Black Sabbath – Forbidden (1995, I.R.S.)
- The Illusion Of Power
- Get A Grip
- Can’t Get Close Enough
- Shaking Off The Chains
- I Won’t Cry For You
- Guilty As Hell
- Sick And Tired
- Rusty Angels
- Kiss Of Death
Tony Iommi – Guitars
Tony Martin – Vocals
Neil Murray – Bass
Cozy Powell – Drums
Geoff Nicholls – Keyboards
Ice-T – guest vocal on ‘The Illusion Of Power’
Total Time – 44:15
The most consistent lineup in the since the Ozzy and Dio days reforms again to create FORBIDDEN. The same band that toured for HEADLESS CROSS and created TYR are shadow of their former glories, hindered by management and producer alike. The ultimate question is: Who’s idea was it to bring in people from the Rap community to guest star and produce the album?
Let’s set the stage:
- Tony Iommi is in total control, Cozy Powell reduced to a less active role in band affairs.
- FORBIDDEN is the last studio album on contract to I.R.S.
- Band management wants to capitalize on “current” trends in the Metal community (Rap-Rock) so they bring in Body Count members Ice-T and Ernie C. (producer).
- The seeds of a reunion with Ozzy Osbourne and the original Sabbath are in the planning stages.
Black Sabbath, the founding fathers of Heavy Metal, aligned with Rap? Say it ain’t so! Opening song ‘The Illusion Of Power’ has a mid-song rap by Ice-T. The song sounds weak: Martin’s vocals are stripped down, no backing vocals and the formidable rhythm section is put to the background. What you initially hear is a precursor to the rest of the album.
Every song on the album sounds like a demo, almost like a bad bootleg. The production is just horrible compared to previous efforts. Obviously, Ernie C. does not know how to produce a Heavy Metal record with world class musicians. All this guy had to do was add some ideas and steer the proceedings, not ruin them. He was handed some of the best musicians of their craft and he relegated them to annoying background noise. I’ve read that Ernie C. was looking for “a more organic, more stripped down feel”. There is a difference between a back to basics approach and a dismantling of a band’s sound.
As with the opener, the rest of the album is subject to a distant, “tinny” drum sound, not Cozy’s hard-hitting style. Same with the bass, Neil Murray being a top notch bass player but relegated to being pushed way back in the mix. After four studio albums where the vocals are superb, Tony Martin is put in a bad light due to the lack of background. Does Martin need background vocals to get by, to mask an inability? No, the actual song needs the backing tracks to bring that lush Sabbath sound found on the previous albums. Every song has some very good guitar by Mr. Iommi, there are some very good basic ideas, but they sound unfinished.
An awful album. This is not true Black Sabbath, this is a butchering of a legendary band. The blame lies at the feet of Tony Iommi. He had final say in everything, it’s his band. Obviously a rush job of an album to get out of the current contract and move to more lucrative ($$$) pastures with Ozzy and Sharon.
I never reach for this album. For this review, I actually had to listen for a couple of weeks to get familiar with it again. Thankfully I don’t have to reach for it anytime soon. Favorite songs: ‘Get A Grip’, ‘Rusty Angels’, and ‘Forbidden’. If there was ever an album that ever needed a remaster to fix the production, it’s this one. Many Sabbath fans point to 1983’s BORN AGAIN (with Ian Gillan on vocals) as the most poorly produced Black Sabbath album due to it’s “muddy” mix. Those fans can now turn to FORBIDDEN for that title.