modernization of Ozzy’s signature sound since – well, forever. An almost industrialized blend of guitars and keys was revealed by Scream’s opening number, “Let It Die,” where Ozzy also shocked quite a few fans by essentially rapping his way through his melodies and lyrics.
Somewhat less jarring to the system, the first single, “Let Me Hear You Scream,” transformed Ozzy’s favorite in-concert catchphrase into a neat little package, marked by an unusually gravely vocal delivery from the Ozzman and a high-budget music video. And then the plodding “Soul Sucker” set up the album’s semi-power ballad entry in “Life Won’t Wait,” which thankfully transcended what at first seemed like a “Mama I’m Coming Home” rehash with rousing metallic bombast.
Next up, “Diggin’ Me Down” boasted a moody, classically-inspired introduction courtesy of Gus G., and an ensuing, bravura performance that really showcased the former Firewind and Dream Evil guitarist’s incredible talents. For its part, “Crucify” gave Wakeman a chance to show his chops ahead of less impressive, additional headbangers like “Fearless,” “I Want More” and the intriguingly named “Latimer’s Mercy,” which came interspersed with the surprising, Beatles-esque melodies of “Time” and short and sweet parting shot of “I Love You All.”
Upon release, Scream quickly climbed to No. 4 in the U.S., No. 12 in the U.K., and charted in dozens of other countries, backed by an aggressive promotional campaign including song placements in video games, movies and TV, most notably the highly rated police drama, CSI: NY. In tandem with the very successful Scream world tour, all this clearly proved that demand for Ozzy Osbourne, the solo artist, had hardly waned during his assorted dalliances into other pursuits.
Pursuits that would soon include that long awaited Black Sabbath reunion (sans drummer Bill Ward) for 2013’s 13 album and its ensuing tour; but who would bet against another Ozzy solo album in years to come?
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