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Such Is Life... - 92%

Twisted_Psychology, June 24th, 2010

In spite of (Or perhaps because of) the long gaps that occur between his albums, Black Sabbath guitarist Tony Iommi's solo career has always been something of a mixed bag. "Seventh Star" (Yes, I'm counting that as a solo album. Deal with it) has warmed up to me in recent years and I've yet to hear "The 1996 DEP Sessions," but I've always felt that his self-titled effort in 2000 was severely brought down by its many guest musicians. Fortunately the guitarist wisely chose to return to a regular band format for his fourth solo release. This is also his first album to feature drummer Kenny Aronoff as well as the last released before the Heaven And Hell lineup got back together.

Speaking of Heaven And Hell, it's pretty plain to see where that project's sound came from when listening to this album and Dio's "Master Of The Moon." While there is a very subtle hint of modern rock/metal influence in this album's construction, just about all of the elements that made "The Devil You Know" so awesome are on here. The riffs are oppressively heavy, the songs generally range from slow to mid-tempo paces, and the vocal lines are drawn out and allow for greater expression. And when thinking about this matter further, it really makes me glad to know there was never any influence from GZR's "Ohmwork" on that band's debut...

But while Iommi is the one that usually gets most of the credit when talking about these albums, the role that vocalist/bassist Glenn Hughes has in the group cannot be overstated. While his voice is a little more nasally than his glory days and may take some getting used to, he provides some strong vocals and is often more prominent in the songs than Iommi himself. Of course, that is not to say that the guitarist does a forgettable job; all the riffs and solo sections on here are quite solid and memorable. Unfortunately, the drums never do too much and the bass is not as prominent as it could be. The latter occurrence is a little odd when you consider that the role of bass playing was undertaken by both Hughes and producer Bob Marlette...

As previously stated, the songs on here have been carefully constructed and generally stick to a mid-tempo, verse/chorus structure. Of these songs, "Dopamine" and "The Spell" are my favorites for the former's infectious chorus and the latter's particularly doomy main riff. Of course, there are a bunch of other tracks that deviate from this format; "Grace" hints at more ambitious territory with its upbeat solo section, "Deep Inside A Shell" makes for an interesting power ballad, and "What You're Living For" serves as a nice speed exercise. Well, as fast as Iommi goes, anyway...

"I Go Insane" is a particularly powerful track that truly deserves a paragraph of its own. At a monumental nine minutes long, it is easily one of the most epic and emotionally involved songs that the guitarist has ever been associated with. The song's structure is more complex than anything else on here, the riffs show a lot of variety, the vocals are packed with emotion, the chorus is mournful, and the lyrics are full of grief. And its power only intensifies when you take into consideration the events that have taken place this year...

All in all, this is a great album that proudly spits in the faces of those that would dare to think that metal's leading riff-writer is out of ideas. One can only hope that this isn't the last thing that we'll hear from this lineup. It's been five years since this came out; I think we're about due for a followup!

My Current Favorites:
"Dopamine," "Grace," ""What You're Living For," "The Spell," and "I Go Insane"

I bet any Doom band is crapping its pants now! - 98%

Agonymph, May 26th, 2007

Unbelievable! Iommi’s ‘Fused’ is another proof of the fact that no matter how good younger artists are, their masters will always be a million times better. I know that doesn’t go for every artist, but ‘Fused’ is nothing short of amazing. Of course, you can’t go wrong with the grandfather of every Heavy Metal riff playing on an album with the vocals of this planet’s best singer, Glenn Hughes. But even when you have that in the back of your mind, ‘Fused’ is still an album that never ceases to amaze. It’s as if your grandfather kicks you in the face. Yes, it’s that good!

Most surprising is how fresh the album sounds. The production is crisp and clear, while Tony Iommi himself has the best guitar sound he has ever had. I often criticized his guitar sound on the older Black Sabbath albums, but on this album, he’s shut me up for good. It makes his killer riffs even more powerful. This production just gives them that extra edge, it makes them sound as heavy as an elephant’s ass.

