Cross Purposes

Black Sabbath

I.R.S., 1994

REVIEW BY: Bruce Rusk


Every couple of years since the departure of Ronnie James Dio from Black Sabbath, Tony Iommi drags out a new incarnation of the band (occasionally with Geezer Butler in tow; on rare occasions Bill Ward came along for the ride). In every case, the results fall pretty short of even Sabbath’s mediocre material. At first, I would listen to a bit and walk away unimpressed. The classic Sabbath sounds is too iconic and sacred to every properly be recreated. I certainly respect Iommi’s desire to work his craft, but my opinion is that all of the efforts post-Dio have been largely unimpressive. I blame part of that on his insistence on dragging the rotting corpse of the Sabbath name around for twenty years instead of starting out fresh with a new band and a new attitude. More on that later.

Cross Purposes brings Geezer back to the fold, along with the return of singer Tony Martin and new addition Bobby Rondinelli on drums. They go through the motions of making Sabbath-like songs, but it falls way too flat; at times they sound like a band trying to capture the classic sound and failing, at times like they’re trying to create a more modern vibe on the bones of their legacy. The lack of quality is not the result of a lack of talent. Iommi is still a great musician, but the fact that there are few great songs kind of negates that. There’s plenty of heavy riffage and a few decent hooks, but nothing that really grabbed me and much of it sounds dated. These guys are all talented, but talent doesn’t make up for lackluster material.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

I will take a moment to say that Martin is a fine singer, but he never did and never will fit the Sabbath mold. It takes a certain amount of pitch, volume, and power to fill Ozzy’s shoes. Dio did it fantastically; Martin doesn’t even come close.

Before I revisited Cross Purposes, I tried to recall any of the songs I’d heard from it ten years before and couldn’t. After revisiting, not much stuck with me. One song, “Virtual Death,” was really the standout and hints at the potential they had to do something better. I feel that Iommi would be far better served launching a new project or band or whatever. I think that the name Black Sabbath has too many connotations and sets a mighty high bar to reach.  I’m not going to defend that opinion, except to say that the name should be retired. I think that’s a certain vibe or aura surrounding the name and all its history, and that’s some hard lighting to catch if your trying to resurrect interest. If Tony and Geezer want to carry on by all means, do it, but Sabbath is gone and should be left to rest in peace. Even when they got Dio back on board, they didn’t (or couldn’t) use the name, and decided to tour as Heaven And Hell.

In the aftermath of this album, Geezer would depart again and was highly critical of the project and of Iommi’s effort to resurrect the band. In an interview he said, “It wasn’t even supposed to be a Sabbath album; I wouldn’t have even done it…as Sabbath.” I couldn’t agree more.

Rating: D

User Rating: A


Wow - couldn't disagree more on this one! Sabbath's best effort since Mob Rules, for me.
This ridiculous whining about Iommi using the name Black Sabbath for his band is absurd and tiresome. This is another strong album from the Tony Martin years.
I just feel that Tony dragging the Sabbath name around for 2 decades with a revolving door of members making mediocre albums dilutes the legacy. That's just my opinion. Oh wait, one of the original band members agrees. I'll stand by my opinion, you are welcome to yours.

As far as Martin, if he's so great why are they touring with Dio AGAIN this year and not Martin?
Well, there's more money in that lineup first and foremost. It's a nostalgia act. Sure, they put together a new album, but the fans are there to hear "Neon Knights" etc.

To my understanding, Martin's relations with Iommi are rather lukewarm these days. Fired once for a Dio reunion, fired again after re-recording the Dehumanizer vocals, fired a third time for an Ozzy reunion. I doubt he'd come back to the mic if he was even asked.

The Ozzy stuff is my favourite, but I appreciate that with Martin the band put out new material on a regular basis. A stark contrast to 1997-2009.
The name Black Sabbath evokes a style that was a collective effort of 4 peeps each with their own style

As stated anything else "dilutes the legacy"

This is a band who has been inducted into the hall of fame in two country's honoring the original 4 members

Any music produced under the name without the founding members is counterfeit

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