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Interview With Hadi Sarieddine

From Benevolent.



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“When left alone, the forests renew themselves.
              When left alone, man improves himself, as well.” - Woods of Ypres

Not a lot of music speaks to me like that of Woods of Ypres. When I first heard the music of this Canadian band over 3 years ago as I was looking through YouTube for Doom Metal bands, I knew there was something great about them that I couldn’t find in most bands. However, I wasn’t such a huge fan of them until August 2013, when I had the time to finally listen to all of their discography over the span of two days. I was totally enthralled by the emotional and philosophical scope of their music. Most of that was achieved thanks to their frontman David Gold.

 To begin with, I didn’t really keep up with Woods of Ypres since I discovered them first on YouTube, so I didn’t hear of David’s passing on December 21, 2011. That was three years ago. Upon learning of his death after listening to their entire discography, especially after listening to Woods V: Grey Skies and Electric Light, a deep sense of grief and sorrow overwhelmed me. I didn’t know David personally (I wish I did), but the emotional impact that his music had on me and on my creative works was quite evident since then. From the heavy, doomy riffs of “Your Ontario Town Is a Burial Ground” and “Everything I Touch Turns to Coal” to the Atmospheric Black Metal spirit of “The Sea of Immeasurable Loss” and “The Sun Was In My Eyes”, David’s music always transports me to the woods of his native Ontario. Woods V, their last album, left a particular impact on me with its lyrics on life, death, society, and art. David’s minimalistic style of writing helped further the meaning of the lyrics he wrote.
  That being said, his music grows on you, especially if you are going through some emotional trouble or a breakup. He tells us not to depend on others for happiness, but only on ourselves; that we should not get attached to people or places because one day, losing them will devastate us. More importantly, he told us to seize the moment and enjoy life, to cherish our loved ones while they are still alive, and to follow our hearts’ passion instead of what society thinks we should do. I think David’s lyrics are poetry on their own despite them being so simple.

The fact that David journeyed to Kuwait and formed friendships with many people there, some of whom I am now friends with, could mean that he had somewhat of an influence on the Middle Eastern metal scene. I think if it weren't for me looking for YouTube covers of Woods of Ypres songs and finding Hadi Sarieddine's cover of "Finality", I wouldn't have discovered  the UAE metal scene and become immersed in it. Although his stay in Kuwait was rather brief, he wore a Kuwaiti flag patch on his jacket while performing in his final tour in Canada and the US to show his love for the country and its people. People who have met him say he was a down-to-earth, loving person who interacted closely with his fans.
I would like to say that I’m writing this because I felt I never had the chance to properly thank him, and even though he told us in his last album that “the dead are to be forgotten”, I believe we should not forget him because he lives on in his music with us and in all the souls he inspired. We are not mourning him, but we are celebrating his work and life.

With that, I would like to thank him for inspiring me and many others. I don't think words are enough to express how indebted I feel to this musician. Nevertheless, his legacy will live on in his timeless music, and continue to inspire many people. 

"The will to give
 There is no destination
 There is only the journey."  - Woods of Ypres, The Will to Give

By Habib Tabaja


UAE-based extreme prog-metallers Benevolent have released a video for The Collector off their full-length The Covenant (check out our review alongside Germany's Legacy Magazin. It looks (and sounds) pretty killer! ex-Chimaira drummer Andols Herrick handled drums for the album, and it was mastered by TesseracT's Acle Kahney. Check out the video below!

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Band: Skyharbor
Album: Guiding Lights
Genre: Progressive Metal
Release Date: November 10, 2014
Label: Basick Records
Reviewer: Hashim AlNasser

Skyharbor are no strangers to the metal world. What started a project of guitarist Keshav Dhar back in 2010, it attracted the attention of TesseracT vocalist Daniel Tompkins and drummer Anup Sastry (Jeff Loomis) and having released their debut album 'Blinding White Noise: Illusion & Chaos' back in 2011, time has seen them grow to opening for Lamb of God in India, Euroblast, Download as well as awards for Best Song, Best Album and Best Band at Rolling Stone India Metal Awards and a nomination for Global Metal Band at the Metal Hammer Golden Gods.

