On January 31, 1994, "Black Sabbath" released its 17th studio album, "Cross Purposes".
The story of this album begins where the story of the album "Dehumanizer", on which we wrote a review last June, ends. So click on the link, take a few minutes and read the review, we are waiting...
Great, you're back, we can start ...
So as you already read in the review of "Dehumanizer" the reunion of the Ronnie James Dio line-up survived only a few months. Already in November 1992, only five months after the album "Dehumanizer" was released, Ronnie James Dio left the band after his friends asked him to go on a joint tour with Ozzy Osbourne and serve as his warm-up show.
Similar to what happened in the 1980s, this time too, drummer Vinny Appice left with Ronnie James Dio and the two reform "Dio" and start recording the band's sixth album "Strange Highways", which will be released in 1993.
The original intention of Tony Iommi and Geezer Butler, was to try and reunite the original lineup of "Black Sabbath" so they decided to spend time until they manage to reunite the band in a small side project. However, pressure from the record company forced the to use the name of "Black Sabbath". The two recruited singer Tony Martin who was part of the band on three albums, starting with "The Eternal Idol" in 1987, through "Headless Cross" in 1989 to "Tyr" from 1990. Drummer Vinny Appice was replaced by Bobby Rondinelli familiar to us from "Rainbow", when keyboardist Geoff Nicholls who became a full member of the band in the previous decade, continued to fill the keyboardist role.
(Photo: Screenshot from cover of "First Purposes" bootleg CD)
This album is among the best of the band in its Tony Martin era. The added value on this album over the other three, is the fact that it is the only one of the Tony Martin era in which bassist Geezer Butler participates. Geezer, who agreed to take part in Tony Iommi's little adventure and waited for the original lineup to reunite, will leave the band shortly after the album was released and will form the band "GZR", with whom he will release the album "Plastic Planet" in 1995 and two more albums later. Before Geezer left "Black Sabbath", he went on a tour with the band, in which they recorded a live show on April 13, 1994. This show will be released later as an album and DVD named "Cross Purposes Live". This is Black Sabbath's only live album with singer Tony Martin and includes, among other things, a beautiful rendition of the song "The Wizard" (with the famous harmonica), a song the band didn't perform since the early 1970s.
Now, if the Ozzy Osbourne era of "Black Sabbath" was characterized by metallic and "Stoner" blues and if the Ronnie James Dio era plunged deeper into the heaviness and dwelled in a sea of Doom, then this album probably combines a bit of both era, with adaptation to the 90s.
We have "I Witness" and "Psychophobia", which for a moment reminded us very much of the Ronnie James Dio era and even sounded to us at times as a direct sequel to "Dehumanizer", with it's heavy and dark sound.
On the other hand, we get the bluesy "Dying For Love", which in its first minute, when we closed our eyes, we were ready to swear that the legendary Gary Moore came to the studio and played the bluesy and dirty solo in the intro to the song. But no! It's Tony Iommi in his own right with a perfect playing that proves, once again, that the band's roots are planted in their unique metallic blues, somewhere in the early 1970s.
Some flickers from Tony Iommi's riff in the song "Evil Eye" reminded us of the riff from the song "A National Acrobat", back from the Ozzy Osbourne era. It also happens to be the only song in which guitarist Eddie Van Halen participates in writing playing guitar, although he did not receive credit for it, due to his contract terms with "Warner Bros. Records" .
And where is the adaptation to the 90s you ask? So a great example of this can be heard in the fourth track "Virtual Death", which brings up memories of another band, younger and fresher, located thousands of miles west and called "Alice in Chains". Yes, we are dealing with a band that was influenced by "Black Sabbath" and suddenly become influential on "Black Sabbath", just like a spinning wheel... the same heavy and thick riffs, the same vocal harmonies a la the duo Staley-Cantrell, even the first Tony held back and there is no guitar solo in here, while the second Tony struggled to sound sloppy and suffering just like a real Grunge idol.
The album also includes "Cross Of Thorns" which tries to stick to the epic formula of "Children of the Sea", "The Sign Of The Southern Cross" or even "Heaven and Hell", but fails to match them, although it's an excellent song. There's also "Immaculate Deception", which starts like a slow "walk" and moves to the fastest "sprint" just like "Speed Metal". "Cardinal Sin" sounds like "Kashmir"'s less successful brother, but even though manage to deliver the goods. It is interesting to note in this context that the song was originally meant to be called "Sin Cardinal Sin", but due to a typo the first word was deleted and the band did not bother to correct the error.
The album received mixed reviews, but it is interesting to note that "Guitar World" magazine included it among the 50 iconic albums that defined 1994, which was a great year in music.
For Listening: Youtube