Iommi is Black Sabbath guitarist Tony Iommi's first official solo album. He came close before. 1986's Seventh Star was supposed to be, but Warner Bros. insisted on calling it a Black Sabbath Featuring Tony Iommi record for marketing purposes. In a way, Iommi is nearly a Black Sabbath tribute album since its ten songs each feature an all-star guest vocalist. Actually, "Who's Fooling Who" is three-fourths Black Sabbath since it includes vocalist Ozzy Osbourne and drummer Bill Ward. The other singers are Black Flag and Rollins Band's Henry Rollins, Skunk Anansie's Skin, Nirvana and the Foo Fighters' Dave Grohl, Pantera's Philip Anselmo, System of a Down's Serj Tankian, the Smashing Pumpkins' Billy Corgan, the Cult's Ian Astbury, Type O Negative's Peter Steele, and Billy Idol. Guest musicians include Queen guitarist Brian May, John Mellencamp drummer Kenny Aronoff, White Zombie drummer John Tempesta, Soundgarden bassist Ben Shepherd, Soundgarden and Pearl Jam drummer Matt Cameron, and '80s-era Black Sabbath bassist Laurence Cottle. Iommi is a rather predictable but generally effective mix of its namesake's menacing riffs and modern-sounding vocals and drums. Rollins actually sings (not growls) on "Laughing Man (In the Devil Mask)." Skin's voice on "Meat" is restrained at first, but she gets progressively spunkier. "Goodbye Lament," featuring Grohl, earned immediate, multi-format radio airplay thanks to the combination of heavy guitars and a seemingly keyboard-programmed (but uncredited) backing track. Corgan's nasally voice mars "Black Oblivion," but the overall melody and catchy riffs rescue it. Astbury is an excellent fit on "Flame On." Steele's creepy vocals, Iommi's droning riffs, and the twisted lyrics make "Just Say No to Love" a dangerous, eerie highlight. Surprisingly, the best song is "Into the Night" thanks to the rather unexpected vocal strength of Idol. The exciting, steamroller middle section features Iommi andIdol thundering along in tandem.
by Bret Adams