Roadshows

Bark at the goon
Ozzy Osbourne's not a man of his word. A couple of years ago, the former Black Sabbath frontman announced his retirement. The world yawned, and it was just as well. His day had come and gone, his demon-metal shtick gone to hell and then some. Whatever power he conveyed during his days in Black Sabbath--one of the most overrated metal bands of the early '70s, their anti-establishmentarian posing obscured by sci-fi and horror-film references--had long since been drained by too many mediocre lite-metal records (The Ultimate Sin, Blizzard of Ozz, No Rest for the Wicked, No More Tears) and too many on- and offstage antics that rendered him a self-parody. Forget urinating on the Alamo or biting heads off chickens. Did you ever hear that duet with Lita Ford? Ozzy ain't nothing but Elton John with a better toupee.

The Gizzard of Ozz is back with a new record (Ozzmosis--boy, is he clever) and a new tour with the purveyors of lite-death-metal, Korn. This isn't AC/DC returned from the grave with the help of Rick Rubin, but Ozzy in prime form--faux classical interludes interspersed with Zakk Wylde's generic metal guitar, songs about how Ozz isn't the "black messiah" and "the son of Christ" but is "the mutant child of a twisted state," lots of ghosts, lots of demons, lots of songs about insanity and violence and genocide and God; there's even a song about Perry Mason. Of course, things being what they are in these lowbrow, no-taste times, Ozzmosis debuted on the Billboard charts at No. 4, a sign of the Apocalypse as predicted in the Book of Revelation.

There's nothing worse than a "demon child" who comes off as nothing so much as goofy. Ozzy is too obvious and predictable, washed-up ever since his guitarist and sidekick Randy Rhodes beat him in their race to the great unknown. He's an icon coasting on a reputation built by a bloated band that sounded as though they were standing at the edge of the apocalypse. Sabbath, for all its pretensions and posturing, was about the sum of its parts--the crunch behind the vocals, the bombast and doomsaying, the enormity of its sound; Ozzy as a solo artist is nothing but a David Lee Roth--a caricature, a clown, a clichŽ sprung from the refuse of another era. It's been a long time since Ozzy had anything to say and said it with any conviction; even "Suicide Solution" and "Crazy Train" are nothing but Randy Rhodes riffs piled atop the dumbest lyrics since Ozzy sang about "Fairies in Boots" back with the Sabbath.

Ozzy Osbourne performs January 4 at Reunion Arena. Korn opens.
--Robert Wilonsky

 
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