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It's often been said that this is a conceptual album about Norse mythology. But the bulk of this album is pretty much Judeo-christian. Side A alone (1-4) could have made a decent concept album on the Bible if not the Torah; Law Maker is almost about Moses, Jerusalem could be about King David or Jesus. The concept of Anno Mundi is related to the creation of the world as expressed in the Judeo-christian scriptures, and the Sabbath Stones conjure the images of tablets of stone. Both songs are also about fulfilling prophecies. Those references aside, Anno Mundi conveys an anti-war message not unlike War Pigs (generals..), Sabbath Stones was the third ever song to feature the word Sabbath in the title (and second one to actually feature the word Sabbath in the lyrics) but the first one in a long-time (17 years). This is to mean that Martin, who wrote the lyrics, was consciously trying to maintain a certain level of familiarity and continuity with the band's previous work. Another example of this is the mention of Lucifer in Heaven in Black (N.I.B). Not attempting to sound sinister with every sentence allows Martin to come up with some pretty fine lyrics.
About the Norse part of the album, the song Valhalla must be directed to Tyr (otherwise there is no reason for the album's name) and is loosely about Ragnarök, the final battle at the end of the world, which Loki indirectly triggered (he who has the skill of deceit). The version which Martin referred to here is probably the Germanic one which inspired Wagner for Der Ring des Nibelungen (Götterdämmerung, or Twilight of the Gods) because it refers to a ring.
Now, about the music. Not unlike Headless Cross, Iommi has been recycling some patterns from Sabbath's earlier glorious days. Anno Mundi's acoustic intro is eerily similar to that of Children of the Sea; and the riff is reminescent (though in a lesser capacity) of Zero the Hero's (and Guns'N'Roses' Paradise City to some extent, but this is GnR's fault originally). The verse part of Sabbath Stones is built on the War Pigs model; a riff with lyrics sang in between. Heaven in Black is built on a Children the Grave pattern (listen to the riffing during the verses). Still, aside of the Anno Mundi intro, these borrowings are quite subtle and if anything, serve to give a continuity feel.
The album has very fine moments, such as the contrasting acoustic passages in Sabbath Stones, whose lyrics are ambiguous and evocative enough not to make anyone cringe. Anno Mundi has beautiful vocal overlays and works very well on all levels. The heavier, fast-paced songs (The Law Maker and Heaven in Black) provide a good contrast to the album which otherwise contains several soft parts. Jerusalem and Valhalla have extremely catchy, and yet not cheesy, choruses and very good build-ups. Cozy Powell's power drums on Valhalla mark the transition from Odin's Court to that song very well. The Battle of Tyr is perhaps a little cheap (keyboard orchestra?) but nevertheless provide a Wagnerian feel to this ~8 minutes song which culminates as Valhalla.
One can't blame Sabbath here for playing it safe and trying to apply a recipe; it was very uncommon for a metal or rock band back then to have orchestral passages on an album (I'm not talking about orchestrating certain songs like Queensrÿche or Aerosmith did with Michael Kamen). Same for the subject matter which gave the album its title; this is before the label Viking metal was crafted. Though Manowar and Bathory had sung about Nordic mythology already, I really don't think here that Sabbath were trying to jump on any bandwagon. They chose this subject probably because they had done the pseudo-satanic thing an album before, and wanted to explore other ominous fantasy subjects (as they had started with Dio); they could have chosen Celtic, Greek or Roman mythologies.. the English week days are almost all named after Norse god names, so perhaps it was just an arbitrary decision.
Odin's Court contains very nice electric guitar licks who would later turn up on the Bible Black song. As for Feel Goods to Me, it is reminescent (in its overall commercial attempt) of No Stranger to Love from Iommi's previous solo album and one can indeed wonder.. what was he thinking ? Did he really thought he would get an MTV hit with this song or video? It's not a bad song, but it affects the cohesion of this album.
Worthy of mention is that this album had the rhythm section (bass+drums) of Whitesnake, Slide it In era. Does it show in the music? No. In this type of Sabbath, bass is not very important. Headless Cross had a session bass player, and here is Neil Murray who already has a good musical relationship with the drummer. He does a fine job, but the job is not that all important, unlike in other eras of Sabbath where Butler is needed. This kind of polished-AOR rock doesn't need the Geezer Butler bass, though obviously he could also do the job.
All in all, this album is constituted of 1)a mini album whose themes revolve around Christanity and/or Judaism (1-4), 2)an EP whose theme is Norse mythology (5-7), 3)a MTV/radio-friendly ballad (8) and 4)a heavier song based about some kind of episode from the Russian Empire (9). It could have been a more credible album if better organized, were the MTV ballad removed and the Norse trilogy (one three-part song, really) expanded to make two cohesive, individually themed album sides.
