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TONY MARTIN & TONY IOMMI Explain Why Tyr Was Such A Departure For BLACK SABBATH


Black Sabbath was in a very different place on their 1990 album Tyr. The band featured Tony Iommi alongside vocalist Tony Martin, short-lived bassist Neil Murray, drummer Cozy Powell, and keyboardist Geoff Nicholls. Tyr was a total departure sonically for Black Sabbath, as the band shrugged off their usual Satanic lyrics and dove headfirst into themes of Vikings.

In a new interview on Iommi‘s YouTube channel, Martin and Iommi explained why the departure happened and why Tyr sounded the way it did.

“I couldn’t really do Ozzy‘s kind of thing, and Ronnie‘s thing was unique to him, so I’m searching now,” said Martin as transcribed by Metal Injection. “So I thought, theme… ‘Vikings. I could write a whole thing around that.’ I started, but see by that time we were doing a lot of harmonies, which Sabbath hadn’t done before.

Geoff was playing keyboards and I was doing harmonies and it started to get bit mad. Cozy Powell said ‘I haven’t heard harmonies like that since [late ’60s rock band] Three Dog Night.’ So I said ‘is that too much?’ He said ‘no, no keep going.’ So I persevered with it, really. The melodies sort of bubbled up and became what they were. But I did enjoy doing it.”

Iommi added: “It was the lineup at that time, what we were presenting at that time. It was good. You can’t always just do exactly the same thing, and it was presenting it in a different way. We had riffs, but then the way Tony sang and the way we presented the songs was different.”

Martin also joked a little about Powell‘s original idea for an album title, saying: “Cozy said ‘I’ve got one!’ We said ‘what is it?’ Satanic Verses. I said ‘what, like the Salman Rushdie thing?’ He said ‘yeah, it’d be great press. We’d be all dead.'”

On the lineup itself in 1990, Martin continued: “I mean we were spending a lot of time together. We weren’t sort of separated, didn’t have our own hotels or buses or dressing rooms or anything. We were all pretty much together most of the time. We were able to run through stuff or discuss things, to a degree.”

Black Sabbath will finally reissue their Tony Martin-material on May 31 as a box set named Anno Domini 1989-1995. The box set features newly remastered versions of the Tony Martin-era albums – Headless Cross from 1989, Tyr from 1990, and Cross Purposes from 1994 alongside a completely remixed and remastered version of the 1995 album Forbidden by guitarist Tony Iommi.

On the remix, Iommi said: “I was never happy with the guitar sound, and Cozy was definitely never happy with the drum sound… So, I thought it would be nice to do it for him in a way. I just felt that, without changing any of the songs, there was an opportunity to go back and bring out some of the sounds and make it more what people would expect Sabbath to sound like.”

The CD version of also offers up the B-side “Cloak & Dagger” and the Japan-only releases “What’s The Use” and “Loser Gets It All”. A booklet comes with the set featuring photos, artwork, and liner notes by Hugh Gilmour. The collection also contains a Headless Cross poster and a replica concert book from the Headless Cross tour.

No word on if The Eternal Idol from 1987 and Cross Purposes Live from 1995 – also two Martin-era records – will get any sort of special re-release. BMG said in a comment to Metal Hammer regarding the absence of The Eternal Idol: “Management wanted this configuration of the box to be only the ‘missing’ albums. They’ve not been available on any format since release and never on streaming.”

Still, it’s excellent that a whole era of Black Sabbath is finally available again, and one that has been criminally overlooked for decades – partially because they’re not on streaming, partially because no represses have been available. Pre-orders are available here.

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