Sunday, October 12, 2014

Black Sabbath - Tyr (1990)

I have always been a fan of Norse mythology. It is something with Odin, Thor and the rest of the gods and their stories that just feels so metal. That is why bands like Amon Amarth and Týr will always have a place in my metal heart, not only for their fantastic music, but also for their lyrics. But before any of those bands existed, the veterans in Black Sabbath decided to try out this concept in their 15th album "Tyr". Well, not exactly. "Tyr" is not a concept album, but several songs in the album has some of this theme incorporated, which gave the impression of it being one.

Despite not being a concept album, "Tyr" still feels like a well thought out piece where all of the songs share the same connection and sound. The sound is sort of a continuation from the previous effort, "Headless Cross", but it feels even more dynamic this time thanks to a different production that feels more modern than the darker production that "Headless Cross" had. I still feel that Sabbath does best when the production is a little rough, but I cannot say that the production on "Tyr" works as an disadvantage for the band, since it helps making the songs stand out more. However, the drums are a bit too loud, but it is not really enough to make me complain.

Once again, it is the shear power that impress me, something all of the Tony Martin records have in common. He sings with strength and passion, and he does the music justice. Just listen to"The Sabbath Stones", and be amazed over Tony's well thought out vocals, from the mood to the pure force. Definitely one of the more underrated singers in metal.

The other star of the album is, not surprisingly, the other Tony in the band. Iommi's guitar playing is once again spot on, and he does it with such precision that it gives me goose bumps. From the slower and more delicate parts in "Odin's Court" and  to the more fierce and heavier riffs in songs like "Valhalla" and "The Lawmaker", Tony Iommi brings a high diversity to "Tyr" that is unmatched in any other Sabbath album. I would say that this is one of his best performances in any Sabbath album up to date.

The song quality in this album is incredibly strong. Even the weaker tracks, the ballad "Feels Good To Me" and the opener "Anno Mundi", have some strength in them that makes their appearance worthy. That is why it is so strange to me why this album is rarely taken into question when you discuss about the best album from Black Sabbath. If you ask someone on the street about the best Sabbath album, it is a big chance that they will say "Paranoid", "Master of Reality", "Heaven And Hell", or any other album out of the first 10. With a great line-up consisting of the epic "Jerusalem", the more old school song "The Sabbath Stones", the groovy "Valhalla" and the easily likable "Heaven In Black", I consider "Tyr" to be among the top in the discography, but instead, some fans dismiss it fast just because it does not have Ozzy or Dio as the vocalist. It sucks that most people have such preconceptions about some eras in Sabbath, because it should be about the actual music that is performed, and not who is behind the mic.

"Tyr" is not a perfect album, but it is pretty darn close. With that nordic touch and some great performances from all of the band members, "Tyr" makes a great impression and is a big contender to becoming the best Black Sabbath album when I will summarize the discography. Great variation, great production, great everything. It would have been even more interesting to see how it could have been if the band made a full concept album out of this but it is not needed since the music does the talking, and it does it good. Odin and the rest of the gods are looking down from Valhalla, and can confirm that it feels good to finally be a part of the metal community, all thanks to this masterpiece.

Songs worthy of recognition: The Sabbath Stones, The Lawmaker, Jerusalem, Valhalla, Heaven In Black

Rating: 9,5/10 Anno Mundis

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