Released on the 10th of November 2014, their  sophomore album 'Guiding Lights' is a truly captivating listen from beginning to end.  Kicking off the album with purpose, the aptly named 'Allure' sets the perfect tone for the album, reintroducing their beautifully textured and melodic sound but with a difference. Completely funded by fans on a PledgeMusic campaign, Guiding Lights goes on to display the band's sound develop to more ambient passages, shying from their debut albums more riff-centric sound. 

Displaying the bands vast range of capabilities, I was particularly captivated by 'Guiding Light's musical composition. Skyharbor's development on themes and seamless transitions between hard-hitting rhythms and soaring tones had me listening intently. I absolutely loved the guitar work on this album, exploring the numerous dynamics of the instrument, (not to mention the truly inspirational solos) they alongside Daniel Tompkins' vocal ability make them a match made in melody. Backed by the tight bass work of Krishna Jhaveri and technically proficient grooves of Anup Sastry, Skyharbor are a musical force to be reckoned with and Guiding Lights is proof of that.

Produced by Australian producer Forrester Savell (of Karnivool and Animals as Leaders fame), the album definitely has a sound that almost completely wraps around you, guiding you throughout the album on an hour long musical feast. An album definitely worth setting time out of your day to listen to from beginning to end!

Check out Skyharbor's beautiful video for Patience off Guiding Lights!


Woccon is a band I stumbled upon a few months ago and were immediately etched in my memory. I grew up listening to tons of melodic death metal, but I haven't heard many news bands in that "sub genre" that have made such a huge impact as Woccon. Woccon just put out a new album called Solace in Decay (which I'll be posting a review of very soon!), but I wanted to get to know the man behind the music. Frontman Tim Rowland had a lot to say, about his writing approaches and musical even the video games he seems to really enjoy spending his time playing.  Check out my conversation with Rowland below.

Kareem CHey Tim! How’s it going?

Tim Rowland: Extremely awful, and by that I mean very well.

Solace in Decay is out, and it sounds massive. How has the album been received so far?

The fans seem to have nothing but overwhelmingly positive words about it, as well as the publications so far. Sometimes, I wonder if people are exaggerating. All in all, I'm content with the response.

What were the song-writing and recording processes like for the album? How did it differ from previous releases?

Well, it didn't differ from the previous releases in recording terms because again, we did it independently and by our own resources. I've just developed a better instinct for it. I still have a lot to learn, but I really enjoy being in control of engineering and producing myself. The songwriting process was more a mixed bag in comparison to The Wither Fields. Some tracks like Behind the Clouds and And The World Wept were written almost entirely in Guitar Pro before being recorded; sitting at a computer, staring at tabs and sheet music with a guitar in hand. There were also a few tracks written in that way that weren't used because sometimes it's hard to judge how it will really sound when recorded. But mostly I write as I record. That's what works best for me.

Also being a fan of Daylight Dies and noticing similar sonic resemblances in Woccon’s music, I noticed that their guitarist Barre Gambling was also involved in Solace in Decay. Tell us more about that and how that collaboration went.

After the album was completely finished, I felt like there needed to be an intro track and I wasn't sure how to go about it. By that point, we had no guest spots fulfilled as we initially wanted, so I came up with the idea of having something different than just featuring a guest vocalist on a track. So I contacted Barre, which I've had a developing friendship with, and asked him if he was interested in composing a piece to introduce the album. So he agreed and sat with the album for a while to receive the right vibe from it. He had the idea of doing something almost symphonic and keyboard heavy and sent several ideas with just the keys and a lead guitar until we decided on which way to take it. Then I had the challenge of trying to transition it into a full band effort which took a few failed attempts until we got it right. We traded ideas back and forth and gave opinions until it was finished, basically. It took many forms before it reached the finished product. I'm very happy with how the intro turned out. It's nice and epic. I would've never taken it there if it weren't for Barre.

Being a multi-instrumentalist, where do you usually start when you write music? Is it a particular guitar riff or lick, or a drum beat?

