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This album is easily the worst Black Sabbath release of the 80’s and feels like a collection of songs that generally aren’t good enough to have been on the ‘Seventh Star’ album and what’s more it doesn’t have the masterful Glenn Hughes on vocals, instead we have Tony Martin, whose talents are limited by the fact that he has to sing Ray Gillen’s parts. However I would still consider Tony Martin one of this albums saving graces. Yet still this album is being heralded as ‘a hidden masterpiece’ and ‘Sabbath’s best album’, give me a break, it feels like the shaky follow up to ‘Seventh Star’ which is the second worst of Sabbath’s 80’s output.
All things considered this album does has its moments the finest of which probably being ‘The Shining’ which is a complete cheese fest (in the best possible way) and features some great riffs from Iommi, a catchy chorus and some perhaps unintentionally hilarious lyrics such as ‘the house is gonna haunt you!’. ‘Ancient Warrior’ is another of the albums stronger tracks which has a slightly middle eastern feeling and a catchy chorus, but not a Sabbath classic by any means. ‘Born to Lose’ could be the work of pretty much any 80’s metal band and has some very generic riffs but is still a good enough song featuring a very good vocal performance on Tony Martin’s part. My favourite song on this album without doubt is the beautiful instrumental ‘Scarlet Pimpernel’ which is something we had not heard from Tony Iommi since ‘Sabbath Bloody Sabbath’ (although there is a little instrumental at the end of ‘Heaven and Hell’) and its well worth the wait, it serves as a reminder that Iommi is in my opinion the greatest guitarist ever. I can’t help but feel a little bit let down by the albums title track as the verses are great very sinister and creepy not dissimilar to the bands self titled track then the chorus is a complete cheese fest (this time in a bad way) which completely ruins the atmosphere established by the verse, still it stands out as a song.
But generally this album is a mixed bag with some complete crap the worst of which being ‘Hard Life to Love’ which features some sub-Zeppelin riffs and very clichéd
‘living in the fast lane’ lyrics. ’Nightmare’ starts well with some atmospheric keyboards from Geoff Nicholls suddenly descends into dull riffs that in no way help convey the lyrics of being ’fooled by the devils hand’ (which perhaps hints a the lyrical direction of the Tony Martin era masterpiece ‘Headless Cross’). ‘Glory Ride’ yet again starts promisingly with Iommi deciding he wants to sound like himself again after the Jimmy Page rip-off riffs of the previous song but the song itself soon starts to feel less Sabbath and more generic 80’s rock. Not a bad song by any means but not really Black Sabbath. ‘Lost Forever’ is the albums fastest song, but fast does mean good (as many thrash fans may fail to understand) and this song is painfully average.
Musically this line up is a rather strange one, I like the addition of Bob Daisley on bass he plays well and could well be the best bass player Sabbath had outside of Geezer Butler, but the other half of the rhythm section, Eric Singer as good a drummer as he is, he’s not suited to this band and he lacks any of the style of the great Sabbath drummers such as Bill Ward, Cozy Powell and Vinnie Appice. This is Tony Martins first Sabbath album and he is one of the albums redeeming features, but he isn’t really aloud an influence on the material that would prove itself successful on the following albums;
‘Headless Cross’ and ‘Tyr’.
‘Eternal Idol’ is one of Sabbath’s weaker albums but its not a complete waste of time it does feature some strong songs and will no doubt be of interest to die-hard Sabbath fans. Thankfully after this album things really began to pick up with the arrival of Cozy Powell and Tony Martin being allowed to contribute more to song writing.