It is a very good counterpart to Headless Cross. Both albums form an era in themselves, and this one is the lighter side, whereas Headless Cross is the darker.
I'll never forget this one time standing in line to report back in from a liberty port call in Singapore when I was in the service overhearing a conversation between two other guys sharing what they did that night. Usually such exchanges have to do with their drinking experiences that night and where the best "masseuses" reside and how many they did. On a Navy ship, blather about such indulgences are as casual and mundane as housewives shooting the shit at a tupperware party. I wasn't struck by tales of strippers pulling razorblades out of their twats or bar fights with Royal servicemen. No, what caught me by attention was the sailor who was matter of factly reporting that he and so and so went and saw Black Sabbath play a gig in a club that night and got the autograph of Tony Iommi and singer Tony Martin afterwards. He was met with an "oh" and the conversation moved on to other persons, places and things of relevancy. "Oh". And hence, I will always associate that little second hand moment with this era of the band as very "oh." After all, this wasn't any old heavy metal band that may or may not have been heard of by the average Joe. This was Black fucking Sabbath. Or at least what was left of them which sorry to say was not much because if Tyr is the best album from the Tony Martin days, then you need not be bothered unless you are satisfied by name brand appeal alone which I suspect is the case with many people.
Not that this record is bad by any stretch but it really isn't much more than average heavy/power metal with predictable melodies and plenty of filler. That may be good enough for most other bands that play this type of thing but it is NOT good enough for Black Sabbath. Am I putting too broad a perspective on this band after all these years of them having been around? Perhaps. Fellow Brummie Tony Martin is a workman like vocalist with a good set of lungs for heavy metal and I can see why Tony Iommi hired him even if he really is just a second rate traditional metal wailer in the vein of Ronnie Dio. I suppose it also explains alot that Martin wrote all the lyrics on the album. Norse mythology is one of my favorite subjects but I'm not certain that the band plays it up all that well here on this album. Black Sabbath may be Tony Iommi's band but listening to Tyr, I realized just how much Geezer Butler was important for musical vitality in some of the band's heavier sound. He worked well with Iommi in those classic times. Geezer was very much a contributor on Born Again and that was the last album that could be said to be truly "heavy". Ian Gillan's half-ass performances for that tour still outshines anything Tony Martin does on Tyr. No disrespect to Martin but it just illustrates the haves and have nots that the guitarist had to work with because one thing that this album strikes me as is that it's kind of soft and quiet. More importantly, Iommi's riff writing is very pedestrian here. There is nothing on it that will make you go "yeah, that's Black Sabbath right there!" Where's the heaviness and energy? Well I guess I could point out some examples but they are more in the power metal vein but it's not as heavy as Born Again or Mob Rules.
Anno Mundi starts things off with an opening chord nearly identical to Children of the Sea. Just one more reminder that everything here sounds like the band is trying to rehash Heaven and Hell to very mixed results. I will admit this is a good song to listen to on it's own merits. It's very catchy and melodic. But when a Black Sabbath album sounds more like Manowar and Crimson Glory, it's a problem. Anno Mundi is much more progressively textured than the song it tries to emulate but that doesn't mean it's any better. The second track called Law Maker is quite the lame filler song. Cozy Powell was a great drummer and his rollicking hits similar to what he did on Rainbow's Rising is quite recognizable on this song but as much I love that band, it sounds way too much like them than Sabbath. Even Tony Iommi's progressions and speedier soloing are highly derivative of Blackmore. In of itself, that's kind of cool but the song just doesn't do anything for me one bit.
Now as for Jerusalem, I will admit this a very good track with wonderful catchiness to it. It's still stuck in my head. I know I am one to rag on Tony Martin alot but he is the best part of the song. His singing sounds so much like David Coverdale on this track that it's scary. So I guess he can do more than just RJD impressions after all. Again, a good song but is it a good Black Sabbath song?
The Sabbath Stones has a couple good bits to it but I think it's yet one of the weaker songs on Tyr. I would say it's closest in feel (slightly) to Black Sabbath's doomier sound that the band was much more known for. It has one of those transitions into melancholy with the mellotrone and acoustic guitar passage and the song sounds like an admixture when the riffs and chorus speed up like that found in the final passage of Heavan and Hell. I didn't like the opening however. I felt Martin's delivery sounded forced and prosaic. This track sounds like it would've worked better had it been done on Born Again.
