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Call it IOMMI and give it a try
on 27 November 2010
Terrible '80s production hampers an otherwise solid solo album from Tony Iommi and Glen Hughes. The record company forced the "Black Sabbath" tag, but it's now known that from the Born Again album onwards, Iommi was against using the Sabbath name. With the dissolution of the Born Again lineup (Ian Gillan going off to rejoin Deep Purple), this was a new start for Iommi and a new band.
So, ignore the cover and see this as it is, an Iommi/Hughes album freed from the weight of the past. The songs are very good. Iommi and Hughes have worked together on several albums since, but this is my favorite of their collaborations. The title track, "Seventh Star" "Angry Heart" and "In Memory" are my top favorites, moody, haunting affairs, with great subtle vocals from Hughes, while "In for the Kill" and "Danger Zone" are good straightforward rockers.
Sadly, the album is in dire need of a remix. The dated production really stands out, as it emasculates the music to give it a syrupy, synth-pop sound. I couldn't even detect a bass until halfway through the album. Why they saw fit to bury that in the mix, I'll never understand, but it was a crap few years in the music industry, where everything was overproduced. Awful, awful, awful production. Iommi's been working on remixing Born Again, which is understandable, but this album needs it just as much, and is worth it because the songs are good, and would benefit.
The live album is a nice treat. Yes, it's of bootleg quality, but who cares?! It's great to have it, and there may not have been professionally recorded material from this very short tour (Hughes departed shortly to be replaced by Ray Gillen, who departed even quicker to be replaced by Tony Martin).
This is the last of Iommi's albums that I enjoy from beginning to end, and while it shouldn't be compared to his older work (which is untouchable), it's far above his follow-up efforts (also force-fed the "Black Sabbath" name, which was little more than a scam to sell more units--which backfired--they sold even less). The next batch are little more than generic late '80s heavy metal, with histrionic vocals, substandard lyrics, and simple song-structures typical of the era. No one can stay a god forever, and Iommi went to rest comfortably amongst mortals, producing decent, but unremarkable albums.