Black Sabbath - Tyr
Bluesy Epic Power Metal
9 songs (39'19")
Release year: 1990
Black Sabbath
Reviewed by Alex
Archive review

The year was 1989 and Mr. Gorbachev just lifted the Iron Curtain so Western rock acts could now tour the Soviet Union. Black Sabbath were one of the first, if not the first, to grasp the opportunity with their Headless Cross tour, which saw the band lose all popularity in the States, but still make waves in Europe including those starved for metal Soviet listeners. Undeterred, Sabbath came to Moscow.

So here I was wide-eyed 19-year old student at my first foreign act heavy metal concert, imbibing Black Sabbath tunes. The band was fronted by Tony Martin, the sound was transmitted through some inadequate PA system with the band positioned what seemed like a mile away, but none of those little things mattered. Not after me and my roommate begged our wives to spend a monthly stipend on a ticket. No wonder I still hold sentimental value for this band somewhere deep in my heart. Who knew that three years later I would be walking into the record store in the States, squeezing some first hard earned dollars in my sweaty palm, about to buy some original CDs by my favorite bands instead of ten times re-recorded magnetic tape or rickety cassette.

Having loaded up on everything Judas Priest I turned my attention to the latest by Black Sabbath. Dio not yet back in the band, Dehumanizer only in the works, the green cover of Tyr sat modestly in the corner collecting dust. Even the relatively short Dio era was always my favorite, I did not hold any grudges for Tony Martin’s performance on The Eternal Idol, one fine album, when he brought a new post-Rainbow more hard-rocking dimension to the Sabs. Tyr could not have been that bad, I thought, and original listens did pick out some rather enjoyable moments, bad ones glossed over by the novelty of buying music without having to chase some murky underground channels.

However, with this retrospective review series I am sure you want a more objective opinion than personal sentiments. Stepping back, Tyr continued Tony Iommi’s self-indulgent era carrying his personal vacillations between gothic rock and some radio friendly blues. This time, continuing on from Headless Cross, Mr. Iommi also doubled as a producer, creating some rather thin sound in the process.

The opener Anno Mundi could have been the forewarning with its female floating choirs, soft and unfocused, if not saved by Tony Martin’s vocal delivery and Cozy Powell’s fills. For all those who think Tony Martin was the reason Sabbath was sliding into irrelevance I want to offer a contrary opinion that he actually provided salvation with his decent vocal hooks (Jerusalem chorus) in the face of riffery lacking any substantial heft. That is, unless he was stuck into some songs which were shadowy hopes Ozzy was going to come back (first part of The Sabbath Stones). For every good rocker Tyr delivers (second part of The Sabbath Stones, Valhalla, which seemingly takes forever to get going), Tony Martin reaches back and belts them out, layering his voice over rolling drums or into Iommi’s solos.

If there were more The Law Makers and Valhallas on Tyr, we still would not be talking about old Black Sabbath, but this would have been one good epic power metal album, especially given the lyrical subject matter. Unfortunately, The Law Maker suffers from lack of power, the bass drum being dominated by a snare. Elsewhere Tony Iommi is more concerned with nailing that perfect bluesy intro Gary Moore mastered on The Loner. As a result, Feels Good to Me can be qualified as one sappy mess, and Heaven in Black yields hope only by its final squealing guitar solo.

Personally, I absolutely enjoy putting Tyr on, to play some selective cuts and bring back memories, but if you are just beginning your Black Sabbath adventure I can’t possibly recommend this album as a starting point.

Killing Songs :
The Law Maker, the second part of , Valhalla
Alex quoted 66 / 100
Other albums by Black Sabbath that we have reviewed:
Black Sabbath - 13 reviewed by Goat and quoted 85 / 100
Black Sabbath - Classic Albums - Paranoid (DVD) reviewed by Marty and quoted no quote
Black Sabbath - Headless Cross reviewed by Adam and quoted 81 / 100
Black Sabbath - Forbidden reviewed by Khelek and quoted 65 / 100
Black Sabbath - Mob Rules reviewed by Khelek and quoted CLASSIC
To see all 22 reviews click here
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