The centerpiece of Tyr is really the next three songs. The Battle of Tyr is a pretty majestic instrumental to introduce the suite Odin's Court and Valhalla. These are pretty good songs actually and I wish they would have worked this whole Old Norse concept longer throughout the record although in the first minute or so into Odin's Court with that soft acoustic passage I kept expecting to hear "fade away, fade away, break the crystal ball." Neil Murray is hired help but I really enjoy his bass work on Valhalla. His four strings are engineered quite impressively into the track giving it an epic quality into the stormy forefront of sound. Are these three songs awesome? Almost. Are they classic Sabbath? No. To deem any Tony Martin era material classic would be to marginalize the impact the term "classic" has when used in that fashion ESPECIALLY when applied to such a band as Black Sabbath. It's indefensible.
And contrary to what you might believe, it doesn't have all to do with Tony Martin because yes, I like Tyr better than the Dio fronted Dehumanizer album which I thought was perfunctory in its heaviness in that it sounded as if what worked for Judas Priest with Painkiller might work for Sabbath with Dehumanizer. It didn't. So there is no pure Dio bias either. Tyr has it's moments(Jerusalem, Odin's Court/Valhalla). It has some catchy songs(Anno Mundi and Heaven in Black) but mostly it has too much of an aftermarket feel with this lineup. The filler songs are too distressing to overcome because it sounds like a band grasping for relevance. Seriously, who ever gets excited about albums like Tyr or worse, The Eternal Idol? It's all very "oh."
The third of five albums recorded with Tony Martin on vocals, released a decade after Heaven & Hell and roughly twenty years after Black Sabbath's debut, Tyr is not only an underappreciated classic and a cult favourite, but also a pivotal moment in Sabbath mythology. If you went decade by decade (1970, 1980 and 1990) and just listened to Black Sabbath, Heaven & Hell and Tyr, you could get out of them a fairly good idea of what Iommi and his many associates were up to during that thirty-year period, as well as all the necessary indicators for the remaining three albums. Tyr is the last point at which Black Sabbath, under that name, really pushed themselves to define new elements of their sound as well as crystallize what they had worked towards during their rocky '80s. Not that everything afterwards is fluff (ha!) but nothing that followed was challenging in quite the same way.
Black Sabbath had flirted with the, at the time, embryonic genre of Power Metal with Heaven & Hell and Mob Rules, with Ronnie James Dio incorporating many of the songwriting ideas he had brought to Rainbow - a band whose first three seminal albums continues to influence Power/ Symphonic Metal bands to this day. Tyr is a different animal however, showing the wisdom Iommi had accumulated from his years dabbling in different areas of the genre on albums as diverse as Seventh Star and Headless Cross, and even on parts of Born Again - in a far more rugged form of course. Tyr is the penultimate Black Sabbath Power Metal album (with this line-up's divisive swansong Forbidden falls more in AOR/ Hard Rock territory), and it boasts a very sophisticated implementation of Viking themes and epic songwriting into the Black Sabbath mythology. Yes, that's right, Tony Martin was singing about Vikings and Valhalla way back in 1990, you whelps.
Vocally, this is the best performance Tony Martin put in for Sabbath, and by extension his best for anything ever. His hasty firing at the prospect of Dio's return remains one of the less glorious moments in the annals of the band, especially considering that Dehumanizer was pretty much a disappointment when compared to this album, Mob Rules and Dio's own solo career until then. But here, he had come a long way from his restrained efforts on The Eternal Idol, screaming, wailing and catawauling with career-topping finesse and character. Each word is entirely audible, enunciated with enough enthusiasm and fire to make his less-than original lyrics sound, well, really really cool. I don't know who this Lawmaker fellow is, but if Martin's siren-like chorus on the song is anything to go by he's fucking badass. On ‘The Sabbath Stones’ he really brings the menace. Elsewhere, intoning the mighty chorus to 'Anno Mundi', or crooning the bard-like tale of 'Odin's Court', Martin sounds almost mystical. Not Ronnie Dio mystical, like an evil elf poring over the Necronomicon and imparting its secrets in an authoritative howl, or Ozzy mystical, like "how much do you think he had?" Mystical like a bald eagle perched proudly atop a mountain, observing some lost valley where the ghosts of noble warriors tread. Along with Cozy, Martin thoroughly holds his own in the company of Iommi.
