Ozzy Osbourne released his last studio album six years ago, and it's been even longer since he released one that was half-decent. While previous albums such as Down To Earth were good they weren't earth-shattering and lacked one main ingredient, passion. It was almost as if Ozzy was going through the motions without feeling anything. Black Rain sees Ozzy return to form, bringing forth an album that is worthy of his title of Godfather of Metal.
He throws down the gauntlet with the first three tracks, “Not Going Away”, “I Don’t Wanna Stop” and “Black Rain”. With stomping beats and snarling vocals, the songs reflect Ozzy’s anger and mistrust at the world. His delivery is not only powerful but has clarity, and more importantly, the lyrics actually make sense.
Produced by Ozzy and Kevin Churko, Black Rain has been finely crafted and manipulated to enhance the Prince of Darkness’ voice without taking anything away from it. It’s not uncommon for Producers to tweak musicians work, and the only real fault on this album, is that sometimes Ozzy’s voice sounds too enhanced. “Not Going Away” clearly indicates this. While the growling effect produced in the chorus is pure Metal, no one can actually believe that it’s Ozzy’s natural voice. He doesn’t have the vocal range to produce such a guttural sound.
Ozzy’s decision to use his touring band-Guitarist Zakk Wylde, Bassist Rob “Blasko” Nicholson and Drummer Mike Bordin, may have been a safe move, but it was also a wise one. He has managed to avoid the pitfalls of session musicians, by using musicians who are aware of his strengths and weaknesses, as well as their own. In doing so, he has produced songs that are performed with a familiarity and smoothness, that may not have been achieved quite as effectively if he had used hired guns.
Zakk Wylde co-wrote eight of the 10 tracks, and adds his own signature that is pure Wylde. In the past he has been more of a hired gun, that has produced some fairly decent solos. But they have been performed emotionlessly, almost in a mechanic style precision. Like Ozzy, it was as if he was going through the motions on previous albums.
On Black Rain he has been given more freedom to explore his own abilities. While his music style has not changed and his solos aren’t that much different, they impact more heavily on the album. There is an added depth to his guitar playing, and he produces some blistering fretboard solos especially on "Not Going Away", "Almighty Dollar" and "11 Silver"