Ozzy Osbourne, ‘Patient Number 9’: Album Review

With 2020’s Ordinary Man, Ozzy Osbourne reestablished himself with help from a new producer, an all-star backing band and a no-fuss recording schedule that lasted less than a week. Andrew Watt, a guitarist who worked with Justin Bieber before transitioning into a producer’s role whose resume now includes Elton John and Eddie Vedder, assembled a crew that included artists as diverse as Post Malone, Travis Scott and Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer Chad Smith – all of whom pushed Osbourne to his best record in decades.

Watt is back with another A-list group for the onetime Black Sabbath singer’s 13th solo album, Patient Number 9, a fitting follow-up to Ordinary Man. And if the results aren’t as surprising as they were on the earlier LP, they are more immediately satisfying. Osbourne also sounds engaged, which is more than you can say about a great deal of his catalog since the ’90s.

The guest list is bigger and more aligned with Osbourne’s past this time around: Jeff Beck and Eric Clapton are here, and so are former bandmates Tony Iommi and Zakk Wylde. Smith and Guns N’ RosesDuff McKagan return from Ordinary Man, and Taylor Hawkins, the Foo Fighters drummer who died in March, appears on three songs. Patient Number 9, a bit overlong, is heavier than its predecessor even though this album traces the same foundational footsteps.

That’s balanced by the melodic foothold Watt brought to Ordinary Man. The opening title track, featuring a mid-song solo by Beck, recalls the ’80s metal sweep Osbourne helped pioneer, its seven and a half minutes a mix of pop glitter and hard-rock grit. Wylde’s jabbing guitar in “Parasite” provides a head-banging riff that reminds you of Osbourne’s huge role in the formation of heavy metal. And “Nothing Feels Right,” again with Wylde, is spiked with hazy psychedelia. Osbourne even gets to play around with his longtime Beatles obsession in “A Thousand Shades.”

Through it all, Osbourne sounds full of life, a contrast to the medical issues that have plagued him recently. And unlike Ordinary ManPatient Number 9 is a more focused work; the pieces fit together more easily, most likely a result of producer Watt’s growing relationship with Osbourne. “Degradation Rules,” one of two songs with Sabbath guitarist Iommi, even achieves the nearly impossible: a close-to-great solo track four decades removed from the classic Blizzard of Ozz. There was speculation around Ordinary Man‘s release that it could be Osbourne’s final album. Patient Number 9 proves that theory wrong. Don’t count him out just yet.

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