Happy 25th Headless Cross!

I don’t have time to write one of the giant 5,000 word essays at this time, but I didn’t want to let this anniversary pass.  Today is the 25th anniversary of the Headless Cross album, originally released back in 1989.  While technically the second Tony Martin era album, it felt like the “first” to me, because it was such a radical change from what was being done before.

Headless CrossGiven where the band was before this album, it was a big deal.  Was the first album with Cozy Powell, and the second with Tony Martin.   Lots of good stuff on here.   While most people will point to the title track (and it is good), I’m rather partial to Nightwing.  The B-Side and lesser known track “Cloak & Dagger” is a favorite of mine, too.

A bit of trivia.  The song “Call of the Wild” was originally called Hero.  The band changed the name, because Ozzy’s most recent solo album (less than a year old at this point) also contained a song named Hero, and it was decided to change the name for that reason.

I’ve always loved this album.  25 years later, it’s bloody hard to find at a decent price, as it has been out of print (along with all the other Tony Martin IRS Sabbath albums) for awhile now.  I wrote about that subject not too long ago.  Go read that article – contains the sum of my knowledge about a reissue of Headless Cross.   For additional info about the Headless Cross album, visit my discography page for it.

So Happy Birthday to this album, one that does NOT feel like it is 25 years old.


  1. Joe Croce says

    That’s funny because Hero on NRFTW was an untitled track as you know.

  2. MacGregor says

    Yes it doesn’t ‘feel’ like 25 years ago, sheeesh, time flies by! I was pumped for this albums release back in ’89 when reading about Cozy Powell joining & also liking The Eternal Idol album & Tony Martin on vocals. Headless Cross is a leviathan of an album, monstrous & very dark, which defines it as classic Sabbath in my book! I will have to have a listen to the track ‘Cloak & Dagger’ as I have yet to hear it! Another ‘new’ track off this album interests me greatly & the original Headless Cross video is awesome!
    It has great production this shortened version of that wonderful song! Brilliant! What an album indeed! Old Lucifer gets plenty of mention on this album, so much so a few Sabbath fans I know, more from the Ozzy era, found it a bit confronting. Their problem, as it doesn’t worry me in the slightest!

  3. Ben Gonzales says

    Hey all,

    Like Joe, I don’t feel like it’s been 25 years since HC was released. I remember feeling like, OK, Tony Martin stayed and now they got Cozy. I remember the Kerrang feature on them and Cozy had said the he and Tony (Iommi) had planned to work together for a long time and that Cozy was not just a hired gun. It became true to an extent and I was glad. I was more glad with HC. I had the Kerrang issue opened when I heard the CD and I thought “Ok, now we get back some freakin respect.” I had felt that Tony Iommi had finally made the album he wanted to make. So powerful. Favorite tracks of mine include Devil and Daughter, Nightwing & Black Moon, however, my absolute favorite has always been, When Death Calls, a total masterpiece (Brian may on the solo is pretty cool too). I have all the Sabbath on my ipod and I never, ever, skip a Headless Cross track.

  4. Headless Cross is a great album. Alot of fans look down on this album but i liked it because it went back to that old dark sabbath sound. Tony and Cozy( they produced it) were very proud of this album when it was released. There’s one song off the album i don’t like but i like the rest of them. i still have the old cassette some where in my home. The album did well in europe but because of poor promoting, it sold terrible in the states. There were no ads in any magazines and people didn’t know it was out.

  5. Strange to hear Cloak & Dagger, a B side or unreleased song, after 25 years of listening to the original album. I can see why it was left off the album or used as a b side, it doesn’t fit in with the other tracks, meaning it doesn’t have the intensity, the darkness! Still, it was interesting to hear it though! A few of us hardcore Sabbath fans, bought Headless Cross on disc when it was released in 1989. Is it really that rare these days? If so that is a travesty indeed!

  6. Fishtowner says

    This was one of my favorite albums at the time. I still like it after all these years.

  7. My favourite Tony Martin era album. And ‘Black Moon’ is my favourite song from those times!

  8. Matt Dennett says

    I was 17 when i rushed out to buy this on its release date.i still have the vinyl copy i bought that days and it still plays perfectly! I still think this is a great lp. Quality songs,quality production,excellent vocals. This was my first hearing of tony martin also,i hadn’t heard eternal idol at this point,i loved the likeness to the great RJD and at the time though i think that similarity lessened later on. I loved the artwork too,that sparse black and white cover with minimal info suited it well,allowed the music to do the talking which is what was needed. Then it came to the tour – saw them at Bradford st Georges hall uk,i remember it was very loud! Tony iommi flashed us the devil horns before starting the fast riff in “black Sabbath” whilst beaming from ear to ear. I remember Neil Murray looking slightly out of place with his blonde poodle hair and bright red bass guitar. The best part was when tony iommi bent down and put a plectrum in my hand. Wow,super memories indeed. Excellent album,excellent concert,deserves re issue with extras, plus cloak and dagger is a superb song,that should have been on the album from day one!!

  9. I agree that this is one of the most criminally under rated albums by the Sabbath.Too many don’t realize that Cozy Powell was one of the best drummers in the world.It is too too sad that he was taken from us too early.I enjoy the vocal range of Mr. Tony Martin every time.Tony’s guitar work was on top as always.Geoff Nichols doing a great job on the keyboards as always.Jazz player and sessionist Laurence Cottle did great on the bass(though Geezer will always be Sabbath’s best bassist).

