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Good Reason Why This is Sabbath's Forbidden Fruit - 55%

TheHumanChair, March 4th, 2020

"Forbidden" is very often cited as Black Sabbath's worst album of all time. It was a record made pretty quickly, and mostly done to fulfill record obligations. It's the last Sabbath album featuring Tony Martin, and the last Sabbath album (under this or any other name) for over a decade. The album featured the return of the "Tyr" lineup, which means Cozy Powell appears on drums, and Neil Murray takes back bass duties. Now, I don't think "Forbidden" is Black Sabbath's WORST album, but it certainly is one of them. There are three Ozzy era albums that I think are a little bit worse, but "Forbidden" is within reach. Many songs on the record have sparks of good elements and smart ideas, but there just wasn't enough care behind them to execute what could have been. To "Forbidden's" credit, there are only a couple of songs on it that are downright awful. An immediate thing I have to point out is that the trigger Cozy Powell uses on his snare drum sounds AWFUL. It's so insanely fake sounding. When he's just doing single snare hits, it's passable, but whenever he does a roll or fill on the snare, the fake hollow sound is cringe worthy. Across the record, everyone is putting on passable performances to not totally embarrass themselves, but it's very easy to tell that the passion is just not there. Tony Martin is probably the weakest on the entire record. I don't think it's his voice so much as it was the vocal rhythms he wrote that just fell apart.

My favorite track on the record is without a doubt "Rusty Angels." The opening riff from Iommi is unfortunately insanely close sounding to "Sins of the Father" from "Dehumanizer," but it's a pretty solid track despite this. Martin is really selling the quasi uplifting feeling of the song, and all of Iommi's riffs set up a great tone all by themselves. His riffs along with Powell's drum groove give this track a pretty good flow. It's definitely a different sounding Sabbath track due to the 'positive' feeling, but it still has a bit of a somberness to the chorus that doesn't make it totally out of left field. Iommi's solo, both riff underneath and actual solo, are really cool. Not the fanciest Sabbath track, nor one of my favorites when taking their whole career into consideration, but still an enjoyable track nevertheless. "Get a Grip" is probably the only other track from "Forbidden" that I listen to with any regularity at all. Iommi unleashes several pretty heavy and aggressive riffs throughout the entire track, and I find Martin's chorus to be a very catchy one. The segment right after the second chorus is a little bit to whiny and sappy for me, but it doesn't last long, and Iommi's solo makes up for it. The quicker part at the very end of the song is also quality. Iommi shows off another cool riff, and Martin's tortured vocals sell the segment before it fades out. Again, far from a perfect Sabbath track, but it's a good enough song to be memorable and enjoyable on this release.

Everyone seems to immediately write off "The Illusion of Power" due to the inclusion of Ice T. I personally find it to be a decent addition to the album. Iommi gives it a simple, but still classically heavy riff. Martin's near rapping vocals take a little bit of getting used to, but they give the track a little bit of a frantic energy behind the heaviness of the riff to fit very nicely. I think the chorus is REALLY catchy, and Ice T's deep voice behind Martin give it a lot of depth. When Ice T himself comes in, I definitely admit that his voice is a bit too different and slightly too unfitting for Sabbath, but I absolutely would not say that he ruins anything. His segment is short and sweet, and accomplishes what it needs to. While I wouldn't hold "The Illusion of Power" up on any kind of pedestal, it's FAR from one of the reasons why this album isn't good. It's a unique Sabbath song for a one off experience. "Shaking Off the Chains" also has some of Iommi's best riff work on the record. I really dislike Martin's vocal melodies all across this track, but Iommi's riffs almost make up for it. From the verse riffs to the chorus riff, these are pure quality Iommi power. Murray's bass work is also pretty solid on this one, too. Martin is the one who really ruins the song. He sounds absolutely bored and dull singing on this one. It sounds like he was reading a newspaper while recording the vocals. I have no doubt a different Sabbath singer would have sold this song a bit better. His vocals are a prime example of the lack of passion that went into this album.

That mostly ends the compliments I can give to "Forbidden." "I Won't Cry for You" is far from the album's worst, but it's still a pretty subpar experience. I actually really like Iommi's slightly mystical sounding clean riff over the opening and the verses, and Murray again has some decent bass work on the track too, but there's just nothing else the song has to offer to seal the deal. The song gets slightly heavier for the chorus, but just adding drums and electric guitar doesn't instantly make a better experience. The chorus is the song's dullest moment. Martin's vocals aren't his worst, but they still sound pretty sappy and pathetic. The riff and playing behind him are just dull, par for the course playing, so it definitely doesn't support such a weak chorus. It's not an awful track, but one hundred percent entirely forgettable. The title track to the record is another unquestionably lackluster and forgettable one. Once again, Iommi actually brings some pretty decent riffs to the mix, but the song just didn't have enough to it to connect the dots. After the intro, some short verse sections are introduced that are entirely dull and bland. The chorus of the song is another absolutely pathetically sappy and cringe worthy one. It's another song that just ends up sounding whiny and bored. There is truly close to zero inspiration or imagination on this song. It's an insanely standard, paint by numbers hard rock track.

It still gets even worse, too. "Can't Get Close Enough" is absolute garbage. The intro clean riff is simplistic and once again, Martin's vocal melodies just sound like he couldn't even care to try. It's another example of him sounding like he's reading off a sheet of paper instead of from the heart. The weak intro lasts for about a minute and a half before it goes anywhere, too. And by anywhere, I mean it goes from nothing to a slow crawl. Iommi comes in with a bit of a heavier riff, but it's still a fairly standard one from him. Even when the song picks up, Martin's vocals seem bored and desperately trying to get the listener's attention. Besides the heavy part coming in after the intro, the song has no other transitions to give it life, either. It's an utterly soulless filler track that has no inspiration from a single person on it. Worse STILL is "Sick and Tired." Cozy Powell actually has a REALLY awesome drum intro to the track, but that is all there is going to it. The song is a sad attempt to make the lineup sound ultra bluesy, and it falls flat on its face. Iommi's riff sounds like a man stuck out of time. The riff sounds like a parody of a blues rock riff. it's almost insulting, because Iommi has always been blues inspired, but not to the point of near parody like this song is. Martin is just doing a ton of rambling on the track. There's not one cohesive moment on the entire run time. It absolutely sounds like a warm up jam that got thrown on the album to pad the length. "Sick and Tired" is without question one of the worst Black Sabbath songs of all time.

"Forbidden" unfortunately ends up being a pretty bad chapter for Sabbath to end the Tony Martin era on. On top of that, it leaves a sour taste due to there being no other Sabbath releases for such a long stretch of time. It's a real shame because there are templates of greatness on this album. There are many cool riffs or melodies or moments interspersed that unfortunately just leave the album treading water on its best moments. Regardless, as a total package, "Forbidden" is definitely a dud, and is JUST outside of their bottom three albums of all time for me. Fortunately, Iommi still had another great album in him which came more than a decade later.

Some shouts forbidden, I certainly don't - 83%

Sonderby, May 29th, 2017

Oh, what an anomaly this album is in the grand Sabbath catalog as a whole. It did not bode well for the album since the very beginning of its own inception. The previous year, 1994, Tony Iommi had successfully united Black Sabbath (except Ozzy Osbourne) with Tony Martin at the helm, and they were even planning on recording an album together... however all that fell apart pretty quickly again. Also, we're in the decade of grunge; not a very favorable time for an old metal act such as Black Sabbath. To renew themselves the record company contacted Ernie C and Ice-T from the infamous rap metal group Body Count to help with production as well as guidelining the songs themselves, but during the recording of the album an eerie feeling is in the air as Tony Iommi looks into a reunion with Ozzy Osbourne.

Pretty chaotic circumstances if you ask me and indeed it sounds like a recipe for disaster. But did everything turn out as bad as people would think? I'd like to say no, and here's why!

Overall this album is an aggressive beast in its very essence and it takes the brooding and raw feel from Cross Purposes up an extra notch. Compare it to Headless Cross and Tyr and you may even call it incredibly simple, which it definitely is! We have easy going and fun rocking riffs that charge forward like an angry bull, just ready to make you rock your head off. For that reason the songs also worked so very well live as the energy was there from the get-go. The prime example of the album's nature is in truth the song Get A Grip. The song in structure is very reminiscent of I Witness off of Cross Purposes: not a lot of fancy over-the-top stuff, but a very sure and steady track. To top if off the album was recorded in mere weeks (compared to the months it usually took), and supposedly Tony Martin used the first take for his vocal recordings for every song: quick and easy out the door into the public.

The album does branch out of its simplicity however and it includes a lot of elements that suit Tony Iommi's optimal playing styles: this album is essentially all about him, for good measure. Tony Martin sings for his life, but does not achieve the heights on previous albums, Neil Murray is hidden away in the mix and Cozy Powell's drumming was ruined by Ernie C (that wanted him to play more modernly). All we have left is a Tony Iommi that frantically riffs away constantly as well as throwing in up to three solos in many of the songs. So if you're a big Iommi fan then this album should not be too shabby for you. Iommi really gets to shine on the heavy blues track Sick And Tired that screams desperation and sadness: a theme that is very much present through the entire album. Also the closing song Kiss of Death shows us a complex and dramatic composition previously seen on When Death Calls and The Sabbath Stones. A perfect way to end the album in my opinion, as you hear the faint clocks ticking away at the end: a symbol of the end of the Tony Martin era.

Lyrically this album, as previously mentioned, drives around themes such as frustration, anger, sadness, betrayal. Often I've thought that this is Tony Martin finally breaking down from the backstabbing he's suffered throughout his time in the band. He never quite knew when he was in or when he was out, and as soon as the Forbidden tour finished the phone just stopped ringing. He was never officially fired from the band. Food for thought in my opinion. His desperation is very clear in the title track, Forbidden, where he wails and screams about trying to understand what it is he's done wrong. It is also said that a lot of the lyrics from this album were never actually written down on paper. Tony Martin just improvised them as he went along in the studio and sang what came to his mind. Some might call this unprofessional, but I feel there is something heavily artistic about it: he got the raw message out as well as his pure emotions. He didn't sugar coat the lyrics as he usually did on previous albums which makes the impact of the core messages more apparent.

People always criticized the artwork and that I will never understand. I feel it is badass! It connects so well from back to front and has some cool cartoonish imagery that sort of reminds me of what was done on Sabbath Bloody Sabbath. I always felt that a lot of the covers from the Tony Martin era became a bit too staged and forgettable (especially on The Eternal Idol. Yuck). But here it comes forth very memorable and gloomy as the album naturally also is.

Production wise... well, we all knew this was coming. It does not suck, and in fact I think it is decent, but it is not how a Sabbath record should have sounded. Had Ernie C done this to his own Body Count albums it would've rocked! Because it has this punk-ish simplicity to it that their sound just embodies by trademark. But even though this Sabbath album is easy-going and simple it still needs this delicate sound that the Tony Martin era stuff previously had. The sound does not fit the songs or their nature and it comes across rather painful on some tracks: especially Rusty Angels where the chorus sounds like a muddy pile of mush when in fact it is composed by beautiful and harmonic arpeggios. Better luck next time, Ernie!

Forbidden did flop in the end and is probably the Sabbath album that has sold the fewest of copies worldwide. It was conceived in an unfortunate time and set of events that partially is Tony Iommi's own fault for trying to make two versions of Sabbath work at the same time. He ended up tripping over the project and for many it stands as a stain on the whole career. However, the truth is that the album is not bad. It has a lot of good moments and elements that would've made a hit record had the band atmosphere been more friendly and calm, and if they had taken just a little longer time polishing and finishing up the album: as well as sticking it to the company and throwing out Ernie C to find a more suited producer. Tony Iommi has said he will be remastering this when he has time, so when that day comes then maybe the album will find some justice amongst the regular fans and not just the hardcore ones.

