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Tony Martin, thou hath been forsaken. Seriously, the Tony Martin era of Black Sabbath has always been criminally underrated except amongst the hardcore Sabbath fans on Youtube and this website. And yet I still see ridiculous references to Tony Martin copying Dio's vocal style or head-scratching comments that the music became more power metal-oriented. True, the Tony Martin era of Sabbath featured drastic musical departures from the bluesy and brooding Ozzy era and the fantastical yet dark Dio era, but was it ever for the worse? In this reviewer's eyes, no way. Still, with Tony Iommi having been the only remaining original Sabbath member from Eternal Idol to TYR and the band having a revolving door of musicians, I understand some diehard Ozzy and Dio fans' skepticism. But Cross Purposes saw the first and only Tony Martin album to feature founding bassist Geezer Butler after his return with the Dio-fronted Sabbath album Dehumanizer. If that doesn't bring some "legitimacy" to the Tony Martin era, then the sound certainly should, as Cross Purposes is classic Sabbath in 90's form.
Despite the sound and the top-notch musician line-up, Cross Purposes was not even supposed to be a Sabbath album. It was supposed to kill time until the original lineup could reunite. But label pressures forced the album to be branded as Black Sabbath and Geezer left shortly after in disillusionment. This is truly odd as Cross Purposes has a very "Sabbath" feel to it. There may be a "90's rock" touch to it, but bands can't stick to the same old song-and-dance for 30 years. Familiarity comes in the form of dark brooding numbers reminiscent of Ozzy and Dio mixed with fast-paced rockers more in touch with Tony Martin. In the end, it's a fantastic combination of sound. While Dehumanizer went overkill a tad bit with the doom metal, it's used much more sparingly this time around. The musicians are also on top of their game. Tony Iommi remains the riffmaster of metal and an excellent soloist, Rainbow's Bobby Rondinelli gives Bill Ward and Cozy Powell a run for their money with blazing-fast and pounding drum work, Geoff Nicholls' keyboards add both atmosphere and eeriness to the melodeis, and Geezer's bass lines are dark and heavy, proving the chemistry between him Iommi is still in full force. Hell, even Eddie Van Halen shows up with a crazy solo on Evil Eye. Oh yeah, Tony Martin is still kinda good too if you didn't notice. He continues to carry the passion and emotion in his delivery from previous albums while occasionally adopting a more brooding voice to show off his true range.
Cross Purposes has one of the most consistent, top-to-bottom lineup of songs on any Black Sabbath album. Album opener I Witness rushes out the gate with a speedy yet sinister guitar riff while Martin shows off his vocal range by alternating brooding with screaming. Cross of Thorns and Cardinal Sin are dark slower-paced numbers which grind with aggression and make use of the soft-loud dynamic. Psychophobia and Back to Eden are more upbeat rockers with the former fast-paced and the latter more restrained in delivery. Immaculate Deception is heavy and grinding like Cross of Thorns and Cardinal Sin with its verses but picks up in speed during the choruses. The most unique track, The Hand That Rocks the Cradle starts with an eerie keyboard melody before erupting into a faster-paced rocker and alternately returning to the keyboard melody before the final verse. It's really the more brooding grinders that hearken back to the early Sabbath days while the others are more reminiscent of the previous Tony Martin albums. The three remaining songs are the only ones that are either somewhat lacking or hit-and-miss. Virtual Death is an extremely dark doom metal song with a cool bass intro from Geezer, but the slow and grinding riff combined with Martin's lower range make it come off as an Alice in Chains impersonation rather than Black Sabbath. Evil Eye features an awesome guitar solo from Eddie Van Halen, but it ends up being a somewhat boring mid-paced rocker. Dying for Love, the only true power ballad on the album, isn't bad as far as Black Sabbath ballads or ballads in general go, but it's not very interesting or notable either. However, the fact that none of the aforementioned songs are even really bad and that the rest of the album is so strong is what prevents Cross Purposes from getting a lower score. Had all copies contained the Japanese bonus track What's the Use?, an extremely fast, catchy, and headbanging rocker that is a serious contender for the album's best song, the album would have been even more near-perfect.
