Album Review: Zakk Sabbath – Vertigo (Magnetic Eye Records)

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By: Jesse Striewski

I tend to usually shy away from tribute/cover albums (always found them a tad too on the ‘gimmicky’ side), but this track-by-track rendition of Black Sabbath’s masterpiece 1970 debut album arranged by Zakk Wylde and company was way too irresistible to pass up.

Backed by former Ozzy Osbourne/Rob Zombie bassist Blasko and ex-Danzig drummer Joey Castillo, Wylde does justice (both vocally as well as musically) to not only classics like “N.I.B.” and the title track, but equally brilliant (yet sometimes overlooked) numbers such as “Wicked World,” “Behind the Wall of Sleep,” and “Sleeping Village,” all of which are a welcome trip back through time.

What’s also interesting is that instead of releasing Vertigo digitally, the band is only offering physical copies in an effort to bring back a more ‘authentic’ feel to the entire rock experience. Fifty years since it’s original release, Black Sabbath is still just as timeless as ever, and this new addition serves as one more reminder of it’s enduring legacy.

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Album Review: Ozzy Osbourne – Ordinary Man (Epic Records)

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By: Jesse Striewski

It may have taken him some time, but the Godfather of Metal himself, Ozzy Osbourne, has finally unleashed his twelfth studio album. To say it was worth the wait would be an understatement.

It was apparent last November when the world received first listen to the album via the cryptic “Under the Graveyard,” that old Ozzy had put something truly special together here. Granted, most of the singles released since haven’t been as impressive; “Straight to Hell” is somewhat generic, the ballad “Ordinary Man” (featuring Elton John) a tad predictable, and “It’s a Raid” (with Post Malone) somewhat of a strain itself.

But it’s the non-single tracks that pack the heaviest punches (isn’t that usually the way though?) – “Scary Little Green Men,” “All My Life,” and “Holy For Tonight” all echo the epic levels of forgotten classics in Ozzy’s catalog such as “Devil’s Daughter (Holy Wars)” or “No Bone Movies.”

Although longtime guitarist Zakk Wylde might be missing in action here, there’s plenty of other rock icons that more than make up for his absence; Chad Smith of the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Duff McKagan and Slash of Guns N’ Roses (among others) all make appearances throughout.

I don’t mean to get too sappy, but for as long as I can remember, Ozzy has been there almost like a second father of sorts to me; the first riff I ever learned to play on bass was “Crazy Train,” and the second concert I ever attended was Ozzy, both doing a solo set, and performing with a reformed Black Sabbath, in 1997. I can’t remember a time when his music was not deeply ingrained in my mind, and I’m glad he’s still making music comparable to his most classic of material.

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Interview with Last in Line Bassist Phil Soussan By Jesse Striewski

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You’ve seen him onstage with such rock giants as Ozzy Osbourne and Billy Idol. Now, legendary bassist Phil Soussan has stepped in the shoes for the late Jimmy Bain (R.I.P.) in Last in Line – the band made up of former Dio bandmates that originally included Bain, guitarist Vivian Campbell, drummer Vinnie Appice, and newcomer Andrew Freeman on vocals.

Last week, the band dropped their second studio album (and first with Soussan on board) simply titled II. Just days before its release I was able to speak with the ever-so-gracious Soussan over the phone about the new album, as well as taking over for the previously-mentioned Bain shortly after the band’s first album, which he says; “Well, I never really considered myself ‘taking over’ for Jimmy when I came in. It just seemed like the right thing to do for him, to at least perform that album, because he worked really hard on it, and I know it meant a lot to him. Jimmy was also a friend of mine that I knew for a very long time. We were all counterparts in our respective bands, cut from the same cloth. So I felt privileged to be able to get out there and honor him by playing those songs and bringing them to the fans. That was something I could do for my friend.”

Knowing Soussan is no stranger to songwriting himself (perhaps his best known writing credit is co-composing Ozzy’s 1986 hit “Shot in the Dark”), I inquired how the songwriting for II went, which he explained; “We wrote songs in what’s considered today to be a very unconventional way…together (Laughs). These days everybody has their own studio next to their coffee machines, but we did it collectively, as a unit. All of the songs were written equally between the four of us, which is why there’s no individual songwriting credits, and that’s how things really should be done.”

I also asked him how the new material has been going over so far live, to which he says; “Well, when you have bands together that have been established over many years (I like to call them “heritage bands”), a lot of the time you do have people that go to their shows just to hear the hits that they’ve grown to love, and the band doesn’t really get a fair crack at the whip when it comes to new material. Usually when the band says, ‘here’s a new song,’ everybody heads to the bathroom. But in our case, we’ve been very fortunate that the fans have wanted to hear new material, and we don’t take that lightly or for granted at all, and it’s probably the reason we’re still doing what we’re doing.”

He goes on to elaborate, “I’ve done a lot of records, and by the time you’re finished recording one, the last thing you wanna do is listen to it again. But every time I listen to this one, I hear something new I rediscover, and for that reason I have an element of confidence in it, and hopefully I’m right (Laughs)!”

Aside from music, Soussan, has also tried his hand at cooking over the years, having even owned his own restaurant in the past. I asked how he got involved with local Central, FL rocker Kenny Wilkerson’s upcoming cookbook “Rockin’ Recipes for Autism,” and he says; “Ken had basically contacted me asking if I would be interested in submitting something. I thought it was for a great cause, and cooking is something that is very near and dear to me, so it was something I jumped on right away.”

Unfortunately there are no Florida dates for Last in Line at the time of this writing, though those in other parts of the world will have a chance to catch the band in the very near future. Soussan informs me, “We’re very excited to have just gotten announced on the Download Festival in Britain this June. Vivian’s going to be doing double-duty that day, headlining with Def Leppard. The last time I played there was in 1986 (when it was still known as “Monsters of Rock) when Ozzy headlined, and the band opening for us at the time was Def Leppard, so it’s funny how life kinda flip things around on you sometimes!”