Does Not Deserve the Hate it Gets... - 90%

rbright1674, January 31st, 2016
Written based on this version: 1995, CD, I.R.S. Records

In a lot of corners in the Black Sabbath fandom, you'll hear a lot of negativity about two albums in specific - one is 1978's "Never Say Die!" and the other is 1995's "Forbidden". Casually speaking, most Sabbath fans will automatically write these albums off as their worst and it's just become a more or less common thing. It's absolutely not the case and neither album really deserves the hate it gets.

1995's "Forbidden" was, admittedly, a rushed affair. Recorded in approximately two weeks, following "Cross Purposes - Live", the album is admittedly marred by less than pristine production values (courtesy of Ernie C, Ice T's guitarist from Body Count). Of course, depending on your perspective (mine, to be precise), this scar can be intriguing. Compared to the gleam and polish of "Cross Purposes", "Forbidden" is a much dirtier and darker affair. That, to me, is a very large part of the appeal. Stripped back production, dark sounding...it's almost reminiscent of the first Black Sabbath album on those terms. No shine and gloss here, and that actually makes it kinda fun to my mind.

Many people took offense that "The Illusion of Power" was a "Rap Sabbath" song, as it featured Ice T on a guest vocal. I suspect many heard that Ice T was doing a guest vocal and assumed it was a rap song. Nothing could be further from the truth, as a 30-odd second spoken voice over does not equate "rap". In fact, "The Illusion of Power" is a definite highlight of the album and features a very doomy riff from Tony Iommi that doesn't get old to listen to.

In fact, that's the huge overlooked aspect of "Forbidden" - it's a Tony Iommi riff-fest from start to finish. Guitar wise, this is a FANTASTIC album. For being rushed, Tony Martin has a lot of conviction in his voice, and his lyrics are insightful and intelligent featuring easy to relate to topics about life, love (and the souring of it), etc. Neil Murray and Cozy Powell are in fine shape as always, although Cozy's drum sound does, of course, leave a bit to be desired.

If you passed over it, give it another listen and try to roll with the shoddy production as an aspect of the atmosphere the album creates, rather than something to be endured. You might find yourself pleasantly surprised. There are some great moments here, some awesome playing and it's an uncomplicated, pleasant listen that comes from a rushed, but honest place.

Shoulda gotten Coverdale and called it Whitesnake! - 30%

Satanwolf, March 3rd, 2007

Forbidden, Black Sabbath's last studio release (as of this writing), falls far short of the greatness of band's best work. Recorded in only ten days, the album seems rushed, unfocused and generally uninspired. The "TYR" lineup of Iommi/Martin/Powell/Murray/Nicholls was capable of better music than this, and I guess I was hoping for "TYR II." That's definitely not what we have here, and this album will go down as one of Sabbath's worst.


There are several problems apparent within this album. Every song might be considered a good song, but where are the GREAT songs? There are too many influences from outside of the classic Sabbath sound. Perhaps Iommi gave up too much creative control to the other band members, this situation not helped by the fact that both Powell (rip) and Murray are former members of Whitesnake. Vocalist Tony Martin borrows a lot from Whitesnake vocalist David Coverdale's style, this being most apparent on the title track. "Kiss of Death," the only song that comes close to being a great song, is ruined near the end by some generic Led-Zep riffing. Iommi is the greatest metal guitarist ever, and has no need to copy Jimmy Page riffs.


Another problem is the lifeless production, courtesy of Body Count's Ernie C. The album sounds thin and weak, and during the lackluster "Rusty Angels" one can hear the guitar volume level being pushed up midsong during the clean guitar break. Listen for it, you'll hear. Actually, this song is the closest Sabbath ever came to sounding like Poison! Album opener, "The Illusion of Power" has a doomy riff that is rendered ineffective by the thin production. And Ice T's rapping is unwelcome, cliched rap-metal long after the fad had passed. I can imagine that a screaming guitar solo would've been more appropriate. Obviously not much thought was given to production or song arrangement.


