Black Sabbath – Cross Purposes (1994, IRS Records – Canada Import)
1. “I Witness” … 4:58
2. “Cross of Thorns” … 4:34
3. “Psychophobia” … 3:14
4. “Virtual Death” … 5:49
5. “Immaculate Deception” … 4:15
6. “Dying for Love” … 5:53
7. “Back to Eden” … 3:57
8. “The Hand that Rocks the Cradle” … 4:30
9. “Cardinal Sin” … 4:21
10. “Evil Eye” … 6:05
Tony Martin – Vocals
Tony Iommi – Guitar
Geezer Butler – Bass
Bobby Rondinelli – Drums
Geoff Nicholls – Keyboards
Producer: Leif Mases and Black Sabbath
After a brief detour to reunite the Heaven and Hell/Mob Rules touring line-up featuring Ronnie James Dio, Tony Martin once again found himself in the band after that ego-driven line-up inevitably imploded again. Dio refused to participate with the rest of Sabbath as openers for Ozzy Osbourne on a couple of his “retirement” shows in ’92. Rob Halford stepped in for those two shows, but it was Tony Martin got the call from Iommi asking him to take back the role he had performed so well in (though not commercially well) from ’87-’91.
This was technically Martin’s THIRD time in the band as the initial Dehumanizer sessions weren’t going too well (Geezer/Iommi butting heads with Dio) and Martin came back for a few months in ’91 before getting booted again at the insistence of Warner Bros. Records execs who wanted only Ozzy and Dio for the next Sabbath album. WB had a vested interest in the project as they had paid a large chunk of money to IRS Records to get the rights to the next Sabbath album.
From that brief second Martin-era, song ideas were worked on that were not intended for Dehumanizer (in fact, as I’ve heard, the entire Dehumanizer sessions were to be scrapped had Martin stayed on). It’s obvious from listening to Dehumanizer and listening to Cross Purposes, that there are similarities and many of these songs were written while the Iommi and Geezer were on a creative high from the Dehumanizer sessions. This is one of the most consistent albums of the Tony Martin-era and there is very little in the way of the melodic and AOR rock that we had last heard on Tyr (Tony often sings in a lower register on this album). The songs are heavy, somewhat alternative/grungy (“Virtual Death” sounds like a lost Alice In Chains song) and there’s definitely an old school doom ‘n’ gloom Sabbath flavor to it all as well.
For anyone convinced Black Sabbath was too lightweight when Tony Martin was fronting, I suggest you give this album a spin.
An frustrating story goes along with me finally owning a copy of this one. I first owned a CD-R copy, but in August ’09 I had ordered a used copy from a seller based in Canada on Amazon.com. The expected arrival date came and went, the seller said they shipped it the day after I placed my order and I was given a refund. Well, nearly a full two months after the order was said to have shipped, it FINALLY arrived in my mailbox just the other day. I had ordered two other CDs on the same day I ordered this album (from a different seller who says they shipped them the next day as well) and they’ve never shown up either. Hopefully, they will. I had become convinced someone at one of the local post office branches had stolen my CDs, but I guess the mail is just extremely slow these days.
Additionally, my CD-R copy had the Japanese bonus track “What’s The Use”, which unfortunately is not on this used CD. It’s a song well worth tracking down, it has a quicker tempo than any of the songs here and it sounds more like the first three Sabbath albums with Tony Martin.
It is widely thought that Eddie Van Halen, while not credited for it, co-wrote “Evil Eye” with Geezer and Iommi. The plan was that he would also play on the song, but scheduling problems forced him to back out. Not sure if any of this is true or not, I’ve read other sources saying he didn’t have anything to do with it and I don’t think EVH or Black Sabbath have ever commented on it.
Highlights: “I Witness”, “Cross of Thorns”, “Virtual Death”, “Dying for Love”, “The Hand That Rocks the Cradle”, “Evil Eye”