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Einzige
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 17, 2013 6:49 pm 
 

I have no doubt I'm in the minority here, but...

I think the Tony Martin era (at least the first Tony Martin era) in Sabbath might well be my favorite period in the band's history.

Let's face it, the band had sunk to the bottom of the heap in the mid-80s. Ian Gillian might have been able to make a go of it as vocalist number three had he stayed on after Born Again (I'm also very fond of that record, well, everything on it save the production), but he was nixed and we all know how that worked out. Glenn Hughes is an awesome singer, but he never really sounded like he fit the band even on the Iommi-solo-in-all-but-name Seventh Star, and coupled with his health problems, I don't see him ever sticking around for more than one album.

So that leaves Tony Martin, who has always come across to me as the real workhorse of latter-day Sabbath. Yeah, he's not a metal guy, but Goddamn if he didn't try his best to be one during his tenure as lead vocalist. From what I understand, he took over a lot of the lyricist duties on his records, and albums like Eternal Idol and Cross Purposes do seem to me to be more intelligent than a typical Sabbath record. And for the sort of power metal they were playing at the time, I thought he fit like a glove. Even more impressive is the fact that the group was able to write an album like Cross Purposes, which had a much gloomier, more 90s feel than any of their other output with Martin, and he still sounded like he belonged on the album.

He'll never stand out in a crowd, but I love him anyway.



So solid. The way Martin jumps from hushed, intimate whispers on the pre-chorus to balls-to-the-wall wailing is damn impressive.


Last edited by Einzige on Thu Jan 17, 2013 7:09 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Riffs
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 17, 2013 7:07 pm 
 

I don't like Martin-era Sabbath and I find most of it insipid.

I am with you concerning Born Again, however. It's an inconsistent album with forgettable tracks but also some of my favorite Sabbath songs ever. And I agree the production was terrible but I have come to wonder if it doesn't contribute to the insanity and darkness of the best tracks.

I wish Gillan had been interested enough for at least another album after that one!
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Einzige
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 17, 2013 7:11 pm 
 

Riffs wrote:
I am with you concerning Born Again, however. It's an inconsistent album with forgettable tracks but also some of my favorite Sabbath songs ever. And I agree the production was terrible but I have come to wonder if it doesn't contribute to the insanity and darkness of the best tracks.


That's probably true. A song like "Zero The Hero" definitely wouldn't have worked if the production had been pristine; that opening riff cacophony wouldn't have worked at all if it didn't sound like some beast crawling out of a sewer.

I have a, ahem, altered copy of the Born Again album, "Born Again as it should have been", on my computer. It's just a fan-edit, cleaning up some of the reverb and muddiness, and it sounds very different. It's still good, but it does lose a bit of its punch in the process.

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absurder21
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 17, 2013 7:19 pm 
 

Martin-era is very, very underrated I agree. There's a bunch of people who fawn over Born Again for some reason, yet I find a lot of Tyr and Headless Cross to be some pretty awesome trad metal, and definitely worth more of a mention. I'd be down for a Martin-era Sabbath reunion.

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Einzige
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 17, 2013 7:21 pm 
 

absurder21 wrote:
Martin-era is very, very underrated I agree. There's a bunch of people who fawn over Born Again for some reason, yet I find a lot of Tyr and Headless Cross to be some pretty awesome trad metal, and definitely worth more of a mention. I'd be down for a Martin-era Sabbath reunion.


How do you feel about Cross Purposes?

That's the album I feel gets the least attention, even from metalheads who are inclined towards the epicism of Tyr or the Satanic elements of Headless Cross. It's very much a 90s album, and I think that's why it's less well-appreciated - that and its unfortunate placement next to the Godawful Forbidden in the discography. But I feel that if you like, say, 90s Alice in Chains, there ought to be a lot on Cross Purposes you can find to your taste.

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Riffs
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 17, 2013 7:23 pm 
 

Einzige wrote:
Riffs wrote:
I am with you concerning Born Again, however. It's an inconsistent album with forgettable tracks but also some of my favorite Sabbath songs ever. And I agree the production was terrible but I have come to wonder if it doesn't contribute to the insanity and darkness of the best tracks.


