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Black Sabbath - Tyr CD (album) cover

TYR

Black Sabbath

 

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3.16 | 212 ratings

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TCat
2 stars "Tyr" is the 15th studio album from Black Sabbath which was released in August, 1990. During this phase of the band, Tommi Iommi was still the lead guitarist and the only original member of the band, but was backed up by lead singer and lyricist Tony Martin, who would end up being the 2nd longest running vocalist behind Ozzy Osbourne. He has contributed to 5 studio albums, but not in sequence. Cozy Powell was the drummer and in charge of production on this album. He would contribute to 3 studio albums, however not in sequence. Of course, Powell's name was well known in prog circles as having been the drummer for "Emerson, Lake & Powell" "Rainbow" and several other hard rock and heavy metal bands. Geoff Nicholls was the band's keyboardist and had been for a long time, from 1979 to 2004 (he passed away in 2017). Neil Murray was the bassist, and this would be his first time recording a studio album with the band having replaced Laurence Cottle. The line up is the same as it was for "The Headless Cross" released previously in 1989, except for Murray who is the only new member in the line up for this album and would return for the recording of "Forbidden" in 1995.

All of the lyrics on this album were written by Tony Martin. Iommi said in his biography that he didn't want to have dark lyrics as was the case in "Headless Cross" and wanted them to be more subltle, not so dependent upon evil and the devil. The band decided on naming the album after Tyr, the god of single combat and heroic glory in Norse mythology. This influenced fans to call this a concept album, but bassist Murray said this was not the case as the lyrics are only loosely connected and not always about mythology.

"Anno Mundi" starts off the album with a somewhat mellow sound with processed harmonies in Latin and a simple guitar arpeggio. After a verse, the first guitar riff kicks in supported by synths and Martin's vocals. Tony's voice is similar to Whitesnake's lead singer David Coverdale, and the music is somewhat similar to that style, except for a bit heavier. That influence could come from Murray, who also played for Whitesnake during their most popular years. There is a bit more of a progressive element to this track and it has been said that this was probably Black Sabbath's most progressive album.

"The Law Maker" has a much faster tempo and sounds almost like something from the years that Ronnie James Dio was lead singer. In fact the vocals sound similar to Dio. It is standard fare. "Jerusalem" has a marching style rhythm to it but continues with the same style of popular heavy metal as the previous track.

Next is the longest track on the album, "The Sabbath Stones". This one starts with a slow, repeating guitar and drum riff and Martin begins singing over it. Percussion and bass join later with a darker and heavier sound in this slower track which soon mellows out when the 2nd theme starts. The pattern of interchanging themes is established: heavy, then mellow. Martin's singing is more believable on this track. A new theme with a faster tempo comes in later with more vocals which lead into a good guitar solo. This track, like the first one, is progressive lite.

Next is the short, atmospheric, mostly synthesized track "The Battle of Tyr". I'm not sure what it's trying to accomplish other than being a set of synthesized chords. This kind of flows into "Odin's Court", as a thematic suite of sorts continues. This one is also somewhat short, but features vocals and stays quite mellow all the way through. It's a nice melody that could have developed into something, but it is too short to do so. This also flows into the last part of this "suite" in the heavier, yet quite standard "Valhalla". This one again reminds me of the Dio years. These are the only interconnected songs on the album. So much for the concept album theory.

"Feels Good to Me" was only included on this album because it was intended to be the single. It is a slow ballad in the style of most heavy metal ballads. The band has recognized that it has nothing to do in relation to the style of the other tracks saying it sounds out of place. To me it sounds quite typical, just a track to be forgotten along with the other intended hits in the "heavy metal ballad junk yard of Bon Jovi copycats".

The album ends on "Heaven in Black". It starts with a rolling drum solo before quickly kicking in with a forgettable riff. This one is more up tempo, but again is reminiscent of RJD years.

I don't know where people get the idea that this is Black Sabbath's most progressive album, as there are only two tracks here that could be mildly considered progressive, but they are so lite when it comes to progressive elements that you really have to pay attention or they will slide right by you. It's true that they are the better tracks on the album, but the bar for being unique is set quite low. To me, this doesn't sound very different from any of the other heavy metal bands out there trying to popularize heavy metal which only end up sounding a slight notch above the hair bands of the 80s. I don't really hear anything special about this album that would make it stand out from the many other typical metal bands. And this is definitely very far away from being Progressive metal. Move along folks, nothing to hear here.

TCat | 2/5 |

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