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Record Review 

Praise be to Ozzy for not attempting to cash in on the nü metal craze with an album full of the rap-core-meets-techno-babble sweaty-boy shrapnel that's been starring on his Ozzfest tour the past few summers. Down to Earth is a classic metal album, the likes of which is a dying breed in these days of the Bizkits, the Slipknots and the Puddle of Mudds. Gargantuan heaps of crunching guitars courtesy of Zakk Wylde lead the way for a ham-fisted rhythm section you can set a watch to, the odd power ballad or three, and Ozzy barking at the moon with his possessed, multi-tracked howl.

Down to Earth has the bleak existentialism and netherworldly haze of vintage Sabbath, but it's not at all a retro affair. It's Ozzy sounding quite modern, and quite comfortable making the kind of hellish racket not normally associated with those of his advanced age. Lead track "Gets Me Through" (an open letter of gratitude to his minions) enters with an ominous piano figure of the Phantom of the Opera variety, before giving way to the bludgeoning groove that sounds like early Soundgarden covering "Sabbath Bloody Sabbath."

The album-closing "Can You Hear Them?" goosesteps out of the speakers with the mechanized percussive attack of ex-Faith No More drummer Mike Bordin (who nicks the old Sabbath trick of overdubbing tom-toms atop the groove), and the staccato drilling of the guitars. Even the ballads -- "Dreamer" and "Running Out of Time" -- don't suck.

Ozzy Osbourne's show, scheduled for Nov. 24 at Philips Arena, has been postponed.

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