Rock’s Classics takes a step over to the darker side of music as the self ordained Prince of Darkness graces us with his presence.
Taking a distinctly metal fringe on this installment of Rock’s Classics, the 1991 hit “Hellraiser” by music’s godfather of carry on, Ozzy Osbourne. Taken from his sixth studio album No More Tears, “Hellraiser” has gone on to enjoy phenomenal success since its initial release, nineteen years ago and remains one of Ozzy’s most popular tracks.
Debuting in early autumn of 1991, Ozzy’s album No More Tears was intended to continue his long associated success now that he had fully established himself as a credible solo recording artist. The album spawned five singles, most notably “No More Tears” and “Mama I’m Coming Home” but interestingly did not include “Hellraiser”, an odd decision that baffles fandom and music listeners to this day considering the huge popularity that the song has gone on to accumulate. No More Tears also holds the distinction of being one of Ozzy’s most successful albums in terms of sales, the other being the 1981 solo debut Blizzard of Oz.
The track is one of great interest and love from heavy metal and rock fans the world over. Despite having a distinctly hackneyed and clichéd title, the song deals with the irreverent truth and almost sacrificial love that the narrator, in this case it should be believed to be Ozzy himself, has for the world of rock and roll music. Indeed the opening line “Heading out on an endless road/ Around the world for rock and roll,” aptly starts the drum fuelled, blistering guitar odyssey of mythical landscaping and grotty real life gigging.
Musically the song can be considered a borderline metal masterpiece, certainly much more credible than the album filling, seventh placed song on the track listings that it was treated to by producers. Zakk Wylde’s screaming Les Paul smashes through the speakers and earphones like a stampeding elephant, his riff writing and execution acting like a sharp bolt of lightning tearing through the night and down the listener’s spine. Couple this with Ozzy’s signature wailing and the song takes on a distinctly Gothic feel, continuing a wonderfully healthy obsession with such topics and trends that were popular in the early to mid nineties where it seemed nothing would be considered credible had it not been given the Mary Shelly treatment. See Meatloaf’s “I’d do anything for love” and Alien 3 for further examples. Osbourne’s vocal work should also be commended considering he probably hadn’t been home or even to bed since the late seventies.
“Hellraiser” has a strong legacy in many different formats and avenues. The song was covered by Motorhead, frontman Lemmy having contributed to writing and production on No More Tears, the song appearing on the soundtrack to the motion picture “Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth”. The song would also go on to appear in the video game GTA: San Andreas, continuing Osbourne’s now lengthy affiliation to the ultra-violent video game franchise. It is therefore with no real great surprise that “Hellraiser” for all of its semi biographical and almost demonic repenting nature that it has become a mainstay of Ozzy’s live set lists. With a popularity that grows with every generation that hears it for the first time, “Hellraiser” is certainly considered one of the textbook tracks for new and old metal and rock fans to listen to, another example of Ozzy Osbourne’s seemingly immortal talent and freedom of expression.
The song is available for download on iTunes and check out Ozzy’s official website for tours and band information: http://www.ozzy.com/