AUBURN, Washington — Ozzy Osbourne thought 10 Ozzfests were enough. He'd reached his limit. And so, before last year's Ozzfest — the heavy-metal festival's 10th rendition — concluded, Osbourne announced he'd be retiring from his namesake tour. He'd also be taking a break from the road for a while.
But here he is, standing at the foot of Ozzfest's main stage with the launch of this year's Ozzfest just 48 hours away. The music icon's surveying things — inspecting the lights, the monitors, the positioning of the amplifiers. In about 20 minutes, he'll be joined onstage by guitarist Zakk Wylde, drummer Mike Bordin and bassist Blasko for his first official Ozzfest rehearsal.
"I wanted to retire," he insisted. "But that lasted half a year. I was bored to death, and I wanted to come back on the road again. I'm not complaining about it, but the downside [to doing Ozzfest] is I never get a chance to go on vacation. Whenever we do go on vacation, it's winter. So this year, I tried to get off the Ozzfest, and [my wife and the festival's architect] Sharon said, 'OK.' But then one guy spoke to one guy and said it wouldn't be Ozzfest if Ozzy isn't there. So [we compromised]. Sharon's idea was to do a couple of headliners on the second stage, and I said, 'That's great. It's right in the midst of the audience.' "
This summer's Ozzfest, which wraps up August 13 in West Palm Beach, Florida, will make stops in 27 cities, with Osbourne scheduled to take the stage for 13 of them — four mainstage appearances and nine on the tour's smaller second stage. But might this — as the rumor mill suggests — be Ozzy's last Ozzfest?
"I will always be involved in it in some way, as long as it carries along — and as long as I'm alive," he said. "It's my wife and I's creation. People say to me, 'What's the trick? How do you do it?' And I can't answer that question. I'm just so grateful and happy [the fans] come out to see the show."
Talking to Ozzy, you get the sense that, after 11 years, he's sort of astounded at Ozzfest's mammoth growth. It has become an unstoppable force, surviving while other festivals have come and gone.
"I can't believe it's been 11 years," he said, reflecting on the tour's tradition. "I couldn't believe it was 10 years. You know, every year, I ask my wife, 'How long do you think this is going to go on for?' But it's out of my control now, and it's rolling along on its own. You know, I can't call this work. I love it. What I'm really happy about, what has happened from Ozzfest, is it's been a great diving board for other bands. I mean, Korn, System of a Down — the list goes on and on. And that's what my job is: to keep the machine rolling."
After this year's Ozzfest, Osbourne plans to start working on his 15th solo LP — his first record's worth of original compositions in five years. "We just started working on some ideas, Zakk and the boys," he explained. "We're putting a bunch of ideas together, and Zakk's playing is just unbelievable. His new album [Shot to Hell, which hits stores September 19] is fantastic. It is going to blow everything else off the face of the world. So when we finish Ozzfest, I'm going to start writing. It's going to be the first one I've written and recorded sober. That's weird. The one thing about having a swift drink is it gets the old imagination going, you know?"
Ozzy's mindset going into the sessions is a positive one, he said. "I'm 57 years of age, and I never thought I'd live this long," he joked. "I think I'm the luckiest man in the world. I've survived, both physically and professionally ... I think."
The rest of the week's metal news:
Lamb of God's forthcoming album Sacrament will feature 11 songs when it hits stores August 22 — including "Walk With Me in Hell," "Foot to the Throat" and "Beating on Death's Door." A deluxe version of the CD will be available to fans and contain a bonus DVD with two videos for the album's first single, "Redneck," and a making-of-the-album segment. ... Moody instrumental experimentalists Explosions in the Sky have been writing material for their forthcoming, yet-untitled LP. The record will boast six songs — with most clocking in at about 13 minutes. The band plans to hit the studio next month with the Paper Chase's John Congleton to record the tracks. ... New Jersey hardcore heroes Nora are hard at work writing material for their next album. According to Nora's MySpace page, they're going through the "weeding-out process for the stuff we've written, so ... there's a lot of arguing. That's normal, though — if there wasn't arguing, it wouldn't be Nora." The band is in talks with Rob Caggiano (Bleeding Through, Cradle of Filth) to produce the effort. ... Massachusetts hard-rockers Seemless — which boast former Killswitch Engage frontman Jesse Leach and ex-Overcast guitarist Pete Cortese — have finished working on their sophomore album, What Have We Become, which is set to drop September 5. Look for the disc to feature 10 tracks, including "Cast No Shadow," "Jaded" and "Things Fall Apart." ...
