Iommi & Glenn Hughes
It was with some trepidation that I put this CD in the stereo. Too many legends have been releasing sub standard albums lately, and Mr Iommis Sabbath colleague Geezer Butler was the latest to disappoint. TO be fair, having the golden tonsilled Glenn Hughes back on board was a plus sig. After all, Shug has been releasing a string of top quality albums for a few years now, but still, I was worried.
And my worries were justified. Opening track ‘Dopamine’ is dull, modern metal by numbers, which fails to deliver. I felt crushed. Until the second track, ‘Wasted Again’ kicked in. There it is! The riff! And the Riffmeister General! And The Voice Of Rock! Thank you so much. For this is the best thing Tony Iommi has done since ‘Seventh Star’, the cruelly underrated masterpiece he put together with Glenn Hughes in 1986, following a tortuous period of Black Sabbath history that saw Ron Keel, David Donato and possibly Jeff Fenholt passing through the door marked vocalist in sharp succession.
But this is the album I’ve been waiting 20 years for. Granted, we had the abortive ‘DEP Session’, which lay around unreleased for years. But this is a true successor to ‘Seventh Star’. After the storming ‘Wasted Again’, they hit a powerful and mellow groove over the next 4 tracks which picks up where ‘Seventh Star’ left off, with a 21st century edge courtesy of an excellent Bob Marlette production. ‘Saviour Of The Rear’, ‘Resolution Song’ and ‘Grace’ are exemplary songs, showing just how heavy you can be, while still remaining melodic. The bluesy ‘Deep Inside A Shell’ takes a different tack, but without sacrificing any power.
Then it’s pedal firmly back on the metal with the driving ‘What You’re Living For’. I suspect this is the track that long standing Sabbath fans will take to their heart. The heaviest song either man has been associated with in a long, long time, with a classic Sabbath mid section. ‘Face Your Fear’ sounds like a live anthem in waiting, with pounding bass riff (nice Geezer impersonation) and sing-a-long-a-Sabbath chorus. A quick tip of the hat to Kenny Aronoff who belies his Rod Stewart, Bob Dylan, Bob Seger background with an excellent heavy and warm drum sound, and earned his Sabbath spurs on the last Iommi solo album track, ‘Black Oblivion’.
‘The Spell’ is the one track that harks back to the days when a certain Mr Osbourne used to sing with with Mr Iommi, with a doom metal riff that shows the pretenders to the throne where to get off. But in finest tradition, the best is saved for last, with the nine minute epic, ‘I Go Insane’, part prog rock, part acoustic ballad with an incredible instrumental section and a crashing metallic finale. The best track you will hear this year, and one of the finest these two legends have put their name to.
This is an incredibly good album and makes you wonder what could have been if Glenn Hughes had managed to hold it together all those years ago. With plans to tour as a power trio it has the promise to be the live event of the year. And Tony/Glenn, please don’t leave it another 20 years before you get back in the studio.
review: Stuart Hamilton, c/o
Zeitgeist, PO Box 13499, Edinburgh EH6 8YL, UK
Fused is available to order from the dpas online store