Poor Tony Martin. This album was his finest hour behind Headless Cross and is a serious contender for one of Black Sabbath's top 5 albums. The combination of dark grinding metal with fast-paced rock, combined with Geezer Butler's contributions, really helps put to rest the whole "Tony Martin era of Black Sabbath isn't real Black Sabbath" argument to rest. And that's not to say that any of the Tony Martin albums weren't true Black Sabbath albums either. But Cross Purposes is what reminds fans of the older days by bringing all eras of Sabbath into one awesome album. But if Black Sabbath fans can't understand or accept the merits of this album, then what's the use?
Ozzy Osbourne’s 60th birthday this week has brought up the urge to review one of the forefathers of Heavy Metal. But this review will be on a great creation made after Ozzy’s era.
After Ray Gillen of Badlands left the band in 1986 , Black Sabbath recruited the Albaynian wonder and powerful vocalist, Tony Martin. With Tony, the band released some top level albums like: The Eternal Idol , Headless Cross , TYR and after a short break , while Dio took over in 1991-1992, Tony returned and Sabbath released its greatest album and most memorable one in Tony’s era.
The producion of Cross Purposes , made by Leif Mases and Black Sabbath, is a continuence of the overwhelming ones which has followed Sabbath throughout their long career. Except from the drums, that sounds almost differently from every Sabbath album in the 80’s and 90’s, other instruments sound the same as always. Iommi’s Gibson SG’s morbid signature sound is not leaving the zone for more than 20 years and keeps bringing on the sudden chill with a heavy and cool sound. Butler’s bass is not strong as it was in the 70’s but still is a dominant figure. Last is the addtion of the keyboards, that was not a common thing for Sabbath, especially in the 80’s. The keys have an amazing sound while providing a huge support for the album’s atmosphere.
On this release, Sabbath still maintains its magic from the past and keeps the flame burning with exciting, yet morbid and doomy songs that won’t leave the mind to rest. The music is still flowing through the same line as always bit with a much heavier approach. In comparison to their 70’s era , Sabbath, all along the 80’s and 90’s, has created a new image for themselves as a striaght forward Heavy Metal band. This album, virtually, goes in this same approach. The things that slightly remind of the 70’s are the guitar’s riffs and the bass line. In this release such small reminders can be noticed in the slow tempoed, “Virtual Death”. As it seems, Sabbath’s new image gave them more power and appreciation among other bands that were , actually, influenced by them.
Lyricly, Sabbath perserve their usual lyrical themes like life and death , the occult and other religious stuff. “Cross Of Thorns” , “Back To Eden” “Cardinal Sin” and “I Witness” are best examples for Sabbath’s main issues of Religion. “Immaculate Deception” and “Virtual Death” are the example for the Life and Death issues.
Iommi’s music still remains mysterious and dark with his influential guitar riffs and neverending solos, Butler’s bass support has almost the same melodic verse as always. The major impact , in the music around Cross Purposes, came through Tony Martin and the versitile drummer , Bobby Rondinelli. Martin is surely one of the best vocalists of his time. His emotive and strong voice can place him with the top of other great vocalists such as Bruce Dickinson , Dio and Rob Halford. Every song on this release is a well credited work by this man. Although Martin , in the present, is busy in other projects and bands, Black Sabbath is, without a doubt, the best place to be for him. Today’s Martin’s main business in music is with his own band that is based on his name.
The drummer , Rondinelli, shows an impressive ability and has a lot of presence everywhere in the album. His drumming is a bit more progressive than in Bill Ward’s days. All is well accorded to the changes that Sabbath went through since the 70’s. Rondinelli is one , in the line of drummers that were in Sabbath like Vinnie Appice and Cozy Powell, that help to keep the band’s music more suitable for it’s genre and time. Today , Rondinelli is still busy with his self named band that is fronted by Tony Martin. The Keyman , Geoff Nichols, is not the virtuous type, his role is more like many other keyboardists like Don Aiery. Today , Nicholls has the same role in Tony Martin’s band.
Cross Purposes is a whole load of hits. Every Heavy Metal fan can find everything here. Melody , doom , Sabbath riffs and even a ballad. The trip begins with the strong “I Witness” that continues the new/old way of Sabbath with Martin. Coming in second is the best track in this release ,”Cross Of Thorns”. This song has power, strong lyrics, magnificent solo and a memorable chrous. “Psychophobia” is a Heavy Metal cracker with heavy riffs and great drumming. Martin makes this track a fierce, candid and something that is so common to Black Sabbath. “Virtual Death” is a remmant of the 70’s. A slow paced track that screams mystery and pain. After that heavyweight track comes the release and it comes with “Immaculate Deception”. This track is the fastest track in the album. Fast, not like in Thrash Metal, but for Sabbath it can be considered as a speedster. Also this song posses a great solo , heavy riffs and great chorus. “Dying For Love” is a well done ballad that has a beautiful leading riff and along with Martin’s soft singing, it’s a mind blower. “Back To Eden”, another explosive and catchy track that stays in the same vein. “The Hand That Rocks The Cradle” is the first runner up to be the best track of the album. A well crafted track with hard lyrics, complex riffs and a chorus that just won’t stop being amazing. “Cardinal Sin” is another one of Sabbath’s religious songs about sins for the Lord. The mixture of the keys with the guitar’s rhythm provides a massive effect on this song’s theme. “Evil Eye” sometimes reminds of “Lady Evil” made in Dio’s era in Sabbath. These two songs are not identical , musically, but when noticing the concept of the lyrics , one can’t miss the imagination between them. Even the aura all around them is similar.
Black Sabbath is a band, that many artists and fans, look up to as the greatest Heavy Metal act ever to be formed. They went through many changes since their formation in 1969 in Birmingham , UK. These changes , unlike some opinions, made this band even greater than they were back in the 70’s. Cross Purpose comes as a supporter for this emphasis. Today, Black Sabbath are touring with their original 70’s lineup and the fans are still waiting for a comeback album.
Black Sabbath's album Cross Purposes was the first album recorded after vocalist Ronnie James Dio's second exit from the band, and marks the return of Tony Martin as singer. Geezer Butler stayed on as bassist and the band recruited former Rainbow drummer Bobby Rondinelli. Cross Purposes is the only studio album recorded by this lineup, and in my opinion the album is something of a mixed bag. Not terrible by any means, but I wouldn't call it a classic Sabbath release.
I've always been of the opinion that the first Martin era, with the albums "The Eternal Idol," "Headless Cross" and "Tyr," was better than his second go-round with the band. There are rumours that Martin and Geezer didn't see eye to eye regarding songwriting on CP, Geezer wanting to go heavy and Martin preferring some AOR elements. Did Geezer actually say that Tony Martin "hates everything heavy?" In any case what we have here are some great songs and some that range from so-so to downright dull.
Highlights of the album are the heavy "Virtual Death," Geezer having a hand in this one as evidenced by the bass solo intro. The riffing is slow and doomy on this one, and Martin makes good use of the entire range of his voice. Another favorite is the excellent "Immaculate Deception," probably the best song on the album. The vibe of this one hearkens back to the Heaven and Hell days, beginning with an odd offtime riff (alternating measures of 4/4 and 6/4 time) then breaking into a high-speed section, Tony Martin's vocals adding intensity to the whole affair. This one is simply a great track and shows why Tony Iommi is still the "riffmaster general". My other favorites are "Cardinal Sin," a fast number which exposes the abusive nature of organized religion, and "Evil Eye," which begins with a great doom riff as only Iommi can write them. This one is a bit of a rocker and was co-written by Eddie Van Halen, who didn't get credited in the liner notes. Another great vocal performance by Martin.
The rest of the album, in my opinion, is kind of lacking. The opening riff to "I Witness" doesn't really impress me, although it gets getter during the verse. "Psychophobia" is ok but doesn't reach the level of the best songs. I wonder if the lyric "It's time to kiss the rainbow goodbye," is a stab at Dio. "Cross of Thorns" is a decent power ballad-type song, but then "Dying for Love" is more of the same and not much differentiates the two songs in terms of style. "Back to Eden" does nothing for me, and "The Hand that Rocks the Cradle" is the real stinker of the album. Musically unspectacular and with the same name as a stupid movie, this songs is at odds with my pro-choice stance on abortion.
Although it's not the worst Sabbath album, neither is it anywhere near the quality level of their most classic and influential releases. Geezer exited the band after this one, so it seems the bassmaster supreme was a bit dissatisfied with the situation at the time. Hardcore Sabbath fans will enjoy this one as there are some killer songs, but be aware that the song quality wavers at times. Still, the album is a decent attack against the evils of organized religion and features fine preformances from all musicians involved.
This was my first purchase of Black Sabbath, after listening to Heaven and Hell at my brother's house. And still, this is one of my favourite Sabbath albums, the one I keep coming back to. I'll try to tell you why. I believe first impressions, if not last forever, but are very important, so here's some thoughts I had when I picked this up. Wow, cool artwork, an angel with burning wings. Maybe not the most outstanding idea, but looks good and fits the album well. Also, really nice booklet with lyrics included. I like lyrics, so that is important to me.
Very well, on with the music, then. The album kicks off with "I Witness", a song that's fast from the very beginning, with guitars that goes higher and higher, building up to the point where Tony Martin's vocals come in. The start really works well, it kind of sets the norm of what will be. Lyrically, it's not a masterpiece, but it fit's well in with the theme of the album, which seems very dark if you compare it to other Sabbath releases. I myself have always been a Martin fan, so I guess it's no wonder that I love his technique when it comes to sing with emotion. This is one of the best tracks on the album.
Next out is "Cross of Thorns", a kind of ballad-type song.It's much slower than the "I Witness", a nice contrast if you like. It starts with Martin singing pretty low and, again, of course, with emotion. He has a feeling to the singing that I felt Ozzy never achieved in his years with Sabbath. While ballads may not be Sabbath's cup of tea, they finish it without shame, and I restrain from calling it crappy, even though it isn't the best track on the album. And again, after a nice switch, we're bombarded with the next track, "Psychophobia", a really fast track with immense drumming by Bobby Rondinelli. I must say that I'm impressed by this guy, he does a very decent work, although he never could compete with Ward. The song itself doesn't bring me any special feeling, and somehow it feels like this song would have suited Ozzy's voice better than Martin's. All in all, it feels more like an Ozzy-type of song.
"Virtual Death", the fourth track of the album, used to be a regular skipper of mine for a long time. The song starts with incredibly heavy bassplay by Butler. My God, is that bass filly, low and... I don't know. This track really screams doom metal. It's slow, and it doesn't get faster. And damn, the lyrics. So wonderful, you just got to love those. If you're at all in to doom, you should check this album out solely because of this track.
As for the rest of the album, there's not really much to mentoin. After "Virtual Death", the album's going down, with a kind of fill-it-out songs, which is a shame, since it starts out so strong. At least we have "Dying for Love", which starts with a beautiful solo by Iommi. It continues to be a full-time ballad, and the lyrics are so sweet it makes my stomach turn. Same goes for "Immaculate Deception", odd lyrics, but the song itself is pretty nice with some ok speed.
Only track that's really worth to mentoin is "Cardinal Sin", which is also pretty doomy at the start, but somehow they manage to ruin the atmosphere they have created, and the end it's almost pure shit. And the thing annoying me the most is the last track, "Evil Eye", which is basic "women are evil" Black Sabbath bullshit that they seem to have to put on every other album. It's a very mediocre song at it's very best.
