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The new Tony Iommi solo album, 'Fused', is truly a partnership with another legendary musician: Glenn Hughes. They worked together before in Black Sabbath, on the album that was originally planned to be Iommi's first solo outing: 'Seventh Star' (1986). In 1996 they recorded what became, semi-officially, Iommi's second solo album, the 'DEP Sessions', which had long enjoyed popularity in another version as a bootleg until officialy release only a few years ago.

While the first (official, eponymous) Iommi solo album featured many vocalists, on 'Fused' we find primarily the vocal talents of Glenn, as well as his bass playing throughout. (He fulfilled these duties in his days in Deep Purple.) Glenn varies his technique for songs like 'Dopamine' and 'Ghost Inside a Shell', but lets everything completely tear out on the bonus track. I'm privileged to own my Japanese edition for 'Let It Down Easy', which for some reason is unlisted on the import. It has a gritty, guitar-drenched chorus and aggressive, emotive vocals. It is powerfully anthemic. If you're a really serious fan of either Hughes or Iommi, you should certainly shell out the $30US for the Japanese edition. That extra song is more than worth it, in my opinion.

The album has a decidedly more straight-ahead, hard rock flavor than a Sabbath album, although the dark presence of Iommi's guitar is unmistakable. This was true on the classic-rock flavored 'Seventh Star' as well, and on the somewhat bluesier 'DEP Sessions'; Iommi is one of the great guitarists whose playing bears a true signature.

This is true for Hughes' vocals as well, and he is at the top of his form. 'Fused' could not have been so strong an album with any other co-conspirator.

The Alienist

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by The Alienist

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