The late Whitesnake drummer Cozy Powell, one of my personal favourite musicians, puts in an absolutely defining performance behind his set, easily the best to feature on a Sabbath album since Vinny Appice's for Mob Rules, and far surpassing Appice's impending return on Dehumanizer. Mixed just above the bass track so that the drums are keeping your attention alongside the guitars instead of the rhythm section, everything is sounding clear and heavy while not distracting. Making the most of this wonderful production, Cozy combines the heaviness of Headless Cross with the engaging complexity of his days in Rainbow. It is Cozy's drums that turn the power ballad 'Feels Good To Me' into more than just a Sunset Strip hangover. While Iommi does with Martin everything he did with Glenn Hughes for 'No Stranger To Love', and as stirring as Martin's wails are here, the power of this song comes from Cozy's emotional, driving drumming.
Iommi's guitarwork here presents one of the more complex issues raised by the album. His songwriting, aided by Martin, is stellar, the latter's singing hair-raising, and Cozy's drumming bloody awesome, as mentioned. Neil Murray was there, too. But Iommi's riffs seem to skid between his characteristic doom-laden ball-squeezers and a more eclectic, melodic vibe culled from the '80s acts Sabbath had matured among in the decade preceding this album's release. Once everyone is over their Black Sabbath pupatory stage, refusing to accept anything post-Ozzy as worthy (while they probably secretly listen to like, Audioslave and stuff. Bastards!) and we can move on, Tyr can be unpacked and recognized as a quite deliberate meshing of Iommi's past experiments.
Rather than feeling disappointment when a slow-burning riff suddenly crackles into self-indulgent fret-punishing, you should be noticing with appropriate awe and humility the skill of Iommi to fuse his "old style" into the album's sound while ably keeping things catchy and interesting as hell. Remember 'Walk Away' where droning Master Of Reality riffs were, somehow, incorporated into a jaunty Hard Rock song? Face it, he's a great guitarist, and great guitarists don't just do one thing. Let's resist the temptation to use that logic to diffuse some of the myths surrounding today's so-called "virtuosos" and instead focus on the guitar playing on Tyr. In its quieter moments the album strongly reminds of 'Children of the Sea' rather than, for example, 'Nightwing', Iommi once again drawing on all his inspirations past and present. He outdoes himself on the opener ‘Anno Mundi’, with addictive, grooving guitar lines and understated harmonies backed by Geoff Nicholls’ warm synth atmospheres. The guitar solos on the album are complex and passionate in the vein of Dio-era Sabbath, feeling completely relevant to the songs and shifting focus away from Martin. Like all the best Heavy Metal, you can almost see individual members of the band taking turns at the fore, and not just because these guys are such familiar figures, but because each element of the music is so striking.
Faithful 'boards man Geoff Nicholls is still about, and adds some extra flavour to the motifs of the innovative ‘Jerusalem’ by complementing Cozy's drumming rather than the usual route of following the guitar leads. Also, as much as I would amuse myself by finishing up discussing the band giving Neil Murray only a coy reference, he does actually deserve more than that. While Sabbath's procession of bassists following Geezer wasn't quite as sensational as some other members who came and went, Iommi benefited from the help of some capable strummers during the '80s and '90s. Neil Murray provides a reliable rhythm here, relying more on meticulous, descriptive playing than the sudden bounces and seemingly impromptu flourishes with which Geezer colours his basic basslines. He suffers, however, from being mixed a little lower than everything else, a sacrifice I’m prepared to make on his part.
The word 'epic' gets tossed around a lot these days. Few products of the 21st century, with its penchant for albums with budgets bigger than America's national debt, and more guest musicians than Michael Jackson's funeral, would outshine Tyr's centrepiece(s) on counts of 'epic.' Some versions of the album include these tracks as three tracks, but mine, less irritatingly, simply features 'The Battle of Tyr', 'Odin's Court' and 'Valhalla' as one long song, the way they should be heard. Building from a meandering synthy opening into an acoustic dirge and finally a fist-pumping charge to battle, it is one of Iommi's more daring compositions and one that unwittingly set the standard for many a work by Iced Earth and so on in years to come. Even if no-one really realized. About half way through the seven minutes and forty-eight seconds of this piece, when Martin lets loose a roar of “wings of Valhalla” and the band crashes in, stands as one of the most exhilarating moments in Sabbath history, period. The piece ends the first, larger part of the album that deals with Tony Martin’s favourite Norse myths and uses more forward-thinking song structures, represents the climax of the album and is possibly Iommi's finest moment alongside Martin. In fact, Iommi has since only come close to a song this ambitious is with 'I Go Insane' alongside Glenn Hughes in 2005, but he has never again attempted such a triumphant blending of Sabbath's music with the storytelling of oldies like Jethro Tull and Marillion.
