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Black Sabbath

Headless Cross

Review by Gary Hill

I like every version of Black Sabbath. Certainly the Tony Martin period is one that got less attention than a lot of the others. That’s rather a shame, though, because (as this disc shows) they really produced some killer music. There’s nothing here that’s earth shattering or comes as a big surprise in Sabbath’s catalog. That said, though, there is no weak material to be found here. This is a strong album that holds the Sabbath flag proudly.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2010  Volume 2 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
The Gates of Hell

This is a short effects driven introductory piece that somehow reminds me a bit of Hawkwind. Of course, there are links to Dio era Sabbath here, too.

Headless Cross
Percussion leads us in and then it fires out into a hard rocking sound that’s got some cool Iommi riffing on it. As it drops down for the vocals this calls to mind the Dio era of the band quite a bit. It’s got that metal ballad sort of sound that we heard quite a bit of in those days.
Devil and Daughter
There’s more of a straightforward metal element to this cut. Still, it’s got enough of the Black Sabbath trademark sound that no one will really confuse it for not being by them. It’s definitely not as strong as the previous cut, though. 
When Death Calls

Here we get another cut that has that powered up moody ballad approach that this era of Sabbath does so well. It also turns out into pure metal stomper later in the track. There’s some tasty guitar soloing on the track and this is arguably the best number on show here. It’s certainly one of the most dynamic.

Kill in the Spirit World
A very intriguing song, this one is another that’s amongst the most dynamic offered here. It starts in an almost generic ‘80’s metal sound, but after a while in that motif it alters into something sublime. There’s a definite Black Sabbath character delivered here in both the mellower segment and the harder rocking one. Of course, we get a return to the more mainstream metal sound later in the piece. All in all, though, this is another highlight of the set and has some killer riffing and musical themes.
Call of the Wild
OK, so the title is pretty generic. The song itself is a straight ahead Sabbath rocker. There are no real surprises here, but the number just plain delivers.
Black Moon
A real screamer this one is based on a tasty riff. It’s a classic Sabbath sound. This is one of the strongest cuts on show here.
Nightwing
Alternating between mellower modes and more rocking ones, this is classic Sabbath. It feels a lot like the type of material the band did with Dio. It’s arguably the best piece on show here and is just plain killer. There really wasn’t a better choice for disc closer.
 
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