without Internet Explorer,
in 1280 x 960 resolution
In 1996, Black Sabbath were on hiatus again, having just released what would stand to be their last official album to date, Forbidden. So you know what that means…another Tony Iommi solo effort is to be had. Reuniting with Glenn Hughes, the singer from his last ‘solo’ album Seventh Star, Iommi records the 1996 DEP sessions. It sounds exactly like a 90’s rock/metal album and sounds very little like a Sabbath album, yet somehow it’s really quite good, something that can’t be said about the proper Iommi debut a few years later.
The sound Tony was going for here most resembles King’s X (Hughes vocals add immensely to this) with touches of Soundgarden in the heavier moments. His guitar tone is weighty, but the album really isn’t, as the riffs aim more towards atmosphere than pure crushing density. Everything is kept at a slow, sullen pace with moments of melodic solace appearing but occasionally, like sunlight peeking through dark clouds. Not unlike the classic Sabbath approach really, but more like the Alice in Chains interpretation of that approach than the genuine thing. Iommi’s entire style of playing, minus a few mandatory doom riffs (“Gone” and “Time is the Healer”), is quite different from what you might expect from him. Some moments even remind me of Dream Theater’s more straightforward material. “From Another World” and “Don’t Drag the River” play with melodic arrangements (the former recalls “Crying” by Yngwie), allowing Glenn Hughes to really shine as a vocalist. His approach is incredibly soulful and worlds above his performance on Seventh Star, so much so that I’m actually quite glad that he was re-recruited for this album. The backing band is adequate, but it is Tony and Glenn that take the spotlight here.
Not exactly essential listening for the Sabbath fan, but for those that want to hear a different side of Tony Iommi that is still very, very listenable, you’ve come to the right place.
I have to give this album this rating for a simple reason. While I have the bootleg known as Eighth Star and have enjoyed it, this was definitely needed to be done. There were only two guitar parts that I found noticibly different between the bootleg and this album, and it was nice that they took care of the sound quality and made it sound like a studio album instead of what the previous incarnation was - a mere demo.
The problem is, this album is only 8 tracks long, and they're not even overly lengthy (they're all about 4 or 5 minutes long, with one song being 6). I mean, at 37:41 long, it's more like an EP than a full-length album (and should be priced as so; but that's besides the point). But other than that, all the songs on this album are great. It's basically like a precursor to Fused, though oddly enough being made almost 10 years before Fused was merely released a year before it!
Tony Iommi's guitar playing on this album is top notch as usual. And somehow Glenn Hughes' voice is more soulfoul here than it is on Fused (though they both fit their respective albums quite well). I'll just run down all the tracks, since there's only 8 of them. The album has a good vibe that holds throughout, which is part of what makes it great. And it's ironically good for a quick listen, thanks to it being so short.
First track is Gone, which is arguably the best track on the album. Glenn's voice is at it's best here, and this is a very doomy song. No tempo change or anything here, and a really good bluesy guitar solo from Tony with some nice bends and vibrato. Good lyrics too, stuff like "And I'm gone! Gone just like the past." You have to read it in the context of the whole song to understand what I mean; but the lyrics are really good though. I like it when Glenn screams out "YOU LIE!" during the song too, it somehow fits perfectly.
Then come From Another World which starts with a great little intro arpeggio that Tony plays bluesy style leads over (he really is underrated as a blues musician). Then some chord strumming (actually it's real chords coupled with power chords, a very cool mix). More overdriven bluesy soloing with a steady drum beat that doesn't overpower the vocals or the clean electric arpeggios. Oh, then there's an actual guitar solo that comes in with a heavy power chord riff that puts all the fills in the song to shame. No insanely fast stuff, but some really sharp bends that are unexpected. The outro solo is sick as hell, too. It's like listening to Tony tear up his fretboard on Black Sabbath - Computer God (both the solo and outro solo for both songs).
After that comes Don't You Tell Me which has some good lyrics and vocal fills that only Glenn Hughes and Ronnie James Dio can seem to pull off on their albums. Things like a great placed "oooh yeah". Good chorus of many voices (assumedly multi-tracking of Glenn's) singing "Don't you tell me you don't know". It's really catchy and cool. The song is based off a rather upbeat tempo doom riff that Tony Iommi basically invented. Seriously, the man practically wrote the book on doom metal. This solo is very nice because it's a compilation of short licks, with each lick ending in a great bend with vibrato and some pinch harmonics applied. Different feel from the others on this album completely. Same with the outro solo.
Don't Drag The River starts out with chord strumming and an upbeat chord strumming that makes you wonder if this is going to be a metal song. And all doubts are soon put aside as a heavy and fast riff comes in. The solo for this song starts off on the low strings and through some great phrasing climbs its way up to the high strings with a good use of noticible sliding; alas the solo is very short though. Cool outro solo here too.
Then comes Fine, which is my least favorite track on the album. It's a Technical Ecstasy style song in terms of the guitar playing, and it's mediocre in my opinion. Softer singing too. In the middle of the song the guitar does a War Pigs style guitar part where you get a quick guitar riff, followed by vocals, followed by a quick guitar riff. The solo is kinda cool because it plays under the riff and the vocals.
Time Is The Healer is the heaviest song on here. A great doom riff that's nice and slow that halfway through the song goes to a crazy bridge riff. Then Tony varies the main riff before going back to the original for awhile.
I'm Not The Same Man starts out with some really fast overdriven electric arpeggios before the distortion is turned on and a very fast song ensues. I was surprised, since most of this album was doomy, to get a track similar to Time Machine off of Dehumanizer (if you detuned your guitar about 3 half-steps). Some cool vocal lines that extend over the fast solo that ends the song, as well.
Then the album finishes with It Falls Through Me. A nice mix of clean electric and overdriven (possibly distorted) electric arpeggios, with the former playing high and the latter playing low. It's a nice compliment that I hadn't heard Tony do quite like this since he panned his switched up soloing on N.I.B. The solo is cool because it is nice and bluesy flavored and ends with a great pinch harmonic. And then around the time the solo is coming in, you get a really heavy guitar riff that carries the song out until an accoustic and clean electric rendition of the arpeggios rolls that Tony does the sweetest melodic outro solo lead guitar part on. A great way to finish the album.
So really, you can't go wrong with this album. If you bought Fused and you want more, then yes this is a very good deal. But if you don't have any Tony Iommi solo albums, then I suggest you go out and buy Fused. NOW! Seriously, that album is flawless. This one is great, but as I mentioned it's just two tracks too short of extreme awesomeness (it's shorter than Paranoid for Christ sakes, and even that album was like 42 minutes long with 8 tracks, and one of them was only 2 and a half minutes long). I recommend this over his self-titled solo album too. Also, if you're a Black Sabbath or Tony Iommi completist, then you're definitely going to want to pick this up!