Seventh Star

Black Sabbath

Warner Brothers, 1986

REVIEW BY: Roland Fratzl


Although officially released under the Black Sabbath moniker, it is important to note that Seventh Star (the band’s twelfth studio release) was never intended to be a Black Sabbath album.

After the band had splintered in 1984 following ex-Deep Purple singer Ian Gillan’s departure to rejoin the reunited Deep Purple, guitarist Tony Iommi (by that point the group’s sole remaining original member) decided to record his first solo album. The plan was to have a different famous hard rock/metal vocalist on every track, but logistical difficulties made those ambitions impossible, so another former Deep Purple singer, Glenn Hughes, wound up performing the lead vocals on the entire album. The record label then determined that a Tony Iommi solo album would not be nearly as marketable as a Black Sabbath album, and essentially forced Iommi to use the band name even though at that point there was no band to speak of.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

I say it’s important to know the history of this album in order to prepare yourself for the fact that, stylistically, Seventh Star bears very little resemblance to classic Black Sabbath. You won’t find any evil, thunderous guitar riffs proceeding forward at a zombie-like pace.

If anything, Iommi’s famed guitar playing is disappointingly impotent throughout. A combination of the production and that he probably used different gear and effects than he normally used renders his distinctive tone virtually unrecognizable. I suspect he tried to update his sound to stay current, but unfortunately, it made his guitar lines sound utterly generic. Making things worse is the fact that even though Iommi always had an amazing talent for conjuring up instantly memorable riffs, his well had temporarily run dry during the recording sessions for Seventh Star, filling the songs with nondescript, lazy riffing that any hack could have spit out in five minutes.

And that brings me to my next gripe – the distastefully commercial sound of the record (bringing spandex metal like Whitesnake to mind, only without the hooks). While Glenn Hughes has a great, powerful hard rock voice, his style is definitely significantly more mainstream accessible (than previous Black Sabbath singers), and there are a number of embarrassing vocal harmonies and dated synths geared towards mid-‘80s MTV success.

Despite my criticisms, I can’t seriously claim that Seventh Star is awful. Listening to it does not make me gag or make my ears bleed. I did not get a violent urge to switch it off, unlike some later Black Sabbath albums. Instead, I’m just mainly bored by it. It doesn’t really do anything to be potentially offensive. At worst, it just disappoints me to hear something so inconsequential come from the great talent of the individuals involved. Seeing how it wasn’t meant to be a Black Sabbath release, I can somewhat forgive the fact that it isn’t creative or interesting whatsoever, sealing its fate as the harmless, forgettable, Sabbath-lite piece of fluff that it is.

Rating: D+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2009 Roland Fratzl and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Warner Brothers, and is used for informational purposes only.