Friday, September 6, 2013

A Look Back At Black Sabbath's Seventh Star

Originally intended to be Tony Iommi’s solo debut, there is no denying that Seventh Star has the oddest status in the Black Sabbath discography. It doesn’t get torn apart like Forbidden or divides opinion quite like Born Again, but rather seems to have gotten lost in the shuffle with its successor The Eternal Idol. Context aside, this album is still responsible for many of the tropes that the band would come to adopt through the late 80s and early 90s.

In addition to being the first Sabbath album to feature Iommi as its sole original member, Seventh Star saw them fully embracing styles that had merely been hinted at before. Songs like “In For The Kill” and “Turn To Stone” show a proto-power metal sound that Dio never could’ve predicted while “Heart Like A Wheel” is the band’s first glimpse at the blues since their earliest days. There is also inevitable influence from the time period in its prominent keyboards, reverb heavy production, and all-out power balladry on “No Stranger To Love” and “In Memory.”

The lineup may result in a faceless rhythm section but the overall performances are worth noting. Iommi himself is as smooth as always though his leads are more focused than his riffs as the always-underrated Geoff Nicholls dominates “The Sphinx” and brings some nice Hammond touches to “Angry Heart.” On the other hand, vocal legend Glenn Hughes contribution is sure to divide listeners as he provides his amazing range and soul but lacks the atmosphere that truly makes a standout Sabbath singer. At least Joe Lynn Turner was busy at the time…

And with that to consider, it is hard to recommend this to traditional Sabbath fans. It doesn’t quite match the riff-driven Ozzy era, the majesty of the Dio era, or even the B-movie darkness of their other 80s ventures. The new sounds are also a point of concern as they provide a source of transition but ultimately make the album a true product of its time.

Black Sabbath’s twelfth studio album may essentially be the best album that Rainbow never made, but it may have more in common with their other efforts from the decade than one would initially think. It is worth wondering how things would’ve been if this had been released properly, but thankfully the band evolved well from here and Tony for a few more chances at a solo career in later years. I’d go for Fused to hear an astounding Iommi/Hughes collaboration or Headless Cross for the best of late 80s Sabbath but this is still worth looking into if you get the chance.

Current Highlights:
“In For The Kill”
“No Stranger To Love”
“Heart Like A Wheel”
“Angry Heart”

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