That's probably true. A song like "Zero The Hero" definitely wouldn't have worked if the production had been pristine; that opening riff cacophony wouldn't have worked at all if it didn't sound like some beast crawling out of a sewer.

I have a, ahem, altered copy of the Born Again album, "Born Again as it should have been", on my computer. It's just a fan-edit, cleaning up some of the reverb and muddiness, and it sounds very different. It's still good, but it does lose a bit of its punch in the process.


Yeah, I have this version as well and I was disappointed as well. Someone would need to work from the masters. Even then, I wonder how much can be done. Listen to that guitar tone. Sounds awfully like someone was just messing around with analog distortion pedals or multi-effects and quickly came up with something. And despite the fact I find that sound lacking... it manages to fit that album. It's weird.

Have you heard the couple of recent songs from the Iommi-Gillan collaboration (WhoCares). It's not Born Again but one of the song is decent enough for curiosity and nostalgia's sake.
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Einzige
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 17, 2013 7:25 pm 
 

Riffs wrote:
Have you heard the couple of recent songs from the Iommi-Gillan collaboration (WhoCares). It's not Born Again but one of the song is decent enough for curiosity and nostalgia's sake.


Huh-uh. Is it similar in sound to Born Again, or more like an Iommi solo outing ala Seventh Star?

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xThe__Wizard
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 17, 2013 8:20 pm 
 

Born Again is definitely a great album and I wish more people would show it love. Pretty bad production but it works for a few songs. I like it.
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Subrick
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 17, 2013 8:21 pm 
 

I love Tony Martin's Black Sabbath. It combined the darkness and evil of Ozzy with the grandiosity of Dio and it produced two of my favorite albums in Tyr and Headless Cross.
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OpsiusCato
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 17, 2013 8:24 pm 
 

Tony Martin-era Black Sabbath is the fucking best era of the band. Period. Tony Martin is an unbelievably awesome and badass singer. Those albums with him are solid as a fucking block of concrete. Eternal Idol is fucking golden. Headless Cross is fucking golden. Tyr is fucking golden. Cross Purposes is fucking golden. Hell, Even Forbidden kicks ass!

And also, Cross Purposes Live is the best Black Sabbath live album ever made.

Very few things are as good as Tony Martin-era Black Sabbath.
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Xlxlx
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 17, 2013 8:28 pm 
 

I agree with Subrick regarding Tyr and Headless Cross being the two best Martin era Sabbath albums (though they released no bad record with him beyond Forbidden). The latter used to be my favorite of his era, but with time, Tyr became the one I appreciate the most. Full of grandiosity, might, and an unparalleled sense of scope in the band's discography, it's certainly a force to be reckoned with. Regarding Cross Purposes..... Well, it's certainly a very solid album, but being so notably 90's as the OP stablishes ends up being a point against it. It sounds too much like the herder following the sheep, and that's not something I enjoy hearing in Black Sabbath. Still a cool album though.

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OpsiusCato
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 17, 2013 8:35 pm 
 

Xlxlx, you know me, dude. Tony Martin is one of my favourite subjects to discuss!
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Einzige
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 17, 2013 8:37 pm 
 

Xlxlx wrote:
Regarding Cross Purposes..... Well, it's certainly a very solid album, but being so notably 90's as the OP stablishes ends up being a point against it. It sounds too much like the herder following the sheep, and that's not something I enjoy hearing in Black Sabbath.


My thing is that Sabbath had such a huge influence on everything going on in the 1990s, probably moreso than they did in the 1980s (where Judas Priest seemed to have set the standard for metal acts) that it works better than it ought to. AiC, Nirvana, Soundgarden, etc. all cited Sabbath as a primary source, and so a "90s style Sabbath" really, to me, is just an updated 70s style Sabbath. That's what Cross Purposes sounds like to me - reclaiming the throne.

