8/29/2005 - Review by: Eric Compton
Tony Iommi/Glenn Hughes - Fused - 2005 - Sanctuary Records
Fucking A, what a mammoth magnum force of a record!!! The more I spin this disc the more I realize this is the most inspired work anyone in the rock/metal world has released in years. Tony Iommi, the master of the dark monster riffs and Glenn Hughes one of the most versatile voices you will ever hear have released their third official/unofficial collaboration entitled FUSED which has already been the subject of much critical acclaim and fan expectations.
Before anyone freaks I am going to describe this album as very Beatlesque. Not in any way do they sound or attempt to sound like the Beatles but their surgical like attention to melodic detail in each and every song is the parallel I am drawing. Glenn Hughes as a vocalist takes every opportunity and attacks the different angles in Tony's riffs and song structure like no other singer has done. Where Ozzy might be screaming along with the chords or Dio might be soaring over them, Glenn finds a voice that does not compete with Tony but compliments with his natural soulful/bluesy personality. They both meet somewhere in the middle and then create a completely new sound for themselves as individuals and fusing the two full circle produces absolute addictive magic.
This album should have been called "HEROES". This album is just as much as a must as the first Black Sabbath release in 69 and the decade later "Heaven and Hell". All the little pretty kiddies hanging around at the Guitar Center still worshiping Kurt Cobain and Dimebag Darrell should have this album as a prerequesite before taking guitar lessons.
Bob Marlette, famed producer, songwriter, arranger, (Alice Cooper, Rob Halford, Iommi solo 1999) takes the helm of this masterpiece and dots the i's and crosses the t's the way it used to be done back when Tony and Glenn were competing in Sabbath and Purple respectively, and his sonic result is even similar to that of Martin Birch who was producing most of the Black and Deep records in the seventies. Every song has a guitar hook, every song has a catchy chorus, every song understands itself and how to build and balance with dynamics. It is simply amazing and should also be a required listen for any songwriter in any genre today. Sound and feel wise of course we are not going to escape or even deny who these English Gentlemen are musically and references and comparisons to the past are inevitable but not a negative factor in any way. There is a modern production touch and maybe some "modern" performance areas on some of the tracks but you never forget who you are listening to and I can't find one part of the disc where I could dissapointingly compare it to anything "modern" or "post-modern" if you want to get technical.
"Dopamine" grinds its way out of the starting gate and from there I am lost inside their world. A nice slamming mid tempo courtesy of studio legend Kenny Aronoff, who is the best drummer Iommi has played with since Cozy Powell, (RIP), pounds us through the sad but seriously memorable chorus explaining the bands collective years of personal heart break, heart ache and heart abuse. "Wasted Again" follows in tradition with the mid tempo heavy as hell torture tale of sex, drugs and rock and roll and flows nicely into the provoking "Saviour of the Real" where once again Glenn digs deep into his past and readily reveals his demons. "Resolution Song" keeps us in the mid tempo pound while shedding light on a bit of a modern arrangement and implies a possible radio friendly attitude. However true that may be it will be a cold day in hell when any US radio station would actually put any of these songs in a real rotation. Sad. Changing things up with "Grace" the boys really tune into the heart of the melody of their work together. A beautiful song that will never leave rotation in my head. Right along with "What You're Living For" which is my personal fav as I write this and really the only up tempo starter in the lineup. Don't misunderstand, "Deep Inside a Shell", track 6, goes all over the place as do many others but starts out slow then builds into the epic each song is despite its length. "Face Your Fear" and "The Spell" again move you to another level of melody and madness and dont let you down and lead us faithfully right into the 9 minute epic closer "I Go Insane". Again, this song takes you from hell up to heaven and then drops you down again only tugging the safety rope toward the end to bring it all bacaround. Tony provides Glenn with so much space to search as deep within his soul as he wants and translate it into such a relatable feeling for the listener. This song is the perfect closing statement as the boys definitely agree on how to let each other entertain the audience without fear of losing them.
As I wrap this up let me comment on the almost every 10 year collaboration relationship Tony and Glenn share. In 1986, Tony, the remaining member of Black Sabbath intended to release his first solo album but was "86'd" by the execs at Warner who insisted the album be released as "Black Sabbath featuring Tony Iommi". Hughes was hired for the sessions and the following tour, where he was eventually replaced live by a young Ray Gillen (RIP). These really were the start of the lost years of Tony Iommi and while Hughes had been showing up in different projects with Pat Thrall and Gary Moore in the early eighties he had really gotten himself to a point of self destruction that after Purple ended in the late seventies this would be his last major label recording session for a few years. But this album also in a way began an entire new career and friendship for these two struggling monsters of rock. Ten years later, in 1996, when both of their names unfortunately meant very little in the metal world, the two would reunite and work on the now infamous "DEP Sessions" which would never see official release until eight years later in 2004 by Sanctuary Records.
Again, this record was meant to be Iommi's first official solo debut and again the fucking American record companies would discourage it due to Glenn's sound being "too European" as quoted by Sony. Instead the tracks were scrapped and floated around in unmixed form on the internet for a few years until too many smart music loving individuals heard the tracks demanding a proper release. While that took years, instead in 98/99 Sony opted for Tony to record a Santana style solo album featuring some of the worst of modern vocalists they could commit. Serg Tankerin or whatever and Billy Corgan and Dave Grohl have no right whatsoever to be a part of anything Tony Iommi. After no one gave a shit and Tony drifted back to Sabbath he was still intent on working with Glenn Hughes and saw to it that the DEP Sessions of 96 were given proper release in 04.
Thankfully, the reception worldwide to this disc was so overwhelmingly positive Tony and Glenn finally got the green light and decided not to fuck around anymore and unleashed "FUSED" upon the world this year. The beauty of this is that each record, "SEVENTH STAR", the "DEP SESSIONS" and now "FUSED" sound nothing like each other, yet all still stand up today mighty and proud, and each certainly sound like Tony and Glenn and an entirely new fan base has been built on the blood, sweat and years of these highly underrated and underappreciated recordings. Hopefully, an obvious fanatic like me wont have to wait so long for new material but its a crazy business when two of the worlds leading metal legends span over twenty years of working together before record labels catch on to what the fans want and deserve.
If you are any kind of fan of any kind of rock/metal buy this cd and do yourself a favor and learn something about the past, present and future of heavy metal. Seriously, do it or die!!!
I rate this album as an "11" out of "10" as Nigel Tufnel's rule that there is none more higher than "11".
--Jonah Haze 08.20.05
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