Plastic Planet

GZR

TVT, 1995

http://www.geezerbutler.com/

REVIEW BY: Ben McVicker

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 10/11/2007

Plastic Planet, the first and most forgettable of Geezer Butler’s solo albums, was released in 1995 shortly after the bassist’s departure from Black Sabbath. Having reunited with guitarist Tony Iommi for two albums, Butler eventually left to work on a side project, claiming that his creative input was being stifled. Eager to record a true follow-up to the heavy, sci-fi themed Dehumanizer, Butler recruited drummer Dean Castronovo (Journey), vocalist Burton C. Bell (Fear Factory) and little-known guitarist Pedro Howse to record his solo debut.

“Catatonic Eclipse” kicks things off on a promising note, with a minute of ominous, brooding keyboards, crunchy riffs, and some rattling cymbal hits. The vocals, however, are a rude awakening: the lyrics incredibly trite and dated (“Download me, kill me... No time in space... All ethics fade / In this silicon state”), and Bell’s growling, guttural style is quite an acquired taste. The tight drumming makes one raise an eyebrow at times, but otherwise it’s a mediocre, mid-tempo opener lacking anything resembling melody or leads to add interest. bim_ad_daily_vault_print_250

“Drive Boy, Shooting” is likely the catchiest song on the album, with a good chugging guitar riff and cynical lyrics. The brutal vocals lend themselves to the song quite well, and Castronovo holds a tight beat throughout. The muddy production though, is a bit distracting -- shouldn’t you be able to hear the bass on a Geezer Butler solo album?

The next couple tracks are the best that Plastic Planet has to offer. “Giving Up The Ghost” -- rumored to be a stab at Tony Iommi and his unwillingness to give up the Black Sabbath name -- has Bell switching up between clean-throated verses and angry choruses, with Castronovo’s double-bass drumming pummeling away at machine-gun rapidity. Geezer’s playing is a bit more audible on this track, and if it weren’t for such hokey lyrics as “You... are... desperately... seeking... Satan!” it might even be catchy. “Plastic Planet” meanwhile, will repel any listeners with a fondness for melodic vocals, but if you can get your ears around them the music is top-notch. Castronovo’s runs are jaw-dropping premium heavy metal drumming, while the riffing has a sense of groove to it that is sorely lacking on most of the album. Even the chorus is rather catchy.

Sadly, Plastic Planet takes a turn for the worse after this precarious midpoint of sorts. You’ll listen and cringe as Bell gives his best shot at early-90s style rapping, while Geezer and the band plod on in the background on “The Invisible.” You’ll shake your head in dismay at Butler’s inability to write an eerie number along the lines of  “Black Sabbath” without Tony Iommi, as Pedro Howse turns in a plodding, fuzzy riff devoid of imagination on “Seance Fiction.” Most listeners will have grown frustrated and hit the stop button before “Cycle of 60,” a timid acoustic ballad, closes the album. The majority of the songs are forgettable, noisy efforts buoyed only by Castronovo’s impressive drumming.

Plastic Planet is a disappointment in every sense of the word. In spite of having a top-notch drummer and a vocalist from one of the biggest metal groups to come out of the 1990s, Geezer Butler failed miserably in trying to produce a modern metal album. At its best moment, the band sounds like a second-rate Pantera, minus the attitude and guitar solos. And even then, that’s being generous.

I paid $1.15 for my copy of Plastic Planet after finding it in a reject bin at a used CD store. After listening to it, I found myself wishing that I’d spent the money on a chocolate bar instead.

Rating: D

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© 2007 Ben McVicker 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, and is used for informational purposes only.