Black Sabbath – Cross Purposes (1994)

Black Sabbath - Cross Purposes

Black Sabbath – Cross Purposes (1994, I.R.S.)

  1. I Witness
  2. Cross Of Thorns
  3. Psychophobia
  4. Virtual Death
  5. Immaculate Deception
  6. Dying For Love
  7. Back To Eden
  8. The Hand That Rocks The Cradle
  9. Cardinal Sin
  10. Evil Eye
  11. What’s The Use (Japanese bonus track)

Band Lineup:
Tony Iommi – Guitars
Tony Martin – Vocals
Geezer Butler – Bass
Bobby Rondinelli – Drums
Geoff Nicholls – Keyboards

Total Time – 50:39

Four years after the TYR album, the Tony Martin-era continues in Black Sabbath with CROSS PURPOSES. In between both albums, the Ronnie James Dio-era Sabbath reunited for an album called DEHUMANIZER (1992). The subsequent tour proved successful but personal conflicts and some gigs with Ozzy Osbourne in Costa Mesa, CA imploded the band. Enter Tony Martin again.

The first three opening songs are excellent. ‘I Witness’ starts it off with a powerful punch and ‘Crown Of Thorns’ slows it right down. ‘Cross Of Thorns’ has some excellent acoustic guitar from Tony Iommi. It’s a mid-tempo song but the acoustics and keyboards give the song a haunting feel until the tradmark Iommi riffs kick in come chorus time. ‘Psychophobia’ kicks the album into high gear again with a monster guitar riff and some excellent drums from Bobby Rondinelli.

The next five songs leave me a little cold. Mostly slow to mid-tempo tracks, it sounds like songs we’ve heard before on previous albums. The last two, ‘Back To Eden’ and ‘The Hand That Rocks The Cradle’ are the best of the bunch. The album gets faster again with my personal favorite, ‘Cardinal Sin’, and then with ‘Evil Eye’. Both are great tracks that highlight Sabbath’s strongpoints: faster songs with guitar mastery and good vocals.

I have the Japanese version rather than the U.S. so I get the bonus track: ‘What’s The Use’. The question should really be: “Why keep this as a bonus track?”. This song is uptempo with blistering riffs and a great solo. Obviously, those who bought the U.S. issue of CROSS PURPOSES missed out on a highlight track.

Bottom Line:
The first and last three songs are superb, the middle sounds like filler. It’s not that songs 4 thru 8 are bad, they just sound the same, like it’s all been done before. Maybe the album would benefit from a different track order and a couple of faster paced songs replacing a couple of mid-tempos. I also would have included ‘What’s The Use’ as part of the album proper and used a slower song for the Japanese bonus track. Martin provides a good vocal performance and Iommi is still ruler of Heavy Metal guitar, as innovative as ever with his parts on the album. The drum sound is a little weaker compared to Cozy Powell’s on HEADLESS CROSS and TYR but Bobby Rondinelli does a decent job. CROSS PURPOSES comes in a little short when compared to the first three Tony Martin-era albums. A good album, not a great album. If we rated on a 10-scale…..I’d say a 7.

[NOTE – This tour was captured on audio and video on the CROSS PURPOSES LIVE box set (CD and VHS). The video was released on DVD but it is an unofficial release that cut part of the program.]

6 comments on “Black Sabbath – Cross Purposes (1994)

  1. Gotta agree with your review – I was a little disappointed with this release following what I thought were excellent albums (and tours) in Headless Cross and especially Tyr. The loss of Cozy Powell perhaps accounts for the weaker drum sound? Still a decent album but not one I’ve listened to in a long while.

  2. I just love ‘Crown of Thorns’. One of my fave tracks from the 90’s era Sabbath.

    There was a lot of filler in this era, but still some absolute gems scattered throughout!

    Cool to see another Metal blog. I’ve linked ya to Dogmatic!

  3. “Cross Purposes” is the last realy awesome Martin’s era Black Sabbath album!
    It have only one or two average songs (“Virtual Death”?) – the rest of album is great!

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