A lack of songwriting quality plagues the entire album. "Shaking Off the Chains" begins with a couple of lame riffs before breaking into a fast bit perhaps reminiscent of Iommi's playing on "Symptom of the Universe." There's a drum intro that sounds like a ripoff of Ozzy's "Over the Mountain." Cheeser "Get a Grip" seems aimed at MTV, and I seem to remember Aerosmith having an album of the same title around the time. "I Won't Cry For You" is a nice power ballad, but far from heavy. And the album cover is nothing spectacular, a Grim Reaper sitting beside a grave, waiting in boredom as Sabbath is reborn yet again. By listening to this album, one would say the Reaper didn't have much longer to wait!


If tihs is to be the last studio album from Sabbath, then it is certainly a disappointment. Tony Martin has called the album "total crap," and Geoff Nichols has said that "the album was recorded in ten days and it shows." So even the band members aren't behind this release, and it seems the album was recorded just to fulfill contractual obligations to IRS records. On "Forbidden" the great monolithic doom metal of Sabbath's past has been traded in for AOR sappiness, and that is what is truly forbidden!

Decent, and definitely under appreciated. - 81%

hells_unicorn, January 26th, 2007
Written based on this version: 1995, CD, I.R.S. Records

This album has been on the receiving end of some rather harsh criticism in metal circles, mostly due to its extremely rough production and complete departure from the more melodic sound present on the previous Tony Martin era releases. I myself was not a huge fan of Body Count, not due to any lyrical issues that could be compared to Dan Quayle’s ridiculous censorship crusade, but because the sound quality on their work is just plain bad. However, even though Ernie C still has no clue how to make drums sound as they should in a traditional metal mix, this album has some solid work on it that is sadly passed up as being attached to a mediocre release.

Stylistically this album is a combination of the Deep Purple inspired attentiveness to melodic and catchy hooks that has been present throughout the Tony Martin era, and some of the creepy sounding elements that can be found “Born Again” and some of the earlier Ozzy Osboure era material. “Illusion of Power” is probably the spookiest sounding of the lot, containing a dissonant main riff that is comparable to “Disturbing the Priest” as well as the title track to the Eternal Idol release. Ice-T’s spoken narration is actually quite fitting and complements the song well. “Rusty Angels” is much lighter sounding up-tempo song; the main riff sounds like it could have been used on the “Seventh Star” release.

Things really pick up a notch with “Get a Grip”, which has a main riff that is heavily reminiscent of “Zero the Hero”, not to mention some exceptional lead breaks that take me back to the glory days of the Ronnie Dio era. This one also has a great speed section for the closing with Cozy Powell going steady on the double bass drum. “Shaking off the Chains” is our token groove song for this release, having a repetitive yet fun very set of verses and refrains. Groove can be quite fun when it’s kept in moderation, and thankfully Black Sabbath understood this better than the pioneers of the 90s groove style that would write entire albums of the stuff.

“I won’t cry for you” is my pick for the best song on here as it sounds the most like the material on the Headless Cross album. It’s not quite as riveting as “When Death Calls”, but it qualifies as a new classic for the Tony Martin years. “Kiss of Death” is the token epic and has a soft guitar intro reminiscent of “Nightwing”, although Tony Iommi doesn’t go nuts and let it all loose the way he did on that masterpiece. “Guilty as Hell” and the title track are both mid-tempo songs with sections similar to such memorable riff monsters as “Jerusalem”, “Kill in the Spirit World” and “Call of the Wild”. “Sick and Tired” is more of a blues driven number and has a good amount in common with Headless Cross b-side “Cloak and Dagger”.

