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An interesting album... - 78%

PeteGas, June 4th, 2003

Well, this is the first review I've ever written, so hopefully it turns out ok.

When I first heard that Tony Iommi was going to put out a solo record with guest vocalists, I was pretty pumped. Sabbath is one of my favorite bands of all time, and a large reason for that was Iommi's crushing guitar playing.

The interesting part of this record is the fact that each song features different musicians accompanying Iommi, with the main focus being on having a different singer on each track. Also, each singer helped co-write their song. Many people seemed disappointed with the listing of singers for the album, but, although many of them are not 'classic metal' singers in the traditional sense, for the most part, they are all quite talented.

The disc opens with the Henry Rollins-sung track "The Laughing Man (In the Devil Mask)". A good opener, full of energy, with a good main riff going throughout. (ok, well it IS Tony Iommi, after all) Skin, a female singer formerly of Skunk Ananainse (sp?), a band I don't know much about, sings the second track called "Meat", and proves that she has an excellent voice. Its a good, moodier track, with some great vocals in the chorus.

The third track was the first radio single, and if I recall, it didn't get all that much airplay. It features Dave Grohl (Nirvana/Foo Fighters) doing the singing and the drumming. Brian May (Queen), plays some guitar on the track as well. Its actually a pretty solid song, to these ears at least, that has a good light-to-hard transition as it enters the chorus, and some simple but effective riffs. Phil Anselmo's song, entitled "Time is Mine" is next, and Phil manages to sing a bit more than he often tends to. Matt Cameron (Soundgarden/Pearl Jam) plays the drums on this track. There is a nice muted descending riff behind the verses that I like, and Phil puts a lot of emotion into his voice as the song moves into the pre-chorus and chorus sections. Some of the best riffs on the record show up in this song, too.

The fifth track features Serj Tankian from System of a Down on vocals. The guy has a very interesting voice, with a very wierd vibrato. The chorus makes this song, as the vocal lines compliment, and add power to, the already excellent guitar line. Billy Corgan's track is up next, on which he sings, plays bass, and adds some guitar lines. A very well-written song, probably one of my favorites off of the album. The song stays interesting by going through a variety of themes. Has a nice solo around the 6 minute mark, which is more laid back than the rest of the song, and provides a nice contrast.

Next up is Ian Astbury (The Cult), and Matt Cameron back on drums. Astbury's voice is pretty slick, but the song behind it isnt all that great. Still a decent ride though. One problem I have with these songs is that so many of them start out with sound effects and some 'modern' sounding drumming. Makes them start running into each other after a while. Peter Steele (Type O Negative) sings and plays bass on "Just Say No to Love", and definately has a cool voice. Another cool song. Don't quite know why Jon Lord's name is in the song though.

Track 9 is the one I was most looking forward too, as it features Ozzy Osbourne on vocals and Bill Ward on drums. Throw Geezer in there and you'd have the original Sabbath lineup! The song works well, and is one of my favorites on the disc, although Ozzy's voice isn't quite as good as it was on his album previous to this (Ozzmosis) and the one after (Down to Earth). Good chorus. The album closes with Billy Idol's track "Into the Night", which is isn't so great. "All the undead souls who walk the night, they can suck my dick." Wierd lyrics.

Overall, its a good and interesting album, although some of the songs are quite similar to one another. Recommended if you like good, sludgy metal, and don't mind listening to some 'different' vocalists outside the metal norm. Also recommended if you managed to read through my entire review, which is way too long.