And what should I say about Glenn Hughes, that I haven’t already said yet? This man is brilliant. He is simply the best singer music has ever known and this album shows him at a creative peak. At the time, he already did some impressive solo stuff with albums like ‘Songs In The Key Of Rock’, ‘Soul Mover’ and both of the Hughes Turner Project albums, but this album is really something else. The music itself is more down to earth than his own – sometimes spiritual – endeavors and his vocal delivery and lyrics just fit into that mold perfectly. Just check out a song like ‘Saviour Of The Real’, I doubt if Hughes will ever sound so direct and confronting on his solo albums. Not that he needs to, but it’s exactly what this album screams for.

Musically, this album is Heavy Metal in its purest form. This album is incredibly Heavy and both Hughes and Iommi have never sounded as Metal as on ‘Fused’. Just check out the amazing riffing on ‘What You’re Living For’, the killer, catchy opening track ‘Dopamine’ and the aforementioned ‘Saviour Of The Real’ are pure Heavy Metal massacres that leave you on the floor, amazed, wanting more. And that’s just what you’ll get!

After forty minutes of incredible Metal, all the sounds and influences of the album are incorporated into one massive, nine-minute epic called ‘I Go Insane’. Heavy moments and more melodic, tranquil parts flow into each other as if it’s the logic Iommi and Hughes created themselves (which they have, to a certain extent, but that’s beside the point). The acoustic guitars are a nice addition to the song and Glenn Hughes does some very cool bass lines in that middle part. Go check this one out, it’s guaranteed to blow your mind.

The only slight letdown on the album is ‘Deep Inside A Shell’. It’s not a bad song, but it just doesn’t leave that same impression as all the other songs do. But then again, that is more a compliment to all the other tracks than a disappointment in ‘Deep Inside A Shell’.

What else can I say? ‘Fused’ is an amazing album, comprised of amazing songs with amazing riffs, amazing vocals, amazing choruses and amazing solos. The elderly once again leave the young ashamed of what those youngsters have done with their legacy. I bet every Doom band is crapping its pants after hearing this album. An album that deserves to be heard..no...it HAS to be heard! Go on and get it!

What Are You Guys Smoking? - 65%

BotD, November 29th, 2006

The lavish compliments bestowed on this album truly astound me. Just because it is Tony Iommi doesn’t mean your reviews need to compensate for the obvious flaws in this album.

Now, Fused isn’t as hideously awful as Technical Ecstasy, Never Say Die, Forbidden or Born Again, in that it doesn’t have the truly horrendous ideas of the first three or a production that will make your ears bleed (in a bad way) like Born Again. However, it does have its own production problems, which I will enunciate a little later.

The first problem is apparent the minute Glenn Hughes opens his mouth. The man can’t sing anymore. Not that he was ever fantastic, but on Seventh Star and in Deep Purple he at least managed a decent performance. Here, he butchers melodies left and right with his nasally whines. I have stomached many peculiar voices while enjoying metal, but his is one of the few that outright annoys me. Bring back Tony Martin, he was the best Sabbath ever had.

Unfortunately, not even Iommi’s performance is beyond reproach here, because he made a horrible choice by adopting that modern guitar tone. You know that tone that so many alternative rock bands employ to substitute for their lack of heaviness. (I am looking at you Fuel). Of all the people that needed a tone to cover up for deficiencies in riffs it is not Tony Iommi. In fact, the production completely massacres the riffs, resulting in most of the songs sound very similar, especially with Hughes wailing over them.

However, the album has some merits. For one, this is still Iommi and a few of the riffs (especially among the intros) manage to rise above the suffocating production. Or even better, Iommi actually switches tones for a time and then I ache for this album to be recorded with a real singer and a better production. Hughes also manages to be somewhat catchy, but then again I gave this album a good number of spins and even Britney Spears is memorable after enough plays.

Finally, one song deserves to be singled out: What You’re Living For. Really good stuff.

