A criminally overlooked disc,understandably assumed to be as average as most of the Tony Martin fronted albums and indeed the bands entire ouput from 1981 onwards.
As was the norm its another Sabbath album and another line up this time Bobby Rondinelli on drums,and fantastic he is too,the former Rainbow man gives a terrific performance on this, as do all the band members.
After the (for me) poor production on DEHUMANISER the crystal clear production here with a clarity and a sharpness makes it the best sounding Sabbath album since Mob rules.
There isnt a weak track on this album,highlights the thundering opener 'I Witness','Cross of Thorns' with its gentle acoustic intro before lurching into the riff zone,the Zeppelin like strut of 'Cardinal Sin' and the excellent 'Dying For Love' with beautiful solo from Iommi,almost a follow up to TYR'S 'Feels good To Me'
This IS the best Sabbath album of the 90's,what followed next was jaw droppingly unexpected,the dreadful Forbidden album!! Its a crying shame that this line up couldnt stay together. 4.5 stars
Wow! Cross purposes is awesome, the power metal blends perfectly with classic Sabbath sound thanks largely to Geezer Butler who remained with the band after Dehumanizer.
All of the tracks on here are great and some of them contain some of Iommi's all time great riffs making this album unmissable.
The album beggins on a fast drumbeat courtest of Bobby Rondinelli and continues into one the best songs on the album, a great opener!
Cross of thorns begins with and acoustic intro with Martin almost whispering, not unlike Annon Mundi from TYR. The songs progresses into a great chorus, though with some ever so slightly cheeses lyrics.
If I wrote reviews of all teny songs on here I'd run out of space so to round off:
Butler is back which is ALWAYS a good thing on any Sabbath album as there is some powerfull chemistry between them which has wound up producing some of the finest riffs in history. Tony Martin is on good form and you can tell he always gives his all and to finish the riffs on this album are awesome, see 'Back To Eden', 'Evil Eye", 'I Witness', 'Psychophobia' and 'The Hand That Rocks The Cradle'.
Cross purposes rocks and is easily worth the money, it's a crime that none of th IRS albums have been reissued and that now that Ozzy is back it's likely none of these songs will see a live performence ever again! Probably the best album of the Martin era and a great buy for a fan of any era of Sabbath (it was my first non Ozzy album).
Well I was reading various reviews out of interest and was trully amazed to see no-one had reviewed this one. This is I believe the 3rd CD featuring Tony Martin on vocals, and also Geezer Butler back on bass. OK, so if you cannot accept Sabbath without Ozzy, forget it - or at least accept this as a great CD, even if it should not be called Black Sabbath. But who is Black Sabbath ? These days Ozzy seems to have the right because of his 'Osbournes' shows, but listen to this and you will see that Iommi is the real Sabbath sound and writing. Without Iommi, Sabbath would not have been. Period. He never left so he has the right. This is a really powerful CD, and at the time it came out full of 'mature metal'. I love it all, as with all the Tony Martin era CDs though Forbidden is weaker. The fact that they have all been relatively ignored simply because Ozzy is not the singer is a shame - they are in many ways superior.
If you like quality heavy rock, this, along with Headless Cross and Tyr, should be there.
Tony Martin-era Black Sabbath gets a lot of stick. While it's true that the albums produced during his time fronting the band aren't as good as the Ozzy years or the Dio-days, I think that people are a little too hard on Tony. It's not his fault. He had huge shoes to fill and some absolute classic albums to follow. Also, the band as a whole was in constant flux throughout this period which can't have helped. If you've never heard any Martin-Sabbath you'll probably be expecting the worst. Please don't! When approached without negative preconceptions, Cross Purposes is actually a very strong album. Martin is a great vocalist who deserves far more credit than he gets. Here, he gives his best performance since his debut on The Eternal Idol. Cross Purposes is more tuneful and reserved than its predecessor (1992's Dehumanizer, Dio's short-lived return as front man) but that's not necessarily a bad thing. It's still far heavier than Martin's 1980's Sabbath contributions. The album features some great Iommi/Butler riffs, most notably I Witness, Psychophobia, The Hand That Rocks The Cradle and Evil Eye. The problem with having so many excellent five-star albums is that if you produce one that's slightly below the standard, the fans think it's awful and it get's a bad name. That's what I believe happened here so let me set the record straight: Cross Purposes IS NOT awful... it's actually pretty darn good! I'd recommend that you give it a try, listen to it all the way through and resist the urge to compare it to the classics in the back catalogue. Before you know it, you'll find yourself humming one of the tunes and hopefully you'll come to realise that this album is more than worthy of a place in your CD/LP collection.
