Let’s face it: Ozzy Osbourne was the weak link in Black Sabbath. An attention-grabbing frontman, sure, but as a lyricist and singer, Ozzy could be downright laughable. So it’s hard not to feel a little sympathy for Uwe Groebel, leader of German doom-rockers Voodooshock, for being indebted to Ozzy in all the wrong ways on the band’s sophomore album, Marie’s Sister’s Garden
. Second-generation doomsters found new vitality in those classic slow-burn Sabbath riffs by fusing them with strong vocal presences -- Candlemass with Messiah Marcolin’s operatic baritone, St. Vitus with Wino’s soulful gruffness, Cathedral with Lee Dorian’s maniacal growl. But Groebel bypasses all of that, tapping into Ozzy’s limited vocal attack with every off-pitch warble.
“Funeral Farewell” should be a slam-dunk with its pentatonic dirge grooves and guitar trills straight out of the Tony Iommi riff compendium. Instead it’s sunk by Groebel’s sheepish vocals and an embarrassing lyric: “I always wanted to share/ I love you/ I didn’t know I should/ The traces in my heart/ They’ll never fall apart.” The pattern repeats throughout Marie’s Sister’s Garden
, all the more frustrating considering how strong the music is. For the sake of the rest of Voodooshock, let’s hope that Groebel quits to begin a successful solo career and gets replaced by Ronnie James Dio.