Ozzy Osbourne last graced the Lilac City with his ominous presence four years ago. The singer and his band rented the Spokane Coliseum for a week of rehearsing for his final American tour. But the rehearsals were not open to the public and Spokane wasn’t one of the stops on the tour. In essence: He came, he played, no one here heard him.
After a couple more spins across the States, the ground-breaking artist retired. And in 1994, the Spokane Coliseum was demolished.
Now that both the battered Spokane Coliseum and Osbourne’s short-lived retirement are mere memories, the singer is hauling his “Ozzfest” tour to the Spokane Arena on Tuesday for a real performance. Metal menaces Danzig, Sepultura and Biohazard will be in tow. And just in time for Halloween.
Ozzy’s recent return to music has delighted head-bangers around the world, most of whom don’t view the tour as a last-ditch effort to drain the wallets of metal-heads.
And though Osbourne is pushing 48, the shadowy singer still possesses his musical faculties. He released “Ozzmosis” last year and despite metal’s dimming appeal, the album has stayed on the charts for close to a year and sold in excess of a million copies. Not bad, considering radio and MTV virtually ignored the album.
With “Ozzmosis,” coupled with a subsequent world tour dubbed “Retirement Sucks,” Osbourne reclaimed his status as heavy metal’s foremost singer.
Osbourne is among the founding fathers of heavy metal. He and his cohorts in Black Sabbath charted new territory in rock during the late ‘60s and early ‘70s, pioneering a style of music characterized by leaden and murky songs.
Without Black Sabbath, grunge might never have been created. It was Black Sabbath’s sluggish rhythms and oppressingly heavy riffs that put the sludge in grunge. Just listen to early recordings by the Melvins, Soundgarden and Nirvana.
Osbourne parted with Black Sabbath in 1978 and embarked on a solo career in 1980.
He was an instantaneous hit.
His first four solo albums, “Blizzard of Oz,” “Diary of a Madman,” “Speak of the Devil” and “Bark at the Moon,” produced platinum sales. In fact, the only Osbourne album not to reach the million mark was 1990’s “Just Say Ozzy.”
Early on, Osbourne earned a reputation as an animal-mutilating antichrist and was the target of scorn by parents and religious organizations.
He was accused of writing music that provoked children to commit murder, suicide or worship the devil.
Indeed, Osbourne dabbled in the occult in his songs, but he never bit the heads off of chickens (or bats) as reported by the media. But really, his persona, like Alice Cooper, was just an on-stage gimmick.
Even though most of the products of sinister heavy metal of the 1980s are laughed at today, they scared a lot of people at the time.
Glenn Danzig, on the other hand, has dark tendencies both on and off stage.
The shadowy front-man for Danzig will be the first to admit it’s not a ploy to promote his stature or boost album sales, although his image is somewhat exaggerated.
“I’m purposely setting out to shock,” he told an interviewer last year.
“It’s always been a sincere endeavor, but there are people who always take it too seriously. The problem is, it seems like if I talk about it, I did it,” Danzig says. “If I talk about murder, then I’m a murderer. If I talk about the devil, then I’m the devil. It’s guilt by association … and, excuse me, I didn’t create the devil. The God you worship every night created the devil.”
On his albums, the singer doesn’t praise the prince of darkness. He vents most of his hate by railing against organized religion and Christianity.
Danzig has spewed his venom on four albums,”Danzig,” “Danzig II,” “Danzig III: How the Gods Kill” and “Danzig IV.” The band’s only hit song was a live recording of “Mother” taken from the 1994 EP “Thralldemonsweatlive.”
In the late ‘70s and ‘80s, Danzig led the ghoulish New York punk band the Misfits, which has since reunited without him. He formed the short-lived Samhain before giving birth to Danzig in 1986.
Sepultura has no appetite for evil, although of the four bands on Tuesday’s bill, its music is the most chilling.
The Brazilian quartet, which combines machine-like riffs with exotic Brazilian rhythms, is best-known for making death metal and thrash commercially viable in this country. The band’s blood-curdling album “Roots” has sold 300,000 copies since its release last March.
It’s an impressive sales figure considering the band gets absolutely no airplay. Add to that the fact the album was issued by an independent label, Roadrunner.
Opener Biohazard was once at the forefront of the New York hardcore scene. But over the years, the band’s sound has swerved toward metal.
Biohazard’s second album for Warner Bros., “Mata Leao,” has met with mixed reactions.
There are unconfirmed reports that former Helmet guitarist Peter Mengede is now playing with the group.
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MEMO: This sidebar appeared with the story: Ozzy Osbourne Location and time: Arena, Tuesday, 7 p.m. Tickets: $27.50