Ozzy Osbourne Black Rain

The Ozzman didn’t cometh. After six years of relative incoherency and deflating his stature as someone evil to be reckoned with, expecting Osbourne’s latest disc to deliver anything other than diminishing returns is about as worthwhile as multiplying zeroes and hoping for substance. However, the level of mediocrity this onslaught sinks to is still shocking. The almost dozen tracks here are about as memorable as, well, what can Ozzy remember? Sounding decidedly clear vocally and musically, Black Rain is, however, another technical dream. Zakk Wylde’s guitar rings true and clear, as do Mike Bordin’s drums; it’s just a shame that they were forced to contribute to such limp affairs. These flat, predictable rock songs seem as if they were penned in the washroom five minutes before recording. "Not Going Away,” "I Don’t Wanna Stop” and the embarrassingly hypocritical "The Almighty Dollar” rant about Ozzy’s refusal to quit and his greed. That’s not exactly rockin’ territory anymore. Presuming his audience has aged as poorly, this banal romp through mid-tempo riffs that barely qualify as hard, let alone as heavy or metal, should appeal to the broad base relegated to a diet of prune juice and split pea soup. Everyone else will find it lacking… everything. No one was expecting a return to Diary Of A Madman but a little madness other than the onset of senility would have been appreciated. (Sony BMG)