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Thursday, 31 January 2019

Emerald Sabbath - 'Ninth Star' (A Tribute To Black Sabbath) Album Review


Emerald Sabbath – Ninth Star (A Tribute To Black Sabbath)

This is a tale of how an Irish Nuclear Construction Safety Inspector brought 10 ex members of Black Sabbath together along with The English Chamber Choir, AND a string quartet! All I can say is, Irish Nuclear Construction Safety Inspectors must get paid a shit load of money. After all, if you fuck up in a Nuclear Power plant it really is curtains.

The man is Michael Suilleabhain from West Cork, and he has been a fan of Black Sabbath since 1983, and has seen them a grand total of 82 times with every line up except with Ray Gillen. Well everyone needs a hobby!

The 10 ex-members are Adam Wakeman, Bev Bevan, Neil Murray, Terry Chimes, Laurence Cottle, Ron Keel, Vinny Appice, Dave Walker, Bobby Rondinelli, Tony Martin, along with Rudy Sarzo. If Sabbaths management don’t even recognize Dio, this group who kept Black Sabbath afloat when Iommi was the only original left, have no chance of recognition, so its good to see someone recognizing the Iommi years. The man has a passion for classical music and he wanted to bring both of them together, and for that he must be applauded.

In 2015 Adam Wakeman was the first to contribute to the project, with keyboards on ‘Changes’ and it snowballed into this final product. He decided to re-record Black Sabbath tracks and instrumentals with as many ex-members as possible. A lot of the artists played on the originals, and unless you are a Sabbath fanatic, then you wouldn’t even know of all the changes that took place in the mid to late eighties.

After a couple of listens, I think you do have to be of the made of the same stuff as Suilleabhain. Because I don’t see more mainstream rock fans picking this up. To give him full credit, on the instrumental tracks like ‘Embryo’ ‘Stonehenge’ and ‘Fluff’, the music is given added depth from the string quartet, and ‘Fluff’ in particular is a joy to listen to here.  The songs he has picked, in general definitely benefit from a classical and metal approach. In my opinion ‘more strings’ have never failed me when it comes to rock classics, re-recorded classics, or a live gig with a backing orchestra (i.e. Stargazer, Deep Purple, Alter Bridge, Metallica etc., etc.,).

I was (still am) a fan of 80s outfit Keel. The three songs on offer here; one each from Ozzy (Hole In The Sky), Gillan (Trashed), and Dio (Die Young) do not get any great benefit from Ron Keel’s vocals. Yes, I get it that he was in the band, but it would have been betting bringing in vocalists like Mike Mills (Toehider, for Gillan),  and Anders Engberg (Sorcerer, for Dio). Ozzy is the awkward one to find a doppelganger for as there really is only one Ozzy! ‘Die Young’ musically is note for note, but when Keel kicks in it’s all strained and, well, painful.  Lets face it, who can follow Ian Gillan. In fact, Keel gives it (Trashed) a good enough of a go, but it still left me wanting. ‘Hole In The Sky’ is no different.

I have to say that I am a big fan of tribute albums and covers. For me it needs to be either true to the original, or mixed up completely giving the song a new lease of life. I’ve heard enough since 1978 to form an honest opinion.

Dave Walker certainly holds his own for the Technical Ecstasy ballad ‘She’s Gone’, and this one is definitely worth a listen. Glenn Hughes isn’t called the ‘Voice Of Rock’ for no reason. Tony Martin who recorded a couple of fab Sabbath albums in ‘Headless Cross’ and ‘The Eternal Idol’ takes over from Hughes, and proves he can still cut the mustard. This is where they slipped up. Lee Small would have nailed this fucker 100%, then they could have re-recorded a Martin classic such as ‘The Shining’ in a different style, still utilizing Martin’s considerable chops.

‘Changes’ sees Suilleabhain take over vocal duties, and is left short of the original. The best track on the album by far, the fantastic ‘Supertzar’, and the choral English Chamber Choir ramp it up to eleven and give the original more than a run for its money.

For energy and enthusiasm I have to give full marks to Suilleabhain. However, a better choice of vocals and a couple of different songs could have taken this up a notch or three. If you’re not exactly an existing fan of Black Sabbath, there’s nothing really here for you. As a die hard fan, its definitely worth exploring.

Score 6.5/10

1. Embryo
Adam Wakeman – Keyboards
Bev Bevan – Drums
Laurence Cottle – Bass
Anneka Sutcliffe – Violin
Sarah Tobias – Flute/Clarinet

2. Die Young
Ron Keel – Vocals
Vinnie Appice – Drums
Rudy Sarzo – Bass
DC Cothern – Guitar
Pete Rinaldi – Guitar
Ellen Morgan – Keyboards

3. Fluff
Sarah Tobias – Flute/Clarinet
Ardeton String Quartet
Pete Rinaldi – Guitar

4. Trashed
Ron Keel – Vocals
Vinnie Appice – Drums
Bev Bevan – Percussion
Laurence Cottle – Bass
Pete Rinaldi – Guitar

5. Stonehenge
Adam Wakeman – keyboards
Laurence Cottle – Bass
Pete Rinaldi – Guitar
Sarah Tobias – Flute

6. She’s Gone
Dave walker – Vocals
Bill Dwyer – Guitars
Neil Murray – Bass
Chris Cundy – Keyboards
Steve Owers – Drums
Ardeton String Quasrtet
Lisa Ljungberg – Backing Vocals

7. In For The Kill
Tony Martin – Vocals
Laurence Cottle – Bass
Bobby Rondinelli – Drums
Pete Rinaldi – Guitar
Adam Wakeman – Keyboards

8. Orchid
Neil Murray – Bass
Sarah Tobias – Flute/Clarinet
Ardeton String Quartet
Pete Rinaldi – Guitar

9. Hole In The Sky
Ron Keel – Vocals
Bobby Rondinelli – Drums
Laurence Cottle – Bass
Pete Rinaldi – Guitar

10. Changes
Michael Suilleabhain – Vocals
Adam Wakeman – Keyboards
Laurence Cottle – bass
Bev Bevan – Percussion
Queenie May – Backing Vocals
Anneka Sutcliffe – Violin
Sarah Tobias – Flute/Clarinet

11. Supertzar
English Chamber Choir
Adam Wakeman – Keyboards
Terry Chimes – Drums
Laurence Cottle – Bass
Pete Rinaldi – Guitar
Skaila Kang – Harp
Elen Morgan - Glockenspiel








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