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Album Review : Tony Martin – ‘Thorns’

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Review by Paul Monkhouse for MPM

Best known for his time fronting Black Sabbath on five releases, polymathic musician Tony Martin has always seemed to be unfairly in the shadows of Ozzy and Ronnie James Dio.

The fact is that he’s an incredibly powerful vocalist in his own right, his contribution to those five Sabbath albums something that truly lifted them.

With a career that’s seen him additionally work on countless other projects, he’s certainly not been idle since those days with Tony Iommi’s crew and ‘Thorns’ is his third solo release.

Filled with interesting touches, there’s definitely an old school heavy metal flavour to the album, Martin playing to his strengths. From the pounding opening of ‘As the World Burns’ onwards, we’re thrown into a world where gigantic riffs, flurries of bass drums and soaring vocals rule.

Black Widow Angel’ comes on like a cross between Sabbath and Metallica, the doomy dynamics giving way to a slap bass wigout worthy of Flea from Red Hot Chilli Peppers.

Dripping with atmosphere, the choral filled ‘Book of Shadows’ and acoustically driven ‘Crying Wolf’ sound like they were hewn out of a warped gothic rock musical from the late 70’s and ‘Damned By You’ could have been lifted from Dio’s ‘Holy Diver’ debut, such is its drive and grandeur.

More down to earth, ‘No Shame At All’ is a heavy, boogie soaked rocker that ups the dirty guitars and Martin’s primal howl into a barroom brawl that will sweep your legs from under you before dancing on your face.

More drama fills every notes of ‘Nowhere to Fly’ and ‘Passion Killer’ is crammed with full strength riffing, percussive drums that beat you to a pulp and vocals that are equal part raw power and melody.

The album closes with the wild ‘Run Like the Devil’ and then juxtaposes it in the fun, acoustic romp of ‘This is Your Damnation’ before the final bow on the titular ‘Thorns’, a multi-layered and impassioned opus that is heavily redolent of Queensryche at their peak.

As a showcase for his wide range, Martin couldn’t have done better than this release, his status as an underrated vocalist challenged in no uncertain ways as this shines more positive light on the man and his music.

Whilst the production may at times lack a little spark and polish, the whole effect is a glorious throwback to when the giants of rock and metal roamed the land, knowing who they were and where they were going.

More than just a solid album, ‘Thorns’ is something to be explored and cherished, its craft and quality speaking volumes.

Track Listing:
As The World Burns
Black Widow Angel
Book Of Shadows
Crying Wolf
Damned By You
No Shame At All
No Where To Fly
Passion Killer
Run Like The Devil
This Is Your Damnation

For More info go to:
Tony Martin Official Facebook Page – https://www.facebook.com/Tony-Martin-311422092205243

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