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Black Sabbath

The Eternal Idol

Review by Greg Olma

The Black Sabbath name was at a low ebb back in 1987. After the debacle of Seventh Star (which I thought was great) coming out as a Black Sabbath album instead of a Tony Iommi solo album, many fans jumped ship. Even this album had a rough start. Initially, Ray Gillen was the singer for this release, but that didn’t work out so they brought in unknown Tony Martin. The Martin era is often overlooked by fans as they only look fondly on the Ozzy and Dio fronted lineups, but they are missing out on some great material. Black Sabbath was a revolving door of musicians with Tony Iommi being the only constant throughout the catalogue. No matter who was in the band, the riffs were still there, and the lead work continued to be both frantic and emotional. There are a lot of great tunes on The Eternal Idol, and because the Black Sabbath name is back to being held in high regard, metal fans should go back and discover this ignored gems.


This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2020  Volume 1 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
The Shining

The album starts off a bit slow compared to some of the previous efforts but it is still has those great riffs that we have come to expect. Martin shows us right off the bat that he has an exceptional voice that has quite the range and melody. This tune is inspired by the film of the same name.

Ancient Warrior
The intro reminds me of “Die Young” but it quickly becomes its own tune. As the song progresses, it has a middle eastern sound and even the solo mixes in some of that along with Iommi’s usual emotional playing.
Hard Life To Love
We finally get something that moves along faster and, while it is a good song, it is the one I like the least on this release. The issue is that with all this great material on offer here, this one feels a little bit like a filler. Even the solo sounds uninspired, which is odd for Iommi.
Glory Ride
Things return in fine form on “Glory Ride." This used to be my favorite on the album, but that seems to change with time. The song has it all; catchy riffs, catchy chorus, and great performances by all involved.
Born To Lose
This heavy rocker is short and sweet. Aside from short instrumental “Scarlet Pimpernel," this is the shortest track on The Eternal Idol. It is really catchy and one of those tracks that you would like to continue, but ultimately it is perfect just the way it is. There is some really nice lead work from Iommi on this one.
Nightmare
A moody keyboard intro starts off the cut, but once Iommi and company kick in, it is a plodding, heavy rocker. This riff feels like it was left off of Heaven and Hell or Mob Rules and has a very Dio-era sound to it. If you like the previously mentioned records, then you’ll love this track.
Scarlet Pimpernel
Iommi always likes to put in little instrumentals on the record, and The Eternal Idol is no different. This is a short acoustic piece that fits in nicely with the album and shows off some of Iommi’s softer side.
Lost Forever
This fast rocker follows in the “Hard Life To Love” vein with some faster riffing. But, unlike the previous cut, this one has a little more to it and does not feel like a filler. There is some great frantic soloing, and Martin puts in a great performance, as well.
Eternal Idol
Title tracks need to be epic, and this one fits the bill perfectly. It is a slow plodding track which works well as the album closer. The moodiness of the music and vocals give it a Dio-era vibe without really rehashing older sounds. This is the perfect way to end a Black Sabbath record.
 
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