Black Sabbath: Paranoid Classic Albums DVD

It’s been said that Black Sabbath’s landmark Paranoid album spawned the genre of heavy metal, and if you watch this awesome video from Eagle Rock Entertainment, you can see why.  The four members of Black Sabbath – Ozzy Osbourne, Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler and Bill Ward -created music their own way, and it was a powerful sound that appealed to stoners and those craving stuff equal to or heavier than Led Zeppelin.  The band also appealed to the masses who were protesting the Vietnam War in 1970, because making music that went against the grain was something these folks could relate to.  But this DVD is just outstanding in that every member of Black Sabbath is interviewed, as well as folks like sound engineer Tom Allom and long-time fan and recording artist Henry Rollins.  There is awesome archived footage of the band playing live, and detailed descriptions of how each song on Paranoid was written or how it began.  Fans of Black Sabbath, or anyone who is too young to remember them but curious, should all grab this DVD, because not only is it a history lesson, it’s a lesson on how music should be made – with the artist driving the proverbial bus.  (Eagle Vision 2010)


Ozzy Osbourne: Scream

RIYL: Dio, Motorhead, Judas Priest

It’s sad that when Ozzy’s popularity in the public consciousness was probably at an all-time peak with the success of “The Osbournes” in the early ’00s his music was at a creative nadir. His 2001 effort, Down to Earth, was absolutely forgettable and his 2007 album Black Rain was a boring mess. Metal heads had to wonder, did life as a TV dad mellow out everyone’s favorite prince of darkness?

Not anymore. Ozzy is back with a vengeance on Scream, his first consistent, energetic and flat-out great release since No More Tears. With Gus G. from Firewind replacing the stalwart Zakk Wylde on guitars, Ozzy sounds more energized and ready to rock than he has in decades. Whether he’s calling for you to pound your fist and scream your brains out in the aptly titled “Let Me Hear You Scream” or proclaiming his own epic awesomeness in “Fearless” or “I Want It More,” Ozzy’s trademark howl and delivery sound as good (if a little lower in key) than ever. He’s even managed to bring back some of his sinister creepiness on tracks like “I Want It More” and “Crucify,” a shocking feat considering that most Americans’ iconic image of Ozzy is no longer him biting the head off a bat but instead having a hard time getting his TV’s remote control to properly work.

The fact that Scream is so damn metal is even more impressive when you stop and listen to the lyrics to some of the tracks. For every tailor-made for stadium moshing track like “Let Me Hear You Scream,” there seems to be another that takes the time to be a bit more introspective and insular. “Latimer’s Mercy” is another in a long line of Ozzy songs about the dangers of drug addiction, while others like “Time” and “Life Won’t Wait,” the sole ballad on the album, show that Ozzy’s beginning to ponder his own mortality, a topic sadly made all the more relevant with Ronnie James Dio’s passing earlier this year. It’s not a somber sobfest though, because even at the album’s most serious, Gus G. is still there shredding out one excellent riff after another. It’s like a spoonful of metal to help the medicine go down. It also doesn’t hurt that he gives a couple of excellent solos throughout the album as well.

There’s a brief one-minute coda on Scream entitled “I Love You All” where Ozzy thanks the listener for all their years of support. It sounds like the 61-year-old god of all things evil, epic and metal is about the hang up the devil horns for good soon. Hopefully he can crank out a few more albums like this before he goes, but it would be a hell of a way to go out. (Epic 2010)

Ozzy Osbourne’s MySpace Page


Slash: Slash

RIYL: Guns n Roses, Aerosmith, Alice Cooper

Duff McKagan is the newest member of Jane’s Addiction; Scott Weiland is back with STP; Matt Sorum has a Pussycat Dolls-like rock review with his Darling Stilettos, and Dave Kushner most recently co-wrote the theme song to “Sons of Anarchy.” What about the man in the top hat and the very soul of Velvet Revolver? Slash has left his Snakepit behind to release a guitar player’s record in which a different vocalist is featured on each track. So often these types of records are uneven because the vocalists skew the music so drastically apart, the end results feel like a series of singles slapped together. Most of the tracks are polished musical metal pop songs that his vocalists end up fitting into, adjusting their style to fit into his vision. On most of the songs, he doesn’t make the mistake of trying to build material for the singers except the collaborations with Adam Levine and Kid Rock, which feel more specific for those artists and sound like tracks that would be recorded by the vocalists on their records. Slash is fun, ripping good and more accessible then the two Velvet Revolver records. Contraband and Libertad had their moments, but weren’t very consistent regardless of the commercial and critical hoopla.

The formula mellows a bit for Kid Rock’s funky “I Hold On.” The Adam Levine-sung “Gotten” sounds a lot like a Maroon 5 groove. “Mother Mary” is an earthy effort by Beth Hart that conjures up a Janis Joplin vibe. “Watch This,” featuring Dave Grohl and Duff McKagan, is the lone instrumental and a tasty one at that. Slash compiles an eclectic guest list, but because the music is based on his bluesy soloing and magnificent crunchy riffs, the record has a remarkable consistency. Ozzy also appears on the very predictable sounding, “Crucify the Dead.” Doesn’t it seem like every Ozzy track these days kind of sounds the same? The copy available for this review also featured a Cypress Hill/Fergie collaboration for a cover of “Paradise City.” It has a weird sort of charm and works as does most of this record. Slash is a pleasant surprise and even with the diverse set of singers, is one of the better records thus far in 2010. (Dik Hayd 2010)

Slash MySpace page


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