Geezer Butler is a true rock musician. Not only is he comfortable being in the most influential heavy metal band ever but also, the Black Sabbath bassist has a trilogy of solo albums, which includes 1995′s angry Plastic Planet and 1997′s not-quite-up-to-scratch Black Science, that manifests his love of heavy music. His brief flirtations with Ozzy Osbourne‘s solo work in the ’80s and ’90s was also notable.
Ohmwork is only his third album in the past decade, largely due to his reunification with Sabbath for the 1997 Ozzfest tour and its subsequent tours; thus it is a little over due. Yet his latest solo effort is of such a high quality that the waiting time is only a minimal hindrance.
It is (and always will be) debatable as to who is the most important member of the original Black Sabbath. Is it Tony Iommi for his instantly recognisable monolithic riffs? Or perhaps Ozzy Osbourne for his playful stage presence and attitude? Or maybe it is drummer Bill Ward for his thunderous force behind the drum kit? But then there is always Geezer Butler whose heavy bass lines were akin to the likes of Cream‘s Jack Bruce for their heavy-handed rhythmic pulses.
Tony Iommi may have kept the band alive all these years but it was Butler who in 1969 had the idea of calling the band Black Sabbath and it was Butler who wrote a majority of Sabbath’s most popular songs in the 70s. Sabbath’s first six albums from their 1970 self-titled classic debut display Butler’s brutal but also delicate bass riffs.
Accompanying Butler aboard the nightmare GZR train is currently guitarist Pedro House, vocalist Clark Brown and drummer Chad Smith (not of the Red Hot Chilli Peppers) and there is a definite chemistry between them. Ohmwork is not an old school record steeped in the 70s; quite the contrary, it is a contemporary metal album that for the most part is very, very heavy.
Just as with Sabbath’s classic War Pigs track, Butler uses his song writing skills to continue his fascination with war songs. Dogs Of Whore is about George Bush, Dick Cheney and Osama Bin Laden. Occasionally, Brown’s screams grow tedious and are overdone but House throws some nifty riffs our way with Aural Sects, and Prisoner 103 is a delightfully nasty song.
I Believe has a Sabbath-esque ambience with its brooding pace and Butler’s moody bass. Pseudocide is a bit too ‘in your face’ but it has energy and speed while Misfit is a well-paced opus.
The album was recorded in a hasty ten days in the vein of the rushed recording days of Sabbath’s earlier albums. Simply put, Ohmwork is a monstrous and exciting racket that outlines Butler’s expertise in the genre.