Iommi – Fused (2005)
“Fused” is a collaboration between Black Sabbath guitarist Tony Iommi and former Deep Purple vocalist Glenn Hughes that, although released in 2005, I only bought last year, tempted by some very positive reviews on Amazon. Those reviewers didn’t steer me wrong, as I liked it straight away, right from the very first time I played the album and it reminded me a little of Soundgarden or Audioslave in places, with lots of heavy but melodic tracks and some spectacular performances on both guitar and vocals. The bass and drums don’t exactly drag the album down, either. There is a rather pleasing dramatic, classy feel to this work and, although it isn’t quite one of the greatest albums ever made, it is difficult to imagine that any Black Sabbath or general metal fan wouldn’t enjoy it. It’s brilliantly produced by bass and keyboard player Bob Marlette and the well-travelled Kenny Aronoff on drums completes the band.
The opening salvo, “Dopamine” is nothing special, but the album really gets started when “Wasted Again” kicks in with a storming riff, astonishingly powerful vocals and an excellent solo. “Resolution Song” is my next pick from “Fused”, a slow, dark, mighty piece with a churning riff that would underpin a Metallica classic. Taken in isolation, “Grace” would also be a very good song, but it sounds very similar to “Resolution Song” and better sequencing would have served that track a little better. “What You’re Living For” is also an excellent song, especially for Iommi’s guitar. My penultimate pick is “The Spell”, a more seventies sounding composition which harks back to Black Sabbath days, but “I Go Insane”, the last track on the album, is arguably the best song on offer here. It’s a nine minute epic piece that shows off the very finest facets of Iommi and Hughes’ talents. Starting gently, with some beautiful guitar-work, it delves into prog-rock territory with changes of pace and a (keyboard) string section embellishing the most dramatic sections.
I can’t say that this is one of my favourite albums, but it’s one that I enjoy a lot every time I listen to it. There are no bad tracks on “Fused”, merely a few average ones amongst some really excellent ones, and the worst thing about it is that some of the tracks sound a little “samey”, but that’s hardly a terrible crime. The musicianship on display here is fantastic, especially Iommi and Hughes, and this album stands alongside some of their best work quite comfortably. If you are a fan of Black Sabbath or Iommi, this album is a definite purchase, but I’d also recommend it to fans of the incredible Chris Cornell, because it appears that he owes a lot to Glenn Hughes’ style of vocals and there are some tracks that just make you near-gasp in awe of his talent. If you’re not a fan of heavy rock or metal then “Fused” won’t be for you, but if you are, well, this is a real treat and you really should check it out.