I usually start with a guitar, coming up with a simple lead idea or rhythm, but it feels more like two guitar parts in unison. It's almost a push and pull from lead to rhythm. Let's say I scratch record a rhythm idea I like, then I'll come up with a lead that begs the rhythm to change a certain way to give the piece a snug fit. It can go back and forth for a while until I have a section I feel content with, all the while I have drums in my head as this process builds. That's why I'll record rhythmic fills on a guitar before we ever actually get to drums. I know what I want the drums to do at a certain spot. It's usually piece by piece until a song is about finished, then I go back and work on better ways to transition from one part to the next. Oh, and most importantly, a metronome is always used in this process. I'm never without a click track from beginning to end.

Having listened through Solace in Decay, would it be safe to say that you’re into Daylight Dies and Insomnium? What other bands would you say influence Woccon’s material?

Well, let's be honest here. I'll credit Daylight Dies as one of the initial sparks that motivated me to write in this way at the beginning, but I'd like to think I've evolved more out of that with Solace In Decay. Of course that artistic influence will always be there in some fashion, so I'm entirely ok with getting that comparison, but I feel like emotions of despair and melancholy can be attributed to more than just a band comparison. When I reflect a certain way, this is just how my brain produces it. As for Insomnium, they've never been a big influence on me personally, though I like them and respect what they've achieved. We've just gotten lumped in with them so I ran with it. I'm not gonna tell you what other bands influence me, because I don't consciously know. It just seeps out into the music I guess. I'll tell you what bands I DO like to listen to the most and people can be the judge. I have listened and still listen to a lot of KatatoniaOpeth, Daylight Dies, Anathema, ShiningAlcestDeftones, Misery Signals, Steven Wilson/Porcupine Tree, and more under the radar bands like Acacia, The Fall of Every SeasonAtten Ash, and Vali. I've just listed the bands that could be deemed similar. I listen to much more outside of this realm.

What are some of the lyrical themes in Solace in Decay?

Some of it could be considered a continuation of The Wither Fields, while others are inspired by completely non-doom subjects. There are lyrics about personal struggles and how helpless we can sometimes feel in certain negative situations. There are also lyrics more story based; inspired by an lesser known animated show I like. There's even a song throwing back to the anti-civilization roots of our first demo. It's really all over the place. Instead of forcing cliche themes, I chose to do whatever truly inspired me at the time, but it's still on the darker side of things. 

Are there any shows or tours lined up to promote the album?

Nothing is lined up at the moment. We've gotten a few offers, but had to turn em down due to personal reasons or it just wouldn't work. We're still trying to figure out how we should develop that side of things in the correct way, especially now that something new is brewing. We will always do what's best for us in the end.

What do you like to do in your spare time when you’re not busy with Woccon or with your day job?

I spend most of my free time writing and recording music actually. It's important to me to work harder these days at honing in my skills with writing, recording and mixing. I have a few new things in development, alongside new Woccon music. Other than that, I do a lot of graphic design, both freelance or for my own projects and I enjoy my fair share of video games. Drinking and watching sports is also fun to do with friends. I played a lot of tennis and disc golf back when it wasn't so damn cold. Every now and then I'll get obsessed with reading or studying something. It comes and goes. The more recent obsession for me was WWII history. Oh, and I watch a lot of stand up comedy too. Louis CK, Bill Burr and Norm Macdonald are my favorites.

What bands/songs have been on your playlist lately? Also, what kind of music do you enjoy listening to when you take a break from metal?

The last thing I listened to before this interview was the new Bloodbath album. Before that was probably At The Gates' new album. Both were great, but not ones I will constantly spin most likely. When I'm not listening to metal, which is becoming more common these days, I listen to all kinds of stuff. Whatever suits the mood. Anything by Akira Yamaoka, who did all of the Silent Hill music, is always perfect for any mood, because he'll drag me to that place of despondency in an instant. I listen to neo-folk stuff like Vali and Wood Ox when I'm working on graphic art usually. I need something calm to keep my sanity in check when I'm doing tedious stuff like that. I have developed a weird enjoyment of smooth jazz recently, which is kinda embarrassing. It started long ago as a joke, but then I find myself coming back to it for some reason. Maybe one day Woccon will have the funds to get a guest spot from Kenny G. HAHA Cinematic music is good stuff too. My favorite soundtrack of all time is for the movie, Glory, compose by James Horner.  I enjoy the occasional outlaw country by Johnny Cash or Hank III as well. And let's not forget Rush.

