15 Years Ago: Tony Iommi Finally Goes Solo With ‘Iommi’
On Oct. 17, 2000, legendary Black Sabbath guitarist and heavy metal icon Tony Iommi unveiled his first official solo album (prior attempts like 1986’s Seventh Star always gone out under his old band’s brand, in the end). In doing so. he used the very simple and direct heading of Iommi.
Not much else about the record’s long and complicated gestation period had been in any way simple.
In fact, Iommi had been in the works for all of half a decade. Its progress had been continually interrupted by Tony’s on-again, off-again reunions with Ozzy Osbourne, Geezer Butler and Bill Ward for touring as Black Sabbath; and the occasional plans by these metal founders to record a new studio album.
However, as these endless negotiations dragged on (fans would ultimately have to wait until 2013 for that Sabbath album, and then it would not involve Ward at all), Iommi finally found some time to focus on finishing up the songs at his disposal, and he did so with the help of an impressive cast of celebrity guests.
The results, at times, sounded nothing like the guitarist’s familiar legacy. The first song, “Laughing Man (In The Devil Mask),” found hardcore icon Henry Rollins barking over a grungy, almost noise-rock atonal riff, “Goodbye Lament” dropped trip-hop beats around Dave Grohl’s vocals and additional guitar orchestrations courtesy of Queen’s Brian May, and “Just Say No to Love” boasted added electronics around singer Peter Steele, of Type O Negative.
Other tracks like “Meat,” featuring Skunk Anansie siren Skin, “Time is Mine,” which was grunted with conviction by Pantera’s Phil Anselmo, “Black Oblivion, which came cooed by Smashing Pumpkins leader Billy Corgan, and even the Billy Idol-howled “Into the Night,” generally retained Iommi’s unmistakable leviathan riffs, with sterling consequences.
And though not even this openness to experimentation could save the dull-as-molasses “Patterns” (sung by System of a Down’s Serj Tankian), the Cult’s Ian Astbury made a particularly memorable contribution to “Flame On,” and the intriguingly named “Who’s Fooling Who” showcased none other than Osbourne on vocals and Ward on drums, proving that all was certainly not lost insofar as a future Black Sabbath reunion.
For the time being, though, fans had to content themselves with Iommi’s unconventional approach while biding their time for things yet to come. The album didn’t exactly light up the charts but it was warmly received by those who cared to receive it, and it certainly proved, yet again, that Tony Iommi remained a creative force to be reckoned with, under whatever guise his veteran career was bound to take … until the next fork in the road.
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This Day in Rock History: October 17