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Black Sabbath - Tyr

On August 20, 1990 "Black Sabbath" released its 15th album "Tyr".

This is the band's third album with singer Tony Martin and one of the best of its time.

Although it is not a concept album, a large part of the songs in it deal with Norse mythology. Evidence of this can be found, among others, on the album title - "Tyr" which is the son of Odin and to the glory of heroism and individual battles, on the names of the songs such as "The Battle of Tyr", "Odin's Court", "Valhalla" as well as the album cover which includes the Norse inscription "ᛏ ᛉ ᚱ".

The lineup on this album is almost identical to the previous album "Headless Cross" and includes guitarist Tony Iommi and drummer Cozy Powell who also produced the album, as well as singer Tony Martin and keyboardist Geoff Nicholls. The only change is in the bassist position with the addition of Neil Murray who previously played with "Whitesnake", among others.

Referring to the change in the writing themes of the album, compared to the previous album "Headless Cross", guitarist Tony Iommi noted that the album "Headless Cross" was actually the band's first album where singer Tony Martin began writing for the band. Upon entering the band, Tony Martin assumed that in "Black Sabbath" the lyrics should deal with dark subjects such as black magic, Satan, and the devil, therefore in "Headless Cross" the lyrics revolved around them. Iommi explained that it was too much, so he and Cozy asked Martin to be a little more subtle in the writing of the album "Tyr", which led Martin to write about Norse mythology. As well known, Tony Martin joined "Black Sabbath" in 1987 to replace singer Ray Gillen, who didn't "deliver the goods", during the recording of the album "The Eternal Idol". He was brought into the band to re-record all of Ray Gillen's vocal duties to allow for the release of the album. Because Tony arrived after the album was already complete, he did not participate in the creative process, however, after his arrival, he participated in the writing of two additional new songs: "Black Moon" and "Some Kind of Woman", which were not included in the original album and were released only as B-sides.

(Photo: I.R.S.)

The change in writing topics also brought with it a minor change on the musical side, which went in a darker and heavier direction, but at the same time melodic with increased use of keyboards. Apparently, the change in sound was also because drummer Cozy Powell produced the album along with Tony Iommi and made sure to bring the drums forward in the final mix.

The album opens with the epic piece "Anno Mundi (The Vision)" and the Latin lyrics "Spiritus Sanctus Anno Anno Mundi". It's the longest song on the album that reminds us of so many other things "Black Sabbath" has done in the past. For example, the first seconds of the song with the acoustic guitar gave us flashbacks from the song "Children Of The Sea", the heavy riff and especially the bass work after the entrance, starting at minute 0:59, threw us 3 years ahead to another song by the band "Zero the Hero" And the melody in the catchy chorus corresponded a bit to the melody of "The Sign Of The Southern Cross". But don't get us wrong, all these "references" from the "Sabbath" classics only did us good and upgraded the song for us. The translation of the words "Anno Mundi" from Latin is "in the year of the world" and is used to indicate the Hebrew year since the creation of the world.

The second track is the exact opposite of the previous one. "The Law Maker" explodes in our faces with the thundering drums of Cozy Powell and the brutal riff of Tony Iommi, who is also responsible for the song's crazy solo. Notice how much Geoff Nicholls' keyboards add-in, even in a song with such a fast tempo.

Then comes one of the most beautiful songs on the album, "Jerusalem", which showcases the amazing vocal abilities of Tony Martin, who definitely utilizes his tremendous vocal range to the fullest. It's another epic song tailor-made to be part of a soundtrack of a historical film with consistent and powerful drumming by Cozy Powell, heavy riffs by Tony Iommi, and a dark yet sweeping and hopeful atmosphere by Geoff Nicholls on the keyboards. It's not for nothing that several fans created impromptu music videos clips for the song, based on excerpts from the historical epic movie "Kingdom of Heaven" dealing with the Crusades of the 12th century. It is interesting to note that singer Tony Martin recorded a version of the song as part of his 1992 solo album "Back Where I Belong".

The opening of "The Sabbath Stones" took us back to the days of "War Pigs" with "doom metal" seasoning and brooding lyrics. Another great song with a heavy and dark riff and amazing vocals by Tony Martin, who sometimes reminded us a bit of Ronnie James Dio. It is one of the dynamic songs on the album with quite a few amazing changes and transitions, which we would have loved to witness performed live.

And here comes the excellent "Nordic" trilogy! Three tracks related to each other in the spirit and subject of the writing. It starts with the instrumental piece "The Battle of Tyr" conducted by keyboardist Geoff Nicholls, who takes us back to the Viking period and brings us up with hammer and ax to the cold north. This keyboard section is meant to put us in the mood and it connects in a simply perfect way to the quiet and exciting "Odin's Court" which is the gateway to what we think is the "main course" of the album - "Valhalla".

Regarding the song "Feels Good To Me", the band members stated that it was included on the album solely to provide it with a catchy song that could be used as a single. It's a kind of power ballad that doesn't fit in any way with the musical line of the album, but it's a good song in itself, which delivered the goods and even spawned a music video that was played on MTV at the time.

We reached the end of the album with "Heaven in Black" which, together with its predecessor, is perhaps the reason why this album didn't get the place it deserves. In our opinion, the last two songs are a kind of drop from the high level that was presented from the beginning of the album and we can only wonder what would have happened if they had been replaced with songs at the level of their predecessors.

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