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Overpolished and Forced by the Record Label - 52%

Superchard, May 14th, 2018

Tony Iommi had been wanting to go solo and break away from the Black Sabbath name as far back as 1986 seeing the release of what essentially was a Black Sabbath album in name only, Seventh Star. It took fourteen years from then until 2000, the year in which Iommi would finally release his first solo album err.... Iommi.... by Iommi. I think I owe me for putting myself and you through this pun har har har. Anyways, Iommi is a mixed bag of half decent material mixed with 90's pop-metal atrociousness by various guest musicians and voices ranging from a diverse cast such as punk rock legends Billy Idol and Henry Rollins to alternative rock's Billy Corgan of Smashing Pumpkins fame. There's few good songs here, but most is rather lackluster material. With the album taking on a rotation of musicians, there's actually more consistency here than you'd think as the songs are pretty much entirely driven by Tony Iommi's riffs, but without a consistent lineup, the songs we do get are also unfortunately entirely generic.

Some of these songs feel like they're over before they've even started, and it doesn't sound like Tony is as invested in this as he should be. Come the fuck on man! You've got Phil Anselmo! Billy Idol! Henry Rollins! Peter Steele! Have you ever seen so many fucking legends all in the same studio?! This album should've been the metal album to end them all! That's it! Too much metal! We can finally put the nail in the coffin! There is no more need for any other metal as nothing else will ever top this! Yeah, I wish I could say that, but then you've got tracks on here by some rather questionable talents such as Dave Grohl and Serj Tankian. Okay, I'll bite, I'm a fairly generous guy, maybe they'll surprise me. Nope. Never mind. Serj sounds like a fucking goat on "Patterns" and Dave Grohl's "Goodbye Lament" is about as heavy as a feather duster. I'd like to think I'm not biased here, but eh, fuck it. "Goodbye Lament" might as well have been on the same Foo Fighters album that "All My Life" was on, it's really just a pop rock song disguised with some decent Iommi riffs and spooky/doomy keyboard samples. You're not fooling me.

The penultimate track "Who's Fooling Who" might be fooling me though. Actually, I think "Who's Fooling Who" might've fooled all of us. Remember how people always wanted an original Black Sabbath lineup reunion? Not only do we have Tony and Ozzy jamming out here, but some how, some way they managed to get none other than Bill Ward on here. THANK THE HEAVENS! THE STARS MUST'VE ALIGNED! I CAN DIE HAP--... Wait a second, who's playing the bass? Who the fuck is Laurence Cottle? You're kidding! I've been fooled again! It's a fool within a fool! Seriously though, this song sucks, unfortunately another one that just comes and goes going through the motions... the tempo change mid-song just like classic Sabbath with a noodling solo you'll never feel inspired by, you know the spiel. It's classic Sabbath without it actually being classic Sabbath, you've heard 13, you know how this shit works by now.

Billy Corgan's "Black Oblivion" goes on forever. Eight minutes of sheer hell and I mean that in the worst way possible. His voice is so fucking annoying and nasally, the song is sloppily thrown together and Corgan sounds like he's singing "rosies, rosies, pockets full of posies". That shit wasn't cool when Chuck Mosley did it in Faith No More in 1987 and it doesn't fly here either in 2000. "Flame On" features The Cult's Ian Astbury and is just yet again another boring ass pop song with a Nine Inch Nails techno break down. This is a Tony Iommi album? As for Ian, he meshes with Iommi fairly well without going out of his way, and that's a lot more than I can say for Billy Idol who literally has lyrics that read, and I quote; "all the undead souls who walk the night, they can suck my dick". I hate to say it, but that's the kind of quality you can come to expect from Iommi. Despite his sheer goofiness, I will say that Idol does a fine job beyond that with a vocal performance that isn't quite as haunting as "White Wedding" but you can definitely tell he's giving it his all. Overall, "Into the Night" is a decent track to end the album with with a fun uptempo swing to it midway through and super sexy blues licks thrown into a vampiric doom metal mix.