The track list for Light This City's forthcoming record Facing the Thousand has been revealed, and a song from the effort, "Cradle for a King," has been posted on the band's MySpace page. The LP, which will be in stores September 19, will include a guest appearance by the Black Dahlia Murder's Trevor Strnad on "Fear of Heights." The record contains 10 tracks in all, including "The Unwelcome Savior," "Maddening Swarm" and "Like Every Song's Our Last." ... Wildman Glenn Danzig's long-awaited Black Aria II has been slated for release September 19. The disc will boast material the former Misfits frontman's been working on for more than five years. It's a classical, operatic work, inspired by Lilith, the mythological first wife of Adam. ... Montreal's Neuraxis will not be touring this summer with Beneath the Massacre and Victimas, according to the band's MySpace profile. "Earlier this year, [we] agreed to take part in a U.S. tour, which was to take place for late July/ early August." But late last month, "it was decided that we had to cancel our participation on this tour. With a month to go before [it] was to start, we had only received half of the confirmed dates. We felt this was not enough time to properly promote and spread the word about this tour." The bandmembers also lacked work permits, which would've prevented them from touring in the States. ...
New York death-metal mammoths Suffocation have unveiled the track list for their next LP, a self-titled offering due September 19. "Abomination Reborn," "Translucent Patterns of Delirium" and "Entrails of You" are among the album's 11 tracks. ... Orange County, California, hardcore-metal band Ignite have shot a politically charged video for "Bleeding" with director Chris Sims, who has previously worked with Lamb of God and As I Lay Dying. The clip features the band playing in the parched California desert interspersed with news footage of the war in Iraq and other intense imagery. Singer Zoli Teglas, whose brother is currently stationed in Iraq, wrote the lyrics for the song, which appears on the band's new record, Our Darkest Days. "[My brother] is forced to risk his life driving Halliburton execs to meetings that benefit the politicians and not the people," Teglas said in a statement. ... Los Angeles melodic punk-metal band 2Cents will put out their debut, Lost at Sea, September 26. The disc was produced by Matt Hyde (Slayer, Sum 41) and includes a tribute to the band's fallen hero, "A Song for Darrell Abbott." Other tracks include "The Mark of My Pen," "Wired" and "Victims of Pop Culture." In addition to playing conventional venues, 2Cents have made their mark by playing in unusual spots, including maximum-security youth correctional facilities. ...
Swiss extreme-metal forefathers Celtic Frost have announced the openers for their North American tour. Between the September 12 opening date in Springfield, Virginia, and October 2 in Portland, Oregon, Norwegian black-metal band 1349 and Norwegian doom group Sahg (which features ex-Gorgoroth members King and Kvitrafn) will carry out the bloodletting before Celtic Frost take the stage. And from October 13 in San Francisco to the final date, November 11 in Johnson City, New York, Goatwhore will open. Seismic drone band Sunn 0))) will also play the second leg of the tour but will drop off after the October 9 show in Las Vegas. ... Exodus drummer Paul Bostaph (ex-Slayer, Testament) has commented about replacing Testament drummer Louie Clemente for the band's current tour, which runs through July 16 in Victorville, California, before heading overseas and ending August 5 in Busan City, South Korea. "There will be plenty of time to rest when I'm dead," said Bostaph, who recently finished European dates with Exodus. "I dream in double-bass." Bostaph was a member of Testament for a short period in early 2004 and toured with them in 1992, a jaunt that included dates for their 1993 live EP, Return to the Apocalyptic City. "I'm stoked to hit the road with the Testament guys, especially since I've never played with guitarist Alex Skolnick before. It's as close to the original lineup as possible and I've always had fun with them.". Clemente, who had to bow out due to medical reasons, is expected to rejoin Testament after the dates. The band hopes to enter the studio before the end of the year. ...
The third album from Insomnium, Above the Weeping World, will hit the streets October 17. The Finnish melodic death-metal band worked on the disc at Fantom and Finnvox studios, where they delved into new atmospheric shades and production techniques. "This is by far the best Insomnium album," said singer and bassist Niilo Sevanen. "It is the first time we feel we really succeeded in studio." The album will feature nine tracks, including "The Gale," "At the Gates of Sleep" and "Mortal Share." A video for the latter can be seen at Candlelight Records' MySpace page. ... Mushroomhead will grace the metal community with their sixth feral offering, Savior Sorrow, September 19. The disc was produced by Steve Felton and the band in Cleveland in April. "It's a new chapter in Mushroomhead's evolution," drummer Skinny said. "There are sounds on this album that are so brutal and huge. We focused on delivering some vicious hardcore mixed with heavy melodic hooks." Savior Sorrow will be the band's first album since 2003's XIII. ... French moshers Lyzanxia will unveil their third steely effort, Unsu, this fall. The disc was recorded and mixed by Fredrik Nordström and Patrick J. Sten at Studio Fredman in Gothenburg, Sweden. The album will be the follow-up to the band's 2004 album, Mindcrimes. ... Progressive quartet Minsk are in the studio working on their third album, tentatively scheduled for early 2007 release. The Chicago-area group will record the album at bassist and singer Sanford Parker's Volume Recording Studio, which has also served as an audio laboratory for Pelican and Unearthly Trance.
Where do your favorite metal bands rank on our list? Find out in the feature "The Greatest Metal Bands of All Time."