An unexpected classic! - 100%

Vegetaman, January 20th, 2006

Being a big fan of Black Sabbath from its conception into the early 80s, it took me awhile to give later eras of Black Sabbath a chance. But one that I never gave much attention to was Seventh Star, featuring Glenn Hughes from Deep Purple doing vocals. I was just thrown for a loop because the singing was so much more soulful than what I had heard in metal before, and I put the album aside, until recently I had still only warmed up to about half of the album.

So when I bought this album, I was rather skeptical of how good it was going to be. But on the first listen, it was clear to me that Tony Iommi and Glenn Hughes are one of the most perfect pairings in heavy metal. After being slightly disappointed by Iommi’s self-titled solo release, not from a guitar standpoint but from a vocalist standpoint, I got the 1996 DEP Session and decided that maybe Glenn Hughes really wasn’t too bad of a vocalist. But Fused has opened up the doors for me to enjoy all the work Tony Iommi has done with Glenn Hughes.

One of the things most striking about this album is this perfect mesh of true heavy metal. The doom riffs coupled with blues solos and soulful singing… Its almost as if something completely unheard of before in metal came out, something that had started to surface during Seventh Star and Eight Star (or The 1996 DEP Sessions).

The album opens with Dopamine, which begins with you only able to hear this very distant sounding guitar riff. And then you get a punch in of drums, and the guitar cranks up and launches you head first into this song. And when you expect some sort of crazy screaming or growling vocalist, you get a very fitting soulful singing of Glenn Hughes. Not to mention a great Tony Iommi solo in this song, with a very bluesy feel. A great selection for the first song on the album, not to mention also my favorite track.

This is followed by Wasted Again, which features this great doom riff intro that just helps keep the album flowing. After that is even more doom style songs with great singing. But then you get to What You’re Living For, which is like a sped up type of doom, that is almost like Candlemass. That song is very interesting, for it contains a very Black Sabbath (band and song) tempo change towards the last half of the song.

Then you get even more high quality doom songs, until you get to the very last track on the album. The song I refer to is I Go Insane, and it starts with a very bluesy guitar solo and this very epic sound. The singing is lower and smoother, and fits oh so well. This is brilliant, showcasing the fact that this band doesn’t have to play doom type music all the time. Though you can still tell that it has the familiar riffs that only Tony Iommi could write, its just a masterpiece in and of itself. And a long one too, at over 9 minutes long – a great way to close out the album!

Basically, if you’re looking for a place to start with Iommi’s solo albums, do yourself a favor and pick up Fused. Heck, if you’re a Black Sabbath fan and you want to expand your horizons on branches off from the band like Dio and Ozzy in their solo careers, then you should definitely think about picking up this album too. It stands up very well on its own, and opens up strongly and finishes just as strongly as it started… which is something few bands manage to pull off.

Iommi/Hughes "Fused" - 100%

Peestie, November 20th, 2005

This could be Iommi's best album he has ever done, I certainly think it could be. Of course that will depend on you to make up your own mind but the material on this CD is worthy of being considered some of his best ever, if not his very best. We know what to expect from Tony by now, but as the DEP Sessions showed us he can do some different stuff as well and this CD has a few pleasant surprises as well.

Fused has everything you would expect from Tony Iommi. All the massive doomy melodic riffs are there and they form the backbone to most if not all the songs. In fact the riffs on this album are the best Tony has come up with in ages. He has more energy than most new bands these days and has the bonus of more than 35 years of experience to back up that enthusiasm.

Glenn Hughes plays bass and does vocals on "Fused" and he proves to be a worthy equal to Tony, being a rock legend in his own right and he isn't called "The Voice of Rock" for no reason. The vocals on this album are fantastic and the lyrics are not your clichéd metal lyrics. They are mature and some of the best I've heard from Glenn. And we can't forget session drummer extraordinaire Kenny Aronoff who puts in a really fine performance and his reputation as a great drummer is well deserved. His drumming is energetic and works perfectly with Glenn’s bass playing as the rhythm support for Tony’s riffs.