At last, I must say that I'm glad I picked this album before I knew anything except the name of the band. That way, I didn't have to put un-realistic pressure on the album. I very well COULD say that it's under-rated, but why would I? I think it'll be better if you pick it up yourself, after telling yourself that it's only a few bucks, and that you could be pleasantly surprised. The chance is there, really. Trust me on that one. And while it isn't a "Paranoid", or even a "Heaven and Hell", it's most certainly no "Forbidden" either. With that knowledge you would think ít's pretty safe to spend your money on this one. And why did I give it "only 82" when it's my favourite Sabbath album? Because I'm fucking tired of people that gives 90+ to every single CD they review. It's not THAT good.
I have to concur with most that this is an underrated album, even by those who are steady fans of the earlier Tony Martin albums. This was mostly due to it following “Dehumanizer”, which was one of the 6 greatest albums ever put out by Sabbath, resulting in the fate of many good albums of being overlooked as an afterthought from a past era. “Cross Purposes” is cut from the earlier Tony Martin years, it doesn’t possess the flaws (though not as severe as some suggest) in production and songwriting that “Forbidden” suffered from, and stylistically is very close to the sound heard on “The Headless Cross”.
Original bassist and songwriter Geezer Butler decided not to leave the fold when Dio and Appice did, and consequently his lyrical and musical influence has given a somewhat unique flavor to this album as opposed to previous Martin era albums. This is mostly observed in the lyrical delivery, touching upon some similar subject matter as what was covered on “Dehumanizer”. The gloom and doom bass intro to “Virtual Death”, as well as the evil plodding riffs that follow are staples of the Ozzy era, although Tony Martin’s vocal harmonies during the verses almost sound akin to Alice in Chains. The other slow track “Evil Eye” also draws upon these doom influences, but the riffs and vocal delivery are a bit lighter and more rock inspired.
The ballads on here are where the similarities with the older Tony Martin era comparisons are at their strongest. “Dying for Love” is a darker version of “Feels Good to me” with a dreary atmosphere, some solid blues lead playing and a melancholy vocal delivery. “Cross of Thorns” also shares the same dark atmosphere, but puts the emphasis on hooks and lyrical content. “The Hand that Rocks the Cradle” is the most similar to the atmospheric splendor of the ballads found on “The Headless Cross”, combining a light clean guitar sound and some electric keyboard work before kicking into the louder rocking sections. There’s a little bit of “When Death Calls” and “A Kill in the Spirit World” on this one.
The remaining songs on here are extremely varied, all of them fast, but each deserving special note as they highlight the many opposing influences at work. “Cardinal Sin” sounds a lot like a Zepplin song (Kashmir mostly), but with a heavier guitar attack and a brilliant mix of harmonized vocals. “Psychophobia” sounds a little bit similar to the “Born Again” era material, highlighting a rapid moving chromatic riff contrasted by a subdued break section. “I Witness” is heavily similar to the faster songs on “Dehumanizer”, most notably “TV Crimes”. “Immaculate Deception”, which is my favorite song on this album, is a nice mix of hard edged riffing and speed drumming similar to the material on “Tyr”, picture a perfect blend of the heavy riffing found on “Anno Mundi” and the hook driven speed of “The Law Maker”.
The most astounding feature of this album is the year it was released in, as this approach to metal had fallen out of favor and Grunge was at the forefront of prominent alternative scenes. It is ironic that although most of the Grunge acts claimed to be influenced by Sabbath that Tony Iommi was all but completely oblivious to it by virtue of his songwriting. Although this would mostly be welcomed by fans of the Tony Martin era, I recommend it to any Sabbath fan, because it needs an audience more than any other album put out by the band. It is not quite as consistent as “The Headless Cross” or “The Eternal Idol”, but it is definitely worthy of your attention.
After the short lived 1992 Dio reunion which resulted in the excellent album Dehumanizer, Sabbath returns with vocalist Tony Martin like reunion gig never happened after the album TYR.
