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Black Sabbath - Seventh Star CD (album) cover


Black Sabbath


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2.65 | 271 ratings

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3 stars Just looking at the surface of Black Sabbath's discography and the varying line-ups that were happening at this stage, one would think that the band was having a hard time keeping a lead singer around. That really wasn't quite the case once you look into the history behind each album. Most everyone knows that Ozzy Osbourne had left the band after 8 studio albums and was replaced with Ronnie James Dio. It seemed that Black Sabbath was getting a new life with Dio, but then he left the band after 2 studio albums to work on his own music. At this point Tony Iommi wanted to also release albums under his own name. The record label disagreed.

The album 'Born Again' featured Deep Purple's (at that time) former singer Ian Gillan and was supposed to be Iommi's first solo album. The record company nixed that because they thought it would do better with Black Sabbath's name attached. It worked that time, at least since the album was a commercial success. However, the band was not satisfies with Gillam and he was not happy with the band either, so that line-up only lasted for one album. Once again Iommi put together a different line- up for another try at a solo album. This time, he brought in Geoff Nicholls who had been playing for Black Sabbath previously as a 'session' musician for many years, to play keyboards, Eric Singer on drums, Dave Spitz on bass, and finally Glenn Hughes for vocals. Hughes was another ex-Deep Purple member as he played bass and sang for the Mk III and Mk IV line-ups for that band. Once again, the record company insisted that it be released as Black Sabbath even though it was not intended to be a Black Sabbath record. This time, however, they allowed it to be released as Black Sabbath featuring Tony Iommi. However, Iommi's fears came to reality when critics, fans and everyone else compared the album with previous Sabbath albums, and Iommi was the only regular member of this new line up.

Changing the name to Black Sabbath turned out to be a real disaster that can be blamed mostly on the record label. The album was only moderately successful and this signaled and also initiated the downfall of what was a legendary band. The name would start to be ridiculed and for several years, people pretty much ignored the band except to make fun of it.

Typically, however, nowadays, this album probably would hardly even be mentioned anywhere if it hadn't been labeled as a Sabbath record, so at least now, it works to its advantage. It is considered one of the weaker ones though, but at least it gets some recognition. The music is definitely a major turn away from the heavy metal sound of the Dio years, and almost light years away from the groundbreaking music of the Osbourne years. The music on this album is more hard rock and blues oriented, and since it didn't really stand out, it kind of got lost in the crowd of hair metal bands emerging out of the woodwork like a bunch of horny termites. Other things that worked against this time in the band's history was that the line-up hardly even lasted very far into the tour for the album. Nicholls was fired not long after the tour began because his weight problems made it impossible health-wise to continue. He was replaced during the tour by Ray Gillen who can be heard singing on the 2nd disc that comes with the 2010 deluxe edition of this album.

So, for studio album number 12, we see the band faltering. The only regular member still remaining is Iommi, so it isn't even Black Sabbath anymore at this point, it really is an Iommi solo album. Nicholls vocals are okay, but don't stand out like the previous lead singers for the band, including Gillan's. Nothing else really stands out either from any other hard rock band. The basic hard rock sound and anthem style rocker music is evident right off the bat with 'In for the Kill'. Of course, you are going to have some great guitar soloing during the instrumental breaks, but everything is quite predictable. Gone are the days of changing meters, tempos and ingenious music framed by smart songwriting. 'No Stranger to Love' opens with thick synth chords and a more bluesy sound. This song is a little better seeing that it goes for a darker blues sound which would have been a decent track sung by any of the predecessor vocalists. It is one of the two highlights of the album along with 'Heart Like a Wheel' on the last half of the album. Even so, it is still quite predictable and offers no real surprises.

The album finds itself creating ruts in the road that Black Sabbath would have a very difficult time getting out of. In the many albums that were to follow, the same tired formulas would be followed. There would be a little adjustment here and another there, but one album was hardly discernable from another for quite a long time. At least, following this album, Black Sabbath would find a fairly regular vocalist in Tony Martin who would become the 2nd longest serving vocalist after Ozzy, but his vocals really didn't standout either and the band would continue through the 80s and 90s as just another heavy metal band. The progressivness and ingenuity of Black Sabbath was no longer existent, and they sadly became just another loud band lost in the fray of countless mediocre heavy metal bands of the time. The downward spiral suddenly continues to get deeper.

TCat | 3/5 |


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