You must have been asked this many times, but with the owl in your logo and the band’s name stemming from a Native American tribe, how do they shape the band’s identity and lyrical themes (assuming that they do)?

They don't. The owl was shaped by what the music represents and the name was just carried over from the demo era into the doom era. We were gonna change the name because it didn't make sense with what we're doing now, but just never did and I'm perfectly fine with that outcome. No disrespect to the once Native tribe.

If you could tour with any band which one would it be and why?

Wow. This is hard. If it had to be someone we would be comfortable knowing we could fit with, it would probably be Opeth. I'd think of that as more strategic. If it didn't matter whether we fit or not, probably something absurdly out of left field and legendary like Prince.

Videogames? What have you been playing?

Where do I begin? For the past couple of years, I've almost switched all of my gaming exclusively to the PC. I keep tabs on Steam sales constantly. For my mmorpg fix I play a lot of Wildstar. I'm usually not the type to get obsessed with mmos, but that game did it for me. I never got into World of Warcraft or anything like that. The mmo I played before Wildstar was Lord of the Rings Online. I enjoyed exploring Middle-Earth. Minecraft is another one I've played off and on for a few years now. That game continues to surprise me. For my competitive shooter fix, I play Rising Storm/Red Orchestra 2. Perfect game with the right amount of realism and scale for me. I'm getting tired of the whole twitch Call of Duty/Halo thing, but I will be psyched when they bring back this new Unreal Tournament in the works. Of course any and all Silent Hill games. I could go on forever if I wanted to, but I'll just make a list of my favorites. Final Fantasy 7Shenmue 1 & 2MorrowindSyberia 1 & 2,  Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic, etc, etc, etc. For the record, Sam, our bassist, would probably like me to add that he devotes most of his time to Elder Scrolls Online.

Have you ever checked out a metal band from the Middle East? If so, which ones have you heard?

Can't say I've discovered any that I regularly listen to, but I'm aware there's a passionate metal scene in the Middle East. I remember that whole controversy surrounding that band, Seeds of Iblis. I know of Orphaned Land too. I can't think of any more right now that stand out for me. Maybe you can make a list of essential albums and I'll check em out. I'm always excited to discover new bands.

Any final words for and its readers?

Well I assume that if you got this far in the interview, you either know us already or I'm just slightly interesting enough that you want to know what Woccon is about. Any and all support for us in this massively over saturated music age is appreciated. Thanks for reading and don't let my liking to smooth jazz facts get out too far. HAHA 

Thanks for taking the time to do this, Tim! All the best!

Thank you! And thanks for the question about video games. About damn time someone asked.

Stay connected with Woccon:


Band: Malefice
Album: Gravitas [EP]
Label: Transcend Music
Release Date: November 3, 2014
Reviewer: Habib Tabaja

 Malefice, a five-member metal band from the UK, proved to be a delightfully surprising find. They’ve been around since 2007 and have since released three full-length albums. I couldn’t really find a genre specification for them for the most part, but their four-track EP Gravitas has elements of metalcore, melodic death metal, and thrash metal that complement each other for a more consistent yet different sound.

The opening track “Forsaken” starts off slow and ominous with some electronic influences and then transforms into some full-on metal, torrential drumming, and heavy riffs. It progresses into a fast-paced track with harsh vocals and brutal breakdowns. I absolutely love the drumming on this track. Next is “Heroes” which begins with a melodic riff and has a clean vocals chorus. There’s a beautiful guitar solo towards the end of it and it’s an absolutely heavy track. The third track, “Escape”, opens with a very rapid pace and is a song perfect for the moshpit. Heavy guitar work, powerful breakdowns, and an aggressive atmosphere define this song. The final track, “My Design”, is the most headbang-inducing of the EP. There is great drumming work on this one as well accompanied by a good mix of brutal vocals and guitars. The melodic riff that can be heard with the clean vocals is also very enjoyable.

