“I’ll go back on stage if it fucking kills me,” said bat sommelier to legend Ozzy Osbourne The Independent lately. At the age of 73 and recently diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, Osbourne has rediscovered the devil’s resolve. Patient #9 is his second album in as many years and like his 2020 comeback album Ordinary man (released seven years after the Black Sabbath reunion album 13 and a decade after his previous solo album), it’s a rejuvenated and radiant offering.
While Ordinary man featured collaborations with Elton John, Post Malone, Tom Morello, Charlie Puth, Travis Scott and most of Guns N’ Roses, Patient #9 is a call for more hardcore heroes: Joining the returning Roses are Josh Homme, Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck and various members of Jane’s Addiction, Metallica, Pearl Jam and Red Hot Chili Peppers. The late Foo Fighters drummer Taylor Hawkins also makes an appearance, as does Osbourne’s Black Sabbath demon-in-arms Tony Iommi. The Acolytes rally in honour, but given the album’s contemporary crunch led by producer Andrew Watt, it would be foolish indeed to contemplate Patient #9 a swan song.
Not that Osbourne is brimming with optimism even here; by the sound of it, his quad biking days are far behind him. “Yesterday is gone, tomorrow will be cold,” he croons about the Iommi collaboration “No Escape From Now”. Though the song’s doom-rock dream finally comes to life as Osbourne climbs from the grave in the second half and prepares to wreak undead vengeance on his enemies, a tortured fatalism pervades the record. “Mr Darkness” finds him writing a letter to Satan announcing his suicide. “My life has become the setting sun,” he laments on “God Only Knows,” a canyon metal dirge with Dave Navarro that’s about as far from a Beach Boys cover as it gets.
His Parkinson’s diagnosis and the psychological signs of aging in general paint some traces in particularly tragic tones. The Goliath Rock title track has him “befriend strangers in my head because they seem to know me well” and muse, “If there is a God, why did he let the devil do his work on me?”. On “A Thousand Shades” (of darkness, natch), “his memories fade away like photographs”; The album highlight Nothing Feels Right sees him being beaten up by his own reflection. He also sees little hope for humanity. “Burning Nations” “dance in smoke” on monolithic country-rocker “One of Those Days,” while Clapton delivers an equally riotous solo, while “Dead and Gone” notes that “a circus of lunatics runs the show.”
The record is more fun than the lyrics suggest. Watt’s production flirts with the epic grandeur of Muse and the anthemic metal of a Red Rocks Oasis. Immortal is a vampiric lark, the open journal of an everyday Nosferatu. And the guest guitarists are having the time of their lives frolicking on Osbourne’s metallic canvas – Patient #9 is every air guitarist’s dream. But when he rhymes “suffocation, masturbation, humiliation” with “suffocation, masturbation, humiliation” with “Degradation Rules,” which Hawkins co-wrote – the second Iommi appearance – things get a little ridiculous, and dragging after over an hour the record. We hope a triumphant comeback tour will inspire a more streamlined direction for the Prince of Darkness’ late awakening.
https://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/music/reviews/ozzy-osbourne-review-patient-number-9-b2161562.html Ozzy Osbourne Review, Patient #9: It would be foolhardy to take this as a swan song