‘Headless Cross’ is an incredible slab of melodic metal from Black Sabbath, the production huge, the playing from all involved goes beyond the call.
Written by: gdmonline
ARTIST: Black Sabbath
ALBUM: Headless Cross
SERIAL: EIRSACD 1002
CD REISSUE: Discogs Reissue List
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: England
LINEUP: Tony Martin – vocals * Tony Iommi – guitars * Laurence Cottle – bass * Geoff Nicholls – keyboards * Cozy Powell – drums
TRACK LISTING: 01 The Gates Of Hell * 02 Headless Cross * 03 Devil And Daughter * 04 When Death Calls * 05 Kill In The Spirit World * 06 Call Of The World * 07 Black Moon * 08 Nightwing
WEBLINKS: Site Link
There are more than a few Black Sabbath fans here at GDM. Many are divided between the three key eras of the band: the first being the Ozzy years, the second being the Ronnie James Dio years, the third being the Tony Martin years. For this review, I’ll exclude the Ian Gillan and Glenn Hughes contributions, because they were never in the band long enough to make a huge impact.
Let’s wind the clock forward to 1989, with this album ‘Headless Cross’ album. It would be the second album featuring singer Tony Martin, and the first to feature drum monster Cozy Powell. The band, well known for their obsession with things to do with occult, went for the jugular on this album. The satanic and occultish themes were well covered on just about every song.
Despite such leanings, ‘Headless Cross’ is an incredible slab of melodic metal from Black Sabbath, the production huge, the playing from all involved goes beyond the call. For me personally, this is one album I call on regularly in my CD player – despite the lyrical content. The satanic and occult themes do nothing for me, I prefer to focus on the overall package.
The Gates Of Hell – This is a synth based intro that has been used by the band in many of their shows ever since.
Headless Cross – The title track, this one is a slow burner, that builds up energy with Cozy Powell’s big booming drums. The imagery of this song has everything you would expect from Black Sabbath. Just watch the video below!
Devil And Daughter – One of my fave Sabbs tracks ever, this one is furiously uptempo, the hard driving rhythm section laying a platform for Tony Martin to sing about a girl you certainly don’t want to bring home to meet the parents! lol!
When Death Calls – This one starts out slow and tender, with a slow near funeral like delivery – that is until the chorus kicks in, with Tony Iommi’s riffs pouring molten Sabbs riffs all over the digital mix. The solo section accelerates the tempo threefold, Powell driving the beat hard, following Martin’s soaring vocal and guest Brian May of Queen laying down guitar solos alongside Iommi.
Kill In The Spirit World – A different lyrical proposition, ‘Kill In The Spirit World’ builds nicely, maintaining melody all throughout, with some interesting musical passages amid Iommi’s doom-laden guitar riffs which describe the mood and setting of the song perfectly.
Call Of The Wild – This one is one of the straight-ahead moments on the album, however it doesn’t lack anything against its seven other musical companions. The chorus is highly melodic, all the typical Sabbath elements come together in a bruising 5 minutes of dungeons and dragons epicness, including references to heroes, princes and kings, demons with wings, you get the picture? Yup, all good!
Black Moon – Another fave track for me is the raging metal of ‘Black Moon’. It has a blues/metal riff that is bludgeoned to death by a terrific drum sound from Powell. Martin manages to make this one sound convincing, even pulling a near David Coverdale like delivery, though I doubt you’d be hearing DC singing anything like this! Apparently, the band had released an earlier version of this song which appeared as a B-side from ‘The Eternal Idol’ sessions two years previous.
Nightwing – The closer ‘Nightwing’ is perhaps the most subdued moment on the album. The doom-laden riffs coming home to roost yet again, roost being the operative word, as Tony Martin indicated this song was about bats and owls – according to a Metal Forces interview from 1989.
Understandably, Black Sabbath were very happy with the outcome of the album – ‘Headless Cross’ proving to be successful in their native Britain and Europe, less so in the USA, where poor promotion by their label IRS failed to get the momentum needed to ride on the back of an American tour, which had to be curtailed unfortunately.
Not to be outdone, Black Sabbath returned for another great effort ‘Tyr’ with pretty much the same lineup, with the exception of Neil Murray, who joined the band after a stint with Japanese metallers Vow Wow. Without doubt, all of the Tony Martin era Sabbs albums are must-haves for your ever expanding collection. Though this is only a 8-tracker, all tracks are exceptional – not a dud among them. Buy without hesitation!
Devil And Daughter
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