Overall, the EP is delectable though I felt it has some repetitive moments that can be noticed over the course of the 4 songs as a whole. However, each song is something that would make you want to see the band perform live and headbang with them. Definitely a band to look out for.


Stay connected with Malefice

Check out this Malefice video from their last album! 

Dubai's Weekend of Metal: Gulf Bike Week 2014 and The Rock Nation Halloween Masquerade [REVIEW]

This year's Halloween weekend was a little more intense than usual in Dubai, with a couple of major metal shows going on. Thursday October 30th was the first day of this year's Gulf Bike Week, and on Halloween night was Rock Nation's Halloween Masquerade show at The Music Room. Some of the UAE's best bands, including death metal mammoths Nervecell were playing that weekend, and we had to cover both. So we did. Habib attended both events, and gave us the rundown on how things went. More after the break.

Gulf Bike Week (Day 1) 

A celebration of motorbikes and music, Gulf Bike Week Dubai at Media City Amphitheatre is a three-day event intended to attract bikers, music fans, and a general audience of all ages. Now, when I saw a picture of a huge stage posted on the event’s Facebook page, I was extremely excited for the show that I would see on Thursday, October 30. However, upon my arrival to the venue, I was surprised that the stage on which the bands will perform was actually a much smaller one, and that the bigger stage was for the bike shows. The music stage was at a rather obscure place, if it wasn’t for the security and staff’s directions towards its location. It was in a spacious, grassy field with a couple of trees, enclosed by a 2-meter fence that obstructed the stage area visually from the rest of the venue. The bands performing that day were Fat Randall (Pop-punk), Tartarus (Black Metal), Benevolent (Extreme progressive metal/djent), and Coat of Arms (Extreme progressive metal/metalcore). Unfortunately, some of Coat of Arms’ members coudn’t make it into the country because of visa issues, so they were replaced last minute by the local Iron Maiden cover band, Maiden Arabia.

Fat Randall were up first. I had heard them performing their sound check when I entered the venue, but I was astonished at the scarce number of spectators around the stage when their performance started. There were no more than 25 people in the stage area (including the bar) at that time. Regardless, the three members of Fat Randall humored with the audience and exchanged friendly banter amongst themselves throughout their performance despite the lack of a sizeable crowd. Although I am not a big fan of their style of music, I think they put on an enjoyable show of 6 original songs off their With Extra Fat EP and interacted with the audience quite well. “Joanna” and “Rebel Rock” marked the band’s presence with fun, fast-paced tunes quite well despite the dwindling number of spectators (which was composed mostly of event staff and some kids hanging around the place). By the end of their performance, there were just about 10 people left as Tartarus got ready for their set.

Being the first Black Metal band I see live, Tartarus did not disappoint in spite of the fact that their audience consisted of only me and a couple of other guys who chose to keep their distance from the stage. As soon as Tartarus finished their sound check, the kids hanging around the stage area ran away, probably scared of their brutal riffs. After all, being probably the only Black Metal band in the UAE meant something was already unique about their performance, which had 5 songs, including a great cover of Emperor’s “I Am the Black Wizards.” The highlight of their set was “Of Grimness and Atrocity”, the title track off their debut EP, Of Grimness and Atrocity. “Cosmic Storms” was also astounding. A riveting and brilliant performance regardless of the low turnout.

Next in line were Benevolent, and the audience grew to around a dozen people when they started playing. The members of the band were very lively in their show, which had six songs, and brought life to the seemingly dead venue. The djenty sounds and the beautiful contrast between growls and clean vocals echoed well with their performance of “Asphyxia” from their debut full-length album The Covenant. When they played “The Collector”, Benevolent transported the stage and its surroundings to a realm of musical wonder. The stage’s beautiful blue lights added a particular flavor to the music. Towards the end of their set, lead guitarist Hadi Sarieddine leapt off the stage and on to the ground where he joined the small audience yet continued playing brilliantly. A stellar performance by a powerful band.