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OpsiusCato
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 17, 2013 8:38 pm 
 

I don't think Cross Purposes sounds very 90s. It sounds too fucking evil to be 90s-sounding.
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Einzige
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 17, 2013 8:40 pm 
 

OpsiusCato wrote:
I don't think Cross Purposes sounds very 90s. It sounds too fucking evil to be 90s-sounding.


I've always felt it was comparable in tone, if not directly in sound (too clean and bass-heavy), to some of the stuff Alice in Chains put out on Facelift. Something like "Sea of Sorrow" would fit on CP with some minor modifications, e.g.

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Xlxlx
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 17, 2013 8:46 pm 
 

Different viewpoints, man. Sure, I can perfectly hear the AIC vibes you mention in Cross Purposes, but that's more of a detriment than an advantage in my opinion. Not because I don't like AIC, as I fucking love them, but because it's a bit unpleasant to hear Sabbath updating their sound in that particular way. To use a rather silly comparison, it's kinda like a middle aged dad trying to dress and act like his teenager kids; rather pointless and more than a bit ridiculous. Again, I'll say that I like the album, but not as much as the rest of Martin era Sabbath for the reason I just stated.
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Empyreal
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 17, 2013 9:22 pm 
 

I think the Tony Martin era is great...just not AS great, as the Ozzy or Dio ones. ;) Those were the earth-shattering releases of the band, and four of them - SBS, Sabotage, Heaven and Hell and Mob Rules - are some of my favorite albums of all time, so it's no surprise that not everything can stand up to that level.

Headless Cross and Tyr are both first rate albums, though, with HC's pulpy horror aesthetic (and KILLER riffs and songwriting - this is one of the best Sabbath songs ever, for sure) and Tyr's hammering viking riffs being really cool, imaginative and up-to-date renditions of a classic sound, way better than, say, what Maiden was putting out at the time for instance. Cross Purposes is also a really cool album and some songs aren't the best, but a lot of that album is just first rate riffery, though perhaps a bit more rockish than metallic - and I can definitely see the 90s-ish sound there, though like Xlxlx I wouldn't say it's totally bathed in the 90s sound, either. It's just got a sort of grungey feel to it, rather than any concrete elements that scream grunge.
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Last edited by Empyreal on Thu Jan 17, 2013 9:25 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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novakm
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 17, 2013 9:24 pm 
 

Love all of the Tony Martin albums except Forbidden. Unless you include Heaven and Hell (the band) and those Dio-era Black Sabbath bonus tracks from that compilation, I would say that the Tony Martin era is my favorite, easily.

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Twisted_Psychology
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 17, 2013 9:35 pm 
 

While I do admire the Dio era more for the consistency and the Ozzy era more for the classic factor, I have always been a huge Tony Martin fan. There are some moments that haven't exactly aged well but their dark fusion of doom, power metal, and hard rock has been one that I've aspired to on occasion and really wish more bands would try out. Headless Cross and Tyr are certainly the obligatory favorites, particularly the former, but The Eternal Idol has really been appealing to me lately and Cross Purposes will always have a special place in my heart since it was the first Tony Martin album I ever heard. Hell, I even like Forbidden and think it has some of the most emotional ballads that Sabbath ever put together!

On a related note, any fans of his non-Sabbath material? I absolutely love Scream and found the latest album from the Mollo/Martin project to be quite enjoyable.
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mjollnir
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 17, 2013 9:37 pm 
 

Cross of Thorns is probably the best Sabbath songs ever made!! My favorite is Martin era for sure....and I grew up on the original. The songwriting is much better!

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Einzige
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 17, 2013 9:44 pm 
 

Empyreal wrote:
(and KILLER riffs and songwriting - this is one of the best Sabbath songs ever, for sure)


God, that's such a great song.

... Yeah, I don't really have a purpose for this comment other than to say "Kill In The Spirit World" is mindblowing. The lyrics are gobbledygook, but they're the most sensible gobbledygook I've ever heard. And I love how the happy, upbeat bassline contradicts the guitar licks.

I also think Martin's clean vocal sweeps are probably irreplaceable. A lot of people compare Martin and Dio, but I can't see Dio performing as well on this song in particular.

