BLACK SABBATH — Headless Cross

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BLACK SABBATH - Headless Cross cover
3.72 | 56 ratings | 2 reviews
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Album · 1989

Filed under Heavy Metal
By BLACK SABBATH

Tracklist

1. The Gates Of Hell (1:06)
2. Headless Cross (6:29)
3. Devil & Daughter (4:44)
4. When Death Calls (6:55)
5. Kill In The Spirit World (5:11)
6. Call Of The Wild (5:19)
7. Black Moon (4:06)
8. Nightwing (6:38)

Total Time 40:31

Line-up/Musicians

- Tony Martin / vocals
- Tony Iommi / guitar
- Cozy Powell / drums
- Laurence Cottle / bass

- Geoff Nicholls / keyboards
- Brian May / guitar (track 4)

About this release

1 April 1989
I.R.S.

Bonus track:

9. Cloak And Dagger (4:38)

Thanks to Raff, Pekka, Lynx33 for the updates

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Headless CrossHeadless Cross
Remastered
EMI Import 1998
$127.07
$110.76 (used)
Headless Cross (7Headless Cross (7" VINYL)
I.R.S. Records
$168.00
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BLACK SABBATH HEADLESS CROSS reviews

Specialists/collaborators reviews

bonnek
I've always liked the Sabbath period with Tony Martin. The music had a big and heavy epic feel, splendid melodies and admit it, an excellent singer. In the high octave range of metal vocalists, he rules easily.

There is little to remind us this is still Black Sabbath though, it's rather a heavy take on Rainbow, especially with Cozy Powell's commanding drum sound and Tony Martin’s emotive and heavily Dio-influenced voice. Ok, he doesn’t have the words ‘Rainbow’ and ‘Evil’ and ‘Fire’ in every track and he goes clearly a tad higher and cleaner, but apart from that, Dio all over.

Some of the tracks lean too much towards commercial 80s metal. Tracks like "Kill In The Spirit World" and "Call of the Wild" are ill-advised to say the least. But at other moments this album rules with its straightforward and direct (not to say overstated) emotional appeal. "Headless Cross", "Black Moon" and "Nightwing" are massive power metal anthems. A style of music I don’t like at all normally, but it’s good to hear some of the songs that started it off.

"Headless Cross" isn't entirely consistent but it's a great album in its style.

Members reviews

SouthSideoftheSky
"Listen for the feet as they pound the land to a tune of thunder"

The previous album, The Eternal Idol, constituted the start of a new era in Black Sabbath history and was also the best that had been heard from the band in a very long time. Headless Cross continues this tradition. The Eternal Idol had introduced the previously unknown but great Tony Martin on vocals and his voice turned out to fit the band's music hand in glove. Martin again does an outstanding vocal performance on this album. Headless Cross also introduces top Rock drummer Cozy Powell, who appears here for the first time on a Black Sabbath album. Powell, as most people on this site will know, had previously played with Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow. Cozy's ultra-heavy and powerful drumming really benefited Black Sabbath's sound.

Black Sabbath has always been described as having a heavy, doom-laden sound and a strong association with the occult. They were even sometimes accused of being Satanists etc. Ironically, only their debut album from 1970 really fitted this description, subsequent albums dealing more with drugs, madness and sometimes even political themes. However, in some ways Headless Cross can be seen as the natural follow up to that classic debut album. No other Black Sabbath album apart from the debut sounds as dark, heavy and doom-laden as Headless Cross and the lyrics here are once again consistently about the occult. The lyrics might be a bit too much for some people with its many explicit references to Satan and for some people they are even almost clichéd Heavy Metal lyrics. Personally I have no problem with this at all. While The Eternal Idol still contained some straightforward albeit very tasteful Hard Rock (as opposed to Heavy Metal), Headless Cross is closer to a pure classic Heavy Metal album with some progressive tendencies. Not counting the opening track, which is a short ambient instrumental setting the mood for the album, Headless Cross consists of only seven songs with the average song length well over five minutes. Tony Iommi came up with some great heavy riffs for this album and there is a lot to enjoy here with Nightwing, Call Of The Wild, Kill In The Spirit World, When Death Calls and the title track all having distinct progressive leanings. Geoff Nicholls' keyboards are allowed more space on this album than on any of the other albums he contributed to (and he has been with them constantly since 1980). And it is not the cheesy 80's keyboards and stale programmed keyboard patterns like so many other artists were using around this time. Black Sabbath never fell for that stuff! The keyboards are present for most of the album's duration mostly in the background.

When Death Calls features a guitar solo by Brian May from Queen. Hearing two of my favourite guitarists together is quite interesting. Nightwing features a tasteful acoustic guitar solo, something not heard too often on Black Sabbath albums.

I consider this album a true classic of traditional Heavy Metal it is an often underrated album. Indeed, the whole Tony Martin-era of the band is much underrated and deserves much more attention from fans of the band and of classic Metal in general. This era of the band is easily the most inventive and progressive era of the band since the days of Sabotage and Sabbath Bloody Sabbath in the mid 70's. This progression started with The Eternal Idol and was taken further on Headless Cross and TYR. These three albums are indeed my favourite post-Ozzy Black Sabbath albums and all three of these albums are highly recommended for all fans of traditional Heavy Metal.

Ratings only

  • ian
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