Tony Martin – Thorns

9/10

I’ve been a fan of Tony Martin ever since I heard “The Eternal Idol” by Black Sabbath for the first time in 1987. Tony recorded five studio albums and one live album with Black Sabbath and he has guested on several other albums by other artists, but he has only recorded three solo albums. I wasn’t that impressed by his debut “Right Back Where I Belong” from 1992 but the second album “Scream” from 2005 was very good. In my humble opinion it was better than any album he recorded with Black Sabbath except for great “Cross Purposes”.
Now Tony Martin is back with his third solo album “Thorns” and this album is even better. Perhaps it’s his best album altogether, if not better than “Cross Purposes” at least just as good.

The album is very varied but still both heavy and metal for the most part. It never gets boring or repetitious. All songs are written by Tony and guitarist Scott McClellan. Some of the songs have a bit of a Sabbath feeling but most of the time the music has more dimensions than that, which is a good thing. One example is the title track that features the amazing Pamela Moore on vocals in a duet with Tony, that works just as good as when she sang with Queensrÿche on “Suite Sister Mary” all those years ago. I would love to see a video for this song featuring both Tony and Pamela.

Another example is the least heavy song “This Is Your Damnation” featuring a basic drum rhythm, acoustic guitar, and a pretty cool bass line. The vocals in the verses are almost some kind of rap, not the bad kind. A great track that got stuck in my mind.

The powerful opening track “As The World Burns” is a real heavy and fast song that would work well on any of Martin’s Sabbath albums.

You could say the same about the second track “Black Widow Angel”, even though the music is more heavy than fast this time. The song also features one of Magnus Roséns “patented” slap bass solos, which works surprisingly well in the arrangement.

“Book Of Shadows” is a suggestive song, almost with a Blue Öyster Cult feeling, and cool strings and a synth (at least I think it’s a synth) quire to make it even more eerie. We also get a great keyboard solo from Bruno Sa. The song ends with a young girl (Laura Harford) talking over the music, very effectful. Fantastic track.

On “Crying Wolf” the vocals remind me a bit of Ronnie James Dio. This is a slower song without being wimpy. It’s actually a very powerful song with lots of feeling and the keyboards are once again setting the mood.

In “Damned By You” Tony brings out his violin, which adds another great dimension to the music. This time the vocals sometimes reminds me of Coverdale, only stronger.

On “No Shame” the riffs are again a bit Sabbathy but the vocals remind me of something else, that I can’t quite put my finger on. A good contrast in a great song.

“Nowhere To Fly” is a heavy and slow track in the style of some of the songs from the Martin Black Sabbath era. Perhaps my least favorite song on the album, but still very good.

“Passion Killer” is almost a little bit grungy in the verses, almost that is, at least to my ears. The refrain also reminds me a bit of something, that I can’t recall.

“Run Like The Devil” is a faster track that could also work on any of Martins Sabbath albums, but still different enough to stand out on its own.

This album delivers everything any Tony Martin era Sabbath fan could hope for, and then some. Not a bad track, I’m very impressed. In fact, this album is as far as I’m concerned, the best solo album by any Black Sabbath member, including Ozzy and Dio.

On my CD copy I can’t find any credit for the amazing drums on the album, played by the great Venom drummer Danny Needham.

The artwork for the album is also very good and represents the mood of the music perfect. As far as I know the album is so far only available on CD. Hopefully it will get a vinyl release as well. Both the music and the artwork deserve that.

Line-up:
Tony Martin – Vocals, bass, guitar, violin
Scott McClellan – Guitar
Pamela Moore – vocals on “Thorns”
Danny Needham – Drums
Bruno Sa – Keyboards
Joe Harford – Guitar
Dario Mollo – Guitar
Greg Smith – Bass
Magnus Rosén – Bass

Band: Tony Martin
Title: Thorns
Label: Battlegod Productions
Date of release: January 14, 2022
Time: 47.08
Rate: 9/10
Stand out tracks:
“As The World Burns”
“Book Of Shadows”
“Damned By You”
“This Is Your Damnation”
“Thorns”

Tony Martin – Thorns

February 15, 2022

In fact, this album is as far as I’m concerned, the best solo album by any Black Sabbath member, including Ozzy and Dio.

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