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Emerald Sabbath: Ninth Star

Roll up, roll up to discover how an Irish Nuclear Construction Safety Inspector brought 10 ex members of Black Sabbath together to produce a tribute album to one of the greatest bands ever!!!

It really does read like a poster for a freak show from the early 1900s, or like the cover to a ‘boys own’ comic from the 60s, this daring tale of how Michael Suilleabhain (the nuclear guy) somehow teamed up with players from the very band he has seen live on 82 occasion to romp through a selection of their work. Now, the cynic in me might suggest that even casual fans of the band wouldn’t be able to reel off Dave Walker, Ron Keel, Terry Chimes or Laurence Cottle, as ex-members of the Sab’s, while even those who are died in the wool might admit that Bev Bevan and Adam Wakeman are more bit parts in the story than key components. However, that does leave bassist Neil Murray, drummers Vinny Appice and Bobby Rondinelli and singer Tony Martin as impressive, if lesser celebrated members of the band in question. Add in Ozzy’s bassist of many a year, Rudy Sarzo, and if nothing else, talent is hardly thin on the ground on Ninth Star.

Still, that doesn’t stop Emerald Sabbath from being an unusual project and one that veers close to authentic tribute status. Yet these are the days we live in and when all’s said and done, it’s what’s on the disc that counts. And that is where things really fall down here, for while the performers are, mainly, of a superbly strong calibre, a lifeless production and an odd track selection makes for an experience that underwhelms by quite some distance. Ron Keel can sing and yet on “Die Young” and “Trashed” he sounds like a young Kevin DuBrow trying to imitate Ronnie James Dio and with the latter of those two also giving off a sleazy scent that Sabbath certainly never had, confusion reigns. He does however do a far better job on “Hole In The Sky”, the most Iommi like riff-tabular moment on the album a real highlight that shows what might have been.

It’s Dave Walker fronting the lament of “She’s Gone”, which is just a bit dull, while for me, the biggest disappointment is the Tony Martin led “In For The Kill”. I’m a big fan of Martin’s time with Sabbath and am continually dismayed that the band have basically airbrushed it out of existence, but with a Bark At The Moon era Ozzy like guitar sound and swampy production, his contribution here really struggles to shine. Although compared to Suilleabhain’s vocals on the perfunctory cover of “Changes”, it’s a raging success. All which leaves us with string laden takes on “Embryo” and “Fluff”, and the flute led “Stonehenge” and “Orchid”, which are all perfectly fine. While the rather excellent “Supertzar”, which closes things out in a grand style, leaves you wondering why everything else doesn’t come up to this standard.

It’s no fun being so harsh on what is clearly a heartfelt, well intentioned, labour of love that the main protagonist has dedicated to the band he adores and their fans. However, Ninth Star is a struggle and considering those involved, it’s also a disappointment. One for serious Sabbath fans only, and even then, I’d suggest they approach with caution.

Track Listing

Added: February 4th 2019
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Emerald Sabbath online
Hits: 1613
Language: english

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