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Black Sabbath The Eternal Idol album cover
3.17 | 261 ratings | 10 reviews | 9% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

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Studio Album, released in 1987

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. The Shining (5:58)
2. Ancient Warrior (5:34)
3. Hard Life to Love (5:00)
4. Glory Ride (4:48)
5. Born to Lose (3:43)
6. Nightmare (5:17)
7. Scarlet Pimpernel (2:07)
8. Lost Forever (4:00)
9. Eternal Idol (6:35)

Total Time 43:02

Bonus tracks on 2010 Sanctuary remaster:
10. Black Moon (Single B-side) (3:39)
11. Some Kind of Woman (Single B-side) (3:16)

Bonus CD from 2010 Sanctuary remaster - The Eternal Idol - Ray Gillen Sessions :
1. Glory Ride (5:21)
2. Born To Love (3:41)
3. Lost Forever (4:17)
4. Eternal Idol (6:48)
5. The Shining (6:30)
6. Hard Life To Love (5:20)
7. Nightmare (4:49)
8. Ancient Warrior (4:54)

Total time 41:40

Line-up / Musicians

- Tony Martin / vocals
- Tony Iommi / guitars
- Bob Daisley / bass
- Eric Singer / drums

- Geoff Nicholls / keyboards
- Beb Bevan / percussion (7,9)
- Ray Gillen / vocals (Live)
- David Spitz / credited, but didn't perform

Releases information

Artwork: Shoot That Tiger! (based on a sculpture by Auguste Rodin, 1889)

LP Warner Bros. ‎- R-163809 (1987, US)
LP Vertigo ‎- VERH 51 (1987, UK)

CD Warner Bros. ‎- 9 25548-2 (1987, US)
CD Vertigo ‎- 832 708-2 (1987, Europe)
2xCD Sanctuary ‎- 2752460 (2010, Europe) Remastered & expanded w/ 2 bonus tracks + extra CD

Thanks to Terra Australis for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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Buy BLACK SABBATH The Eternal Idol Music

BLACK SABBATH The Eternal Idol ratings distribution

(261 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of rock music(9%)
Excellent addition to any rock music collection(25%)
Good, but non-essential (43%)
Collectors/fans only (18%)
Poor. Only for completionists (5%)

BLACK SABBATH The Eternal Idol reviews

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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by b_olariu
4 stars I was very surprised to see Black Sabbath here, because in my opinion they are pioneers of heavy metal, in fact the first heavy metal band that emerge from gloomy Great Britan.I choose to review random the Sabbath albums. Here are the first review of mine on this band. Eternal Idol relese in 1987, was much better then previous one, still very heavy with great keys added by the master Geoff Nicholls, but very discret, only background. The main man Iommi did a great job here, great riffs on maybe the best tracks of Sabbath third period (first - Ozzy, second - Dio) , and two of my fav pieces from entire Sabbth history:The Shining and Ancient Warrior, super pieces of hevy metal. The rest is very enjoyble to me. First album with Tony Martin on voice. Much powerfull than Hughes, make Sabbath to survive another 4years and 3 albums till his first departure in 1991. He will recome in Sabbath in 1993 to do the vocals on Cross purpose - 1994 and Forbidden - 1995, but that is anothe story. Iommi change the musicians on every album in the '80, Bev Bevan from ELO, Eric Singer from Alice Cooper and later same year on Kiss, Bob Daisley ex Rainbow, but this formula only for Eternal Idol, for next one another musicians. So in conclusion this is a pure heavy album, and nothing to do with prog. 4 stars for sure to me. One of my fav Sabbath albums.
Review by ZowieZiggy
2 stars Even if "Sabbath" s sound has been revised throughout the years, this is not a bad album.

My favourite song is "Lost Forever" : a very good hard-rock one. Extremely dynamic and featuring a superb guitar solo. Iommi is now the last original member in the "Sabbath" line-up which will change an awful lot during the next years. For the time being, an unknown singer is on board. He is of course much more limited than Glenn Hughes (who was in this role in the previous release but sacked because of drug abuse - a well-known story within "Sabbath") but he is a good vocalist. One of the heaviest but still more interesting song here is the closing number and tittle track. Some flavour from the good old days.

There will the short instrumental and spacey track as well (as usual) : "Scarlet Pimpernel". During all his career with "Sabbath", Iommi (the only member having remained with each line-up) has performed tons of great guitar breaks, inventing juicy riffs and saving lots of tracks from being just simple or poor ones. Thank you very much Mister Iommi. "Born To Lose" is one of the example here. As "Ancient Warrior" which is clearly an inspiration for the future "Dream Theater" songs. Not bad at all actually.

