"An intensely creative chapter of Sabbath history": Tony Martin-era Black Sabbath rise again on Anno Domini 1989-1995

Black Sabbath’s lost Tony Martin-era albums, resurrected

Black Sabbath: Anno Domini 1989-1995 cover art
(Image: © BMG)

You can trust Louder Our experienced team has worked for some of the biggest brands in music. From testing headphones to reviewing albums, our experts aim to create reviews you can trust. Find out more about how we review.

Black Sabbath: The unlikely resurrection

Classic Rock 328 - Front cover featuring Black Sabbath

(Image credit: Future)

The untold story of Black Sabbath's Tony Martin era: Only in the new issue of Classic Rock. Also Jon Bon Jovi, Triumph, Bryan Adams, Praying Mantis, FM, New England, Al Jourgensen, Masters Of Reality, Chris Spedding, Cock Sparrer, Bad Nerves and more. Get yours now.

In contrast to later victory-lap reunions with Ozzy Osbourne and Ronnie James Dio, the four long-deleted, vibrantly remastered albums resurrected in Anno Domini chart an underappreciated chapter in Black Sabbath’s story, much of which found lone original member Tony Iommi keeping the band name alive, having initially been pressured to do so by label and management for his Seventh Star (1986) solo album. 

The notion of an Iommi-only Sabbath proved controversial among fans, but with gifted new vocalist Tony Martin (retained from 1987’s chaotic Eternal Idol period), long-serving keyboard player Geoff Nicholls and new member Cozy Powell (drums), Iommi defied the odds with Headless Cross (1989), a formidable comeback. The guitarist delivers an abundance of vicious riffs (When Death Calls, Nightwing), framed with Martin’s melodic roar, and with a characteristically bombastic performance from Powell.

Tyr (1990), featuring Powell’s former Whitesnake bandmate Neil Murray on bass, proved it wasn’t a fluke. Iommi and Martin’s potent songwriting partnership frequently ignites (Anno Mundi, Jerusalem), and the material is driven home by the rhythm section’s attack. Cross Purposes (1994), recorded by Iommi, fellow founder Geezer Butler, Martin and Powell’s Rainbow replacement Bobby Rondinelli, holds up well, boasting several fiery sleeper gems (Immaculate Deception, I Witness), but was overshadowed on release by the ill-fated Dio reunion of 1991-92.

Finally, Iommi’s thunderous remix of the Tyr lineup’s 1995 reunion album Forbidden (originally neutered by a thin production) allows the quality of its songs (Guilty As Hell, Forbidden) to shine. Anno Domini 1989-1995 highlights an intensely creative chapter of Sabbath history that’s ripe for re-evaluation.

Rich Davenport

Rich Davenport is a music journalist, stand-up comedian and musician, and has been a regular contributor to Classic Rock since 2016