Although the production is nothing to write home about, there is much here for the post-Ozzy, post-Dio fan of Sabbath to enjoy. Tony Iommi is still cranking out some solid riffs and solos, Cozy is still destroying his kit and rebuilding it again for the next number, and Tony Martin is still lighting up every song with his exceptional voice. Although I would categorize this as the weakest release of the Tony Martin era, when we consider the 4 amazing albums that they put out before this one, the notion that this album is shelf-worthy is hardly justified. 1995 was a tough year for heavy metal, and this album was able to come out and still sound like something worthy of the genre.

Makes a great Sabbath beer coaster - 17%

cronosmantas, March 12th, 2006

I heard this album was bad but I believed it couldn't be as bad as its reputation. I first of all love vocals of Tony Martin. His vocals are magnificent on the albums Headless Cross and TYR and those albums quickly became some of my favorite Sabbath releases. Hell after hearing those albums, he quickly became one of my all time favorite vocalists. After finally purchasing and listening to Forbidden numerous times...I have to admit it is poor. Not just poor...down right terrible.

The first thing wrong with this album is the ultra shitty production. It's muddy and all the instruments are poorly mixed. Also, not aided by the crap production, is Martin's vocal performance as it is sub par. He a fantastic singer on the Sabbath albums of the past but here he just sucks it up. There is no high rang singing here, just love level garbage that borderlines on whispering in some cases. I can't believe this is the same singer.

So the first problem is the production, the second is Martin's vocal performance, and the third is just plain and simple shitty songs. I listened to this album straight through three times and nothing stayed in my memory. The album as a whole is just that unmemorable! It than sat on my shelf for about a year and then I popped it out to give it another try. Nope...still the same crap. I struggled very hard to find something positive to say about this release and all I could come up with is that Shaking Off the Chains can be somewhat stomachable and so is the power ballad I Won't Cry for You. These songs are actually poor themselves but they are the highpoints of the album. Illusion of Power is bad song (with additional vocals by Ice-T!?!) but it can work its way into your head. The rest is just boring garbage from a band that has become a shadow of their former selves.

Oh, and Tony Iommi. You remember him right? The great guitarist that is the master of writing simple but memorable riffs? Yeah, well he plays on here but it doesn't seem like him. The guitar playing could have been done by a amateur Sabbath die hard as opposed to the once-God like Iommi. Oh and memorable riffs? What memorable riffs? Sorry...not here.

It's been about 12 years since Forbidden and Sabbath hasn't recorded another studio album since. This is fine because after releasing a monstrosity like this, Sabbath deserved to die. It's an embarrassment to the Black Sabbath name and an insult to fans. This is hands down Sabbath's worst release. People who think Technical Ecstasy, Never Say Die, or Born Again are Sabbath's worst release just plain and simple have never heard Forbidden. It's actually unusually for me to dislike an album so much as I am pretty forgiving....but not with this release.

If I dislike this album so much...why am I keeping it? Well...it's Sabbath and it is a filler in my collection. I am thinking about purchasing another copy and plopping the CD down on coffee table right next to my Metallica St. Anger CD. Forbidden would make another great addition to my beer coaster collection. Hey, I don't want beer stains on my coffee table!!!

A Few New Things Out of Sabbath Here - 80%

PowerProg_Adam, February 17th, 2003

First of all, I wonder why the band was still called Black Sabbath at this era, Iommi was the only original left in the band. Most oldschool Sabbath fans will probably find this album disappointing, but it showcases a few things that Black Sabbath isn't know for such as virtuosic drumming and extremely technical guitar work. Cozy Powell shows something that bands of this stature rarely use and that is double-bass. Compared to other Tony Martin Sabbath albums, this is not the best, but still IMO better than anything that they ever realeased with Ozzy. Shaking Off the Chains is probably one of the most powerful songs on this album, followed up closely by I Won't Cry For You. Guilty as Hell is also a rather good song, with yet another first for Sabbath, the use of the word f*ck. I never really thought Sabbath would sink to using profanity or simplistic choruses like on Forbidden, but I guess they were looking for a new edge. This album is very different from albums with Martin, it sounds like a second rate version of Dehumanizer, but IMO that is not necessarily a bad thing, since Dehumanizer ended up being some of Sabbath's finest work.