ALBUM REVIEW: Patient Number 9 (OZZY OSBOURNE)
ALBUM Patient Number 9 // ARTIST Ozzy Osbourne
Ozzy Osbourne is the name, and immortality is the game on the Prince of Darkness's lucky number 13 solo album Patient Number 9 which officially dropped today via Epic Records and Sony Music.
With 13 tracks on album #13 lying in wait alongside a star-studded lineup of guests, heavy metal overlord Ozzy Osbourne has once again emerged to remind us all that his is a legacy that can hardly be matched with the release of his new album Patient Number 9. Still brandishing his love for the occult and grandiose rock'n'roll, Osbourne's 2022 iteration is one laden with ravishing solos, bombastic arrangements and an ever-growing epicentre of immortality and death. Teaming up once again with prolific guitarist-turned-producer Andrew Watt, whose production work alone includes Elton John and Eddie Vedder, Osbourne has come out guitars and guns blazing alongside a sweltering who's who of the musical world - including a particularly poignant inclusion of Black Sabbath's co-founder Tony Iommi on two of the album's tracks. While some may query if they need another Ozzy Osbourne album in their lives in 2022, there's a significant and refreshing showing of focus, passion and engrossing vigor from the Prince of Darkness on his latest solo venture. A vulnerable and hard-hitting release, Patient Number 9 is ultimately equally a star-studded vehicle as much as it's a declaration of Osbourne's otherworldly ability to retain relevance and elements of innovation after over 50 years in the game.
Lead single and title track Patient Number 9 opens proceedings with a blistering feature from axe-man Jeff Beck, relishing in pure 1980s metal arcs that are entirely at home for Osbourne's 80s trailblazing ways. Clocking in at just shy of seven and a half minutes, Patient Number 9's opener leers with glitter and grime before emerging with the swagger of Immortal, bustling with roof-raising rock, a sharp feature from Pearl Jam guitarist Mike McCready and the iconic declaration from Osbourne himself: "I'll never die because I'm immortal". The notion of cheating death has likely never sounded quite so fun, and it's a sentiment that resoundingly pops up again throughout the album.
Subtlety never has been on the Osbourne menu, and the interlocking themes of death amongst sizzling riffage and thunderous beats ring particularly harder largely due to Osbourne's recent personal health battles. From tongue-in-cheek frivolity (including Osbourne declaring "I like worms" in his signature British drawl at the end of Parasite), to woozy, swooning vocals (No Escape), creamy wah pedal glee (One of Those Days) and Osbourne gifting some orchestral Beatles-esque magic (A Thousand Shades), Patient Number 9 equally trades in soaring arrangements alongside lyricism at times centred around mental and physical health, with the particularly poignant Evil Shuffle hinting at Osbourne's own battle with Parkinson's disease. Toying with modern elements here and there, Patient Number 9 ultimately knows and drills down on its overarching strengths, notably Osbourne's vintage pop metal wiles, occasional moments of Black Sabbath sludge, and plenty of stadium-filling chaos to delight rock'n'roll fans of all ages.
Despite the insane firepower flexed throughout the album, including appearances from Zakk Wylde, Eric Clapton, Chad Smith, Robert Trujillo, Duff McKagan, Chris Chaney and the late, great Taylor Hawkins, Osbourne never lets proceedings get too grandiose or out of hand; sure, the choruses and riffs are big and bad enough to rattle the soul of your future grandchildren, but there's a significant harmony between the bolder moments and the root of the album itself, namely Osbourne's trademark vocals and his compelling vulnerability against a backdrop of familar-yet-fresh ideas. And just when you think you've heard it all, along comes closing track God Only Knows (not counting the bluesy outro DARKSIDE BLUES), which offers up the most emphatic Osbourne ballad seen in a good few years. Tinged with a bittersweet sense of finality, the occasional Osbourne chuckle and lyrics declaring "God only knows what's going on/ My life has become the saddest song / Better to burn in hell than fade away", God Only Knows swelters with world-weariness and steady grooves, marking a fitting closure to the rollercoaster of rock that has come before it.
With each recent release, there's been a perpetual question mark on whether "this" will be Osbourne's last musical adventure. On Patient Number 9, there's no denying that Osbourne has inwardly faced some of his own demons and sense of mortality without sacrificing his iconic ways; in fact, it's on Patient Number 9 that Osbourne delivers one of his best vocal outings of recent memory, while clearly reveling in an undying lust for his craft and his fellow creators. Osbourne's ongoing and burgeoning team-up with Watt firmly helming production is an undeniable highlight for album #13, and while Patient Number 9 may not be a total game-changer for the rock'n'roll genre, it's ultimately Ozzy Osbourne doing what Ozzy Osbourne does: kicking ass and taking names, and making it sound effortlessly spectacular along the way. The Prince of Darkness rides again on Patient Number 9, and it's a regal adventure from start to finish courtesy of a once-in-a-lifetime talent (and some prodigious friends).
OZZY OSBOURNE'S NEW ALBUM PATIENT NUMBER 9 IS OUT NOW VIA EPIC RECORDS & SONY MUSIC.
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BY TIANA SPETER