After the short lived 1992 Dio reunion which resulted in the excellent album Dehumanizer, Sabbath returns with vocalist Tony Martin like the Dio reunion gig never happened after the album TYR.
Sabbath also drops the ultra heavy doomy sound from Dehumanizer and returns to more of the tradition sound that was found on the Martin albums of the past. Still Cross Purposes sounds a tad different from those albums as it doesn’t have the full blown keyboard effect. Even though it doesn’t quit sound the same I still feel that this would have been the natural progression of the band even if Dehumanizer never happened. It was the early 90’s and Sabbath modernized their sound nicely for that era with Cross Purposes
It seems a lot of people were upset when Dio left the group again and that Tony Martin came back. I in fact was very happy as I find Tony Martin to be one of the finest vocalists to grace the genre of metal so I accepted Cross Purposes with open arms.
The album opens with I Witness, a more up beat track and a perfect way to open the album. The second song Cross of Thorns is a slower track with fantastic emotional lyrics. I’ve always found Tony Martin to write great lyrics and his voice just brings them to life. This track is perhaps the best on the album. The album picks up the beat again with Psychophobia with a monstrous riff by Iommi. What’s interesting is Martin sounds almost like Dio sometimes on this song. Virtual Death is a much slower doomier song with an odd distortion on Martin’s vocals. I wasn’t too hot on this track and it’s usually a skipper. Immaculate Deception is a decent heavier track right before the nice Sabbath ballad Dying for Love. I’m not sure what it is but with Iommi’s guitar talents and Martin’s vocals….ballads just seem to work. Good song. The last four songs are nice solid hard rockers.
Overall I didn’t find it to be a bad album at all. I however didn’t like Cross Purposes near as much as Martin’s three previous Sabbath outings The Eternal Idol, Headless Cross, and TYR. I just found those be terrific outings and Cross Purposes doesn’t quit live up to the standards on those release. It just lacks the catchiness and overall greatness found on those (and plus I really dig the 80’s feel of those albums). Even with its very few disappointments, Cross Purposes is still very much worth checking out for fans of the underrated Martin-era Sabbath albums.
I just find it a shame that Sabbath’s next album Forbidden didn’t turn as good or better than this. That album is eternally terrible (check out my review on it and you’ll see how much I despise it) and in my opinion this officially ends the great Tony Martin era of Sabbath.