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NARAKU666
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 17, 2013 10:13 pm 
 

Just one word, gentlemen..............................................TYR
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Mysticaloldbard
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 18, 2013 12:04 am 
 

The Tony Martin albums are some of my favourite records of all time. Martin has an impeccable voice that perfectly compliments Iommi's rocking riffing. The songs are quite simple in essence but everything is sewn together very convincingly. They slyly weave in and out of slow, airy, chords as Martin croons and heavy, chugging headbangers where the vocals pick up this unexpected power. The atmospheres are really noticeable and oftentimes enveloping with these albums. Headless Cross and The Eternal Idol especially have this dark, misty atmosphere; Tyr is triumphant and graceful; Cross Purposes is a bit meatier and 80's; Forbidden forays into the modern but still pack some punch and darkness.

I'm actually a fan of Forbidden. I've said this before, but how can you not get into the groove of songs like Get A Grip, with its fist-pumping finish? Shaking Off the Chains pulsates with this ridiculously dark energy. Some of the slower, rockier riffs aren't too far removed from Headless Cross or perhaps Idol.

As an addendum, Anno Mundi is an amazing song. Tony's vocals are at his best there. The vibrato on "Depends on another to fight it alone" sends chills down my back. The chorus is one of the most lifting pieces of music I've heard.
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doomster999
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 18, 2013 3:35 am 
 

Cross Purposes is one of my favourite Sabbath albums. I think I'll put it right after Master of Reality. I love Headless Cross as well.
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OpsiusCato
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 18, 2013 3:33 pm 
 

So, anybody ever cared to check out Cross Purposes Live?
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marktheviktor
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 18, 2013 4:30 pm 
 

Subrick wrote:
I love Tony Martin's Black Sabbath. It combined the darkness and evil of Ozzy with the grandiosity of Dio and it produced two of my favorite albums in Tyr and Headless Cross.


Hmm..well for me it didn't remind me anything at all of the Ozzy years and as far as the Dio comparison, that was the problem right there: Tony Martin was vocally too derivative of him without bringing anything new or a fresh style of his own to stand out in good comparison with the previous albums. Even Ian Gillan on that one album Born Again brought a fresh delivery to Sabbath and he didn't sound a thing like his predecessors and that album was heavy as all hell. That being said, John "Ozzy" Osbourne, Ronnie James Dio and Ian Gillan were all by the time Tony Martin got there very legendary metal singers and so those were some epic shoes to fill to say the least.

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Einzige
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 18, 2013 4:38 pm 
 

Comparisons between Dio and Martin are rather unfounded. Yeah, they sound more alike than Ozzy and Dio, for instance, but they're definitely two very different singers. Dio sang more from his diaphragm, which have him a more 'rumbly', bass-heavy and full vocal sound. Martin used his head voice more, and consequentially had a higher pure range than Dio.

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Goatfangs
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 18, 2013 5:07 pm 
 

I'm probably in the minority here, but the Martin era is second only to the Dio albums. They all (with the exception of Forbidden) have a certain majesty in the voice and guitar riffing. It's melodic and majestic, power metal-ish at times but 80s AOR tinged traditional metal at other times. I especially like Tyr - good road trip album. I make it a point to always play that one in full.

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colin040
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 18, 2013 6:17 pm 
 

I'm a fan of The Eternal Idol and Tyr. Both albums aren't the most consistent but the highlights of both albums are godlike. I just wish both albums were full majestic power metal sounding as opposite to the lame 80's vibe that sounded a bit silly. If there's one song that I have to pick as my absolutely favourite out of the Tony Martin era, then it has to be ''Anno Mundi''.

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Subrick
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 18, 2013 6:23 pm 
 

Nightwing. That is all.
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MrMcThrasher II
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 18, 2013 7:08 pm 
 

I listened to some of the songs off Born Again on Youtube, and was concerned. I bought the album from Rasputin's anyway, and discovered that it sounds a lot better off the album.
SO Youtube made the production better for me I suppose?
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MARSDUDE
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 18, 2013 7:32 pm 
 

People don't usually upload songs to YouTube in the highest of qualities.