    It was better than the Eternal Idol album.I like Cozy Powell better than Eric Singer.I like Tony martin better than Ray Gillen(taken from us too soon,sadly).I think the Headless Cross was a return to form of Sabbath since Mob Rules(w/Ronnie).They got strange starting at- Born Again(w/Ian Gillan).I listen to this one alot.I love the Tony Martin era of Sabbath.

    Happy 25th to the-“Headless Cross”.It is time to listen to it and realize the awesomeness of it.Remember Cozy Powell.He passed away in the late 90’s.He will truly be missed by the fans.

  10. overmatik says

    This is a really great album and Tony Martin did a really good job with the vocals and lyrics. And of course, Cozy Powell drumming on any album is always stellar.

  11. Nightwing a favorite of mine, and the title track, love the video. Also have Cloak and Dagger on cd as a single ,with two variations of Headless Cross. First track I heard was Devil and Daughter was on a radio station back then, which was Chez 106 in Canada I do believe.That was enough to send to HMV and buy the album. Happy 25th anniversary Headless Cross. Black Sabbath 4ever

  12. Headless Cross is a great CD. But candidly, is there really a bad Black Sabbath CD? Maybe not the best Tony Martin fronted Sabbath (I would have to say that the best Martin fronted Sabbath is Cross Purposes), but a very powerful album and worth hunting down on Amazon or eBay if you are unfamiliar with it. Title track and When Death Calls are my favorites, but all songs are memorable.

  13. i liked this album i liked all the tony martin era stuff…

  14. Metalisart says

    Every Sabbath-lineup has made great albums.

    Brian May’s WDC solo is hauntingly awesome.

  15. I’m sorry but this album sounds exactly like its 25 years old. I’m 36 years old and as a sabbath fan enjoy this album but I just don’t get it when gray hairs say things like “this album sounds totally modern”. No it doesn’t. It sounds like an 80s metal album. Stuff like Lamb of God or Whitechapel sound like modern metal. Hell the stuff that Christopher Lee does at 92 years old sounds more modern than this.

  16. Love this album, one of my favourite Sabbath albums total Classic in my book along with TYR, just need the Deluxe Editions of the TM Albums now

  17. Awesome album….!!!

    I really like Cottle’s playing bass on that…. mainly on Cloak and dagger…

    Long live Black Sabbath…!!!

  18. Happy New Year for all Sabbath fans, Joe( forgive me for something…) and all Sabbath members and former members….

    God bless us all…!!!

    Robert from Brazil!!!

  19. This is an awesome album. Title track is a masterpiece. Tony Martin’s vocals are incredible, and of course Tony Iommi offers another collection of unforgettable riffs and solos. I just bought an original 1989 CD on eBay. A bit pricey but worth it to get a true gem.

  20. My favorite album of all time.I remember purchased on cassette in a cold late winter 25 years
    algo.And how I been haunted since the first time. Completely sinister,songs were transporting
    me to a world of darkness, black moons that ascended to the top of the sky and where I cried for these devil’s daughter stealen my soul.
    Because death was called, while Brian May play one of the best solos of ever, and the nightwings flies again my friend and Iommi’s guitar bewitch your heart, and you only pray to stay in this place of headless cross forever.

  21. My favorite album of all times. I remember purchased on cassette in a cold evening Winter,
    25 years ago. And how I been haunted since the firts time.
    Completely sinister, this album transporting me to a world full of darkness, black moons rising
    and where I cried for my soul stolen for a devil’s daugther.
    Because the death calls, while Brian May play one of the best solos of ever. The nightwing flies again my friend, ready to kill in the spirit world. Iommi’s guitar is the call of the wild,
    bewitching your heart, and where I will pray to stay in this place of the Headless cross forever.

  22. It is great news if you check out a great rock site, perhaps one of the best on the net as it updates on a regular basis entitled Hennemusic in which Tony Iommi discusses after the recent January remasters to coincide with their final tour? What excellent news to read as from my personal perspective a number of Tony The Cat Martin Sabbath fronted albums weren’t all that bad, i guess a lot of fans dismissed them as “not worthy” in comparison to the original Black Sabbath lineup, even with the Dio era i would imagine it was a house divided.
    Just around the corner are The Headless Cross & Tyr then that will be followed by Cross Purposes & Forbidden, you can check out all of the news as suggested @ Hennemusic

  23. Definitely a great album. Like others have said, it’s dark yet melodic and Tony Martin is brilliant. I’m very excited about the potential re-release of this and the other Tony Martin albums! I definitely think that there is a market for this type of music these days too, especially in Europe where melodic metal is very popular. Unlike a lot of people here, I rather shamefully neglected this era of Black Sabbath and for a long time really only thought that the Ozzy material was worthwhile. How wrong I was – better late than never!

  24. Leigh Burne says

    I really hope, now that the farewell tour is all wrapped up, we finally see some movement on a remastered edition of this. I’m not honestly a massive Sabbath fan, but Headless Cross is one of my all-time favourite albums. Would love to see it get a decent remaster with some nice extras.

  25. Hopefully Mr.Iommi will do the Martin era some consideration.Is Tony doing anything these days,we remain waiting for the sound of his wonderful guitar work. Black Sabbath 4ever

  26. Hey just wondering if Tony is working on anything yet.To revisit the Tony Martin era would be wonderful in a reunion would be wonderful.Nightwing was always a favourite.Black Sabbath 4ever.

  27. Best album with the words ‘Black Sabbath’ on it.
    There, I said it.

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