'The Sabbath Stones' reinforces my point from the beginning about self-representation rather handily, a Doom-Power Metal hybrid of Norse proportions. It certainly tops the title track of The Eternal Idol and gives the Tony Martin era its best throwback to early days; his own ‘Heaven & Hell.’ Listen carefully and you will notice the guitar solo even touches on parts of the solo from that song, another bookend for Sabbath’s decade between 1980 and 1990. It is also telling of the improved songwriting skills of Iommi and the band that the transition between the stop-start sludge of the intro and the squall of riffs that brings the track blazing through its climax sees acoustic sections, epic melodies and soaring vocals by Martin, moving through the song's sections with a subtlety learned from long experience.
The only reasonably disappointing moment is the closer, 'Heaven In Black.' The structure of the album is already pretty odd, with the excellently constructed Norse mythology concept abandoned after the fifth song, but 'Heaven In Black' sees the band regressing in style to the days of The Eternal Idol and Headless Cross' faster joints. While it is arguably still more involving and exciting than those older songs, it feels a bit of a letdown after the ambition on the rest of the album. The opening fill by Cozy, however, will provide some pleasant nostalgia - it is very reminiscent of the one he opened Rainbow's classic 'Stargazer' with.
The first five tracks are completely flawless and would receive 100% in their own right; however, elements of the last two tracks are derivative of '80s Glam and previous Sabbath methods respectively and fail to reach similiar highs of innovation and majesty, so a few points are lost for that. This is an album integral to Sabbath’s legacy, standing at the other end of the turbulent ten years separating it from Heaven & Hell, but you knew that. The point I want to get across is that it is also an album for Power Metal heads, lovers of '80s Metal with a tolerance for not-quite-Progressiveness, and an album for aspiring drummers to get to grips with. It was the first Sabbath album for years that did much more than try to make up for the absence of past members; Tyr felt like a fully planned and comprehensive release where the whole band knew exactly what they were trying to achieve, and pulled it off with grace and class. The reason for that was that each band member was bringing something excellent of their to the album. An important distinction people: Tyr is not just Sabbath’s best with Tony Martin, but also amongst Tony Iommi’s greatest achievements.
With TYR, Black Sabbath saw Tony Iommi, Tony Martin and Cozy Powell joined by ex-Whitesnake bassist Neil Murray to form what some consider the most underrated lineup of Sabbath. TYR is certainly the best album to feature Tony Martin as vocalist and is another great album in the long discography of Black Sabbath. Powell delivers some fine performances, and as always Tony Iommi cranks out the best metal riffery this side of Valhalla.
The album is almost a concept album, as several of the songs link together to form a tale of Vikings and Nordic Gods. As such, TYR is Sabbath's contribution to the "Viking Metal" genre. Feeling tired of the devils and demons of previous works, the band gave Martin free reign to work with this lyrical concept. The result is a brilliant and very heavy album.
Opening with "Anno Mundi," the song begins with acoustic guitar before kicking in with Iommi's trademark crunching riffs. Next is "The Lawmaker," one of Sabbath's fastest tracks, with a scorching intro solo and some nice keyboard touches by Geoff Nichols midsong. "Jerusalem" is a midtempo power metal song followed by the total doom of "The Sabbath Stones." Iommi's classic riffing is all over this one, certainly one of the strongest tracks on the album.
Side two sees a trilogy of sorts: "The Battle of Tyr", "Odin's Court", and "Valhalla"seem to blend into one long song. This is where the Nordic myth theme appears. Interestingly enough, "Odin's Court" seems to have been something of a minor hit is Southeast Asia, don't know if the band knows this. "Feels Good to Me" is the power ballad of the album, a melodic song which the band made a video for. The band returns to heaviness for album closer "Heaven in Black," a powerful track about Russian history with a great chorus by Martin.
One minor complaint about TYR is that the bass guitar is mixed a bit low in the mix (Neil Murray himself has voiced complaint about this). It's not like it's Metallica's "And Justice For All..." or anything, just turn the eq on the bass up if it's not enough for you. I've never had a problem with it, and I've regarded TYR highly since it's release. For any fan of traditional heavy metal, TYR is a must!
The turn of the decade saw the continued glory of metal in various forms. Bands such as Judas Priest and Riot were ushering a different speed metal answer to the established thrash genre that had dominated the mid 80s, while other artists such as Dio and Yngwie Malmsteen completely revamped their bands in order to continue the evolution of their sound. In the middle of it all is this forgotten classic, the album which truly captures the spirit of true Viking metal, despite the fact that it was penned by musicians on an island a bit west of where the Norsemen originated.
