EMERALD SABBATH – Ninth Star (A Tribute to Black Sabbath)
Emerald Sabbath is an interesting ensemble consisting of the talented Michael Suilleabhain Bundade and a long line of former members of Black Sabbath including Neil Murray, Bev Bevan, Bobby Rondinelli, Ron Keel, Vinny Appice, Laurence Cottle, Adam Wakeman, and Terry Chimes. "Ninth Star" contains eleven renditions of various Sabbath classics such as "Die Young", "Trashed", "Hole in the Sky", and "Changes", but the real gems of this interesting piece of work are the versions of lesser known (albeit brilliant) tunes such as "In for the Kill" (featuring the fabulous Tony Martin) and "Stonehenge".
The layered and textured interpretations of "Stonehenge", "Fluff", and "Orchid" are worthy of praise and add something new to the originals in a sense, but the hauntingly beautiful "She’s Gone" is without doubt the highlight and climax of the entire disc. Those choirs and female vocals are to die for! The aforementioned "In For the Kill" also slays. "Trashed" is a lot of fun and "Hole in the Sky" sounds fabulous. The symphonic and orchestrated approach to most of the material featured on the album works well in most cases, but "Changes" never really seems to attain the desired effect and "Supertzar" fails to capture the imagination. Certain cuts are simply more memorable and captivating than others.
In terms of production values, the sound of the record does have a tendency to appear slightly compressed, muffled, and somewhat claustrophobic in a sense, which can be a tad frustrating at times as "Ninth Star" could have been more powerful and bombastic than it is, but I suppose one cannot have it all. Still, a more dynamic sound would have done wonders for it. Nevertheless, this is a cohesive, coherent, and at times compelling output where many of the arrangements and ideas are quite clever and cool. It goes without saying that all fans of the mighty Black Sabbath ought to check this one out as it is rather rich on atmosphere and way more original than most other tributes to the riff lords out there. Good stuff!