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Riffs
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 18, 2013 7:33 pm 
 

MrMcThrasher II wrote:
SO Youtube made the production better for me I suppose?


Should be possible to get the shitty Youtube sound on the CD by messing around with an EQ, if that's what you really want :-D
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Abominatrix
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 18, 2013 7:37 pm 
 

The Tony martin stuff? It's cool. I don't know, I've just never been that excited about it. It doesn't really sound like Sabbath leading the world anymore. I rather like the slow/ominous/eerie stuff they did with Martin in the band but almost none of the more rocking tracks stack up against the Dio or Ozzy eras. Not a fan of the production on most of those albums either, especially Headless Cross. Also, um, while that Cross Purposes tour live album is kind of interesting (it's pretty great to hear "The Wizard" on there!), Tony Martin doesn't sound that great sometimes, failing to hit some of his studio notes, and it sort of reaffirms what I believe Tony Iommi himself said at one point: He simply wasn't up to the task in the live environment.
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marktheviktor
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 18, 2013 8:24 pm 
 

Yeah if Tony Iommi has to revert to reforming Sabbath with Tony Martin, that won't be such a good thing financially at least for him.

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Shadoeking
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 18, 2013 8:42 pm 
 

I have only heard two albums from Tony Martin-era Black Sabbath, Cross Purposes and Forbidden. I love Cross Purposes and feel it is one of the band's most underrated albums. There are just some great songs on it. Forbidden on the other hand is awful. There is a couple of decent ideas there, but the rest are terrible. Plus, having Ice T as a guest on a Black Sabbath song just smacks of desperation to remain relevant.
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MrMcThrasher II
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 19, 2013 3:07 am 
 

MARSDUDE wrote:
People don't usually upload songs to YouTube in the highest of qualities.

I think I was misunderstood.
I mean that the production on the album itself doesn't bother me after hearing a poorer version on Youtube.
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adders11
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 19, 2013 6:59 am 
 

To me the Tony Martin era kind of has its own cult following these days. There probably are fans out there that despise the Martin era or any Sabbath album that didn't have Ozzy on vocals. But I haven't really heard anyone slate this particular era of the band, save for the album Forbidden. I could be talking a load of bullshit but I think these albums have slowly gained more popularity and appreciation from fans.

As for me though, I do I think that albums such as Eternal Idol and Cross Purposes (my favourites with Tony Martin) are just as good as the majority of Sabbath albums that fans generally consider to be their best, although at the same time it can be difficult to compare them to an album like Paranoid because of the direction of the songs. But yeah, I do enjoy this era of the band as much as any other.
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 19, 2013 7:11 am 
 

Abominatrix wrote:
Also, um, while that Cross Purposes tour live album is kind of interesting (it's pretty great to hear "The Wizard" on there!), Tony Martin doesn't sound that great sometimes, failing to hit some of his studio notes, and it sort of reaffirms what I believe Tony Iommi himself said at one point: He simply wasn't up to the task in the live environment.


He was apparently ill when they were recording that live album. You can find plenty of bootlegs where he gives an excellent live performance, also there's the 1989 Moscow DVD (you might enjoy the Headless Cross songs sans all the swarthy reverb).
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LegendMaker
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Joined: Mon Jan 18, 2010 11:24 am
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 19, 2013 10:52 am 
 

adders11 wrote:
I haven't really heard anyone slate this particular era of the band, save for the album Forbidden. I could be talking a load of bullshit but I think these albums have slowly gained more popularity and appreciation from fans.

Where were you 3 to 6 months ago? The question is also meant for the OP. We had a pretty long and in-depth discussion on Sabbath's various eras, including a long semi-heated debate on the Martin era, in that thread called The Sabbath poll!. See page 4 from here for my own and others' detailed opinions.

If one thing is clear, it's that this particular era of Sabbath's career has about as many haters as it does followers (and both camps combined are likely still in the minority compared to the vast majority of fans who just ignore that period altogether).
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