It can be plainly stated that Sabbath’s influential status in the 70s and early 80s was obvious, but what is not as well known are the precedents set by this band in the later 80s and the early 90s. Although song by song “The Headless Cross” has a slight edge, the progressive themes and the ambitious approach to songwriting on here takes this album up to near equal standing with its predecessor. Geoff Nicholls’ keyboard textures, Tony Martin’s voice, Neil Murray’s active bass lines, Cozy Powell’s beats, and maestro Iommi’s riffs all line up perfectly, each linking together to create a grand dragon boat of sound.
This album begins amazingly with the highly progressive and mystical sounding “Anno Mundi”. The opening riff is slightly reminiscent of “Children of the Sea”, but is accompanied by a choral chant that sounds like it could only have been accomplished by Freddie Mercury. What follows is a set of hard edged riffs that flirts with sounding like both “Zero the Hero” and “The Eternal Idol”. Although we don’t have a guitar solo to speak of on this track, as was the case with the title track of the first album with Tony Martin, the amount of different themes and ideas going on here completely make up for it,
“Law Maker” and “Jerusalem” follow, the former being a solid speed metal song that cooks equally as fast as “Turn to Stone” on the Seventh Star release, the latter being a solid mid tempo track with a killer signature riff and plenty of amazing vocal moments. “The Sabbath Stones” is a song that reminds more of classic Sabbath during the Ozzy years, going through a barrage of contrasting sections. You get a quiet acoustic guitar section with keyboard fills that sounds a bit similar to the quiet part of “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath”, while the slow verse riffs remind of “The Wizard. Everything kicks it up a notch towards the end with a drastic tempo change which has that rhythmic triplet feel of the closing to “Black Sabbath”, but with a sense of triumph that also reminds of the closing section of “Heaven and Hell”.
“Feels Good to Me” is the album’s single and has the most obvious hooks to it. The lyrics are about a troubled relationship, the guitars are mostly quiet during the verses, following with a powerful yet simple chorus riff. Unfortunately if you happen to run into a copy of the single for this song, you will discover that the highlight to the song, the guitar solo at the beginning has been cut. “Heaven in Black” closes off the album on an up tempo note with plenty of wah pedal dominated guitar soloing. It mostly sounds like a less blues driven version of “Black Moon”, although the vocal lines remind a bit of “Devil and Daughter”.
The highlight of this album is obvious as it contains the concept of the album. “The Battle of Tyr/Odin’s Court/Valhalla” is a glowing example of Sabbath’s progressive roots, going through some rather intricate musical changes and ideas. The first track is an instrumental keyboard prelude that could easily be included in a 80s Sci-Fi/Fantasy film score. The middle track is an acoustic and atmospheric ballad with a very exposed yet perfect vocal performance, sounding essentially as any Viking Folk Metal outfit should sound. The 3rd and final track of the opus is where all the best aspects of this album culminate. You have an unforgettable main riff, a riveting guitar solo, and probably the most triumphant chorus ever composed by Black Sabbath. No matter how much praise you steep this song in, it will remain underrated, and it is in a class completely by itself.
In conclusion, this is Black Sabbath’s musically progressive and melodic answer to the changing world of metal. Although it will probably never get the credit it deserves, this album represented an alternative to the road that metal was going down, one that has still yet to be fully explored. It comes recommended to any fan of Power Metal, Progressive Metal, Traditional Heavy Metal, or any other genre that deals in the concept of Norse myths and legends. I still listen to it once every few weeks, and it stays fresh, forward looking, and a cut above the rest.
By 1990, Black Sabbath had already went through some of the most legendary heavy metal singers of all time and a load of other musicians. Regardless of who came in and out of the band, Sabbath was still able to be a powerhouse in the metal scene. Tony Iommi's recruitment of an unfamiliar singer by the name of Tony Martin on "Eternal Idol" caused the vocalist to go from an unknown musician to one of metal's most captivating elites. Tony Martin's era in Sabbath continued through the 1980's with the masterful "Headless Cross," which quickly became a cult classic within the band's fan base, but their impressive run didn't end there. The band's fifteenth album,"Tyr," is the valorous continuation of Sabbath's legacy in the form of other Tony Martin albums with epic music, soaring vocals and spell binding lyrics.
The semi-power metal approach Sabbath began using when Tony Martin entered the band remains intact here along with a few touches of doom metal and atmosphere. "Anno Mundi" and "The Sabbath Stones" are the most atmospheric songs on "Tyr" because they have slow, yet heavy riffs with agile keyboard overtones and slothful drum patterns. Some of the album's faster tracks, like "The Lawmaker" and "Heaven In Black," utilize quicker riffs and drum patterns than most of the other songs.
