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Ozzy Osbourne - Patient Number 9 (Album Review)

Friday, 23 September 2022 Written by Simon Ramsay

Photo: Ross Halfin

Despite the odds being stacked against it, somehow you just knew The Prince of Darkness’s 13th solo album would be a special affair that befitted its numerical placing in his discography. Deliberately funnelling much of his, and by extension Black Sabbath’s, iconic musical strokes and unmistakable character into an epic retro-modern aesthetic, Ozzy Osbourne’s ‘Patient Number 9’ is a vital, bold record that celebrates and enhances his legacy without feeling contrived.

Considering double O recently underwent potentially life changing surgery, and hadn’t been in the best of health for some time, the very existence of ‘Patient Number 9’ is as much of a surprise as it is an absolute treat. No amount of sentiment is required to praise this super-energised colossus, which features sizzling contributions from the late Taylor Hawkins, Duff McKagan, Jeff Beck, Mike McCready, Eric Clapton and Tony Iommi alongside a blizzard of melodic metal hooks.

Working with producer and multi-instrumentalist Andrew Watt, who also helmed 2020’s reflective and moving, yet patchy and thematically unbalanced, ‘Ordinary Man’, this more consistent, grandiose, and dynamic effort boasts an age-defying performance by Ozzy and superlative turns from recurring players such as Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer Chad Smith, Metallica bassist Robert Trujillo and his longest serving (off and on) guitar foil Zakk Wylde.

Drawing inspiration from Ozzy’s most beloved eras, Immortal and Dead and Gone recall ‘No More Tears’ and its glint-eyed arena anthemics, while No Escape From Now is a sprawling, atmospheric leviathan catalysed by doom-drenched Iommi riffing. Part spooky stalker tale, part ripping powder keg, Mr Darkness would have fitted perfectly on ‘Diary Of A Madman’ as Wylde goes full Randy Rhoads on a blazing climactic solo. 

Elsewhere, Beck’s colourful orchestral harmonies enrich A Thousand Shades, while God Only Knows and Nothing Feels Right are melodic jewels that showcase Ozzy’s lifelong John Lennon love affair. Clapton’s wah-drenched turn on the wildly catchy One Of Those Days, meanwhile, finds God and The Prince Of Darkness whipping up a swampy slice of celestial rock ‘n’ roll with extra bounce.

Huge credit must go to Watt for his vision in making everything gel. Something of a musical empath who can thrive in numerous genres, the producer appears to have an instinctive knack for understanding an artist’s core strengths and, in this instance, embellishing them with telling contemporary touches.  

The infectious Parasite and nightmarish, asylum-set title track, which delivers edgy electro-rock riffage and is begging to be adapted for TV by Reece Shearsmith and Steve Pemberton, employ modern pop smarts to beef up the kind of big hooks that have largely defined the ultimate sinner’s solo career.  

Although occasionally wrestling with mortality and existential dread, unlike its foreboding predecessor, ‘Patient Number 9’ is an almost perfect encapsulation of all things Ozzy that ultimately feels less of a swan song than a launchpad for a glorious final act. Health permitting, let’s hope this revitalised crazy train won’t be derailed any time soon.

Ozzy Osbourne Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Wed May 31 2023 - NOTTINGHAM Motorpoint Arena
Fri June 02 2023 - NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE Utilita Arena
Sun June 04 2023 - GLASGOW OVO Hydro
Wed June 07 2023 - MANCHESTER AO Arena
Sat June 10 2023 - DUBLIN 3Arena
Mon June 12 2023 - LONDON O2 Arena
Wed June 14 2023 - BIRMINGHAM Resorts World Arena

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