Although they were last-minute replacements for Coat of Arms, Maiden Arabia delivered a great Iron Maiden experience with their set of 9 cover songs. Dressed like Iron Maiden themselves in the 1980’s, they played, for an audience of half a dozen people, classics like “Fear of the Dark” and “Two Minutes to Midnight”. They managed to pull off a great set of songs despite the slight sound issues they had with the lead singer’s microphone. An enjoyable performance no doubt.

Overall, the show was great and the bands put on a great performance although there wasn’t a big crowd to witness it. The people who attended were definitely in for a musical treat.

Rock Nation Halloween Masquerade 

With everyone in their crazy costumes, the RockNation Halloween Masquerade at The Music Room (Majestic Hotel, Dubai) was the place to be on Halloween. The main attractions of the night were performances by UAE Death Metal pioneers Nervecell, rock bands Point of View and Behold the Locus, Oriental Doom Metal band Aramaic, and Nu Metal act Alpha.Kenny.Buddy.  Other bands on the bill were Ascendant and Coat of Arms, both of which were not able to perform that night.

The place was packed by the time Behold the Locus started playing, dressed in construction site jackets. They performed some great original songs, such as “Fly” and “Supergirl”, which were complemented by some covers including “Sex on Fire” by Kings of Leon and “Small Things” by Blink 182. They got the crowd warmed up for the night.

Next up were Point of View, who really got that hard rock vibe going around at the place with their set. They played songs from their album “Revolutionize the Revolutionary” including “Déjà vu” and “Third Eye”, which really ignited the stage in musical madness as the venue became nearly full with party goers and fans.

The headliners of the event, Nervecell, did not fail at making it an unforgettable night with their thunderous performance as the crowd headbanged and moshed wildly in their outfits. Their killer tracks including “Shunq” and “Human Chaos” sent the venue into a musical rampage of pure fucking death metal, accompanied by rapidly flashing lights on the stage. Someone was even knocked out in the mosh pit. This awesome show of theirs was their last in Dubai, for now, before they head to tour in Europe.

Even though it was their first live show, Aramaic delivered a splendid performance with their Oriental Doom/Death sounds distinguished by an ancient Levantine vibe. Songs off their recently-released The Fallen EP like “The Summoning” and “The Pledge”, as well as their new song “The King” plunged the venue into an ambient, Oriental-inspired Doom Metal atmosphere that was complemented with the darkened stage lighting to give off the perfect vibe for their music. An excellent first performance by this band.

Last but not least, Alpha.Kenny.Buddy put out a great set while still dressed in their costumes. The Nu Metal band, who are recording their new album now, played some heavy, fast-paced tracks like “Riot Hand Man” and “Bow Down Now”; a brilliant performance that gave a remarkable early 2000’s atmosphere to end the event.

Overall, it was a party that was not to be missed. Plenty of the UAE’s metal talent converged in this wonderful event and impressed an insane costume-donning crowd.


You can probably imagine how difficult it was to choose a Black Sabbath picture...

From their number one hit singles Paranoid to Iron Man, Black Sabbath is undoubtedly one of the most renowned staples and inspirations of the heavy metal scene. With 19 studio albums since the 1970s, including the critically acclaimed ‘Master of Reality,’ fan and critic dubbed masterpiece ‘Heaven and Hell,’ as well as their their most recent reunion release ’13,’ Black Sabbath have proved their worth as a well-rounded and cherished band through every generation. Most notable to most fans are the albums released between 1970 and 1981, in the Ozzy Osbourne and Ronnie James Dio era- two of the biggest dogs in heavy metal history. It’s also important not to write off the subsequent frontmen who shared the stage with guitar idol Tony Iommi (the only consistent member in Black Sabbath), as they too have contributed to the band’s reputation, standing the test of time. Whilst it’s difficult to fathom unpopularity amongst the tracks of such legendary heavy metal pioneers, some songs definitely remain buried and unnoticed relative to other better-received albums, and we believe these musicians deserve credit where credit is due.