To be honest, the energetic "Hard Life To Live" is another one of the highlights (total three). Savage riff, upbeat and very aggressive rhythmic section (but what's the role of Bevan in here). A very strong song.

Some weak number as well. More on the AOR side (which is not my cup of tea) for "The Shining" and as well as "Glory Ride" (even the master and his solo won't be able this time to rescue this poor song). "Nightmare" being a heavy-metal and uninspired track.

I also wonder what's the role of Geoff Nicholls here since the keys are almost unexistant in this album (or at least so discrete that they are unheard except during "Ancient Warrior). There is absolutely no relation with prog in this album (except the two "Scarlet" minutes). But this is no surprise. This situation lasts for about seventeen years (more to come). IMO, the best two numbers sit at the end of the album.

It is difficult to say that this is a good album. Five out of ten which is maybe more than what could be expected. Two stars.

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
4 stars A hidden gem from one of my eternal idols!

While the 70's was a very stable period for Black Sabbath with Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler, Ozzy Osbourne and Bill Ward making up the band, the 80's, by contrast, was a rather turbulent time for the band with many line up changes. First, Ronnie James Dio took Ozzy's place, then Bill Ward was replaced with Vinnie Appice for one album, then Dio left (or was kicked out depending on who you ask, I believe) to be replaced by ex-Deep Purple singer Ian Gillan for the disastrous Born Again which also saw the return of Bill Ward for that album only. For the follow up, Seventh Star, (which was originally intended to be released as a Tony Iommi solo album) Iommi was the only original member left in the band (if we are not counting keyboard player Geoff Nicholls who was never recognized as a full member despite playing on all of the band's albums throughout the entire 80's and early 90's plus following them on tour). While that last album was very good in my opinion, it was more of a Hard Rock album than a Heavy Metal album and was not the return to form that the fans would have wanted. The Eternal Idol was that return! At least, it ought to be seen as such in my opinion.

The Eternal Idol was the first album out of several to feature Tony Martin on vocals and was the start of the second most stable period in the band's long history. There were still a few line up changes ahead, and it wasn't until the next album that a really stable line up would be cemented. But it was with The Eternal Idol that both the heavy sound and the high quality of the music were truly re-established. Sadly, this album is virtually unknown except among the fans and even some of them trash it because the fan in question's darling in not on it, be it Ozzy or Dio.

The fact that Tony Martin was unknown before this probably contributed to the relative obscurity of the album. The inclusion of Martin was, however, something of a masterstroke since he is an excellent vocalist that really fitted the sound of the band. As far as this particular fan is concerned, The Eternal Idol was (at the time of its release) the best and most consistent Black Sabbath album since Sabotage from 1975, rivalled only by the two Dio-era albums from the early 80's.

The Eternal Idol is filled with great riffs from beginning to end and also features some progressive aspects. Iommi's amazing electric guitar riffs and solos are often backed up by keyboards and acoustic guitars to great effect. The band sounds inspired again and the musicianship is excellent throughout as are Tony Martin's outstanding vocals. Compared with the previous Seventh Star album, The Eternal Idol is much heavier and compared with the follow up, Headless Cross, it is less dark and doom laden and does not feature as many explicit references to Satan that annoyed some people about that album. It might perhaps even be seen as a kind of crossover between Seventh Star and Headless Cross as it still features some Hard Rock (as opposed to Heavy Metal) elements.

The opening track The Shining immediately signals the new found energy, while Ancient Warrior, Nightmare and the title track in particular reveal some slight progressive tendencies. Hard Life To Love, Glory Ride, Born To Lose and Lost Forever are tasteful, heavy Hard Rock songs. Scarlet Pimpernel is a lovely acoustic guitar instrumental similar in style to the ones that were featured on many Black Sabbath albums from the 70's. This really adds diversity to the album and is possibly my favourite Iommi acoustic number ever!

I fully recognize that many progressive rock fans will not find The Eternal Idol progressive enough. But everything about this album is very tasteful, from the cover art to the music to the production. Despite having this album for several years, I noticed now for the first time that it was (co-) produced by Jeff Glixman who is famous for producing many of Kansas' best albums.

To conclude, The Eternal Idol was the start of a new era in the band's history and is one of the most underrated albums I ever have had the pleasure to listen to! It deserves to be heard by Black Sabbath fans and Prog fans alike. It is hard for me to decide between this one and the two subsequent albums, but these three are my favourite post-Ozzy Black Sabbath album's.

