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Articles Home » 1990 Articles » Black Sabbath - 1990 Tyr
Black Sabbath - 1990 Tyr

ARTIST: Black Sabbath
YEAR: 1990
CD REISSUE: 1999, EMI, 07243 5 21298 2 9


LINEUP: Tony Martin - vocals * Tony Iommi - guitars * Neil Murray - bass * Cozy Powell - drums * Geoff Nicholls - keyboards

TRACK LISTING: 01 Anno Mundi * 02 The Law Maker * 03 Jerusalem * 04 The Sabbath Stones * 05 The Battle Of Tyr * 06 Odin's Court * 07 Valhalla * 08 Feels Good To Me * 09 Heaven In Black


Tony Iommi took tremendous flak for keeping Sabbath alive in the late 80's, but on the odd occasion he was justified. While 1986's 'Seventh Star' met derision from all quarters of Sabbath's fan base, it was easily their most melodic album to date. 87's 'The Eternal Idol' was a mixed bag, but contained one classic with the furious 'Lost Forever'. With Tony 'The Cat' Martin enlisted as vocalist on the album, it was refreshing to see him kept for 1989's acclaimed 'The Headless Cross', which most observers agreed was Sabbath's best post Dio effort. The lineup was almost stable, as Cozy Powell joined as full time member, followed by another journeyman, Neil Murray (coming off a stint with Vow Wow), replacing Laurence Cottle on bass. Sabbath had also been relegated to minor label status, being signed by Miles Copeland's I.R.S. 'Tyr' was another positive album, furthering the melodic metal driven sound captured on previous discs. Amazingly 'Tyr' hit no 24 in the U.S., while in Britain it failed to chart, met with apathy by an ever dwindling audience.

The Songs
The Nordic theme of 'Tyr' begins with 'Anno Mundi', boasting a typical morbid riff from Iommi, tuned down and thunderous. There's significant synth work to give it atmosphere, and Martin comes off a bit like Dio. 'The Lawmaker' goes for speed over subtlety, Powell driving things along with a persistent beat, as Iommi tunes his riffing up a few notches, not quite as dark. One of the Martin era's best numbers appears with 'Jerusalem', veering off into heavy AOR like verses and hooks. With the keyboards very noticeable the best description would be power metal, but in the end it's all heavy metal isn't it? Unfortunately 'The Sabbath Stones' cannot reach such heights, but the power of this lineup is undeniable, a good wall of noise making up for the weaker melody. The symphonic instrumental 'The Battle Of Tyr' follows, on the same terms as Manowar and Virgin Steele pieces past and present. It runs into 'Odin's Court' (great titles here) which brings out the acoustic guitar, presenting a cold, mystical tone. This then leads into 'Valhalla' where the heaviness is resumed, another brutal riff from Iommi the centerpiece. Pounding stuff. 'Feels Good To Me' is a fairly tepid power ballad, but gets more intense as it progresses. 'Heaven In Black' recalls the 'Seventh Star' sound, a nice chugging riff helping gallop it along. An agreeable mixture of accessible melody and metal crunch, essentially the basis for 'Tyr' itself.

In Summary
Despite the strides made by this version of Sabbath, Iommi disbanded it soon after in favour of reuniting with Ronnie James Dio, Geezer Butler and Vinnie Appice to record 1992's 'Dehumanizer', a reformation of the 1981-83 lineup. When this collapsed Martin was bought back on vocals, joined by Bobby Rondinelli on drums. 1994's 'Cross Purposes' picked up where 'Tyr' left off, and Murray returned for 1995's 'Forbidden', after Powell had come and gone again, replaced by Rondinelli! Of course this was Sabbath's last studio album to date, rumours still circulating that the original Sabs will record a new album, although I seriously doubt anyone cares anymore. 'Tyr' is far more intriguing a listen than anything Ozzy came out with at the time, Martin's superior vocals and a identifiable metal sound quite underrated.

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#1 | george_the_jack on June 28 2008 17:54:10
How underrated are the two 'Headless Cross' albums....Excellent piece of art from the Sabs. Even today I cannot explain the reason these two releases are staying outside the margins. Maybe is the absence of Ozzman, maybe Dio's past...I don't know. Fortunately for me, these records exist and top Black Sabbath's career...Sorry to say.
#2 | jeffduran on June 30 2008 06:02:32
Agree. Poorly criticized by rabid Sabbath dullards who can't get past OZZY and DIO as Sabbath's best years!
#3 | george_the_jack on June 30 2008 16:15:39
Don't bother Jeff! Many people do not listen to music with their own ears.....
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