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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 6 July 2010
Having lost the record deal with vertigo/warners Sabbath found them selves on small label IRS,its a moot point as to wether Tony Iommi should have continued with the Sabbath Name,however he did and on this album at least tried to make it a group rather than a series of musicians,Nicholls and Martin were retained and Cozy Powell brought in on drums with session man Laurence Cottle on bass,why why why couldnt Geezer have saw the light and returned?

Still its a stronger effort than the previous ETERNAL IDOL with a more commercial,easier on the ear production so of its time with Nicholls Keyboards to the fore.

Opening with the hammer house of horror intro 'Gates of Hell' followed by the wonderous title track,which lumbers out of the speakers like the b*****d offspring of 'Heaven and Hell' before 'Devil & Daughter' and 'When Death Call' hammer home the point this is the best Sabbath have sounded since 80/81,Dio soundalike Martin puts in a superb performance.The rest of the album struggles to live up to this trio of tracks but they are still pretty good particularly 'Nightwing'.

You can argue all day and night wether this should be classed as Black Sabbath but dont let it obscure the fact that its a great album.
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on 29 October 2011
I've been a fan of rock/metal since I was a young boy, and continue to be enthralled by it several decades later. I had already enjoyed Sabbath's material before things looked like the end was in sight for the band.
Then, along came Tony Martin and Cozy Powell.
This album arrived when the whole world and his dog was buying up Kylie and Jason singles and anything belched out by the Stock, Aitken, Waterman production line. Albums were going out of fashion, and the age of rock was pretty much over.
The sound of this album is awesome- and it needs to be to properly highlight Martin's vocal power. Many fans finally turned their backs on Sabbath after the departure of Dio, but they were premature. For me, Martin was my favourite vocalist for the band (but Ozzy and Dio didn't disgrace themselves by any means). Often, fans leave a band when one of the main players leave, but I always suggest looking at them as a completely new band, rather than the old one with some spare parts fitted. Deep Purple and Marillion are classic examples.
The songs on Headless Cross are supremely powerful- the guitars are massive, the drums are used to their full extent for once- and the overall experience is one of exciting theatre.
All in all, a fantastic reminder of how the drama of rock can take you on a thrilling journey. I'm also a fan of classical music, and this is how I'd imagine Tchaikovsky and Shostakovich would interpret their work using modern instruments.
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on 10 January 2008
First things first. Sabbath fans generally fall into 2 categories: the Ozzy fans and the Dio fans. Personally I have been a Dio fan since his days in Elf and wasn't that impreseed with Sabs released Eternal idol. Headless cross on the other hand deserves to be up there with Heaven & Hell and Mob Rules. Tony Iommis riffs encapsulate the sabbath sound while still sounding fresh, Cozey Powell batters seven shades out his drumkit and Tony marting has never sounded better.