Regardless of what style is being played, Iommi is able to play splendid riffs and otherworldly solos. The majority of the riffs he plays are rather fast, yet some are slow and forceful. The doom influence on "Anno Mundi" drives the song with epic and powerful riffs that are just as catchy as they are brilliant. Iommi's solo performance is on par with his fantastic riffs as he rapidly nails several notes in just a couple of seconds to make some wonderful leads. Iommi's guitar show on "Tyr" is incredibly good and is one of his best Sabbath performances to date.
By the time "Tyr" was recorded, Tony Martin had found his niche in Black Sabbath and was hailed as one of the band's most exciting members. Martin's ability to match Sabbath's metal attack on "Tyr" shows a great display of talent and greatness in his voice. The high notes Martin is able to hit on "Anno Mundi" and "Valhalla" makes the music seem epic and powerful. His note holding skill also makes some of the song's choruses seem brighter and more energetic. "The Lawmaker" applies to this the most when Martin is singing the chorus and he holds the final line with a powerful vocal tone.
Cozy Powell's drum performance on "Tyr" is substantially more technical and skillful than the percussion on his Black Sabbath debut, "Headless Cross." Unlike his prior album, Powell is occupied with great drum fills and solid patterns. "The Lawmaker" and "Heaven In Black" each begin with complex drum fills that are stylish and talented. During the solo on "The Lawmaker," Cozy accommodates his double bass pedals with Iommi's solo to make the song seem faster and beautifully animated. "Tyr" is definitely Cozy Powell's stand out performance during his short stay in Black Sabbath.
"Tyr" is one of the most unique albums in the Black Sabbath catalog due to the fact its the band's sole concept album. The main center point of the lyrics here is the concept and story of Norse mythology. Such songs like "Odin's Court" and "Valhalla" give strong reference to mythological gods like Odin and Thor while maintaining a stable story line about Norse beliefs.
"Tyr" is without a doubt one of the best Black Sabbath records ever made. If you have the slightest interest in Black Sabbath's phase with Tony Martin, you need to get this album. If you aren't familiar with Tony Martin or his time in Sabbath, this is a great place to start.
This review was written for: http://www.Thrashpit.com
Initially I viewed Tyr as the weakest of the original Tony Martin-era Black Sabbath trilogy, but these days I’ve been inclined to believe it might be the strongest (it is, at the very least, better than Headless Cross). This is because Tyr is the sound of this Black Sabbath lineup at their most comfortable. Here there is no need to live up to any of the expectations based on the band’s rich lineage, they need only live up to those based off of The Eternal Idol and Headless Cross. The resulting freedom is responsible for one of the most developed Sabbath albums ever made, a record that is both musically enjoyable and artistically satisfying.
As with the other albums that Tony Martin sings on, it is necessary to mentally detach these works from the Ozzy-era albums to fully appreciate them. The sound is more of a traditional/power metal sound than anything remotely doomish and there is an essential keyboard element (once again provided by Geoff Nicholls) accompanying the band’s sound. This is for atmospheric purposes, obviously, but the results haven’t been this magical since Heaven and Hell (when the 80’s style synths really started making a full-time appearance). Where Headless Cross relied on synth backing to the point of dependence, Tyr blends them flawlessly into the instrumentation, which is also quite strong. Tony Iommi brings the riffage by the barrel; Tyr is one of the heaviest Black Sabbath albums since the Ozzy years. Iommi is the key here, but it is also due in no small part to the incredibly proficient Neil Murray on bass guitar and drummer Cozy Powell, who delivers one of the best performances in his extensive discography. Everything is just incredibly well done, whether the band is performing quick power metal (“The Lawmaker”), straightforward, catchy traditional metal (“Jerusalem,” “Heaven in Black”) or doom-laden epics like “The Sabbath Stones” or “Anno Mundi.” The latter numbers are where this lineup really excels, and nowhere are they more ambitious than on the “Tyr” trilogy. Featuring a keyboard introduction (“The Battle of Tyr”), a stirring acoustic movement (“Odin’s Court”), and a powerful concluding anthem (“Valhalla”), it is one of the highlights of later-period Sabbath. Only “Feels Good to Me,” (the ballad of sorts) feels a bit weaker than the rest: the album just plain rules that much.
Of course, one must mention singer Tony Martin. His performance on the album is not merely one of comfort, but of absolute confidence. Completely shedding the Dio mannerisms that he displayed on The Eternal Idol, Martin gives a powerful, emotional performance from beginning to end. He experiments with layering on “Anno Mundi” and “Jerusalem” to good effect and he’s matured as a lyricist: every tale told on this album was penned by him.