There are no weak tracks on this album, every single one incredibly strong which shows just how good the song writing between Tony and Glenn is. Also of note is the fact that none of the songs “fade out.” Every single track has a proper ending to it and this really does let you see how good these two work together. Almost every other CD out there has fade out songs which often sound incomplete or unfinished. None of that here.

Most of the tracks are not up tempo in the way Iron Maiden etc. are so if you’re looking for fast songs then there is probably only one here that will deliver for you (What You're Living For). But then again if you’re an Iommi/Sabbath fan you then a lack of fast songs won’t bother you, I mean, how many fast songs did Paranoid or Sabbath Bloody Sabbath have? The tracks are not slow, but neither are they fast, although there are several points during most of the songs where they do speed up.
For me the only track that ISN’T a highlight is “Dopamine”. I still think it an excellent track but it is slightly more generic than some of the other songs. In terms of performance, song writing etc. the highlight of the album has to be “I Go Insane”, the 9min 13 sec epic that closes the disc. Another interesting moment is the breakdown in “Grace” which always puts a smile on my face and “The Spell” is how Doom Metal should be done. “Resolution Song” has a great vocal hook and “What You’re Living For” has some cool time changes and a killer solo. I could go into great detail about each track but I’ll stop there or we’ll be here all day.

In short this album has everything you could want from the musicians involved. Every track has something unique to offer and they are all equally strong (Dopamine is my least favourite, that isn’t the same as worst! I’m sure it will be other people’s favourite because it is quality) Buy this album if you like Black Sabbath or hard rock performed with skill, maturity and class.

I also recommend that you seek out the three bonus tracks available as they are just as strong as the album tracks. One is available on iTunes, one is available on Napster and the other is a Japanese bonus so will probably be hard to find. They were left off the album for record company reasons, not because they are weaker tracks, so check them out because they add so much to the album.

Whoa! What an album! - 100%

WhisperingGloom, October 22nd, 2005

Just like a bottle of fine wine, Tony Iommi only seems to get better with age.

Don’t get me wrong, Black Sabbath’s music was (and still is) the precedent of heavy metal music today, but what Tony has done on this album is some of the best work I’ve heard from him yet.

History lesson: For those of you metalhead’s who don’t know who Tony Iommi is (and I hope there aren’t many of you), here’s a lesson in metal history. Tony was the guitar player for the revolutionary band, Black Sabbath. Don’t know who they are? In the 70’s, they created a revolution by bringing the world a darker side of music. Nothing like this had ever been heard before, and people were afraid of it. This brought attention to the band and thus, in turn, caused them to become the first, the biggest, and the most influential heavy metal band in history.

Tony’s driving and heavy riffs were/still are an inspiration to every aspiring guitar player today. Whether you were listening to Sabbath through a tape deck, CD player, record player, 8-track, whatever, guaranteed, you wanted to learn at least one (if not all) of Sabbath’s songs. This is the impact that this man had on the metal world. You can ask almost any hard rock/metal guitar player who their influences are, and I will assure you, Tony Iommi is one of them. The man is a metal guitar God, hands down.

So what happens when you combine a metal guitar God with a savvy veteran vocalist who, like Tony, seems to get better with age? You get this offering of outstanding heavy metal. The vocalist I’m referring to, of course, is none other than Deep Purple’s own Glenn Hughes (who was also in Black Sabbath for a period of time). This man has one of the most powerful and captivating voices ever. Whether by belting out high pitched screams during a chorus, or just singing along during a verse, you can’t help but admire his voice. And these two forces combined are enough to bring any Sabbath-worshiping, heavy metal fanatic to their knees.

This album has basically reincarnated the sound of the 70’s and 80’s that Sabbath and other notable bands were known for… but with a better production. They’ve shown that the heavy metal they created back then is still alive and well; it’s just that it has given way to other extreme genres of music. But this album should please many, many people.