Foregt the garbled warbling of a drug adeled Ozzy. No one will touch Dio, but Tony Martin came pretty damn close!
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on 1 June 2017
All but forgotten and constantly overlooked, which is a shame as this is a classic metal album. I love this album, and think its a shame that, really, hardly anyone knows about it.
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on 17 January 2004
When start listening to this album that's exactly what you do. You go down into the fires of Hell and you don't return to Earth until the end of Nightwing. This album is brilliantly dark and evil.
The lyrics to all the songs refer to Satan or his lackies and it sets a brilliant mood throughout and Tony Martin sounds at his best on this album, but without a doubt the real star of the album is Tony Iommi as usual. The riffs on this album are massive and haunting. The solos are great and there is even a guest soloist in the form of Queen's Brian May.
The album has the rhythmic thumping of Cozy Powel on drums which sounds loud, booming and cavernous. It is true to say that there is 80's excess on this album but in my opinion it just helps the album and does not hurt it in the slightest as it also exagerates the atmosphere.
The best songs are Headless Cross, Kill In The Spirit World and Nightwing. These tracks are deffinatly amoung some of the best Sabbath tracks ever.
Overall Headless Cross is a monster of an album with great riffs, singing and rhythm section and is most deffinatly the best of the post-Dio albums and possibly even the equal of some of the Ozzy/Dio classics.
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on 6 July 2009
Headless Cross (1989) is Black Sabbath's 14th studio album and the second to feature Tony Martin behind the microphone. Following 1987's excellent The Eternal Idol, Headless Cross has a lot to live up to and, on the whole, it meets expectations. Martin delivers the vocal goods and Tony Iommi churns out memorable riffs with ease, as usual! There are some wonderful, fist-pumping songs on offer, such as epic closer Nightwing, a strong and assured title track, the anthemic Black Moon and the amazing When Death Calls. The remaining tracks are also generally good but a little too predictable at times, especially Call Of The Wild which is typical of its era. This is a highly enjoyable piece of work but, to my ear, suffers slightly due to the over abundance of keyboards/synthesizers. This factor, along with the multi-tracked vocals and glossy production makes Headless Cross inescapably eighties and therefore only a very distant cousin of early Sabs offerings. However, the Sabbath magic still shines through for the most part, making this a worthwhile purchase in its own right.
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on 28 September 2014
This album has to be one of the finest efforts from Black Sabbath out of all of they're widely varied incantations;/ over the years. From this perspective, it had many of the typical Sabbath orchestrations, in-combination with a looser and more flowing style of songwriting than many of the contemporary, earlier albums. The musical productivity of the band:- likely aided by the arrival of the very proficient drummer Cozy Powell and the evident re-invigoration of Iommi, helped ensure that the conditions were right for an energised re-birth of an ailing and drifting identity.

The highlights from Headless Cross are many and compelling. "Headless cross, When death calls, & Nightwing," are simply mandatory classics. Elsewhere, the riff-fest of "Black Moon" is a compelling addition to balance the compensation for the very enjoyable and catchy trio of:- "Devil & daughter, Kill in the spirit world, & Call of the wild". The brief interlude at the very start of the CD "At the gates of hell" sets the scene for a dark tingled musical journey.

This is certainly a very well executed album indeed. One of the star commendations here however, must surely be due for the exceptional vocal delivery of Tony martin; this was arguably his finest ever performance on a studio template and the results of his work here leave no doubt with as to why. Iommi, also creates a colourful picturesque with some excellent chops and guitar sound, has he has always and reliably done. Ultimately, this all adds up to the backdrop of a strongly slanted 80's production and sound.

Being in-addition to an exceptionally undervalued musical recognition; Headless cross, (like all of the Tony Martin fronted IRS albums, has been allowed to slip into obscurity.) Time is now surely due for a proper re-appraisal, and a much needed uplift in distribution.,
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on 21 May 2010
After a few years of derision in the press, and a line up which couldn't hold for more than a few months, you wouldn't blame Tony Iommi for giving up the ghost on Black Sabbath. Everyone but the diehard fans had, and his last album, The Eternal Idol sold well beneath expectations.

Iommi, is made of tougher material though - and after a brief hiatus, and a change of record label from Warner Bros. and Vertigo to the smaller IRS records (the main mistake he made in his lengthy career), he contacted long time friend Cozy Powell to work on songs and credibility for the band.

Joining him were Geoff Nicholls and Tony Martin - the two survivors from the Eternal Idol sessions, and sessionman Laurence Cottle on bass - and just when Sabbath needed it most, they delivered an album, though heavily steeped in the production style of the late 80's, which was an absolute monster.

After the eerie intro of The Gates of Hell, the title track arrives - Cozy's signature thunder welcomes us to the hill of the Headless Cross - a song that is surprisingly keyboard driven more than guitar, a move unexpected and it's a ripper. Tony Martin, considered to be nothing more than a Dio clone proved he was anything but, as he tore his larynx out in shrieks that even Rob Halford would have trouble copying.

