OZZY OSBOURNE — Down To Earth (review)

OZZY OSBOURNE — Down To Earth album cover Album · 2001 · Heavy Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
4/5 ·
siLLy puPPy
OZZY OSBOURNE had every intention of retiring after the “No More Tours” era of the early 90s but his restless spirit couldn’t kick the heavy metal habit and ended up recording another album, “Ozzmosis” in 1995 which would cement his status as metal god in the alternative 90s. Soon thereafter that release, he and his wife Sharon had organized a totally new event called the Ozzfest Tour which was loosely based on Perry Farrell’s (of Jane’s Addiction) successful Lallapolooza tours. The event took place annually and hosted two stages and a dozen or so different bands. The festivals turned out to be a huge success which led OZZY to focus on constant live settings instead of releasing new material.

By the turn of the millennium his record label Epic was demanding a new product, so back into the studios once again to record new material which emerged with his first 21st century album DOWN TO EARTH, the first album in six years. Another lineup change in the process with only Zakk Wylde returning from past glories. The new OZZY lineup would consist of bassist Robert Trujillo (Suicidal Tendencies, Infectious Grooves, Metallica) and drummer Mike Bordin, most famous from Faith No More. While not official members of the band, producer Tim Palmer added extra guitars, keyboards and military drums (on “Can You Hear Them?”) as well as Michael Railo helping out with keyboards as well.

It seems that OZZY had never had a more relaxed and stable period in his life where everything was running smoothly. He had the festival tours in his blood at this point and an army of collaborators to assist in the songwriting process, which was a wise decision to employ their talents because DOWN TO EARTH contains eleven strong heavy metal anthems in the vein of OZZY’s classic 80s metal spirit but yet exuded a strong 90s vibe such as the White Zombie heavy stomp heft on the heaviest tracks as well as the industrial synthesizer action that oozes out of the background between the cracks in the heavy metal bombast. It also seems that OZZY’s rekindling of Black Sabbath has rubbed off as well as many of the tracks have that old school early metal feel with crunchy fifth root chords chugging along like demons on ecstasy.

DOWN TO EARTH finds OZZY in a great spirit lyrically as well. His poetic lyrics propound the usual subject matter ranging from rough times in life to drug influenced experiences albeit from the point of the observer instead of the user. The tracks are all quite catchy and the true addiction is in the form of great tunes that have favorable solid melodies exquisitely performed by the top notch musicians on board. As usual there are even a few ballads such as “Dreamer” and “Running Out Of Time,” but at this point even the slow numbers are quite sophisticated in their orchestration and dynamics with clever arrangements and an alternative rock swagger. OZZY truly found a way to adapt with grace into the new world all the while retaining his timeless sense of godfather of metal status.

I have to admit that DOWN TO EARTH is one that didn’t grab me upon first listen. In fact i pretty much shelved it for several years before giving it another spin. This is not balls to the wall heavy metal in full madman status rather this is a contemplative collection of well-crafted tunes that stitch together various aspects of OZZY’s career and add a few modern ingredients into the mix which yields a rather excellent batch of heavy rockers and sweet syrupy ballads. OZZY’s voice seems even more controlled and relaxed on this one not to mention that the evil as fuck album cover which is one of the best in his canon. DOWN TO EARTH may not be one that blows you away upon first listen and one would surely expect something grand from the godfather at this point but what we get is that at all but rather an incredibly consistent collection of top crafted heavy metal tracks that only got lost in the shuffle because of the preponderance of newer metal acts that were stealing OZZY’s thunder at this point. Still though, not one to be missed.
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