A few years ago, I would’ve doubted that Iommi could release something this good. He released an album simply titled “Iommi”, and I thought it was really lack luster for such a metal heavyweight. It featured numerous vocalists and musicians from different musical backgrounds, therefore the flow and sound of the album was always changing (mostly for the worst). But granted, it had a couple of decent tracks on there. But then Tony released this album, and it has truly restored my faith in this man. I was simply blown away when I first heard it. The sound is just monstrous, especially during the first song. There’s a distant guitar playing the main riff at the opening. Then the drums kick in followed by a massive wall of loud guitar. I knew at this very moment that this was going to be something special.

Tony’s riffs on this whole album are magnificent. You’d think after 30+ years in the music business, he’d start to run out of ideas and would start re-hashing old ideas from previous albums. Ha! That is not the case at all. The man is a fucking heavy metal riff machine! His solos have gotten better too. A lot of the times in Sabbath, I kind of felt his solos didn’t really go anywhere… they were still good though… but here, it’s like Tony has really gone above and beyond.

There is absolutely no filler on this album at all. There are no interludes, no instrumental songs, nothing like that. Just ten tracks of good, solid, impressive heavy metal. Sure, I can go on and on about the riffs and vocals, but it’s just something you need to hear. The combination is just truly spectacular. And sometimes, around the middle of an album, a band tends to lose focus and they try other things, causing a bad flow in the songs. This isn’t the case with EVERY band, and it sure as hell isn’t the case here. Despite each song having its own personality and characteristics, they flow together like water. It’s just amazing. They’ve done everything right on this album.

And what a way to close the album! I don’t think they could’ve made a better song than “I Go Insane” to close the album. There’s just something about this song; the atmosphere, the doom, the insatiable guitar work just the overall feeling you get by listening to this. It’s beyond words. Out of all ten tracks on this album, it has to be my favorite track.

Despite 2005 giving birth to numerous spectacular albums, this one remains one of the best ones, hands down. It’s a MUST HAVE album. You won’t be disappointed.

Standout tracks: Dopamine, Grace, What You’re Living For, I Go Insane.

He Still Has It - 85%

pinpals, October 8th, 2005

I know I'll get stoned (by rocks not drugs) for saying this, but I never really liked Black Sabbath in the 1970's. Although I like Ozzy, I didn't like his work with Sabbath, and I didn't like the guitar tone of Iommi's guitar. It wasn't until the early 80's that I started to really enjoy Black Sabbath. Contrary to what some poeple will say, Sabbath had some great songs in the 80's as well. Since then they've had some great moments, and some truly terrible moments as well.

In the liner notes Tony talks about the chemistry that he has with singer/bassist Glen Hughes. That is certainly obvious from the start of the album. Some people find Glen's voice cheesy (he considers himself what he calls "Rock n' Soul"), but I think he's great, especially in the choruses. Tony's guitar tone is great too; heavy without sounding nu-metal. Iommi had said that this was going to be a more riff-based record (as opposed to "1996 DEP sessions"), but there is still plenty of melody to go around as well, making this a great mix of the two. The riffing is great, the singing is great, there are some great bass-lines and solos as well. What more could you want from a hard rock album? "Dopamine" sounds like a drug song, but it's really about the high that you can get that your body produced naturally. Strong song for a single and great way to kick off the album. "Grace" has the best chorus of the whole album, while "What You're Living For" has the best verses. There are no bad songs or even mediocre ones on the entire album. There is one song that pushes the album into one of my favorites of all time and that is "I Go Insane." Just the bluesy verses and the chorus are enough to make this song good, but that doesn't even include the interlude in the middle, which features 4 (!) great, heavy, catchy riffs and a bluesy guitar solo. Hughes adds some great bass-lines as well. This 9:00+ song is one of the greatest Iommi has ever written, including his stuff with Black Sabbath.

So really, you can't ask for any more from a hard rock album. Great vocals, riffs, and melodies as well as the fact that there are no real weak songs earn this album a 85%. Highly recommended.