Tony Martin – Thorns: Album Review

Tony Martin breaks his 15 year plus solo hiatus to deliver his next solo album. Thorns follows up Scream which was released in 2005.

Released: 14/1/2022

Label: Dark Star Records / Battlegod Productions

Format: CD / Digital

Tony Martin is most well known for his work during two stints in Black Sabbath. He is second only to Ozzy Osbourne in terms of longest serving vocalist with the heavy metal pioneers. From there, Martin has been involved with a wide array of projects and has notched up two solo records.

Thorns sees Tony Martin delivering high quality heavy metal with his trademark vocal style soaring throughout. As a multi-instrumentalist, Martin has written and plays a lot on the new album which he has been co-written with Dark Star label mate Scott McClellan. Thorns has turns from session musicians Danny Needham and Greg Smith. Needham and Smith have played and toured with a whole host of bands and musicians over the years including Alice Cooper and Venom to name but two. Magnus Rosén of Hammerfall fame completes the line up of musicians involved in Thorns and the collective bring a maelstrom of fire.

As The World Burns opens the album and lays out a modern sounding style of heavy metal. Fast and furious riffs groove along as Tony Martin adds his stamp. Not for the first time on Thorns, the lyrics take a swipe at the modern world and all its ills. Black Widow Angel harks back to the days of Sabbath with towering doomlike guitars. Again, the sound is fresh and modern with emphasis placed on the bass.

Emotion is one of many things that Tony Martin delivers in spades. Book Of Shadows helps show the vast vocal range that this legendary singer possesses. ‘Every page you turn, every word you read, is like a knife,’ sings Martin in macabre fashion. Ethereal choral lines deck the song in true haunting fashion to create something magical. A keyboard solo in the song also adds a little something different to the mix to clash with the guitars.

Keeping things mixed up is something that Thorns does well. The aforementioned use of the bass on Black Widow Angel and synth led Book Of Shadows add variety. This Is Your Damnation offers a near acoustic U-turn with lyrics again taking a modern slant. The country twinge to the song is something that comes out of the blue on the record; it also offers a diverse vocal performance with spoken word verses and potentially the best vocal chorus on the album. Damned By You carries an Eastern tinge in the opening melody before morphing into a power rock behemoth.

Passion Killer is a sinister beast. Guitars chug and chime along with Martin sounding menacing in his vocal delivery and phrasing. Run Like The Devil is the most ‘Dio’ sounding moment on Thorns. It’s hard not to make the comparison in the way that Tony Martin sings and the subject matter! Guitar solos fly in the short, sharp track; it is one of many highlights of a solid album.

Tony Martin is a seasoned pro and a legend in the world of heavy metal singing. Thorns is a welcome return from a man that has carved his own unique niche. If you are a fan of classic sounding heavy metal with impassioned vocals then Thorns will hit the spot. Don’t leave it another fifteen years, Tony!

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