Criminally Slept-On: Black Sabbath (The Other Guys)

Posted by on February 25, 2016

7) “Nightmare [FT. RAY GILLEN]”  


Before bouncing out of Sabbath during The Eternal Idol, Ray Gillen laid down vocals for the entire album. When Warner Brothers remastered and re-released Sabbath’s back catalog between 2009 and 2012, The Eternal Idol was presented with Gillen’s material on a second disc. Gillen’s version of “Nightmare” is very similar to Martin’s, albeit not quite as shiny. There’s also an instrumental intro on Martin’s version that’s foregone here. I think there’s a bit more “umph” in Gillen’s delivery, and despite the fact that Tony Martin was the replacement vocalist and Gillen the original, this is the only track on which I think Gillen did the better job. A bit of trivia: near the middle of the final, Tony Martin version of “Nightmare,” there’s a laugh that’s actually a remnant of Gillen’s sessions… it’s his lone contribution to a Sabbath release.


8) “Turn To Stone”  


Even among Sabbath’s less-appreciated 80s work, Seventh Star is something of an anomaly. Following the band’s split with Ian Gillan, Iommi planned to release a solo album, taking a break from helming the Sabbath mantle as its lone remaining original member. The would-be solo effort marked Iommi’s second collaboration with a Deep Purple alumnus, with Glenn Hughes this time taking over vocal duties. Label and management pressures to capitalize on the band’s brand eventually saw Seventh Star released under the Black Sabbath moniker (or “Black Sabbath, featuring Tony Iommi,”as the final cover reads), and a number of choice new tunes were upgraded from Iommi’s solo stable into the Sabbath canon. My pick for this one is “Turn To Stone.” Most of the album is more blues-oriented, with only a couple tracks really capturing the melody and intensity of earlier Sabbath efforts. And of the couple songs that really bring the heat, “Turn To Stone” tops the list. So infectiously catchy.


9) “Hot Line”  


Even if you’ve never heard an actual song from Born Again, somehow, you’ve heard about the album. Whether it’s lamenting the notoriously awful cover art, or the band’s Spinal Tap-mocked Born Again tour (featuring Stonehenge-inspired set pieces too big to fit in a tractor trailer), the atmosphere surrounding the record has long since entered the annals of metal lore. And because of how cartoonish the album’s buzz was (and still is), I think a lot of Sabbath fans, myself included, never even bothered to check out the music. “Zero The Hero” is probably Born Again’s most popular song, and with its surging, hypnotic main riff and sing-along chorus, it’s easy to see why. My pick, though, is “Hot Line.” It’s proof that even at what many consider to be a career low point, Tony Iommi was still capable of delivering the iconic riffs that made him a legend. And with Ian Gillan shrieking like a banshee over some of Sabbath’s catchiest work, it’s hard not to nod along.

The fact that Sabbath’s career has spanned the entirety of heavy metal’s time as a genre says a lot about their longevity, their ingenuity and their ability to both reinvent themselves and to embrace their past. The Ozzy-fronted original lineup (minus Bill Ward) is currently in the midst of The End, a global trek that’s been billed as the band’s last hurrah. And while that may be the case for this lineup and for the Black Sabbath brand, Iommi’s proven himself to be so versatile and prolific that even in his later years, I doubt he’s capable of staying idle for long. Just like Dio returned to the fold for Heaven and Hell before his death in 2010, rumors are swirling that a collaboration between Iommi and Tony Martin may be in the works once the final Sabbath tour ends. It’d be interesting to see if a new act with Iommi and Martin playing Martin-era Sabbath songs, and maybe even writing some new stuff, would be welcomed back with the same enthusiasm as Dio was. There are way more Martin fans out there than you probably think, man… so I believe there’s hope. And even if nothing new comes from Iommi and Martin, or if nothing new comes at all, there’s no denying that Black Sabbath, in all its incarnations, is one of the most influential bands of all time, not just in metal, but in rock & roll. If this is indeed “The End,” it’s been a hell of a journey, and they’ve earned a peaceful close to it. But if more’s to come, I’ll be one of the faithful welcoming whatever Black Sabbath chooses to unleash next.

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Categorised in: Columns, Criminally Slept-On