It's 'Who's Fooling Who', however, that will provoke the fondest sigh...

It sounds like the kind of hideous 'project' that makes a fine case for the Logan's Run euthanasia scheme: Black Sabbath's fork-tongued guitarist hooking up with his spawn in a blatant credibility exchange. In fact, Tony Iommi comes out of this murky record remarkably well, providing interest to the Buffy... generation as supplier of gloomy atmospherics rather than potential stake victim.

God knows, there's no reason to mock his shades, when there's all the fun of Ian Astbury singing, "Yeah, I was born of a scorpion's mind" on 'Flame On' or Billy Idol, bathetic as leather trousers on the washing line, threatening "undead souls who walk the night".

It's not just the old guys who let themselves down. Dave Grohl manages to be perky and nice even when collaborating with one of Satan's minions, and an over-excited, precocious Billy Corgan makes 'Black Oblivion' last longer than Sabbath's combined ages.

There are, however, moments that should send the sports metal contingent back to their beds like the big girls they are. Henry Rollins' greasepaint-camp 'Laughing Man (In The Devil Mask)' might cry out for a pantomime horse, but it matches hilarity with fabulous fanged guitar, while System Of A Down's Serj Tankian brings the cement-mixer to the abrasive 'Patterns'.

It's 'Who's Fooling Who', however, that will provoke the fondest sigh: church bells, guitars grinding on their axes, and Ozzy, bless his cotton brain, singing like an exhumation. It's not a generation gap, it's a gaping abyss of hell. Hey, cool.

Victoria Segal

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