Ozzy Osbourne, Tony Iommi and Geezer Butler recently reconvened for a planned album, but don’t look for a similar happy reunion between the band and one-time singer Tony Martin.
“Sabbath haven’t spoken to me for over 15 years,” Martin says, in an interview with Antonis Katsaros from Rock Overdose. “I met Iommi very briefly in Russia once and he said I was doing a great job with my band. But apart from that I haven’t heard from them at all.”
Martin fronted Black Sabbath from 1987-90, and again from 1993-97 — giving him the second-longest tenure of any singer in Black Sabbath, behind only Osbourne. That stint included five studio albums, 1987’s The Eternal Idol, 1989’s Headless Cross, 1990’s TYR, 1994’s Cross Purposes and 1995’s Forbidden.
Asked to name a favorite project, Martin quipped: “Better to ask which one I don’t like! That would be Forbidden; the rest are very cool.”
Band members and fans alike panned the 1995 project, which featured rapper Ice-T and the band Body Count on the opening track, “The Illusion of Power.” Forbidden was the last album released under the Black Sabbath banner before this new reunion project featuring members of the original group lineup.
“I guess the best time was when we seemed to be friends and the band was working well — after Eternal Idol, when it was just a session,” Martin said. “Headless Cross through TYR and into Cross Purposes was the better times. But the times when I was not chosen for the job was horrible.”
Martin recently announced the formation of a new group called Tony Martin’s Headless Cross, which features Magnus Rosen (Hammerfall), Dario Mollo (who has appeared on each Martin’s series of Cage albums, beginning in 1999), Danny Needham (Venom) and Geoff Nicholls, also a former member of Black Sabbath from 1980–2004.
Here’s a look back at our recent thoughts on Black Sabbath, and related solo projects. Click through the titles for complete reviews …
REUNITED BLACK SABBATH ADDS U.S. STOP; BILL WARD’S STATUS STILL UP IN THE AIR: An August date has been set for a U.S. stop by the reunited Black Sabbath, though whether it will include all four of the legendary metal band’s original members remains to be seen. Sharon Osbourne, wife and manager of co-founding vocalist Ozzy Osbourne, also confirmed that original drummer Bill Ward has yet to join in the reunion. Ward has previously said he is not participating because of a continuing disagreement of the proposed contract. The troubled reunion had already been slowed by a cancer diagnosis for Iommi — though he has continued work on the album after band members and crew joined him in the UK, where the guitarist has begun treatment. Then came word that Ward has yet to agree to a deal to join the reunited metal forefathers, who were attempting to complete the first project to include all four founding members since 1978.
FORGOTTEN SERIES: BLACK SABBATH – SABOTAGE (1975): Sabotage isn’t likely to overtake the groundbreaking debut record or the hit-filled Paranoid as Sabbath’s best work in most people’s minds, and I understand that. But the next time you’re looking for a Sabbath fix, dig a little deeper and give it a listen, especially if you haven’t heard it in a while. It might just be a much better record than you remember. Recorded at a time when the relationships in the band were just beginning to fracture, the album has a slightly different feel than the first five Sabbath albums. Sabotage represents a band still at the height of its powers, but just on the brink of slipping into chaos, and that translates into the music.
DIO – HOLY DIVER (1983; 2012 Audio Fidelity remaster): Originally released in 1983, Holy Diver introduced Ronnie James Dio to the metal world as a solo artist after stints in classic bands Rainbow and Black Sabbath. But it was far from Dio’s first rodeo, as his career stretches back as far as the late 1950s. The results: an undisputed metal classic. It proved with the single “Rainbow in the Dark” that synthesizers could have a place in metal without taking away its toughness. The loping main riff of the title track is as immediately recognizable to classic rock fans as to hardcore metalheads. And for as much play as they get, those are not even the two best songs on the album.
WHOCARES, FEATURING TONY IOMMI AND IAN GILLAN – OUT OF MY MIND (2011): Just the reunion of Iommi and Gillan would likely be enough for most heavy rock fans, but the rest of the band reads like a who’s who of the genre. Gillan’s former Deep Purple bandmate Jon Lord handles the keys for the project. Iron Maiden drummer Nicko McBrain and ex-Metallica bassist Jason Newsted make up the rhythm section. Representing the younger generation is guitarist Mikko “Linde” Lindstrom of HIM, who, at 34, is 14 years the junior of Newsted, the next youngest member, and 35 years younger than oldest member, Lord, who is 69. But all that goes to show is age doesn’t really matter when it comes to good music, and “Out of My Mind” is really good.
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