Review by Paul Monkhouse for MPM
Few rock stars on Planet Earth are as famous as Ozzy Osbourne, The Prince of Darkness having gone from wild Birmingham rabble rouser to National Treasure.
Over the space of fifty-two years and twenty-one albums he’s built a formidable reputation that at times has been equal parts inspiring and infuriating, the incendiary nature of his life giving him highs and lows that would have finished most people.
With some iconic releases under his belt, ‘Patient No 9’ comes along as potentially his last and, if this is what’s happening, it’s an outstanding swansong.
A lot has been made of the stellar cast of guest stars who appear on the album but rightly front and centre is the man himself, his vocals as strong, fine and unhinged as it always has been. The bells and whistles of the production add some great touches but the soul of the man is here for all to see, the new levels of maturity on 2020’s ‘Ordinary Man’ delved into even deeper.
This is far from being a mellow album, the intensity ramped up from before and the array of guests each bringing their own distinctive fire. This changing cast gives a variety of different sounds and colours, in a way being Ozzy’s own ‘Sgt Pepper’.
Opening with the title track, ‘Patient No 9’ is darkly overwhelming in its grandeur, sledgehammer heavy and melodic, the fretwork by Jeff Beck jaw dropping. Pearl Jam’s Mike McCready adds a fine scattergun solo to the huge, fast groove of ‘Immortal’ and long-time collaborator Zakk Wylde adds his muscle to the molasses thick, Clutch-like, ‘Parasite’.
One of the most highly anticipated guests on the album, Tony Iommi, clicks into an easy groove with his old friend, their relationship bearing new, unusual, fruit and sidestepping any need to take the easy route. ‘No Escape From Now’ might have some dark traits but there’s something more twisted and modern here that’s sure to grab the attention.
The pair get together later on the big 70’s rocker ‘Degradation Rules’, both in imperial form and with a harmonica running throughout adding another aspect it’s another peak in an album that’s rammed with heavy hitters.
Whoever thought of pairing Ozzy and Eric Clapton showed a streak of genius, Slowhand not known for his metallic riffing. Thankfully, his distinct tone is instantly recognisable but given a more Gothic feel here that brings elements of Aerosmith’s ‘Dream On’ with a swampy Southern Rock.
Jeff Beck makes another stunning contribution to ‘A Thousand Shades’ before Wylde kicks in with some of the more traditional style Ozzy material and it kicks just as much as you could hope for, ‘Mr Darkness’ and ‘Nothing Feels Right’ both pummelling and gloriously melodic.
From the big shaggy beast of ‘Evil Shuffle’ to ‘Dead and Gone’ with its Queensryche vibe, there is a broad range of material here, Ozzy, the glue that keeps it all together.
God Only Knows’ brings everything to a crescendo, poignant, fuzzed out and understated but with its own crackling electricity as Dave Navarro’s guitar sings. It’s just down to the eerie Delta Blues of ‘Darkside Blues’ to wrap things up and this low key finish is pitch perfect.
Brilliantly produced by Andrew Watt and with further contributions throughout by Josh Homme, Robert Trujillo, Duff McKagan, Chris Chaney, Chad Smith and Taylor Hawkins, ‘Patient No 9’ isn’t just an all-star affair but a hugely impressive one at that.
Beyond the starry cast and the weight of expectation on his shoulders, ‘Patient No 9’ may well be one of the very finest albums Ozzy has made and, given his stellar catalogue, that’s a hell of an achievement.
Patient Number 9 available at: https://ozzyosbourne.lnk.to/PatientNu…
Patient Number 9 Album, Limited Edition LP, Todd McFarlane Comic Book & Boxset available at: https://ozzyosbourne.lnk.to/PatientNu…
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