Underrated like all of the Martin-era albums, Tyr is an excellent album nonetheless. Recommended for fans of epic heavy metal bands like Manilla Road, Manowar, etc. minus their speedier stuff
From the half of the 80's and to end of it, Sabbath was stormed by numerous line-up changes. The line-up had been varied from album to album since 1978's Never say die, except the Dio-era albums Mob rules and Live evil, which had the same line-up. Men have entered and left Sabbath too many times to no-one to remember actually how many. But that hasn't stopped Iommi (only original member) to make good music. The post-Dio albums have always been persecuted by the glorious albums of the early 70's and that is a shame.
Black Sabbath's two previous albums with vocalist Tony Martin are musically similar to Tyr. But the band has made a concept album this time. Christianity is still an important subject for Sabbath to handle, but it has also added themes from Norse mythology to the soup.
Tyr's first track is entitled "Anno Mundi". The start is dim and cold, then the cold but infernal guitar riff fills the air. Riffmeester Iommi has done it again! If someone thought that Iommi couldn't build clever riffs and combide them to crushing songs, Iommi's raunchy guitar will make the suspicious bastard so little that he could fit into keyhole. Martin's too many times under-rated vocals are clear and loud, backing Iommi's guitar. The storm behind the drums makes this sound even more massive than it was alongside with raging bass sound.
"The law maker" speeds the tempo up. It is probably the fastest Sabbath song. The songs in this speed are usual to other bands, not the band like the doomy Sabbath. Fast songs in Sabbath's back catalogue are rare, that is what makes this track special and awesome. "Jerusalem" explodes and reveals great riff, what is actually commonplace to Black Sabbath songs. Ordinary Sabbath song, which isn't a bad thing at all. "The Sabbath stones" is a classic later-Sabbath song. It is more peaceful and darker song, but the hellhammer blows shatter the silence.
The next three tracks could be named as "The Valhalla-trilogy". "The battle of Tyr" is silent ambient track, which could be from any Lord of the Rings-movie. The silence continues with "Odin's court", which includes acoustic guitar, a silent electric guitar solos in the back and Tony Martin's vocals. In the middle of the Martin's vocals, the song "Valhalla" suddenly starts. The listener doesn't even notice the transition between the three songs. For you who doesn't know what the "Valhalla" means, here's some info. The word "Valhalla" means the warriors's heaven where warriors fought eternally in Norse mythology. The song, not surprisingly tells about that.
The album changes course during the song "Feels good to me", both musically and lyrically. It could be regarded as an album's mandatory ballad. It doesn't make you cry, the guitar attack prevents it. It's better not to say anymore about this. "Heaven in black" is same as the first tracks of the album. The drumming sounds like a groundfall, bass is loud and guitar cries and howls. It's a perfect ending. The album ends fast in complete silence. Was that it?
Yes it was. The album is powerful Sabbath stuff packed with good guitar riffs, which are the Sabbath's and especially Iommi's trademark. If you don't buy this album after reading a review mocking this album, burn that review! It's foul! If you belong to those who say that Iommi couldn't have written any good riffs after Mob Rules, I have something to say to you: Fuck you!
All of Tony Martin's stuff.... well, except maybe that last album from '95 (Forbidden) is must-hear material. This era is indeed the ultimate in classic power-metal of the Purple/Rainbow/Dio/Yngwie vein. Combine Iommi's monster guitar work with the sense of style borrowed from Rainbow via a certain former vocalist, and from Purple via another certain former vocalist, and then throw in the most underrated singer in the history of the world... combine all that with epic song constructions about vikings and other cool stuff, and you are all set.
Highlights.... first off, the uber-song Battle of Tyr/Odin's Court/Valhalla, which bursts open on the third track... VALHALLA!!!! Then of course The Sabbath Stones harks back to some of the more traditional years of Sabbath, with the heavy-as-fuck riffage... there's also the catchy, speedy, 80s-metal sounding Lawmaker, and then THE HIGHLIGHT... the opener is just completely amazing... Anno Mundi. Spiritus Sanctus, Anno Mundi, whatever the fuck he's saying. Also the lyrics are perfect... DO YOU FIGHT FOR THE CAUSE??? Throw in the subtle keyboard track, and the ever-building-up intensity, and we've got ourselves a winner. And the sands of time grow old! One of the best songs Black Sabbath has ever done.
The album kinda dies a bit at the end... Feels Good to Me is kinda empty and seems like a mishmash centered around one second-class Iommi riff, and Heaven in Black is pretty decent, but just not quite spectaular as some other fast songs that Sabbath has toyed with over the years.
Still, a great album... the second-best album of the Martin years, after the unforgettable Eternal Idol.