A National Acrobat off Sabbath Bloody Sabbath (1973)

Many old-time fans would argue that ‘Sabbath Bloody Sabbath’ was the last noteworthy release of the ‘Ozzy era’ and was celebrated by many. Whilst A National Acrobat is not underrated as such, we are dumbfounded at its lack of mainstream praise or presence in any “best of” or “greatest hits” compilations and feel like it deserves a short, happy mention. This experimental track presents a smooth yet eclectic groove, written by Geezer Butler himself on the bass guitar. The catchy interludes, abstract lyrics and accompanying riffs show off the soaring potential of the band for years to come.

Junior's Eyes off Never Say Die! (1978)
Junior’s grieving again, and not because of his father but because this song was so quick to be shaken off as part of a poor album in the eyes of hundreds of thousands of fans. Never Say Die! was the final album of the ‘Ozzy era,’ as poor reception and inner turmoil tore the frontman from the band. To some of us, this song was a real feat in the face of Black Sabbath’s adversity. Whilst it was different from the typically raw, heavy vibe that the band usually brings to the table (and somewhat lacklustre in terms of originality) the track is still one worth spinning. Bill Ward slays this song (and the rest of the album) with his pure, unadulterated energy and Geezer Butler brings us a feel-good bass line to accompany the funky, blues atmosphere underlying the music and pained coming-of-age lyrical themes. Whilst ‘Never Say Die!’ may have been a flop to many, it was the gateway to further success for the band as Ronnie James Dio was waved on board as a successor to Ozzy Osbourne.

The Sabbath Stones off Tyr (1990)
‘Tyr’ is credited to be the second greatest album of the ‘Tony Martin era,’ succeeding Headless Cross.’ Tyr brings Black Sabbath to a fresh, new place, with themes of Norse mythology and fantasy to add to the typical occult thematic. ‘The Sabbath Stones,’ right off the bat, packs a heavy punch akin to Thor striking his impossibly hefty hammer. Tony Martin sets in with a dark, macabre tone to his voice followed by menacing riffs that Iommi injects between lyrics. The atmosphere behind the powerful Anno Mundi is incorporated in ‘The Sabbath Stones,’ utilizing slow riffs and slothful drum beats. This song takes listeners back to Black Sabbath’s (now dubbed) traditional doom metal sound, interrupted by fantastic acoustic interludes and bridges, maintaining a balance that’s easy on the ears as well as a sense of familiarity.

Devil and Daughter off Headless Cross (1990)
Another ‘Tony Martin era’ accomplishment that deserves more praise than it receives; ‘Headless Cross’ is the first album to feature Cozy Powell (well known for his contributions to The Jeff Beck Group, Whitesnake and Rainbow). Cozy’s drums bring ‘Devil and Daugher’ that steady paced, classic heavy metal vibe, tying together Martin’s potent vocals and Iommi’s slick sound. This is a feel good track, certainly reminiscent of Children of the Grave in its riffs and atmosphere. It’s more of an accessible tune, pertaining to more mainstream listeners (which certainly is not a bad thing). Iommi shreds one of the most powerful solos of the entire album, a definite highlight of the song, with Martin reaching voice pitches in falsetto rivalling some of the remarkably sharp guitar notes. If you enjoy NWOBHM music, then ‘Devil and Daughter’ will definitely hit your sweet spot.

Computer God off Dehumanizer (1992)
‘Computer God’ is an incredible track, and the first of the ‘Dio era’ to make it onto this list. Ronnie James Dio graced Black Sabbath and the heavy metal scene with his immeasurable vocal talents, so much so that he will now forever be known and respected as the greatest heavy metal vocalist of all time. Dehumanizer was thus, of course, a wildly successful album in itself. Dio’s voice and Iommi’s guitar and song writing mastery were a match made in heaven. Honestly, it is amazing to us that this track isn’t more valued. The aggressive, distorted near-growl tone of Dio’s monstrous voice, delivered in epic staccato drive this song over the prodigious rhythm guitar. It could easily be considered one of Dio’s angriest performances. Despite all the angst and menace, ‘Computer God’ doesn’t fall short of incorporating some soft, acoustic bridging, culminating with a classic fast-paced, all-out solo delivery from Iommi, staying very true to his signature 80’s flair. 

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