When Tony Iommi Finally Went Solo With ‘Iommi’
Legendary Black Sabbath guitarist and heavy metal icon Tony Iommi actually had attempted a solo project before Iommi arrived on Oct. 17, 2000. But 1986’s Seventh Star ended up being released under his old band’s brand.
When he finally went out on his own, Iommi chose a straight-forward and direct title. Unfortunately, not much else about this 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 a reunion album with Osbourne, but it did not involve Ward), Iommi finally found some time to focus on finishing up the songs at his disposal. 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. “Just Say No to Love” boasted added electronics around singer Peter Steele, of Type O Negative.
Other tracks generally retained Iommi’s unmistakable leviathan riffs, with sterling consequences: “Meat” featured Skunk Anansie siren Skin. “Time is Mine” was grunted with conviction by Pantera’s Phil Anselmo. "Black Oblivion" came cooed by Smashing Pumpkins leader Billy Corgan, while Billy Idol howled on “Into the Night.”
This openness to experimentation couldn't save the dull-as-molasses “Patterns” (sung by System of a Down’s Serj Tankian), but the Cult’s Ian Astbury made a particularly memorable contribution to “Flame On.” The intriguingly named “Who’s Fooling Who” showcased Osbourne on vocals and Ward on drums, making good on all of those previous efforts to get back together.
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 buy 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
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