Tony Iommi, Iommi (Divine / Priority): This blistering recording takes me back to the time when four working-class Brits saved rock 'n' roll from the excesses of 1960s hippiedom. No, not the Sex Pistols — Black Sabbath, from Birmingham, England, the UK equivalent of Detroit Rock City. Unlike the remaining Pistols, however, who made fools of themselves under the excuse of some woeful "punk" aesthetic a few years back, the Sabs have never tarnished their myth, coming back with all guns blazing on 1998's live Reunion album. Here, on his solo bow, Sabbath guitarist Iommi continues to keep the standards high, offering his much-imitated signature sculptured, heavy gothic riffing and slow/fast time changes on a variety of tunes that feature guest vocalists from hard rock's 30 or so years. A mightily rocking "Laughing Man (in the Devil Mask)," with the recently rejuvenated Henry Rollins on vocals, is among the highlights, topped only by the truly awesome "Time Is Mine," on which Pantera's lead mouth Phil Anselmo delivers the most gut-bustingly brutal and passionate performance of the entire CD. Other winners here: "Goodbye Lament," in which Iommi proves the durability of the Sabbath sound by cushioning it in some trip-hop(!) rhythms, over which former Nirvana skinbeater/current Foo Fighter singer Dave Grohl emotes; "Just Say No to Love," a Sabbath-y number wherein Peter Steele of Type O Negative humorously laments a love who "left me for Tony Iommi"; and, surprise, surprise, "Into the Night," on which Iommi, perhaps appropriately given his band's legend, "resurrects" the long-lost Billy Idol for a classic Sabbath-styled dirge. To top it all off, 3/4 of the mighty Sabs (with only bassist Geezer Butler a no-show) reunite on "Who's Fooling Who," which, with Ozzy Osbourne sounding relaxed and more like his old self, is far better than the two clumsy new studio tracks on the Reunion album, and bodes well for the band's upcoming effort with Rick Rubin at the helm. Someone once said that "there's a little heavy metal in all of us" (hell, I think it was me!) — Iommi is further proof of that axiom. — Johnny Walker (Black)

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