While Ozzy Osbourne’s solo output had started leaning towards more commercial hard rock, Black Sabbath still relied on good old fashioned heavy metal in 1990. And while purists might quibble about the line-up, which featured not one but two former Whitesnake members (Cozy Powell and Neil Murray), and Tony Iommi remained the sole original member of the group, there is no arguing whether or not this is Black Sabbath: monumental guitar riffs, thundering drums, passionate vocals and lyrics full of mysticism are all essential elements of the classic Sabbath sound.
“Tyr” is best described as a semi-concept album based around old Norse mythology. Side 1 opens with the colossal “Anno Mundi”, featuring what is arguably the strongest riff on the album, and concludes with another 6-minute monster, the menacing “The Sabbath Stones”. Sandwiched between the two epics are two briefer numbers, “The Law Maker” (apparently the fastest Sabbath song ever) and the catchy “Jerusalem”, which would have made a worthy single.
Side 2 of the original album begins with the so-called “Tyr” trilogy, comprising of three songs in one: “The Battle Of Tyr” is a brief instrumental, which soon gives way to the acoustic “Odin’s Court”, a perfect showcase for Tony Martin’s undeniable vocal talents. The trilogy concludes with the pounding “Valhalla”, a good four and a half minutes of pure heavy metal. In these surroundings, the proceeding ballad “Feels Good To Me” (also released as a single) feels somewhat out of place. The album finishes with the upbeat “Heaven In Black”, a horrendous story about having one’s eyes poked out.
Vastly underrated and all-too often overlooked, “Tyr” is a more than worthy addition to an old school heavy metal fan’s record collection.