TONY MARTIN – Scream (2005 Marquee Inc., Japanese edition with bonus track)
Some of you might not know the name Tony Martin. Yet you should — he spent more time fronting Black Sabbath than anyone except Ozzy Osbourne. He sang on five studio albums and one live. His powerful voice, which was constantly compared to Dio’s, was behind such singles as “Headless Cross” and “The Shining”.
Scream is only Tony’s second solo album, but it’s bloody fantastic. This fits the bill for people who miss where Black Sabbath were going before Martin departed for the first time in 1991, to make room for Dio’s return. The riffs are there, and on a couple you’d swear Iommi wrote them. This is intentional — Martin collaborated with ex-Sabbath keyboardist Geoff Nicholls (1980-1995) and included music and performances by late Sabbath drummer Cozy Powell.
There are many standout tracks on Scream. The opener, “Raising Hell”, is a speedy Sabbath-esque number similar to “Eye Witness” from Cross Purposes. Not coincidentally, this is the track with Nicholls and Powell, a demo for the album that would have followed Tyr. It’s a standout if you like that period of Sabbath. Which I do.
Fuck yeah! I LOVE that period of Sabbath!
There are blazing guitar solos, organ solos and hell, even a bloody violin solo, and it sounds downright wicked. Martin himself played it, as he did most instruments on this album. The rest were handled by his son, Joe Harford! I’m guessing it was Harford who plays the tasty slide guitar solos too. I loves me some slide guitar in my metal! You don’t hear it enough in metal.
Best song: “I’m Gonna Live Forever”, an anthem that I would say makes the album worth buying on its own.
Another standout: “Wherever You Go”, somewhat Zeppelin-esque circa III, but also reminiscient of a Sabbath track like “Odin’s Court”. Indeed, you will definitely hear Zeppelin creeping in during “Field of Lies”…
Worst songs: Sadly, I can’t say as I much liked the rap metal song, the Japanese-exlusive “Unbearable”. It’s basically about how getting no respect is making his life unbearable. It’s heavy and angry, has some good guitars, and sounds pretty genuine. I guess it can’t be easy being the 8th (I think) lead vocalist in Black Sabbath. I also dislike “The Kids Of Today (Don’t Understand the Blues)”. Basically about what the title says. It has a synth riff in the verses that is kind of at odds with the title, but maybe that’s the point.
Aside from the two songs that didn’t click with me, Scream comes off as an honest, classy traditional metal album. It strikes me as a bold attempt to carry the Sabbath flag, during a period when Black Sabbath were not recording. (Sabbath later got back together with Dio under the name Heaven & Hell, and made one final crushing studio album.) The songs stand up on their own, with powerful, memorable riffs. The vocal melodies and indeed the vocal performances are Martin at his best. This is just a straight great metal album, for those who like it the way they used to make it.
Kids of today. They just don’t understand!