Thursday, February 18, 2010

As the Palaces Burned: Black Sabbath - Cross Purposes

On September 24, 1991 Nirvana released Nevermind. Nine years later, a reunited Iron Maiden played Madison Square Garden. The time in between was one of metal's bleaker periods, where the genre's mainstream face all but disappeared and it retreated not just underground, but underwater. To celebrate the rare gems of this dark time - and remember our fortune now that metal has ceased to be such a dirty word - we present As the Palaces Burned, a weekly series published every Wednesday that covers notable metal albums released between 1991 and 2000.

Today's entry is Black Sabbath's 1994 album Cross Purposes.

One of my pet causes when discussing music with like-minded Metal heads is raising awareness of how awesome much of the Tony Martin era of Black Sabbath really was. This album was released in 1994 right after Dehumanizer, the reunion record with Dio. You can hear a lot of that sound on this album. And although he can sometimes sound a bit too much like Dio, Tony Martin is an amazing singer with just enough soul in his voice to make it work.

Iommi is the riff king no matter what lineup he is playing with, and this album is no exception. "Virtual Death" opens with a classic Geezer dirge on the bass which is the perfect appetizer for a delicious meal of slow murky Iommi riffing. Bobby Rondinelli who was also in Rainbow provides the simple but extremely powerful drumming we've all come to expect from this version of Sabbath. He doesn't stray very far from the template written by Vinnie Appice and Cozy Powell, which is fine.

This is extremely solid Black Sabbath with a couple of unexpected members. After you get hooked on this album go back and listen to the Headless Cross. That album is the jam, and the absolute pinnacle of Tony Martin's vocal powers.

Virtual Death

Evil Eye (co-written with Eddie Van Halen)

Cross of Thorns

No comments: