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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!