Black Sabbath - Seventh Star
What happens when "The King of Metal Riffs" meets "The Voice of Rock"?
Spoiler alert !!! Contrary to the mixed reviews this "summit meeting" won, we really liked this unique collaboration.
On January 28, 1986, "Seventh Star", "Black Sabbath" 12th album, was released.
This album was intended as guitarist Tony Iommi's solo album, after bassist Geezer Butler left "Black Sabbath" and left Iommi as the only original band member.
In 1985, "Black Sabbath" appeared at "Live Aid" with its original lineup, including Ozzy Osbourne. Iommi believes that this mini-union would lead to a full collaboration with Ozzy. He decided to take advantage of the time until Ozzy finishes his solo career commitments and began writing material for his first solo album. However, the band's manager Don Arden (Sharon Osborne's father) persuaded Iommi to release the album under the "Black Sabbath" brand, thinking that this way he would be more successful.
The album was eventually released under the title "Black Sabbath Featuring Tony Iommi", but in later releases, the tribute to Tony Iommi was dropped and it became a "Black Sabbath" album.
This album introduces us to Iommi's first collaboration with "The Voice Of Rock" - bassist, and singer Glenn Hughes, known from "Trapeze" and the MKIII lineup of "Deep Purple" ".
(Photo: Chris Walter/WireImage)
The album also features keyboardist Jeff Nichols who for the first time got the credit as a band member, having been featured only as a session player on the band's previous albums. In an unfortunate and creepy way, Geoff Nicholls will die exactly 31 years after the album's release date, i.e. on January 28, 2017.
Another interesting reinforcement player who participates in this album, is the drummer Eric Singer, who will later become the "Cat Man" of "Kiss" featuring on seven of the band's albums starting in the early 90s.
Due to the significant changes in "Black Sabbath's" lineup, it was only natural that there would be also a drastic change in music style on this album. In did, on this album the band away from classic Heavy Metal towards Hard Rock and Blues-Rock.
Songs like “In For The Kill” which opens up the album by storm with Eric Singer's pounding drums chasing Tony Iommi's guitar riff and "Turn To Stone" also corresponds with the opening song, taking "Black Sabbath" to new districts, on the border of Power Metal.
Songs like "Heart Like A Wheel" are already going in the direction of Blues-Rock in which Iommi' is going back to the band's blues roots.
And we even have Sabbath's first Power Ballads: The first, the excellent "No Stranger To Love", which was also the first and successful single released about two months before the album release. The Second, is the closing track of the album "In Memory ..." featuring Iommi on an acoustic guitar.
It is interesting to note that even though Glenn Hughes is an excellent bass player, Iommi took Dave "The Beast" Spitz, as the album bass player. Dave Spitz is the brother of guitarist Dan Spitz, known from "Anthrax' which celebrates his birthday today. Dave plays bass on all of the album songs except "No Stranger To Love", where his replacement is Gordon Copley. Dave will later join "Great White" and be part of the supergroup "McBrain Damage". He will be the one to introduce singer Ray Gillen to Iommi as Glenn Hughes replacement after he will leave the band.
"Angry Heart" is a classic Hard Rock song that sounds to us like a "Rainbow" outtake from the Joe Lynn Turner era, even in terms of Hughes' singing.
And it is impossible to end the review without mentioning the two excellent songs "Danger Zone" and the theme song "Seventh Star", which develops from the intro "Sphinx (The Guardian)", both of which are without a doubt the highlight of the album.
It is interesting to note, that most of the critics just "killed" the album with an average score of 5/10 stars, except "Kerrang" magazine which gave it a perfect score of 5/5. Although we think Kerrang magazine went too far with their sympathetic critique, our opinion is still closer to it than to the other bad reviews.
True, for those who expected a classic "Black Sabbath" album, this may be a disappointment, but "Seventh Star" was never planned or claimed to be one. We think the blame for the cold reviews is on Sabbath's management. If they would have released an album as Iommi's solo project, there's no doubt it would have received better reviews. It's a classic Hard Rock album that does not fall short of albums released by bands like "Rainbow" and "Whitesnake" several years earlier.
After the release of the album, the band went on a tour to promote it. Unfortunately due to Hughes' health problems (some say he injured his neck in a brawl and lost his voice for a long time) and following a conflict with the band manager, he will retire from the tour and be replaced after only 6 shows.
However, this collaboration left a good taste for Iommi and Hughes, who will return to collaborate on Iommi's solo albums "Fused" and "The 1996" DEP Sessions", which was also titled "Eighth Star" as if it was a sequel to the reviewed album.