Sabbath also drops the ultra heavy doomy sound from Dehumanizer and returns to more of the tradition sound that was found on the Martin albums of the past. Still Cross Purposes sounds a tad different from those albums as it doesn’t have the full blown keyboard effect. Even though it doesn’t quit sound the same I still feel that this would have been the natural progression of the band even if Dehumanizer never happened. It was the early 90’s and Sabbath modernized their sound nicely for that era with Cross Purposes
It seems a lot of people were upset when Dio left the group again and that Tony Martin came back. I in fact was very happy as I find Tony Martin to be one of the finest vocalists to grace the genre of metal so I accepted Cross Purposes with open arms.
The album opens with I Witness, a more up beat track and a perfect way to open the album. The second song Cross of Thorns is a slower track with fantastic emotional lyrics. I’ve always found Tony Martin to write great lyrics and his voice just brings them to life. This track is perhaps the best on the album. The album picks up the beat again with Psychophobia with a monstrous riff by Iommi. What’s interesting is Martin sounds almost like Dio sometimes on this song. Virtual Death is a much slower doomier song with an odd distortion on Martin’s vocals. I wasn’t too hot on this track and its usually a skipper. Immaculate Deception is a decent heavier track right before the nice Sabbath ballad Dying for Love. I’m not sure what it is but with Iommi’s guitar talents and Martin’s vocals….ballads just seem to work. Good song. The last four songs are nice solid hard rockers.
Overall I didn’t find it to be a bad album at all. I however didn’t like Cross Purposes near as much as Martin’s three previous Sabbath outings The Eternal Idol, Headless Cross, and TYR. I just found those be terrific outings and Cross Purposes doesn’t quit live up to the standards on those release. It just lacks the catchiness and overall greatness found on those (and plus I really dig the 80’s feel of those albums). Even with its very few disappointments, Cross Purposes is still very much worth checking out for fans of the underrated Martin-era Sabbath albums.
I just find it a shame that Sabbath’s next album Forbidden didn’t turn as good or better than this. That album is eternally terrible (check out my review on it and you’ll see how much I despise it) and in my opinion this officially ends the great Tony Martin era of Sabbath.
I expected to be disappointed with Cross Purposes, because some Wal-Marts carry this album and at an extreme discount. Reading that Tony Martin was in the band surprised me, because I thought he had left earlier and would never return. Headless Cross was a pretty decent album, so I thought I'd give this a shot. There really is no weak link to this album. IMO, Tony Martin is probably the most talented vocalist that Sabbath has ever had. I Witness is probably one of the strongest songs on the album, but songs such as Cross of Thorns and Cardinal Sin rank right up there. What separates this album from alot of other Sabbath albums is the extended use of the keyboard. This era of Sabbath doesn't even sound like the same band, because they adapt a rather unique structure for their songs. Some Iommi's best solos fall on Cross Purposes. I was also really pleased with the competence of drummer Bobby Rondinelli, who had been in Rainbow and is now currently in Blue Oyster Cult. He as well deserves to be mentioned along with other great Sabbath drummers such as Bill Ward and Cozy Powell. Most mallcore fans that only know of Sabbath because Ozzy was in the band and only know Ozzy from the Osbournes often fail to realize that Sabbath released some of its best work without the godfather of heavy metal.
Since Dio left quite soon after "Dehumanizer" (which remains a shame - that line-up still had some good albums in them as far as i'm concerned) Sabbath was (once again) without a singer, resulting in the come-back of Tony Martin.
Less heavy and dark then "Dehumanizer" this album more or less picks up where Martin left the band with the "Headless Cross" and "Tyr" albums - excellent, melodic hardrock / metal with a shining spot for the vocals and songwriting and it remains a mystery for me why a lot of people generally overlook or underrate it.
Songwriting is perhaps even more varied than on most of the Sabbath releases - varying between faster tracks like the opener "I Witness" and "Immaculate Deception", the very doomy "Virtual Death" and "Evil Eye" and ballads such as "Crown Of Thorns" and "Dying For love". There really isn't a weak spot to be found on here.
In all more than a worthy Sabbath album - and af far as I'm concerned definitely in the top 10...