My expectations were probably far too high for this album. I was expecting another game-changing Headless Cross-like beast, based on all of the favourable reviews and the fact that it has been so hard to get hold of at a decent price until the time of writing. If I wasn't looking forward to it so much, it might have seemed better but as it is, it's still not too bad at all. On the surface and in way of tone, it is more a hard rock album and plays relatively middle of the road. But it also has an energy that most Sabbath albums don't have.
'I Witness' is a great opener and a very agreeable upbeat track. 'Cross of Thorns' slows things down a bit but the quality is still good. However do not expect classics, these songs are 4/5 star efforts at best. 'Pschophobia' is another faster track and is good but lacks much of an actual song or tune, being replaced by a rather wonderfully crunchy riff though. 'Virtual Death' is an odd one. It just about fits with the rest of the tracks but it almost sounds like an Alice in Chains song. This may have something to do with grunge being rather big at the time. However it does slowly turn into a very agreeable Sabbath (Ozzy, doom/early era) track. 'Immaculate Deception' is a little bit throwaway in my opinion. It's not bad, just not great.
'Dying for Love' is a grower but it is a pretty decent track. It's almost a ballad that breaks into a heavy chorus near the end. 'Back To Eden' is one of my favourites and almost could have fit on Tyr. It's a 3 minute single with an unapologetically catchy chorus and it's great. This and 'I Witness' are my 2 picks from the album. 'The Hand The Rocks The Cradle' is good, takes time to settle but ultimately a decent track. 'Cardinal Sin' is much the same. It's more interesting towards the end of the track when it speeds up a bit. 'Evil Eye' is a perfect Sabbath number. Mid-paced, thick and heavy. It has a great, lumpen chorus. However it is no classic.
Out of the 5 Tony Martin albums, his first 3 in the band were undeniably the best. Cross Purposes does have it's moments and is slightly better than Dehumanizer (although that does contain the classic 'Master of Insanity'), but it feels almost like a wasted effort as it could have been another Headless Cross. It is a very polished, urgent and accomplished album that doesn't sound like Sabbath but wins on its own merits.
25 years or thereabouts into Sabbath's career, along came Cross Purposes, released in early 1994.
Another project allegedly not Sabbath - according to Geezer, this was a stopgap album for a reunion with Ozzy that didn't happen.
Perhaps the most prophetically titled Sabbath album since Paranoid, as the band once again fragmented under the weight of Sabbath's legacy, and Geezer left in yet another acrimonious split - only to return for the Ozzy reunion a few years later.
Tony Martin returned to the band since he was dumped for Ronnie James Dio in '91 - and once more he delivers a sterling performance. Joining him was journeyman drummer Bobby Rondinelli who records some of the best drums ever performed on a Sabbath album.
The result - an album that wasn't as heavy as it's predecessor Dehumanizer, but one which recaptured a lot of the pioneering spirit the band had during the early to mid 70's. It was also a very topical album which kept up very much with the times it was in - something which hadn't been done arguably since Paranoid or Master of Reality.
I Witness - Personally I have never been a fan of this song - another case of a faster lead off song which didn't work - lyrically it's about the Amish.
Cross of Thorns - a beautiful ballad about the frustrations of people in Northern Ireland, this is one of the best 90's songs Sabbath ever mustered. Terrific vocals and lyrics from Martin here.