This is a hidden gem from one of my eternal idols!

Review by UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars The Eternal Idol is the thirteenth full-length studio album by British heavy rock/ metal act Black Sabbath. Another major lineup shift has occured since the previous album by the band Seventh Star (1986). Some of them even happened during the recording of the album. Glen Hughes got fired shortly into the tour supporting Seventh Star and was replaced by Ray Gillen. Ray Gillen recorded all vocals for The Eternal Idol but then quit the band and was replaced by Tony Martin who would record all the vocals again. Bassist Dave Spitz was supposedly fired shortly into the sessions for the album because he fell out with producer Jeff Glixman. He was replaced by Bob Daisley. Eric Singer plays the drums on The Eternal Idol but left Black Sabbath before the album was released.

The music is heavy metal with an epic edge. The inclusion of new vocalist Tony Martin was a smart move by Tony Iommi. What a powerful voice and excellent technique he has. He reminds me a bit of Russell Allen ( Symphony X) when the latter sings most restrained. A much needed improvement after the two previous disastrous choices for frontmen in Black Sabbath ( thatīs excluding Ray Gillen who didnīt record albums with the band). Iīm talking about Ian Gillan and Glen Hughes who brought absolutely nothing good to the sound IMO. With a great singer like Tony Martin this album seems like a return to form for the band and the music smells just a bit like the freshness of the Dio days. Songs like The Shining, Glory Ride and Eternal Idol are excellent showcases of the new found vitality.

The musicianship is great. All involved are prolific and skilled heavy rock/ metal musicians. I canīt help complaining about Eric Singerīs drumming style though. I find it way too simple and heavy at times. Bill Wardīs more organic style would have suited the music better.

The production is much better than on the weak Seventh Star album. This is an eighties production but itīs one of the better ones for sure.

The Eternal Idol is a welcome return to form and while it doesnīt really reach the heights of the Dio albums by Black Sabbath, itīs the fans of those albums that will find most of interest here IMO. 3 stars are well deserved. A nice surprise.

Review by The Quiet One
3 stars The Eternal Iommi

Sabbath had been going through a difficult period through the 80's after Dio had left, with some really poor releases, changing line-ups again and again, none which were worthwhile for hardcore Sabbath fans. However, when Tony & Co hired Tony Martin on vocals, the band seemed to be again in shape for dark, semi-gloomy, heavy music.

Tony Martin is no unique singer as Dio and Ozzy were, however his style could be compared to that from Dio, just obviously, without that unique tone of Ronnie, which makes him such a fantastic vocalist. The rest of the band is solid as rock, a hard-beating drummer, and while the bass players individually are really good, with Sabbath, they are just out of the mix, this being the real issue for me, since Geezer Butler for me was THE sound of Sabbath alongside Tony, bringing jaw-dropping bass lines in every song. Anyways, on the bright side, Tony is back with killer riffs, some share a fair similiarity with 80's metal bands, still they sound great! However, having named the riffs, I must name the other issue, this is, that Tony, I suppose, was quite sick of writing 'elaborated' heavy rock, that of the likes of Sabbath Bloody Sabbath, War Pigs, The Writ, etc, so from this album you can really just expect damn good straight-forward metal/hard rock without that unique elaboration from the Sabb's.

I can't find a weak hard rock/metal tune in here, they all feature pretty good riffs, some of them with that ol' gloomy aspect that characterized the 70's Sabbath so much, also there's that heavy drumming I mentioned before, from ex-Kiss drummer, Eric Singer, as well as some pretty good guitar solos, though by no means as memorable as those from the 70's Tony did.

3 stars: Good addition to your Hard Rock/Metal collection. Those 70's Sabbath fans might find this appealing for the fact of the strong riffs and good vocals, even if they may sound a bit cheesy or even cliche from other metal acts from the time. Certainly, The Eternal Idol, alongside Tyr, are the strongest albums from Sabbath after those that came from Ozzy and Dio.

Review by Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Sabbath needs vocalists that click with their sound. Ian Gillan nor Glen Hughes were really successful experiments, but Tony Martin was a match made in heaven, even though few people might agree to that.

The Toni Martin period is decidedly less fabulous and less relevant then the albums with Dio or the first few years with Ozzy, but throughout the 5 albums there are good moments aplenty, especially so on this first cooperation and also on the following Headless Cross and TYR. There are three tracks that blast with epic power and that I think every fan of Sabbath, power metal and even progressive metal should own. Both The Shining, Ancient Warrior and Eternal Idol are simply superb songs.

