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Metal/Prog Metal CD Reviews

Black Sabbath

Seventh Star

Review by Greg Olma

This is a weird album in the Black Sabbath catalogue.  Initially meant as a solo record, the label and management “persuaded” Tony Iommi to release it under the banner of Black Sabbath featuring Tony Iommi.  Either way, it still sounds like Sabbath because the riff-master is supplying all of the monster guitar work.  I don’t care who sings on it, it still sounds like Black Sabbath. but for this one, they got Glenn Hughes who can sing circles around anyone.  At the time Hughes was battling some demons, but that doesn’t diminish his performance on this record.  Seventh Star may be the red-headed step child of the Sabbath catalogue but when given the chance, it is a great piece of bluesy doom metal.  Don’t let other reviews steer you clear of this one because it is well worth the investment in time and money to get this disc.
This review is available in book (paperback and hardcover) in Music Street Journal: 2020  Volume 2. More information and purchase links can be found at: garyhillauthor.com/Music-Street-Journal-2020.

Track by Track Review
In For The Kill
Eric Singer bashes away at his kit for the the start of this chugging metal piece.  Hughes sings like his life depends on it, and right off the bat the tune makes the statement that Iommi has plenty of life in him.
No Stranger To Love
This is Iommi’s attempt at a ballad, and he succeeds with flying colors.  While I can see how this wouldn’t fit comfortably under the Sabbath banner, it still has that heavy riffing and searing soloing that make it unmistakably Iommi.  This was the single at the time, and that was a big mistake because it wasn’t what people expected from the group.  They would have gotten more people onboard with something like “Danger Zone."
Turn To Stone
Like the first cut, Singer ushers in this fast-paced metal piece.  The playing and vocals have a frenetic feel to them and they almost seem to be racing with each other to the finish (in a good way).  This is one of the stand out cuts on this short disc.
Sphinx (The Guardian)
While this is a separate track, it is more of an intro and not an individual song.  At just over a minute, it would have been better just to include it as part of the next song instead of giving it its own title.
Seventh Star
The title track is a very epic piece that plods along nicely without being too pedestrian.  Iommi inserts some great solo work here and midway through delves into some Middle Eastern flourishes for good measure.  If the label was looking for a mellower track to put out as single, this one would have done just fine and would have fit with people’s perception of the band’s sound.
Danger Zone
"Hit single" is the way I would describe this track.  It has that trademark Sabbath sound, but it has those great vocals from Hughes.  It is a mid-paced metal tune with some great soloing.  Had this been put on Mob Rules, it would have been a fan favorite, but timing is everything and in 1986, metal fans were moving onto something else.
Heart Like A Wheel
This cut fades in with some great bluesy playing from Iommi.  Hughes is a natural to sing the blues, and this combo works perfectly.  I can see where this is another song that isn’t going to fit well in the Sabbath canon, but a good song is a good song.  It is unmistakably Iommi but style-wise it may have thrown some Sabbath fans off.
Angry Heart
I love these last two cuts because they have the Sabbath sound, but I hear a little bit of Uriah Heep thrown in there (probably the keyboard sound).  Hughes puts in a great vocal performance here and on the next song.
In Memory...
Although this is really a short tune, it is different enough to be its own song, even though it flows straight in from the previous track.  It is a haunting piece that fades into the silence, leaving the listener wanting more.  It is the perfect way to end this Iommi solo record (I don’t care what the cover and label say).
 
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