Ginger Nuts of Horror
"Don't misunderstand--I'm a metal head and a very open and forgiving one (except when it comes to Def Leppard--seriously guys, give it the fuck up already!?)"
By 1985, Black Sabbath had gone from that sleek black machine, the one that slowly cruised the neighborhoods with an engine rumble like a purring beast, swirled in hell smoke and dark promise--to your Mom's mini-van idling in the parking lot of the local supermarket.
They had circled us like blood-teased sharks for years and now their wear was showing.
The previous album, Born Again, while a good album was the first in a long line of what many purists consider the downward spiral of this legendary band. Gone were the signature vocals of Ronnie James Dio, who had himself done the near impossible by stepping in for the original signature vocalist, Ozzy Osbourne. Seventh Star was about as far removed from classic Sabbath as one can get. And while the fact it as not originally supposed to be a Black Sabbath album but a "super group." With Tony Iommi being to sole remaining original member( Geezer and Ward jumped ship soon after Born Again)--(the rest were made up of longtime keyboardist, Geoff Nicholls (formerly of Quartz, great classic hard rock act), Eric Singer (who would eventually be part of the amazing Badlands and come to rest as the drummer of a band called Kiss. Rounded out by Bassist Dave Spitz (Impelliterri, Great White, White Lion) and vocalist Glenn Hughes. The finished material sounded so un-Sabbathy that the label basically forced the band to add the byline "Black Sabbath featuring Tony Iommi" so as to lure in long-time fans and smack their excited faces with this lukewarm platter of melodic metal/hard rock radio fodder.
Don't misunderstand--I'm a metal head and a very open and forgiving one (except when it comes to Def Leppard--seriously guys, give it the fuck up already!?) and this album is great, when viewed as a not-Sabbath album. I treat it the way I've treated the Ripper Owens-era Judas Priest material or Guns N' Roses "Chinese Democracy" Great albums, not what is expected or promised. Anyway...
The songwriting here while not drenched in the devil's rain, or shambling through foggy fields at night, dancing around pagan fires or embracing phantom figures--is solid. But we get songs about love, lost and true. We get power balladry. We get everything we should want from a mid-80's hard rock record....but we get no real Sabbath.
The disc opens with "In For The Kill" which flirts with a little sludge to the riffage but not before the smooth clean vocals and production wring any potential monstrosity from it. Apparently eager to mop up the near spill of signature style, that is followed by the big "hit" from the album, "No Stranger To Love" which is designed mainly for slow skating at the local rink--all feathered hair and tight Lee jeans.
I honestly, won't break down the rest of the album. The nine songs present here, while solid melodic tracks with enough guitar meat to count them as metal in some way, are almost too anemic to really recall. I've owned this disc for years and every time I dig it out I'm always "Oh, yeah, I forgot about this song." It's good but not memorable. It's rock but it doesn't really roll. It says it's Sabbath but it ain't that fucking Black.