Psychophobia - written during the Dehumanizer sessions, but ultimately with new lyrics, this is a powerful blues jam with Martin singing from the point of view of a religious cult leader - based on the cult in Waco, Texas.
Virtual Death - Ice cold, bleak and bloody brilliant - this was a track you just knew was Sabbath. Could have used a bit more of a punch production wise, but a wonderful song - Martin's layered vocals are eerily suited to the material. Iommi and Butler absolutely crushes here.
Immaculate Deception - An experimental track, with different tempo shifts in the fine Sabbath tradition - but one which doesn't work for me. Great work on it from Bobby and Geezer though.
Dying For Love - Score! Another brilliantly constructed ballad, with Martin at the height of his powers. Wonderful semi acoustic work from Tony Iommi, Geezer's bass is superb, and Nicholls adds some great synth sheen without drowning it out. Rondinelli's drums are great too. Trouble is, this song was about 5 years too late to be a single - would have been a hit if it had been out, say around '89 or so.
Back to Eden - Potboiler rocker, utterly filler and not necessary.
The Hand that Rocks the Cradle - A jaunty little rocker, with a dark semi-acoustic opening - it's a song about a mass murderer who killed babies in the UK - and though performed well, is another song that doesn't quite hit the mark - possibly because the main riff is a little too perky for the subject matter.
Cardinal Sin - Another track which is hit and miss, about a Catholic Priest who had a love child in Ireland. The lyrics could be better, but the song isn't terrible admittedly - just missing something.
Evil Eye - After the album was in danger of falling apart, Evil Eye saves it. A fantastic rocker with a scything riff from Iommi - allegedly co-written in a jam with Eddie Van Halen - and amazing vocals from Martin - the man goes into Ian Gillan mode here - this could have been a lost track off Born Again really - Rondinelli keeps a solid groove here too.
The Japanese pressing - if you can find it, has a bonus song called What's The Use?
It's a fast little rocker with some good introspective lyrics about the state of the world and politicians - but the speed of the song kills it for me - I just don't like Sabbath playing uptempo songs but for a few cases it seems...
All in all though, Cross Purposes - though nowhere near the heaviest album Black Sabbath has recorded - is a solid album but for a few duff tracks near the end. A grower for sure.
Not only one of my favourite Sabbath albums, but one of my favourite albums of all time, I really do think it's that good. It was one of those albums that I bought just to complete my collection many years ago, listened to it once and put it away (initially it didn't really grab me), only to come back to it recently and my jaw dropped! With more listens it grew on me and now I'm hooked.
Unfortunately this album will always remain underrated and largely forgotten due to the fact that Ozzy isn't on it. Tony Martin has never sang better or even as good as this in my opinion. If you're a die-hard Ozzy or Dio era Sabbath fan, and this just simply isn't Black Sabbath to you, just forget that the band is called Black Sabbath. It's a fantastic album in it's own right, no matter what the band is called! And I agree with another reviewer on here, Iommi is Sabbath anyway, and this album is full of classic Iommi riffs and Butler bass-lines. The drummer isn't bad either.
If you don't have this album in your collection, there's definitely something missing and you need to fill that space now! Trust me, you won't be disappointed, whether you're into metal, rock or just great, catchy, well-crafted songs. Buy it!
With all the ups and downs that Black Sabbath went through in the 1980s and 1990s, it is remarkable that so much good music was still produced under that brand.
While there will always be Ozzy purists, and champions for Ronnie James Dio's tenure as front man, Tony Martin is often overlooked, and wrongly so because without him, the Sabbath era may well have ended in the early 1990's.
This is a well produced album picking up after the short lived Dio comeback "Dehumanizer" era. You may detect some inferences in some of the lyrics to the songs to the break up.
I am glad to have this as part of my complete Black Sabbath collection as a representative of one of the many phases in the Black Sabbath story.