Black Sabbath
The Eternal Idol


Release Date: 1987 | Tracklist

Review Summary: The best Black Sabbath album you probably didn’t know existed.

It’s incredibly unfortunate that people tend to forget or entirely ignore Tony Martin and the albums that he was a part of with Black Sabbath. While it is true that he was associated with some of Sabbath’s worst material, Martin himself was an immensely talented vocalist who could capture the range of Ozzy and the melody of Dio. In some ways, Martin really was Sabbath’s finest frontman. Unfortunately, the year was 1987 and not many cared for Sabbath anymore, especially after the St Anger of the 80’s known as Born Again. Tony Martin’s performance, and some of the bands most underrated songs, would find themselves on The Eternal Idol, only to be shoved into a corner of obscurity and neglect.

Many have labeled The Eternal Idol as a power metal album, but this is only partially true. Many of Iommi’s riffs are very doom and/or traditionally heavy metal, but the production and synths do create mirages of power metal through metal listeners. Martins vocals can be a bit corny at times, especially in the opening song, “The Shining”. At his worst, Martin sounds like he’s seeing the theme song to an anime. But at his best, he’s rivaling even that if Dio. Martin has amazing pipes, a believed-to-be five octave vocal range. The title track, which is easily a doom metal song in and out and also serves as a perfect closer is a brilliant song that just may be Sabbath’s most underrated track, regardless of vocalist or era. It’s hauntingly beautiful and absolutely everything you’d want in a doomy Sabbath song, cadenced especially by Martin’s best vocal performance of his entire career.

Lyrically, the band seem a bit more mature here than elsewhere, and this seems to be a trend that would continue throughout the Martin years until Forbidden. While there's still the typical quasi-Satanic lyrical themes, they're handled with a bit more panache here than in several of the previous releases, and Martin helps to carry them to a level which might otherwise not be achieved. The rest of the band is as on top of their game as ever, and Iommi seems to have gotten somewhat more comfortable in his role as de facto leader of the band.

The rest of the album follows suit, and, while there's not a great deal of diversity here, that's not really what one expects from Black Sabbath. Some songs are a bit different though, such as “Nightmare” which has a midpaced bluesy riff that isn’t common in Sabbath. Regardless, it’s nevertheless one of the best ever laid down by this band, and, fanboy purism aside, is almost better than most of the material they recorded with Ozzy. It's unfortunate that this same line-up would go on to record the awful Forbidden, but that, as one says, is the way the Sabbath crumbled.

The Eternal Idol is possibly the most underrated/overlooked Black Sabbath release of all time. The Tony Martin era in general is widely overlooked, but this one takes the cake for me personally. While some of the other Tony Martin albums have gained more of a fanbase, such as 1989's Headless Cross, this album still stands as something of a pinnacle in the darkest chapter of Sabbath's career. I personally think this is a criminally underrated Black Sabbath release, although hopefully that’ll be a fact one day. In fact, The Eternal Idol is a near flawless album, with its major issue being it had to be compared to several other genre defining classics in the Sabbath library. There’s a massive chance you’ve never heard this album, or ever even bothered to listen to it based and what you’ve heard about Martin and his mediocrity. I ensure you will be satisfied by what you hear on The Eternal Idol.

Recent reviews by this author
Psychosexual Torch The FaithDemolition Hammer Time Bomb
Crowbar EquilibriumBongripper Satan Worshipping Doom
Pist.on Number OneAfter Oblivion Stamina
user ratings (549)
other reviews of this album
Nagrarok (3)
It's hardly a real comeback, it's not very original, the lyrics are cheesy. Sabbath is still sufferi...

Comments:Add a Comment 
July 2nd 2018


Just realized the album cover reminds me a bit of Whitesnake's Saints and Sinners...
Very good review.

Some suggestions:

''At his worst, Martin sounds like he’s seeing the theme song to an anime.''
Guess the proper word is ''singing''.

''There’s a massive chance you’ve never heard this album, or ever even bothered to listen to it based and what you’ve heard about Martin and his mediocrity.''
Change the ''and'' to an ''on'' buddy.

This is indeed a very underrated album. Same goes for Cross Purposes. Might even bump my rating for this, very consistent stuff.
Really dig Hard Life to Love, Glory Ride, Nightmare and the gorgeous acoustic instrumental Scarlet Pimpernel.

July 2nd 2018


Album Rating: 4.5

Haha thanks Ripping. I wrote this one my phone so it’s bound to have some errors. Thanks for the shit bro

July 2nd 2018


Haha I see.
Martin years could've been a success and something big, however the lack of promotion by the record label (I.R.S.) and the fact that everyone got tired of so many lineup changes contributed to this era to be underrated and its following became more cult-ish.
Btw I remember seeing a post about Tony Martin planning to release a solo album last year or smth like that. Good luck to him in whatever he is doing right now, even if it means replicating Ice T's parts on stage (Illusion of Power XD).

July 2nd 2018


Album Rating: 3.5

Solid review, pos'd.

I love this album and Tony of course.

He is a hell of a singer.

July 2nd 2018


Album Rating: 3.5

haha we jammed this hard on plug a few weeks back. album honestly has some skippable songs but the t/t is an absolute masterpiece

July 2nd 2018


Album Rating: 3.0

Cool review, pos'd

album's decent

July 3rd 2018


The B-sides are catchy and fun as hell too. I've always enjoyed this original version of Black Moon more than the re-recorded version off Headless Cross. It feels more rocking and natural and less overproduced and ''eighties-sounding'' imo (still a solid re-recording though).

Some Kind of Woman is an underrated banger too.


July 4th 2018


Album Rating: 4.5

Oh, I know it exists !

July 4th 2018


Album Rating: 4.5

We need more like you sput!

July 5th 2018


Album Rating: 4.5

Agree on all the line. A criminally underrated album. It was one of the first sabs albums for me, and still one of my favourites. At that time I remember I was amazed by their sound, which was sounding so fresh compared to the other 70s "monsters" bands productions of that age (e.g. Deep purple)

You have to be logged in to post a comment. Login | Create a Profile


Bands: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Site Copyright 2005-2019
All Album Reviews Displayed With Permission of Authors | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy