When Ozzy Osbourne released his album Ordinary Man in 2020, it seemed like the perfect swan song – emotive, reflective, and almost elegiac in parts, it was a surprisingly vulnerable examination of mortality from the original heavy metal icon. But Ozzy has a terrible track record when it comes to retirement, and work on Patient Number 9 seemingly began as soon as Ordinary Man hit the shelves, with producer Andrew Watt once again overseeing the project.
Bolstered by an all-star cast of guest musicians including Jeff Beck, Duff McKagan, Eric Clapton and Tony Iommi, Patient Number 9 reintroduces some of the bombast largely missing on its predecessor. As it turns out, working with some of the most iconic guitarists on the planet has away of injecting flair into even the most reflective song; opener Patient Number 9 calls back to the same emotive, epic quality as Under The Graveyard or Today Is The End, but it’s not long before the guitar wizardry of Jeff Beck starts to shine through.
Despite the many health issues Ozzy has had to contend with over the past few years, his voice sounds great throughout the album, and the proclamation ‘I’ll never die cos I’m immortal’ is delivered with a cheeky wink and defiant edge.
The sheer vitality of tracks like Mr. Darkness, Degradation Blues and Dead And Gone is truly delightful, bringing back some of the wild-eyed energy of Ozzy’s past but without feeling as throwaway as previous tracks such as Tiny Little Green Men and It’s A Raid did.
For all the guest star appearances, it’s the return of guitarist Zakk Wylde that will likely please long-time fans most. Unsurprisingly, the Wylde songs are simultaneously among the most straight-ahead, classic-sounding Ozzy tracks on the album, while also showing that Wylde still brings a star power of his own.
That said, there’s also plenty to be excited about with the return of the Ozzy/Tony Iommi pairing. Sidestepping anything remotely Sabbath (in fact, the most Sabbath-like track is the Wylde-led Evil Shuffle), Iommi instead brings a sense of heft and gravitas that sounds practically apocalyptic.
While perhaps not as emotionally loaded as Ordinary Man, Patient Number 9 better captures the mischievous, defiant energy of heavy metal’s original madman. Even stacked for comparison against some of the most legendary musicians on the planet, Ozzy is an icon like no other. He’s a man who took heavy metal from the back streets of Birmingham to conquer the world.