BLACK SABBATH – Cross Purposes

BLACK SABBATH - Cross Purposes
  • 10/10
    BLACK SABBATH - Cross Purposes - 10/10


Release date: January 26, 1994

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Ozzy Osbourne’s 60th birthday this week has brought up the urge to review one of the forefathers of Heavy Metal. But this review will be on a great creation made after Ozzy’s era.

After Ray Gillen of Badlands left the band in 1986, Black Sabbath recruited the Albanian wonder and powerful vocalist, Tony Martin. With Tony, the band released some top level albums like: The Eternal Idol, Headless Cross, TYR and after a short break, while Dio took over in 1991-1992, Tony returned and Sabbath released its greatest album and most memorable one in Tony’s era.

The production of Cross Purposes, made by Leif Mases and Black Sabbath, is a continuance of the overwhelming ones which has followed Sabbath throughout their long career. Except from the drums, that sounds almost differently from every Sabbath album in the 80s and 90s, other instruments sound the same as always. Iommi’s Gibson SG’s morbid signature sound has not left the zone for more than 20 years and keeps bringing on the sudden chill with a heavy and cool sound. Butler’s bass is not strong as it was in the 70s but still is a dominant figure. Last is the addition of the keyboards, that was not a common thing for Sabbath, especially in the 80s. The keys have an amazing sound while providing a huge support for the album’s atmosphere.

On this release, Sabbath still maintains its magic from the past and keeps the flame burning with exciting, yet morbid and doomy songs that won’t leave the mind to rest. The music is still flowing through the same line as always with a much heavier approach. In comparison to their 70s era, Sabbath, all along the 80s and 90s, has created a new image for themselves as a straightforward Heavy Metal band. This album, virtually, goes in this same approach. The things that slightly remind of the 70s are the guitar’s riffs and the bass line. In this release such small reminders can be noticed in the slow tempo of “Virtual Death”. As it seems, Sabbath’s new image gave them more power and appreciation among other bands that were, actually, influenced by them.

Lyrically, Sabbath preserve their usual lyrical themes like life and death, the occult and other religious stuff. “Cross Of Thorns”, “Back To Eden” “Cardinal Sin” and “I Witness” are best examples for Sabbath’s main issues of Religion. “Immaculate Deception” and “Virtual Death” are the examples for the Life and Death issues.

Iommi’s music still remains mysterious and dark with his influential guitar riffs and never-ending solos, Butler’s bass support has almost the same melodic verse as always. The major impact, in the music around Cross Purposes, came through Tony Martin and the versatile drummer, Bobby Rondinelli. Martin is surely one of the best vocalists of his time. His emotive and strong voice can place him with the top of other great vocalists such as Bruce Dickinson, Dio and Rob Halford. Every song on this release is a well credited work by this man. Although Martin, in the present, is busy in other projects and bands, Black Sabbath is, without a doubt, the best place to be for him. Today’s Martin’s main business in music is with his own band that is based on his name.

The drummer, Rondinelli, shows an impressive ability and has a lot of presence everywhere in the album. His drumming is a bit more progressive than in Bill Ward’s days. All is well accorded to the changes that Sabbath went through since the 70s. Rondinelli is one, in the line of drummers that were in Sabbath like Vinnie Appice and Cozy Powell, that helped to keep the band’s music more suitable for it’s genre and time. Today, Rondinelli is still busy with his self named band that is fronted by Tony Martin. The Keyman, Geoff Nichols, is not the virtuous type, his role is more like many other keyboardists like Don Aiery. Today, Nicholls has the same role in Tony Martin’s band.

Cross Purposes is a whole load of hits. Every Heavy Metal fan can find everything here. Melody, doom, Sabbath riffs and even a ballad. The trip begins with the strong “I Witness” that continues the new/old way of Sabbath with Martin. Coming in second is the best track in this release, ”Cross Of Thorns”. This song has power, strong lyrics, magnificent solo and a memorable chorus. “Psychophobia” is a Heavy Metal cracker with heavy riffs and great drumming. Martin makes this track fierce, candid and something that is so common to Black Sabbath. “Virtual Death” is a remnant of the 70s. A slow paced track that screams mystery and pain. After that heavyweight track comes the release and it comes with “Immaculate Deception”. This track is the fastest track in the album. Fast, not like in Thrash Metal, but for Sabbath it can be considered as a speedster. Also this song possesses a great solo, heavy riffs and great chorus. “Dying For Love” is a well done ballad that has a beautiful leading riff and along with Martin’s soft singing, it’s a mind blower. “Back To Eden”, another explosive and catchy track that stays in the same vein. “The Hand That Rocks The Cradle” is the first runner up to be the best track of the album. A well crafted track with hard lyrics, complex riffs and a chorus that just won’t stop being amazing. “Cardinal Sin” is another one of Sabbath’s religious songs about sins for the Lord. The mixture of the keys with the guitar’s rhythm provides a massive effect on this song’s theme. “Evil Eye” sometimes reminds of “Lady Evil” made in Dio’s era in Sabbath. These two songs are not identical, musically, but when noticing the concept of the lyrics, one can’t miss the imagination between them. Even the aura all around them is similar.

Black Sabbath is a band that many artists and fans, look up to as the greatest Heavy Metal act ever to be formed. They went through many changes since their formation in 1969 in Birmingham, UK. These changes, unlike some opinions, made this band even greater than they were back in the 70s. Cross Purpose comes as a supporter for this emphasis. Today, Black Sabbath are touring with their original 70s lineup and the fans are still waiting for a comeback album.


  • Lior Stein

    Lior was a reviewer, DJ and host for our Thrash Metal segment called Terror Zone, based out of Haifa, Israel. He attributes his love of Metal to his father, who got him into bands like Deep Purple, Rainbow, Boston, and Queen. When he was in junior high he got his first Iron Maiden CD, The Number Of The Beast. That's how he started his own collection of albums. Also, he's the guitarist, vocalist and founder of the Thrash Metal band Switchblade. Most of his musical influences come from Metal Church, Vicious Rumors, Overkill, and Annihilator.

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