Iommi Fused

First starring as the front-man on Black Sabbath’s 1986 ho-hum Seventh Star, Deep Purple vocalist/bassist Glenn Hughes later collaborated with Sabbath six-stringer Tony Iommi in 1996 for an album’s worth of tracks. Immediately shelved due to support gigs for Sabbath’s reunion, the album surfaced just last year as The DEP Sessions. Iommi and Hughes returned to the studio to give it another go, with the former rehashing old Sabbath thunder while trying to stay current, and the latter aping every big-name rock singer from the late ’90s. Opener "Dopamine” contains all the elements to make an instant radio single but ends up relying too heavily on hard rockers Staind and Taproot for props. Hughes attempts Chris Cornell-like vocal heights in "Savior of the Real” and especially "Wasted Again,” but his cracking voice weakens the overall structures. "Resolution Song” finally recalls some Sabbathian doom à la 1992’s Dehumanizer, and "Grace” lifts riffs from old Alice in Chains. The ballad "Deep inside a Shell” sounds too derivative of Godsmack, yet "What You’re Living For” and "Face Your Fear” sport shredding riffage before decelerating into a myopic haze of retro-rockisms. "The Spell” resembles a doomier Dream Theater, while the nine-minute closer "I Go Insane” is better suited for prog-/power-metal’s conceptual enthusiasts. Iommi definitely still has the chops but is devolving into a parody of the genre he practically created with early Black Sabbath. Fans might even fancy another guest singer carousel like Iommi’s 2000 self-titled album with Henry Rollins, Phil Anselmo, Dave Grohl, et al, instead of Hughes’ restricted vocal style. Part smoking gun, part metal laughingstock, Fused is no more than another selection of the month for the balding-cum-ponytail crowd. (Sanctuary)