Black Sabbath – Forbidden (1995)

Black Sabbath - Forbidden

Black Sabbath – Forbidden (1995, I.R.S.)

  1. The Illusion Of Power
  2. Get A Grip
  3. Can’t Get Close Enough
  4. Shaking Off The Chains
  5. I Won’t Cry For You
  6. Guilty As Hell
  7. Sick And Tired
  8. Rusty Angels
  9. Forbidden
  10. Kiss Of Death

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

Guest Musicians:
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.

Bottom Line:
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.

13 comments on “Black Sabbath – Forbidden (1995)

  1. I dunno, it’s not a good record, but its not that bad either. I kind of like it, though I agree the sound was not there. The songs are still good (Ice T section excluded of course)

  2. I might have neglected to mention that the basic song structures are there… there are more than a few good ideas. One of the reasons for my complete dislike of this album is probably because I am a staunch post-Ozzy Sabbath supporter. This album was the end of the line for the Martin-era and the band has done nothing with Ozzy except tour the same 9 songs over and over.

  3. I saw the Dehumanizer tour in Boston, an excellent (and packed) show. I’ve seen the reunited Sabbath on a few Ozzfests and I was disappointed too. Aside from the first time seeing them on Ozzfest, Ozzy obviously couldn’t cut it live.

    Heaven & Hell should be really good, I hope they tour the Northeast.

  4. Poor production…
    Too many average (or even bad) songs…
    Album sounds like it was done in a big rush…

    Bad songs: ‘The Illusion Of Power’
    ‘Sick and Tired’

    Average songs: ‘Get A Grip’
    ‘Can’t Get Close Enough’
    ‘Guilty As Hell’

    Great songs: rest of them

    Still, “Forbidden” is one of those album that you appreciate more with each another listening!
    It’s worst Martin fronted Sabbath release but at the same time it’s very good!

  5. I hear that song “Illusion of Power” and that is a powerful metal song that can make you bang your head while listening to the music. Then imagining like seeing Tony Iommi playing guitar fantastically, it makes your feel the real metal music.

  6. I haven’t listened to this ablbum alot, but I don’t think it’s too bad. Certainly not as bad as it sounds on paper (Black Sabbath + Body Count). It is the weakest of all the Black Sabbath albums though.

  7. I love this album. I like the way the vocal sounds (has a haunting feel) and generally the whole album. Dunno why so many dislike it so much.

    Kiss of Death, Won’t Cry for You, Guilty as Hell. Great songs.
    Suppose it’s all subjective and personal but to me it’s a great record.


  8. You know I don’t care much for Tony Martin but this is the closest he’s sounded to Dio and he’s isn’t all singing about Satan all the time like say on Headless Cross. People say the production is bad? Honestly of the post Dio records, this is the best produced. Everything is clear, Tony’s got a great sound and the drums weren’t recorded in a fricking well, like say on Tyr. THAT album was poorly produced.

  9. i cant see why so many people are against this record. im 16 and have listened to every sabbath album this past year, and i can honestly say im not dissapointed with any sabbath material. born again and tyr i would say are their weakest albums with only one good song on each record, zero the hero and the sabbath stones. forbidden does have unwelcome rapping, but i like martins haunting vocals, and i must say, forbidden has some of tonys best riffs in years. the illusion of power, get a grip, and shaking off the chains have some brilliant guitar playing. people say this was bad but be honest…st anger was worse

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