Any fears that Osbourne’s young new guitar player Gus G. wouldn’t be able to fill the shoes of the departed Zakk Wylde can be put to rest. The kid is a monster and further proof that Osbourne, who’s teamed with some great players over the years, really knows how to pick ’em. Gus’s muscle riffs power Scream’s opener, “Let It Die,” even if Osbourne’s voice is so distorted and manipulated you can hardly tell it’s the Prince of Darkness. The songwriting and playing are much better than they were on 2007’s Black Rain. The chug-a-lug “Let Me Hear You Scream” is good, dumb fun, and “Soul Sucker” packs a genuine sinister vibe. The real problem is that Osbourne doesn’t have much left to say at this point. Songs about faith (“Crucify”), love (“Life Won’t Wait”), and living for the moment (“Time”) aren’t worthy of the former Black Sabbath frontman. Osbourne will be 62 this year, so maybe he’s unleashing his kinder, gentler side on Scream. “For all these years you’ve stood by me/ God bless/ I love you all,” he sings at the album’s conclusion. If this isn’t his retirement record, maybe it should be.
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