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The Seventh Star Shines Bright. - 83%

hells_unicorn, August 24th, 2006

This is pretty much a lost chapter in the Black Sabbath back catalog, mostly because it doesn't really qualify as the Black Sabbath that people came to know with Ozzy. After coming off the heavily rainbow inspired music from his collaboration with Ronnie James Dio, and an attempt at returning to the scary sounds of old with Born Again, Tony Iommi was pretty much left on his own, to find his own sound.

This album was meant to be a solo project, and as such any whom buy this album should disassociate the Sabbath sound with this album. Once this is done, we are actually left with a rather amazing quasi-blues, quasi-80s metal glory fest. Many knock Tony Iommi's playing as being too blues driven, and in the case of the post Ozzy material, to anti-melodic. I beg to differ with the view that this is a negative for two reasons. (1) Tony Iommi was shredding the pentatonic scale back when Kirk Hammet was still in kindergarten, hense Tony is doing what he is entitled to do and (2) soloing is not all about being able to sing along with what you hear, that's why it's called a GUITAR SOLO!!!

Production on this album is worlds away from any previous Black Sabbath release. The guitars are crisp and clean, a real departure from the dark and murky sound that Tony is more famous for. There are many prominent keyboard parts, which was an occasional anomally on Technical Ecstacy and Heaven and Hell, but was never a dominant part of an entire album. The drums are very heavily reverbed and thunderous, which is not something that Bill Ward was known for. The vocal harmonies are also noteworthy, as this is the first album where there is really a large amount of vocal overdubbing going on (The single version of "No Stranger to Love" is loaded with voice tracks)

The individual tracks are a bit varied, you have a bunch of really good stand out tracks, and a couple that are mediocre. "In for the Kill" is a nice up tempo rocker with a rather attention getting drum intro, and a powerful chorus. "No Stranger to Love" is probably the only true Power Love Ballad of the 80s variety ever associated with the Sabbath name, and probably enjoyed some regular airplay on some easier listening stations back in 1986. "Turn to Stone" has a very intricant drum intro, and is probably the fastest song ever written by Iommi, very nice solo here as well.

"The Guardian" is a rather haunting brief synth instrumental that functions as a prelude for the next track. "Seventh Star" is a rather impressive mini-epic with a very catchy main riff, a memorable solo, and the most inspired lyrics on the album. "Danger Zone" has some decent guitar work, and a rather weird intro that reminds me of older Sabbath work.

"Heart like a Wheel" is an attempt to recapture the spirit of Lonely is the Word with simplistic blues riffing and highly improvised soloing, only here it doesn't work as well and gets boring after the first 3 minutes. "Angry Heart" sounds a bit too much like earlier tracks at times, particularly Danger Zone, and doesn't quite push beyond the mediocre category. "In Memory" is a slight step up with an acoustic change of pace, and has a rather nuerotic vocal performance on the part of Glenn Hughes, but is way too short.

In conclusion, you may want to skip tracks 7 and 8, but otherwise there is some good stuff on here, especially if your not boxed into the "If it's not with Ozzy, it's not Sabbath" crowd. Even though this album doesn't really blend in with any of the other Sabbath eras, it proves that there was one person that gave Sabbath it's truly unique sound, and it wasn't Ozzy, it was Tony Iommi.