Black Science


TVT Records, 1997

REVIEW BY: Roland Fratzl


No point in pussyfooting about: We are indeed talking about Terence "Geezer" Butler, original (and best) bassist and lyricist of the legendary Black Sabbath. After hopping his bass duties back and forth between Black Sabbath and Ozzy Osbourne's solo band in the 80's and 90's, he finally got around to releasing his own debut solo album, Plastic Planet, under the band name G/Z/R in 1995 before settling on the band name Geezer shortly thereafter.

While the first album was an incoherent mess of downtuned sludge (with Fear Factory's Burton C. Bell on vocals) we have a very good, consistent album in the 1997 follow-up, Black Science. Geezer must have realized what a mind numbing bore he put out last time and so for the follow-up he decided to take the music into several new directions, which make it really interesting to listen to! It's an unexpectedly modern sounding release.

Don't get me wrong, this is still a brutally heavy album for the most part, but the difference is that more variety and some tasteful restraint has been added. There's a new singer by the name of Clark Brown, and he's a very welcome replacement for that barking dog on the debut! This guy can actually sing, which he often does instead of just screaming all the time. In addition, there are a whole bunch of awesome, catchy riffs courtesy of guitarist Pedro Howse that would make Tony Iommi green with envy! Just check out the insane "Department S"!my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Some of the material is even worthy of Black Sabbath, with the many dark, spooky melodies floating around, like on the more ambient mid-tempo "Mysterons"...that one should have the goths out dancing on graves! Also, there are really bizarre sci-fi fixated lyrics throughout..."Box Of Six"? "Area Code 51"? "Number 5"? "Among The Cybermen"? "Xodiak"? Sheesh! Any die-hard X-Files fan would eat this album up.

The production surprised me even more, because there are a lot of electronic elements integrated into each song, like electronic drums, and even a few techno/jungle beats and rhythms here and there in addition to the machine gun riffs, giving the album an industrial feel, rather than just the basic metal which I think most people would expect from a savvy veteran of the genre like the legendary Geezer. This should however not come as a big shock to anybody since TVT is a label well known for quality industrial bands.

It's great though! Lots of little noises and melodies that you wouldn't expect! Surprisingly catchy choruses too! And Butler himself plays all the keyboard parts as well...don't worry, they're all eerie keyboard sounds that fill out the spaces beautifully.

Some of the songs are just bizarre. See "Unspeakable Elvis" for one example. I don't mind that kind of experimentation though because I'd much rather listen to music that surprises me with it's changes and diversity, which is something that the first album unfortunately does not do at all.

The only negative I can see is it's just too long. There are 13 tracks, of which at least four are filler that don't have much to offer that hasn't already been brought forth elsewhere on the album. Those four songs aren't necessarily bad; they just didn't need to be included.

All in all a very solid effort from Black Sabbath's one and only great bass player. Black Science was a major step in the right direction, even though it was inexplicably ignored upon it's release. Maybe the stupid sticker on plastic wrap in big bold letters announcing "THE BRILLIANT NEW SOLO ALBUM FROM BLACK SABBATH'S OWN GEEZER BUTLER!" is what drove away younger potential customers that may have picked it up otherwise.

Give it another chance; this thing is way better than most heavy albums released in 1997. I sure hope the third album (to be released late in 2001) will turn out this well, because Butler seems like a really cool, laid back kinda guy who I think deserves a turn in the spotlight for a change.

Rating: B

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2001 Roland Fratzl and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of TVT Records, and is used for informational purposes only.