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Decent album from an unstable lineup - 77%

Satanwolf, May 21st, 2007

"The Eternal Idol" is then first Black Sabbath album to feature vocalist Tony Martin, who would sing on on several more Sabbath releases. Martin's addition bought some much needed stability to the band, but the rest of the lineup seemed to be in flux at the time. This album comes off as more of a Tony Iommi solo album than a true Sabbath album (the liner notes list Iommi as "the player", with other members listed simply as "players") but there are some good songs here.

It's difficult to know who actually played on what track. Both Dave Spitz and Bon Daisley played bass, Eric Singer plays drums while Bev Bevan is listed as having played "percussion." There were even two singers involved: Ray Gillan recorded the vocals but then left before the album's release, Iommi then choosing to bring in Martin to rerecord the vocals. So it's difficult to find any kind of band identity here, a problem which plagued Sabbath through the mid-eighties.

Musically, there are songs that hearkend to Sabbath's previous greatness. "The Shining" is an idea originating from Ian Gillan's days in the band, and is a strong opening track. Another personal favorite is "Ancient Warrior," and closing title track reflects the dark mood found in earlier Sabbath works. "Glory Ride" has a great chorus and some heavy riffing, as does the very heavy "Nightmare." "Lost Forever" is a fast-paced song with a great guitar solo. And instrumental "Scarlet Pimpernel" is a fine piece of guitar work from Iommi.

Other songs on the album fall somewhat short of the heaviness Sabbath is best known for. Perhaps Iommi was attempting to fit in with the mainstream metal of the mid-eighties. "Born to Lose" and "Hard Life to Love" sound like they would've fit better on previous Sabbath album, (originally meant to be released as a Toni Iommi solo album) "Seventh Star." But the songs are decent rockers, and overall "Eternal Idol" is a well-written, heavy and at times moody album. The only problem is the instable lineup, which as I've already said makes it difficult to find any kind of band identity.

"Eternal Idol" is a good start for Tony Martin, who had the unenvious task of stepping into the shoes of some of metal's best-known vocalists. That he had the courage to do it says much for his strength as a performer and person. This album sees Sabbath finding some solid musical ground after several years of "revolving door" lineups, and with Martin as vocalist the band would continue to gather strength through the eighties and into the nineties.