Legend of a Madman
A Tribute to Ozzy Osbourne (Olympic)
by Scott Hefflon
I’m tempted to paraphrase the “Equal vs. Sweet N Low” bit from Swimming with Sharks here – “No, they are not the same. Ozzy is a legend, you are no one. You have no brain!” Something to that effect. I feel the same way about Legend of a Madman as I did about A Call to Irons: A Tribute to Iron Maiden (Dwell): The original band is doing just fine without your tribute, the songs were far better the first time around, and who the fuck are these meatheads to tamper with a classic? It’s a shame cuz the folks at Olympic are cool and they often put out damn good records. But this “tribute” is not among them.
While I’m very thankful the band’ve chosen mostly material from Ozzy’s first two solo albums, I’m not thankful for their mucking up the subtle nuances that made the songs great in the first place. That’s unforgivable. Here’s a track-by-track run-down, despite how it pains me. I’ve almost smashed this CD multiple times due to certain bands’ incompetent handling of such great songs.
Solitude Aeturnus cover “No More Tears.” I don’t have much invested in the song, and this band is quality American doom (sounds like an oxymoron, huh?) anyway. Sounds like Sabbath. Obliveon covers “Suicide Solution,” an over-rated song to begin with, but these Canadians sound like they’re not really interested in playing it at all. And I think they’re playing it wrong. Los Gusanos (with CJ Ramone) cover “No Bone Movies,” a fluffy bit of rock’n’roll looniness from the Ozzster, and a good cover at that. Like that’s hard. I still love this song (and thank them for remembering it) even though I have no idea what Ozzy meant when he yelled “Flaps!” Oppressor go “Over The Mountain,” and I wish they’d kept going. I hate this demon-belch growl shit, and remain unimpressed with what others deem “excellent musicianship.” Monotonous growling and choppy playing is not “brutal” to me, it’s sloppy and boring. Every time I hear Novembers Doom play “Revelation (Mother Earth)” I nearly bust a gut laughing. And I mean full-belly, roll-around-on-the-floor laughter. It’s doom, OK, so one of the vocalists has that deep, Cookie Monster vocal thing going on. So imagine Cookie performing Kareoke to the song (which, musically, is right on – and it’s an amazing, multi-sectioned song if you remember correctly). Great playing, and Cookie gets to trade vocals with a human guy and gal. This song, “Mr. Crowley” (I’ll get to that), “Waiting for Darkness” (omitted, unfortunately), and a few others are some of the predecessors to dark metal, Goth metal, and all the stuff the kids are just lapping up these days. Soulstorm slaughter “Mr. Crowley” so badly, they should be asked to do community service for the rest of their useless lives. They’re a Canadian “industrial metal” band, which evidently means they can’t sing, can’t play, and have some annoying sound looping throughout the song. They don’t play the cathedral organ intro, nor any of the fills or solos that make the song! So what’s left? A cover that anyone in their right mind woulda scrapped. And while I have mixed feelings about powermetal returning, Lethal‘s cover of the oft-overlooked gem, “S.A.T.O.,” is all mighty vocals and adept musicianship. Pick slides, solos, screeching harmonics, time changes, and soaring, warbling vocals play tribute to yet another multi-sectioned song. Morta Skuld, a mic-swallowing death band, cover “Believer,” and while the “vocals” don’t work very well in place of Ozzy’s singing, the band is tight, right, and the whole actually works kinda well. Also I don’t have a helluva lot invested in the original. Syris, some European “power” metal band, cover “Crazy Train,” although Rasputina did a more disturbing version. By a long shot. Filthboy, yet another “industrial metal” band (this one featuring an ex-Brutal Truth drummer), cover “Ultimate Sin,” and I have to say they’re the only band on the comp that actually made their song better! The song was kinda foppish to begin with, so they didn’t really have their work cut out for them, but this is the heavy, grinding, snarling, overly-distorted ragefest the song coulda been, had Ozzy not been into writing top 40 hard rock at the time. The song has great chords and melodies, it was simply a matter of cranking the living shit out of it. And that’s exactly what Filthboy has done. Distorted Rage close out the CD with their cover of “I Don’t Know.” They’re unsigned and’ll probably stay that way. I think they’re a hardcore band, but maybe they just suck. It’s sometimes hard to tell.
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