Speaking of vampires, the original vampire himself is here. You know him, you love him, it's Type O Negative's very own Peter Steele on "Just Say No to Love". I wish I could tell you this song is amazing, Peter Steele is an incredible singer that made singing in a lower register in the heavy metal industry cool. How many singers can boast that kind of merit? Not many for sure, and Steele of course sounds right at home singing over Iommi's slow paced crawls, but unfortunately this song has very little in the way of songwriting. It's 4 minutes and 27 seconds of nothing but verse and chorus and somehow manages to feel like a two minute song, probably because of the long-winded techno ending complete with processed drums and all that tack on an extra pointless and uneventful 30 seconds.

I have never cared for Henry Rollins song, "The Laughing Man in the Devil Mask". Of all the songs here this one sounds like Iommi was going for more of a 90's industrial/groove metal feel. The distortion is extra crispy, the riffs are extra punchy and there's even some more chaotic sounding chord structures employed by Iommi. Rollins of course has a harsh voice to suit this style of music to some degree with the same style of shout-singing as heard in Rollins Band. He also kind of sounds like Mike Patton on the chorus. Not necessarily the most relevant information to include but I always found it funny how much he resembles Patton's "What is it?!" line from "Epic" with that throaty delivery.

But what about the aforementioned 'cool stuff'? The nuggets? The diamonds in the rough? Well, let me introduce you, meet "Meat", the second track here. What a vocalist! I had no idea who Skin is, but out of all the singers here, she is by far the best... and that's really saying something considering she's perhaps the least known character here! This chick could've been the next Black Sabbath singer! She reminds me of Sabbath's final singer, the bluesy and powerful Tony Martin, capable to go from her lowest notes to her highest with relative ease and seems to have complete and total control over the range and dynamic of her voice. I can seriously respect this venture and I'd be absolutely fascinated to see what these two could come up with on a full blown Iommi album. Fuck this album, I want an album with no one else but Skin singing over Iommi's riffs!

Anselmo's tune, "Time is Mine" is going to be the most hit or miss song on the album. isn't that fitting? You can pretty well assume metalheads to fall into one of two camps: those who dig the shit out of Pantera and the groove metal that was yet to come in the nineties and those who think he's shaped the industry for the worse. "Time is Mine" is easily my second favorite on here right next to "Meat" but the simple truth is that if you're not an Anselmo fan, you're just not going to like it. The song itself sounds much like modern Black Sabbath, but Phil sings in a way that's half spoken word, half actual singing in a lower baritone register. Those who've heard him before are easily going to recognize him, it's pretty much his own trademarked style at this point stolen by many vocalists to follow him such as Lamb of God's Randy Blythe.

I've harped on this album quite a bit and trust me, I know this album probably wasn't a road that Tony Iommi really wanted to go down so much as it was forced upon him by the record label to appeal to the younger crowd. Seriously, why else would Iommi pair up with Serj Tankian, Dave Grohl and Billy Corgan... or even Phil Anselmo for that matter. If you do your research you'll even find out that Eminem was brought into the studio by the record label to do a track with Iommi. We can only imagine what that could've been like. I like to think of myself as a liberal minded guy... who knows, maybe the real Slim Shady can truly sing his ass off? Might as well give him a shot in all honesty considering how processed, fake and disingenuous this album is. I feel sorry for the guy, 14 years of wanting to make his first solo album and even on his solo's debut he didn't have the final say in how things would go down. That wouldn't happen until after Iommi.

Seventh Star All Over Again - 66%

DawnoftheShred, December 19th, 2006

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.

"Hello Misery, You're the Best of Me" - 64%

Number_Six, September 21st, 2006

Tony Iommi’s first ‘official’ foray into solo territory was this self-titled experimental LP, in which every song has a rotating line-up, including the lead singer. While it is quite intriguing for a Sabbath or Iommi enthusiast to hear the renowned guitarist collaborate with some contemporary names in rock, the constant rotating of the line-up gives the album a compilation feel, rather than the coherent ambiance of a tried and true studio album. It can also be said that some of the song writing, the lyrics in particular, are somewhat uninspired.

