Review Summary: Cross Purposes is probably the best Tony Martin era album, but it can't make it to the Sabbath classics. Facts from the Black Sabbah site:
All songs by Butler / Iommi / Martin
Except Evil Eye by Butler / Iommi / Martin / E. Van Halen
Tony Iommi - lead guitar
Tony Martin - Vocals
Geezer Butler - Bass
Bobby Rondinelli - Drums
Geoff Nicholls - Keyboards
Producer - Leif Mases & Black Sabbath
Engineers - Leif Mases, Darren Galer, & Dave Somers
Recorded at Monnow Valley Studios, Wales
Mixed by Leif Mases at The Wool Hall, Somerset
Mastered by Tony Cousins at Metropolis Mastering, London
CD IRS 07777 13222 2 8
CD IRS TOCP-8128 (Japanese Print)
Cross Purposes could be one of those albums that’s on your about-to-forget list. Why? Probably because Tony Martin sings, the year is 1994 and Ozzy left the band one and a halve decade ago. Back in 1970 Black Sabbath ignored the hippies and became the first heavy metal band in history. In the years after the the development of this new genre, hundreds of new metal bands joined the music business, all those bands must have been influenced by the four guys from Birmingham, (or 8 if you count Judas Priest in). After being fronted by some of rock’s most famous vocalists, guitarist Tony Iommi brings Martin into the band in 1987. The man is a fine singer, but doesn’t have the the recognizing elements in his voice that his predecessors had. For the most, he is replaceable. The climax of the band’s carreer was reached years ago, but this step caused Sabbath to take some huge steps out of it’s former position. I could be wrong of course, being born in Holland in 1991 and discovering the band only some years ago. But this is what I make out of it. One thing is for sure, did Black Sabbath suck in the Martin Era? Of course they did not, they were just not as good as they used to be. Now let’s take a look at Cross Purposess.
1. I Witness (4:56)
: Although the opening of the song is a bit cliche, I Witness is a really enthousiastic song. Every band member is doing a solid job, the couplets are a bit normal. The problem with this song is: The chorus is so great and it’s only played twice! The solo which follows right after the chorus is nice, but you will probably agree with me Iommi’s soloing was at his dale in the nineties. They’re sounding a bit too improvised. For in a concert they would be great ,but for a studio album Tony should think twice before not using his full skills.
2. Cross of Thorns (4:31)
: We just rocked our way to the opening track and a ballad follows it up! If the intro would end up like Heaven and Hell’s Children of the Sea, by starting a great metal riff, everything should be fine. But this song is a ballad, and doesn’t have the right spot on the album. The song it’s self should not be overlooked. It’s very nice, and not that soft at all! Another problem however, is the speed. If you’ll hear the Cross Purposes live version of the song, I’m pretty sure you’ll enjoy that one more because the album version is to slow!
3. Psychophobia (3:10)
: This is a great little rocker, but far away from Paranoid. Psychophobia also has its speed trouble, but that should not stop you from liking it. The lyrics and breaks sound great to me. At the half of the song, a new riff kicks in and is just as great as the first. But d*mn, this song needed a solo!
4. Virtual Death (5:45)
: Geezer starts it all with his bass and soon Tony and Bobby follow. The whole song are very evil sounding and the lyrics seem to confirm that. Virtual death is slow to, but that totally fits! Still no solo (apart from the evil backing tones in the outro), I’m getting hungry! At the end you’re left shaking, this song was great!
5. Immaculate Deception (4:12)
: Silence... and then suddenly comes Immacu.. what? After Virtual Death I wasn’t really ready for a keyboard driven lesson of philosophy. The solo adds some power but the song is certainly skipable.
6. Dying for Love (5:49)
: Dying for Love is one of the softest (if not softest) Sabbath must have written. The intro is so beautiful, warm keyboard tones with Iommi playing a great solo. Many reviewers didn’t like it but I love it! Tony Martin is really doing his best, and he doesn’t fail. Sadly the song drags on for a little to long and could use some more variation.
7. Back to Eden (3:53)
: Just like number 5 Back to Eden suddenly starts. It has some swing, and Tony is playing some great solos. The couplet and chorus are unfornutatly a bit boring. When the song suddenly ends, you realise this and Immaculate Deception were probably the two “worst” tracks on the album.
8. The Hand that Rocks the Cradle (4:26)
: Think of Heaven and Hell’s Children of the Sea, it had that beautiful acoustic intro and was followed up by a great riff! Well did song did it too! It isn’t as great as that, but comes kind of close I think. The Hand that Rocks the Cradle is the only song on the album that has its video clip. The solo is wah-wah, but yeah, great! Never press the next button when you’re listening to this song!
9. Cardinal Sin (4:17)
: If you feel like calling for some ghosts, this song can be coming out of your radio to add some atmosphere. Isn’t this song about two cardinals who did something very wrong (Can’t remember what)? After two minutes the song becomes better, with a bridge followed up by an awsome solo. I really love it, but the first part was a little to evil for me.
10. Evil Eye (5:57)
: Eddie van Halen helped writing this! Too bad he couldn’t find the time to actually play on it. Great way to end an album. Period. How many does Iommi play on it? A lot. Evil Eye is probably another highlight of the album.
After all Cross Purposes is a great timeless rock album! The bands that just about eliminated the guitar solo’s, couldn’t reach Black Sabbath ofcourse. But in a realistic view, this doesn’t really match the classics, those are invincible. In my opinion this piece of craftmanship is the best (or close) Martin Era album. Don’t forget Geezer Butler plays on it and was involved in its wrighting. Bobby Rondinelli did a fine job drumming, but the star as usual is Tony Iommi! His endless riff-talent made this album a highlight of 1994 (true?). The solo’s weren’t his best, but they were still good. The order of the songs could have been a lot better and it’s really sad they released Forbidden after a great album like this. Anyway at the bottom line, this album is a must have for any Sabbath fan, and I bet it wouldn’t disappoint to most of a rock’s fans.
Please place comments, this is my second review. And sorry for the spelling orders.