BLACK SABBATH “Cross Purposes” – 1994 Album Revisited, Some Metal Thoughts…

BLACK SABBATH – On February 8, 1994, Black Sabbath released their seventeenth studio album – Cross Purposes via I.R.S. Records. Of course this is not the original lineup of Black Sabbath heard on this album, with the exceptions of Tony Iommi (guitar) and Geezer Butler (bass). Nor is the late and legendary Ronnie James Dio present here. Tony Martin (vocals), Bobby Rondinelli (drums) and Geoff Nicholls (keyboards) join up with Tony Iommi and Geezer Butler, to make what I consider a formidable Black Sabbath lineup, that created some intense and memorable Heavy Metal with Cross Purposes.

It never bothered me in the least, each time Black Sabbath changed it’s band lineup around. The constant Metal presence of Tony Iommi, with his signature tones and riffs roaring from his Gibson guitar, has given every Black Sabbath album one of it’s mighty trademark sounds regardless of lineup changes. Am I wrong to feel this way? Of course not, it’s my personal Metal opinion. I’m a lifetime Tony Iommi and Geezer Butler fan, so when this album was released I was thrilled to hear them and their new songs. For sake of Metal argument, I’m a fan of every musician and vocalist that Black Sabbath has ever had. I’m guilty of being a fan of the entire Black Sabbath musical tree… Metal be thy name.

Adopting the band name of Heaven & Hell back in 2007 never swayed me to love the music of Black Sabbath anymore than I already do. Legalities over a band’s trademark name like Black Sabbath certainly surrounded around money, more than it did anything else… that’s understandable and completely logical. So, if one can get past the fact that Black Sabbath was an interchangeable band from 1983 through 1995, (counting the classic Ronnie James Dio aka Heaven & Hell lineup with 1992’s Dehumanizer in the mix), then one can focus on the music and appreciate what Tony Iommi and his Black Sabbath band(s) have truly accomplished with Heavy Metal.

Check out below, the black & white promo music video for Black Sabbath – The Hand That Rocks The Cradle, which was released back in 1994:

Cross Purposes was released in 1994, a time when the Grunge explosion was beginning to lose some steam. It seems (at times) that the 90’s decade gets a bum rap on Heavy Metal releases, only I beg to differ. Heavy Metal was alive and well during the 90’s, only it was not covered by the mainstream or held the arena and stadium limelight compared to those colorful 80’s. Truth be told, it’s like that now, only Heavy Metal is considered “the comeback kid” by some, where I consider this genre’s perseverance to be the result of it’s loyal fan base, along with relentless and exceptionally talented bands that never say die. Cross Purposes was an album that surprised me then, with it’s completeness resulting in being a quality album and it still entertains me now with it’s Old School heaviness.

Cross Purposes has that Sabbath doom vibe sprinkled all over the top of the songs, with the main incubus to this dark sound being Tony Iommi himself. Yes, Geezer Butler is evident in his playing on this album. That Geezer Butler was on this album alongside Tony Iommi, makes a world of difference in capturing that Sabbath vibe. Tony Martin (along with Ray Gillen) may very well be the most unsung lead vocalists from any of the Black Sabbath lineups. I really admire Tony Martin’s vocals, they are of the Classic or Old School era that fits right into what Ian Gillan and Glenn Hughes have done with this same band. (Ozzy Osbourne and Ronnie James Dio are the two untouchables who’ve fronted Black Sabbath, in my Metal opinion). This is herculean company to be in, Tony Martin can look back and realize he was part of a family line of not just talented vocalists for Black Sabbath, they all are immeasurably historic to Rock Music itself.

Geoff Nicholls always has added that impending and dark atmosphere for Black Sabbath with his keyboards. It’s no different on Cross Purposes, with atmosphere playing a key role in making this album spill over with once again… that Sabbath vibe. Tony Iommi was and forever will be the “Riff King” to my ears, Cross Purposes is potently stocked with his patented riffs. Cross Of Thorns is the song I’ll point out as my favorite on this album, with all of it’s Sabbath glory exploding from it’s dark sound and slow to mid-paced tempo. I can confidently say there isn’t a song on Cross Purposes that is fast forward material. Cross Purposes is an album worth checking out and getting familiar with if you already haven’t. Sure, this album is not the greatest Black Sabbath album ever recorded, still it is a legitimate offering of Heavy Metal, played by an excellent group of musicians, from a decade that supposedly squashed our beloved genre.

Track Listing For Cross Purposes:

I Witness

Cross Of Thorns


Virtual Death

Immaculate Deception

Dying For Love

Back To Eden

The Hand That Rocks The Cradle

Cardinal Sin

Evil Eye



8 Responses to “BLACK SABBATH “Cross Purposes” – 1994 Album Revisited, Some Metal Thoughts…”

  1. I am a fan of all the Black Sabbath lineups also! I still think that the Dio era is the best, and Ronnie James Dio is my favorite singer of all time! But I like Tony Martin a lot, maybe even mroe than Ozzy!

    • metalodyssey Says:

      Personally, I have to agree and take the Dio era as my favorite too. I do admire Ozzy’s accomplishments though and I’ve always dug his voice. That Ozzy era was key in starting Heavy Metal too… yet Ronnie James Dio just “did it” for me as well.

      Tony Martin is one damn good singer… his tone is much different from Ozzy’s, they are both very different from each other, that is for sure. Ozzy has such a signature voice… you just know it is him from a hundred miles away.

  2. I personally loved all eras of Black Sabbath and this album is still a favorite of mine, and IMO I think Tony Martin did a kick ass job, and I view this as legit version of Black Sabbath because Iommi kept the metal machine rolling year after year.

    • metalodyssey Says:

      I agree. There are those bands that become a franchise, so to speak. Just look at Van Halen… that band has had 3 different lead singers and never once did they change their name. It’s about carrying on the “legacy” of the music as well, that Tony Iommi and Geezer Butler did when they were together under the Black Sabbath name.

      Thanks for thinking the same Metal way Manny! 🙂

  3. I remember hearing some tracks from the album. They were really good. Black Sabbath were a constant throughout the ages and will continue to live on for a long time.

  4. Great Post. I agree totally with your assessment of 90’s metal.= There was a ton of great Metal released in the 90’s. The biggest difference is that Metal got downsized and became more Stripped Down. It seems like everyday I’m coming across another overlooked Metal album from that decade…It’s great to see that someone recognizes some of the great music that was recorded during the lost Metal Decade!
    By the way I too believe the Greatest Sabbath music was recorded with Dio fronting the band…..Heaven and Hell baby!!

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