However, ‘Iommi’ does start off with a corker, “Laughing Man (In the Devil Mask)” featuring Henry Rollins. The main riff is excellent, and the drumming is very tight, with an almost punky edge to it. Rollins trades lines of the verse with himself, as only a complete schizoid nut like Rollins could do. Essentially, it sounds like Sabbath and Rollins Band collided at high speed.

Dave Grohl contributed to the radio single, “Goodbye Lament”, which is a very moody rocker that never received the attention it deserved. Although with Mr. Grohl providing the drumming himself, one has to wonder why there’s a drum machine loop during the opening of this song. The legendary Brian May lends his guitar skills on this track, which unless you read the liner notes, you’d probably not realise. That’s not to say the playing is bad, but it’s nothing sublime like May’s output in Queen’s heyday.

The highlight on ‘Iommi’ is a bombastic second track, “Meat”, featuring ex-Skunk Anansie singer Skin (now a solo artist). Her vocals are well suited to harder music, clearly evident during the chorus, when the guitarist provides a mean bastard of a riff that gives the song an absolutely massive sound. The duo effortlessly play off of each other later in the song, Iommi’s sublime solo complimented by Skin’s haunting wails in the background. Based on the strength of “Skin”, it’s a real shame Tony Iommi didn’t seek out more female vocalists for this project.

Unfortunately, much of the rest of ‘Iommi’ is disappointing at best. Pete Steele’s track “Just Say No to Love” being one of the prime examples. One might expect a man who’s band is clearly in the thrall of Black Sabbath to be a little more motivated to work on this project. Yet Steele’s track comes off as turgid and dour, and is utterly unmemorable after listening to it. These same qualities are also present on Serj Tankian’s “Patterns” and Ian Astbury’s “Flame On”: plodding music coupled with bored sounding vocals.

Worse still is Billy Corgan’s “Black Oblivion”, where an idea for a three minute song is stretched out to nearly eight and a half minutes. Iommi’s nonexistent flair on this track brings back bad memories of 1995’s ‘Forbidden’. Also on the turkey pile is Phil Anselmo’s track, “Time is Mine”. The song doesn’t seem to be suited to Anselmo’s strengths, and thus his vocal performance is stuck in a no man’s land between his typical Pantera scream and his sullen, macabre vocals for Down.

Before the train goes completely off the rails, a familiar tolling bell goes off, bringing Ozzy and Bill Ward out of the graveyard to save the day. The almost original Sabbath line-up contribute a lovely atmospheric tune, suitable for a chilly late October evening. Ozzy’s vocals give the chorus a catchy vibe, in a dark pop kind of way, and Iommi saves his best solo of the record for this song, but the man of the match is Bill Ward, who’s drumming hasn’t sounded this good, this relevant, in ages. A classic.

What could have made ‘Iommi’ a better experiment? As shocking as it may seem, my personal opinion is that the man was too safe in his choices for vocalists. Iommi should have sought out a truly extreme vocalist, perhaps someone out of the death metal genre. I also believe Iommi should have gone even further out of the metal/hard rock genres to find a left-field vocalist to record a heavy metal song. Some fans were shocked, baffled, and/or disappointed that non-metal vocalists such as Billy Idol or Skin were selected for this project, but I feel these were the gambles that paid off. According to a Metal Hammer interview with Tony Iommi, he had convinced Tom Jones (!!!) to record a song for the album, but the two artists had conflicting schedules, and couldn’t find the time to enter the studio. Some readers are probably gagging at the thought of it, but I would have paid hefty amounts of cash to hear the guy who did “What’s New Pussycat?” wailing away to a Tony Iommi riff.

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.