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Well, we have kind of a faggy album cover, with Tony Iommi looking very contemplative in front of a landscape. Pretty cheesy if you ask me. Also, the album is credited to “Black Sabbath Featuring Tony Iommi”, and I’m pretty sure this was meant to be an Iommi solo album, but the record company made him put the Sabbath name on it. But whatever, music is music.
Well the first song, “In for the Kill” is done rather nicely. A very catchy hookline for the chorus, and some fast speed metalling. This is an obvious improvement over Born Again, and Glenn Hughes sounds a whole lot like Tony Martin (in a good way). At times, he oversings a little bit, but on the whole, this is a very strong song. The solo is a raging comeback for Iommi, whose guitar playing hasn’t really been all that creative since Heaven and Hell. He obviously is doing a lot better unburdened by the other members of Sabbath, letting his own musical ideas come through. 8/10
“No Stranger to Love”, a ballad song, starts out sounding a little cheesy (this was the intended single for the album). However, the chorus proves to be very powerful, and Hughes’s vocals fit the song very well. The lyrics are a little bit corny, but I’m not too picky in that department usually. The synth-heavy production is a very different approach for Sabbath, but it sounds pretty good. 7/10
“Turn to Stone” – Oh boy, what a great riff! The opening riff rocks insanely hard. And this rockin-ness carries through the whole song, with a nice catchy chorus and a smokin’ guitar solo. Killer song, with a fast excited feeling to it. 9/10
“Sphinx (The Guardian)” is just a synthesizer intro to the next song: “Seventh Star”. This song is barely worthy of its title track position, I must say. Carried by a very interesting riff, the song has a pretty basic melody. The drums have a weird delay effect that is kind of annoying, but whatever. A decent solo from Iommi, but not too different from what we’ve heard before. The one thing I really like about this song is the synths, which are integrated well into the sound of the other instruments. The song has a lot of average moments, but the main riff and synth parts are what make this song good. 7/10
“Danger Zone” opens with kind of a creepy-sounding riff, very typically Iommi. By this point though, the album is beginning to feel a little same-y if you know what I mean. Still, the song has its own merits, with some nice dual guitar shit in there. When the riff changes, the song feels like it just got kicked up a notch, very cool. They don’t stay on that new riff for long enough though! Whatever, I can’t complain. This is one of the better songs of the album, regardless of its placement on the album. 8/10
“Heart Like a Wheel” is the obligatory blues song of the album. The song is pretty boring though, and pales in comparison to, say, “Lonely Is the Word”. I would maybe compare this song to “Over and Over” I guess, because it’s a pretty basic blues-metal song that doesn’t really do much creatively. Iommi cites the guitar solo as one of his personal favorites (it’s actually a few solos), but I must say I disagree with him here. It’s pretty much your basic Iommi wankery, and even some of the other solos on this album are better, like “In for the Kill” or “Danger Zone”. The song has its moments, but overall it is pretty drab. Also it’s too long. 4/10
“Angry Heart” already looks bad just from the title, because the song right before has “heart” in its name. I never like to judge a book by its cover, but this really does feel like a rehash of the rest of the album before it. By this point, I’m a little tired of listening to the CD honestly, and this song doesn’t do much to pick up my spirits. 4/10
“In Memory…” is pretty short, especially for a Black Sabbath song. This is a disappointing ending to the album, being a cheesy ballad and all. Some ridiculously over-the-top singing paired with a boring-ass riff makes for a crappy song. The acoustic guitar is nice, but this isn’t anything we haven’t heard before, in far better form. Bleh. 3/10
So overall, this is a huge comeback from the ridiculously bad Born Again, but the album starts to drag towards the end. Glenn Hughes isn’t the greatest vocalist in the world, and his vocal style is actually closer to Ian Gillan’s than to any previous Sabbath singer’s, but he doesn’t drag the album down the way Gillan did. The first 5 songs are some decent metal if you ask me, and the rest is pretty much filler. It’s not terrible filler, I’ve definitely heard worse, but it’s not as satisfying as the first half of the album. Also, it is notable that this is the first Sabbath album to have only one original member, a trend that would continue into the 80s and 90s.