Black Sabbath – TYR (1990)

Black Sabbath - TYR

Black Sabbath – TYR (1990, I.R.S.)

  1. Anno Mundi
  2. The Law Maker
  3. Jerusalem
  4. The Sabbath Stones
  5. The Battle Of Tyr
  6. Odin’s Court
  7. Valhalla
  8. Feels Good To Me
  9. Heaven In Black

Band Lineup:
Tony Iommi – Guitars
Tony Martin – Vocals
Neil Murray – Bass
Cozy Powell – Drums
Geoff Nicholls – Keyboards

Total Time – 39:19

When I bought TYR back in 1990, I didn’t like it. Basically, it’s a concept album. Maybe not in the same way as Queensryche’s OPERATION: MINDCRIME but all the songs have a common thread. I wasn’t into concept albums so, save for a couple of songs, it got little play. Also, 1990 was the reign of the “pretty-boy” big hair Hard Rock, Metal gods like Black Sabbath were considered dinosaurs and mostly irrelevant. Over the years, I’ve revisited TYR and been pleasantly surprised but for some reason I still reach for THE ETERNAL IDOL or HEADLESS CROSS instead.

The title track starts off with a soft chant plunges into a heavy mid-paced chug of a song, Powell’s drums crashing all around. ‘The Law Maker’ is faster with a drum intro/guitar solo intro. Tony Martin sounds almost exactly like another former Sabbath singer (RJD). Iommi just blazes away come solo time. ‘Jerusalem’ has always been my favorite song off the album. Martin’s voice soars over an amazing Iommi doom riff. Nicholls complements the guitar with a great keyboard arrangement. I would say this is the best song off the album and one of the better Tony Martin-era offerings, right up there with ‘Headless Cross’ and ‘The Shining’. Three songs in and the album is already kicked in high gear.

‘The Sabbath Stones’ slows it down but doesn’t relinquish the heaviness. I really enjoy Tony Iommi’s acoustic guitar work and it really shines within the song, inter-laced between the heavy riffs and more of Powell’s hard skin bashing. What would a Sabbath album be without an intro/instrumental? ‘The Battle Of Tyr’ is more of Nicholls’ showcase and winds right into ‘Odin’s Court’. More acoustic guitar from Iommi on ‘Odin’s Court’ and a sweeping keyboard arrangement/effect. Martin’s voice put right up front and the man sounds extremely strong. ‘Odin’s Court’ slides right into ‘Valhalla’, no pausing. Soaring chorus, Martin hitting the highs with ease and Iommi blazing a smoldering solo. ‘Odin’s Court’ and ‘Valhalla’ I consider one so they both move into the second slot for favorite song.

A slow, almost sad, solo starts off ‘Feels Good To Me’. TYR’s ballad and it sounds like a late ’80s/early ’90s Hard Rock power ballad. Certainly not what I expect from Black Sabbath. It’s good, there’s a bluesy quality to it but it still seems out of place after six very strong, very heavy songs. The guitar solos just trickle out of the speakers…..very smooth. Iommi can flat out play anything and to hear him play during this song is reason enough to buy the album. Actually, his guitar work is reason to buy ANY Black Sabbath album. Cozy starts ‘Heaven In Black’ with a thunder drum roll, kicking into the guitar. Faster, heavier song that seem out of place as well. Maybe it just doesn’t fit the theme of the album? Maybe I just don’t like it? It sounds like it’s been done before.

Bottom Line: Upon closer inspection, TYR measures up to THE ETERNAL IDOL but falls short of HEADLESS CROSS. It’s a strong album. Stronger than I remembered, especially Tony’s Martin’s voice. The live show must have been great because Iommi and Powell are always top-notch and I believe Martin to be at his vocal peak of his career. The guitar is always the highlight on a Sabbath album but Martin truly shines, which is one of the reason’s why a reunion of the HEAVEN & HELL lineup (with Dio) shouldn’t have happened following this album/tour.

9 comments on “Black Sabbath – TYR (1990)

  1. It took time to me for having a better consideration to this record, but now it’s a must have in my collection… the drum solo of Cozy in Heaven In Black is great!


  2. Guys I would advise more of you that say TYR is not a good album to listen to it again. It may not be that doomy but its for sure one of the best epic metal releases I have ever heard!!!Personaly I believe that Tony Martin is a great singer and a powerful voice that suits Sabbath’ style. Lastly I would like to add the fact that many credible rock journalists consider Headless Cross and TYR two of the greatest Sabbath releases ever.

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