I would describe the remainder of the album as commercial and slightly metalized power blues. I admit I really didn't like much of it 20 years ago but after digging up this CD for the review, it amazed me how high the quality actually is. I usually cringe away from stuff like this but here it is hard to ignore the powerful performance and the inspired song writing. A certain blues highlight is Nightmare, while Hard Life to Love, Glory Ride and Born to Lose are all very enjoyable 80's hair metal tracks.

Review by snobb
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars More Iommi solo project than real Black Sabbath, this album has it's strong sides. First of all, new vocalist Tony Martin is strong enough and has a bit similar voice and singing techniques with Ronnie James Dio. I believe, that Tony Martin is third best Black Sabbath vocalist after Ozzy and Dio.

Iommi plays in his classic style, but it guarantee excellent guitar line on this album. all other musicians ( I just seeing them mostly as Iommy support band) came from different pop- hard-rock or AOR bands, and you easy can feel in album's music.

Still having some Black Sabbath sound signature, I easily can hear huge musical pieces sounding as middle-period Rainbow. Rhythm section is simpler than usual ,and all music is more AOR oriented.

Having two-three strong songs, album isn't serious return to form. Just look on it as first step for reformation. At least, Tony Martin will be important member of Black Sabbath for some more years.

Between two and three.

Review by GruvanDahlman
4 stars Sabbath seemed by now to be haunted by personel changes and singers coming and going. Both Gillan and Hughes lasted only for one album and in comes Tony Martin, a Dio-like singer of great power. The new line-up released "Eternal idol", possibly the coldest album Sabbath ever made but by musical standards the best for years.

I struggled a bit to crack it, mainly because of the chilly atmosphere of the album. There's no warmth at all. The fires of Hell were replaced by the winter of Fimbul. After some time I cracked it and what an album it turned out to be. The songs have great energy and power, recalling in some ways songs like "Neon nights" or "Lady evil". I love all songs on the album, except the title track which I'll return to in a moment.

"The shining" is an awesome opener full of power and energy and after that the album just keeps going. The band knocks up one winner after another. "Glory ride" is my favorite, sounding Sabbath but in tune with the times. The title track is a sad affair, I'm afraid. This is where Iommi discovered the downer style of the future and not the doomy playing he invented back in the 70's and refined, but rather a droning, depressing, going nowhere-sound that can be heard on later albums such as "Dehumanizer", "Cross purposes" and the ever depressing "Forbidden". Heavy without movement and the movement that is there lacks energy. Sad.

Anyway, "Eternal idol" is probably the most anonymous of all Sabbath albums. When I talk about it with people there's few who actually have a view on it. It's a shame since it's such a great album. Tony Martin put life back in Sabbath, bringing inspiration and good times with him and Iommi seems so inspired throughout the album. "Eternal idol" marks the beginning of the masterpiece of the post-Ozzy and post-Dio eras and is the precursor of the last true masterpiece (as yet) of Sabbath: "Headless cross". But that's another story.

Review by TCat
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars Around 1985-86, Black Sabbath's line-up was a huge mess. The album "Seventh Star" had been released with Glenn Hughes as the vocalist, but he agreed to be vocalist because the album was originally supposed to be Tommy Iommi's solo album and Hughes didn't want to be involved with the name Black Sabbath. Hughes got in a fight with the production manager and ended up with a broken orbital bone which affected his voice. He was replaced with Ray Gillen so the band could continue with their tour, which later ended up being cancelled because tickets weren't selling.

Nevertheless, the band began to work on new material as work on the album "The Eternal Idol" commenced. But the problems continued. Their producer left and was replaced and so was bassist Dave Spitz who also quit. He was replaced with Bob Daisley (Rainbow, Ozzy Osbourne) who re-recorded the bass tracks and wrote lyrics for the new album, but then he also left before the album was finished to play for Gary Moore and took Black Sabbath's drummer Eric Singer along with him. Bev Bevan (from Electric Light Orchestra) was brought in to do some drum overdubs to help finish that part of the album. Another producer left and another was hired. Then the new vocalist Ray Gillen also left to form "Blue Murder". That was when Tony Martin was brought in as the new vocalist, and finally, Black Sabbath had a regular vocalist. Martin would end up being on more Black Sabbath albums than any other vocalist except for Ozzy Osbourne. He would sing on every studio album from 1987 to 1995 (except for "Dehumanizer" released in 1992 with the return of Ronnie James Dio) singing lead for 5 studio albums.

