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One would expect a solo album from one of metal’s most legendary axemen to own beyond all reasonable doubt. Unfortunately, what usually happens when someone records a solo album is that they fuse the style of the band that they came from with the mainstream rock/metal of the time. Tony Iommi is no exception. Just as his ‘solo’ album, Seventh Star, reeked of 80’s hair metal influence, this modern attempt at a solo album features plenty of infection from late 90’s modern rock.
The music is very divided in sound. Half of the songs have a modern Black Sabbath feel, with dark atmosphere and some heavy Iommi style doom riffs. The other half have mild industrial influences in the drumming, effects, and production, as well as mallcore meets Audioslave riffing and song structures. The songwriting is very simple and very derivative, although it does make for a decent listen overall. The most interesting part about this album is the variety of vocalists enlisted to sing on it. Each song has a different vocalist from different styles of rock, ranging from Henry Rollins to Billy Idol to Serj Tankian to Billy Corgan to Ozzy himself. In some cases this makes for some interesting songs, especially if you happen to like the particular vocalist, but in other instances it really sucks. The vocalists sing differently here than they would on their own projects which again, is either good or bad depending on your feelings on them. I thought the best songs on the album were those that featured Billy Idol, Billy Corgan, and the one with Ozzy. The ones with Phil Anselmo and Serj Tankian were decent (despite your view of SOAD, Tankian is a very capable singer). The rest ranged from mediocre to poor, partly due to the lame songwriting, partly due to the singers. When Iommi plays a solo here, it’s amazing, but he doesn’t play them often enough to save a lot of the songs.
So what we get is some decent mainstream metal crossed with Black Sabbath, with some decent singing, and some horrid lyrics. An altogether mediocre release that’s better than Seventh Star was, but not by a whole lot. The guest singer concept was interesting, but most of the songs still kind of had the same feel. One day Tony Iommi will put out an amazing solo album, but that day clearly hasn’t come yet.