It’s been six years since Ozzy released a CD with new material on it ? a greatest hits album was released in 1997, but that doesn’t count. From the first second of this album to the last, it sounds like he never even took a break.

The opening track, “Gets Me Through,” has a great-to-be-back feel to it, with Zakk Wylde’s chugging, thundering riffs sounding as fresh as ever, and it just keeps on going from there.

The guitar-driven juggernaut rumbles on as though it never even stopped in the first place, with only short breaks for softer, piano-led melodies in the vein of such classic Ozzy ballads as “Mama, I’m Coming Home,” off of 1991’s “No More Tears.”

All throughout, the band works an old formula, but never comes off sounding formulaic. The mind-bending guitar riffs, perfectly mirrored by the bass and augmented by the steadily pounding drums, all serve to back up Ozzy’s indescribably astounding voice.

Even the nonsensical, pseudo-cryptic lyrics fit within the precedent established decades ago ? although this does lead to them being a bit trite at times, like in the line “It would be nice if we could all live as one,” from the song “Dreamer”. A couple tracks like “Dreamer” and “Running Out of Time” break off into the softer pattern mentioned above, while others such as “Facing Hell” and “Can You Hear Them?” add a spooky synthesizer layer that thrusts you into the haunted woods which adorn the CD liner.

To close it all off, “Can You Hear Them?” even amplifies the already-heavy thunder, bringing it to a level that reminds everyone who really rules the metal world, regardless of anyone else’s evil melodramatics.

Few things can stand steady through the march of time, but rock always does. And the rock doesn’t get much harder than Ozzy.

Feldblyum can be reached at

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