When the dust finally settled and upon the albums release, the regular line-up left over was Tony Martin on vocals, Tony Iommi on guitar, Bev Bevan on drums and faithful, yet underappreciated Geoff Nichols on keyboards, bass and guitar. (Geezer Butler would return to the line up for a short time after in July of 1987 only to be replaced by the return of Dave Spitz.) Because of the inner turbulence during the recording of the album, there are also contributions from Ray Gillen (vocals), Bob Daisley (bass) and Eric Singer (drums) on the album. If you could follow all of those crazy changes, it is obvious the band was in a huge state of flux and this would affect the album and the tour. This upheaval would continue for many years, but at least the band had a faithful core in Tony Iommi, Tony Martin and Geoff Nicholls.

The nine tracks on "The Eternal Idol" had their lyrics written by Bob Daisley and Ray Gillen (with some modification done by Nicholls) and the music by Iommi. Even though Martin ended up doing most of the vocals, he had no other part in writing the music. The original album cover credited Dave Spitz as the bassist, but the parts were all done by Daisley.

As with the previous album "Seventh Star", the music sounds very little like the original Black Sabbath, however, the overall sound in comparison to "Seventh Star" returns to a heavier sound. "The Shining" sounds the most like previous Black Sabbath albums with a melody and structure that sounds like something Dio could be singing and has that "Rainbow" sound. "Ancient Warrior" adds more synths giving things a mysterious feel, but still retains a solid guitar and drum heaviness with a blistering solo. "Hard Life to Love" picks up the pace a bit more, and looses the atmosphere of the synth, but otherwise doesn't offer anything much different. The first half of the album ends with "Glory Ride" loosens things up a bit and recalls the Dio years again, but offers nothing to make it stand out. So after 2 pretty good tracks, there still is nothing on the first half of the album that really catches your attention or that becomes memorable. No new tricks, no memorable riffs, and nothing that resembles any level of progressive rock.

"Born to Lose" sounds like it must have been of interest for a single, faster paced and a great Iommi solo, but nothing else interesting. "Nightmare" has a moderate tempo featuring a repeating, catchy riff that soon wears out its welcome, but again reflects some of the Dio sound again. At least it has a tempo/melodic turn in it which harkens back to the original Sabbath style, but it soon reverts back to the main melody. The sinister laugh that you hear is the only audible thing that remains from Ray Gillen's involvement. "Scarlet Pimpernel" breaks the mostly unchanging sound of the album with a soft instrumental which features Iommi and atmospheric keys, it's actually one of the better post-Osbourne instrumentals, but it quickly fades after 2 minutes. "Lost Forever" brings back the expected heaviness and not much else. The album ends with the title track, the longest on the album at over 6 minutes. It is the one more evil sounding track with a slow and heavy style with vocal effects and probably the best track on the album, but unfortunately it's too little, too late.

A reissue in 2010 expanded the album by two additional tracks, both of them b-sides; the original, early version of "Black Moon" (which would show up later on the "Headless Cross" album) and "Some Kind of Woman", both songs written by Martin and Nicholls. There is also a 2nd disc which has the same songs (albeit in a different order) as sung by Ray Gillen, so you can hear how they were originally supposed to sound and choose which you like the best. There is nothing there to really hold out for though.

One of the things about Tony Martin's voice is that, even after doing several albums as the lead singer, his voice never had that unique sound that Osbourn, Dio or Ian Gillan had that would make anyone recognize it as being a Black Sabbath sound. Also, Iommi's guitar playing and riffs would become more and more standard losing their unique sound, and the band would just end up melting in with every other hard rock band out there. It's not a complete failure, but it's not one that could ever be considered essential or memorable even under regular heavy metal standards. It might be heavier than the previous album, but nothing ends up standing out at all making the album pretty average sounding. Also, at least this album was moving to another style of Black Sabbath, so for that reason it gets a 3 star rating, but this sound unfortunately never gets built upon in the future, thus future albums end up faring even worse.

Latest members reviews

3 stars Further line up changes here but it must be emphasised that the previous album was not supposed to have been released under the Black Sabbath name - it was supposed to be an Iommi solo album. Tony Martin on vocal duties here is very good - it seemed that Sabbath was on the way back. Not better ... (read more)

Report this review (#940037) | Posted by sukmytoe | Saturday, April 6, 2013 | Review Permanlink

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