Devil and Daughter was a pop infused radio rock piece of fluff which is held together by Cozy and Laurence's groove. Good solo from Tony I. as well.

When Death Calls - a classic Sabbath song - slow at first, atmospheric with Cottle's bass intro superb. Just when you can't think it can get any better, as it heats up in the middle - Brian May of Queen plays a solo on the track. One of Black Sabbath's finest moments. Superb.

Kill in the Spirit World - another radio friendly song with a great breakdown and solo in the middle.

Call of the Wild - And again - radio friendly rock - but this one is more considered. Great layered vocals from Martin. After all the classic doom and gloom, Sabbath were showing a more melodic side that was only glimpsed with the Dio era.

Black Moon - a re-recorded track from a b-side off the Eternal Idol album - Cozy swings the blues with his classic rock groove - this version is more polished than the original, but it sounds great. Martin and Iommi are superb here.

And finally, the piece de resistance of the album - Nightwing.

After a reverse intro fades to the main riff, Iommi's beautiful guitars and Cottle's superb fretless bass intro, Martin spins us a tale of a great hunter of the night (which turns out to be about owls and bats in the end - way to spoil the mystique Tony!)Great subtle keys by Nicholls too. Appropriately, the song fades out with a frenzied solo from Iommi and Cozy pounding his drums into dust.

Martin's vocals here are terrific - though he does probably force himself too much towards the end a bit like Glenn Hughes does, the whole song is wonderful.

This is easily, the finest post Dio era Sabbath album by a long way - and the finest work by Tony Martin in the band, an album which will stand the test of time as a lost Sabbath classic.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 19 September 2008
Headless Cross is quite an interesting album. It does not sound like any other Black Sabbath album up to this point. The album features no original members with exception of Iommi and features the drumming God Cozy Powell.

I can hear it now, one mention of this album and "die hard" Sabbath fans are usually very quick to dismiss this album. That is their loss as what happened with this album was a great lineup that had a string of fantastic albums.

Headless Cross starts off with a short burst of keyboards and very quickly bursts into the title song with a seriously heavy rhythm from Powell. Very quickly followed by one of Iommi's best riffs since Heaven and Hell. "Headless Cross" is a fantastic, powerful start to the album and demonstrates what this line up did so well.

The next song is not as memorable but it does have quite a memorable performance from singer Tony Martin. It's real lack of noticable riffs is quickly made up for in the next two songs. "When Death Calls" and "Kill In The Spirit World" are two great songs. The lyrics are morbid and have a great hook accompanied with excellent guitar work.

The album finishes off with a solid trio of songs. "Call of the Wild", "Black Moon" and "Nightwing" are again very heavy songs. Pounding drums, wailing guitars and thunderous drumming are the way here.

Production is very 80s which brings the album down a bit. A bit too much reverb is never a good thing. However dated it sounds, turn the volume up and it still has more than enough balls to piss off your neighburghs.

This album and the follow up "TYR" should be on every Black Sabbaths fans list. It does not sound like typical Sabs but being quite short it does not over stay it's welcome. It's a bloody shame this line up never became too popular.

Published by Steven Lornie
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on 19 June 2013
Well this is a strange one to review, first off there is not a trace of Black Sabbath on this album, the only original member is Toni and he doesnt play any guitar that early Sabbath fans will recognise at all, so in terms of being a Sabbath album its a total fail.
If you can get past the fact that it says Black Sabbath on the cover then you get a solid classic metal/heavy rock album that sounds as if its from the classic Dio era of Rainbow with the odd touch of Whitesnake in the vocals of some of the latter tracks (the first few could be Dio).
If you like Rainbow this is well worth a listen (a bit like if you like Bon Scott era ac/dc then you will like Krokus), if you like 70`s and 80`s metal give it a play but if you are after a defining Sabbath album you will be dissapointed.
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