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Metal/Prog Metal CD Reviews

Iommi

Fused

Review by Gary Hill

Tony Iommi is probably best known as the lead guitarist of Black Sabbath. Arguably along with the other three members of that group Iommi invented heavy metal. One would tend to expect a lot from a disc by such a legend, and Iommi does not disappoint. This album is far from a different Sabbath album, though. While, obviously, much of the guitar riffing on the disc calls to mind that legendary outfit, there are plenty of segments that feel very little like the Sab guys. While Iommi's last disc featured an ever-changing roster of vocalists, this one showcases the remarkable and legendary Glenn Hughes (who was the vocalist for Sabbath for a short time). Rounding out the line up for this disc is Kenny Aronoff (Mellencamp, Alice Cooper) on drums and Bob Marlette (who also produced the disc) on keys and bass (Hughes also provides bass). The result is a disc that it sure to please Sabbath fans, but also should light up the lives of all metal fans. This one isn't perfect, but it's not far from it.

While this disc isn't the best album, or even best metal album, to come out this year, that fact has more to do with the competition than with this release. Indeed, this is an exceptionally strong CD; it just so happens that this year has seen a bevy of exceptionally strong material. Had Fused come out last year, it would have been a serious contender.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2005 Year Book Volume 3 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Dopamine
A modern metal sound starts this. A more standard Iommi riff enters later, but the killer catchy chorus is the best part of this stomper. Iommi puts in an exceptionally tasty solo on this one.
Wasted Again
The central riff on this one has Sabbath written all over it, and this smoker is just awesome. Hughes' performance is incredibly here, and there is no way to fully explain just how tasty that riff truly is. This is a very strong track. The instrumental break on this one also has a very meaty Sabbath texture. A section where understated guitar soloing competes with screaming vocals is just awesome.
Saviour of the Real
A heavy, but more straightforward rock and roll approach makes up this cut. It's a strong one, but pales in comparison a bit next to the one that preceded it. Still, a stomping Sabbathish riff in the midst of it is incredible. Also, the guitar solo section towards the end is classic Iommi.
Absolution Song
A mellow dark texture starts this one, then a very Sabbath like riff takes it into the heavy for a short time. It drops back to balladic for the verses. The choruses are super heavy Sabbath like music with Hughes lending killer vocals over top. Overlayers here add to the power of the piece. This is definitely another stand out on an exceptionally strong disc.
Grace
Musically this is probably one of the most Sabbath like cuts on this CD, but the overall mode is more of a modern metal hard rock tone. It's also one of the more dynamic pieces on show, dropping to a ballad like very short section then bursting into a frantic fast paced jam before moving back to the earlier mode.
Deep Inside A Shell
This has the most modern rock, non-Sabbath sound of the disc. It's catchy and very accessible, but not the strongest cut on the album by a long sot. It alternates between a metal ballad section and a hard rocking straight-ahead mode. A tasty bluesy solo does wonders to elevate that cut, though.
What You're Living For
This doesn't feel like Sab, but more like a fast paced, killer modern metal texture. This one smokes and feels quite a bit different from a lot of the material, even calling to mind the more metallic Queensryche. A slower heavy segment has a bit of a Sab feel, but only so much. This includes a frantic and very potent instrumental break. It is another very strong one.
Face Your Fear
The main riff here is a heavy Sabbath like one, but the song overall feels a bit like Faith No More. It has some cool textures and a very effective instrumental break.
The Spell
Plodding heavy Sabbath like riffing makes up the intro to this. It drops to a mellower dark balladic Sab like jam that's very tasty. The chorus has a texture like a modern take on '80's metal. This is another very potent one. It drops to a very sedate keyboard dominated segment to end.
I Go Insane
At over 9 minutes this is the disc's longest cut. It is also the most dynamic and strongest. They definitely know how to close it on a high note! This one comes in feeling a bit like '70's era Pink Floyd meets Sabbath, then moves into a balladic section. This builds gradually up to a heavier section, and then drops back towards the more sedate. It feels even a little psychedelic on these balladic verses. After the second chorus a new jam emerges, feeling very progish with both keyboard layers and acoustic guitar. This begins to gain both power and speed. Then they burst into a fast paced, heavier section to carry forward. This instrumental progression again feels quite like prog rock. They drop this back town, though, to a super heavy, very Sabbath like section. This plods along for a short time 'til a new fast paced, but very metal segment takes it in the most aggressive segment of the piece. After this runs through, they move into a slower section that feels like Sab meets Floyd and Iommi lays down some very meaty solos overtop of this back drop to carry on. Then the original chorus returns, Iommi's guitar serving to punctuate each line. The arrangement here is extremely powerful. They move into one final metallic segment to end, although keys provide the actual outro.
 
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