Next week is all Ozzy Ozzy Ozzy, in a pack timed for the release of his two classic albums, Blizzard of Ozz and Diary of a Madman.
But it’s a little different than usual. Check the track list, then we’ll talk.
+ = pro-guitar/bass chart available
Those familiar with Ozzy might first notice that neither “Bark at the Moon” nor “Mama, I’m Coming Home” are actually from those previously mentioned albums. You might also that both of those songs have ** after them. Here’s where it gets fun.
Those two songs are available only as part of the pack. You cannot buy them as singles. You can only get them when you buy the whole pack. In addition, you also get the pro-charts on those two songs as part of the pack. (“Mr. Crowley”‘s pro-chart remains a separate purchase however.)
The price for the pack is the usual price for an 8-pack at $13.49/MS1080. So essentially you’re paying for 6.5 tracks, getting 1.5 tracks free, along with 2 pro-charts free. The first six songs are available either in the pack or singles, as per usual.
So what’s up with that? Well nobody knows for certain, but signs indicate that it was a necessity from the Ozzy camp to getting these songs in the game. I was pretty stridently against the whole thing for most of the writing of this post, until HMXHenry addressed a few concerns over in the Rock Band forums.
What bothered me most was that if this new bundling method went over well that it would become the new standard. As such, my plan was to abstain from any DLC this week, as I didn’t feel comfortable giving tacit approval by way of my purchase. I’m happy to say that I no longer feel that same pressure. While I’m still not a fan of being “forced” to buy some songs to get other songs, I also accept that some artists have enough clout to demand things outside of the norm and get them. If Led Zeppelin or Pink Floyd need a full unbundled pack to get their music in the game then so be it and I’m fucking buying the pack, you know. At the end of the day, I am all about choices. I don’t like not having the choice to buy “Bark at the Moon” without seven other songs attached, but I don’t like more not having “Bark at the Moon” and its friends in the game at all.
I feel confident that this is a method that will be very much a rarity from Harmonix, which is the best I could hope for. Now it’ll be up to each person to decide which artists and songs, if any, are worth buying a whole pack for.
But enough of that. To songs!
“Diary of a Madman” is the title track from Ozzy’s second album, and like most classic Ozzy it’s a great song. Probably the most standout feature of this song is the drumming; the majority of the thing is in this incredibly unsettling, just slightly off-sounding beat of the kind that likely to fail me out were I on drums. The guitar is, of course, amazing, with a chilling riff winding throughout.
If you don’t think you know “Flying High Again”, give it a listen and you might be surprised. It’s less atmospheric than “Madman” in a way, but still does a great job in create a fast, uplifting mood. The guitar is again a highlight (you’re going to hear that a lot in this pack), but perhaps no more so than the melody. The whole thing is catchy as hell, and shouldn’t be overwhelmingly difficult, making it a solid choice for your entire plastic band.
“I Don’t Know” is probably my least favourite song of the pack. It’s got a good beat, a blistering solo, and I like the flow of the vocals in the verses, but otherwise I find the song to be pretty standard fare and relatively uninspired. Definitely not a stand-out song, and not one I’d recommend to cherry pickers.
“Mr. Crowley” is probably the song from the pack this week, especially if you’re looking to avoid the full-pack purchase. Bonus: it’s one of the few this week with keys, including a nice lengthy synth intro. And those guitar solos. Just holy crap. Every instrument shines really. This song is a metal classic.
Another rock solid song this week in “Over the Mountain”. Drums have some amazing moments and the guitar is consistently amazing (no surprises there). Still with the other songs in the pack this one will probably get lost in the shuffle. It’s great, but not distinctive enough to truly stand out among such distinguished competition.
Finally for the singles we have “Steal Away (The Night)”. In this one I actually find the vocals to be less the driving force of the song, instead my ear is drawn to the music. Energetic drums at just the right level of difficulty (for me), bass runs that sound fun as hell to play, and more amazing guitar. I suspect it won’t get the attention it deserves, but this is a really strong choice.
On now to “Bark at the Moon” and “Mama, I’m Coming Home”, which I feel less inclined toward individual commentary. For one, you probably already know them, and for another, if you’re getting one you’re getting the other. Still, “Bark” (the final song in Guitar Hero 1 if you only know music from rhythm games) is a fantastic song. Not the best in the pack, contrary to what many might be thinking, but there can be no denying how awesome it’ll be to have in the game.
“Mama” seems to be a bit of a divisive choice, but in my view it sits well, not despite how different it is stylistically but because of it. It’s really a beautiful song and nestled here with some of Ozzy’s Ozziest songs, it’s a welcome peek at what else he can do. And really, the guitar is awesome here too, so shhh haters.
The final verdict? As mentioned above, in light of HMXHenry’s comments I feel (thankfully) freed from the self-inflicted pressure of taking a stand. Consequently, this entire pack is now a very likely purchase for me. But if you only want a little nip of Ozzy and not a full shot? Keys and guitar, your only real choice is “Mr. Crowley”. Bassists, I’d say the same for you. Drummers, I’m inclined to say “Diary of a Madman” with its weird-ass time signatures. But if you’re looking for a full band (minus keys) experience for your RB parties, I’d actually say “Flying High Again”. I think it has the familiarity coupled with an upper-middle difficulty range that should make it a satisfying play for the whole band.