Sjak : Emerald Sabbath is an initiative of an Irish nuclear construction safety inspector named Michael Suilleabhaim, who brought ten ex-Black Sabbath members together with the English Chamber Choir and a string quartet to record a tribute album in honor of the founding fathers of heavy metal. That has finally resulted in this Ninth Star album and it has to be said that the initiative deserves quite some respect, but in all honesty I also have to state that the performance is not really top-notch. Luckily this tribute album does not only contain the Black Sabbath hits, but also somewhat more obscure material which is not covered too often and because of this the album is quite interesting from that perspective. And you will have to admit that names like Neil Murray, Bev Bevan, Bobby Rondinelli, Ron Keel, Vinnie Appice, Laurence Cottle, Rudy Sarzo, Tony Martin, Adam Wakeman and Terry Chimes definitely are not the least of musicians to work with.
That is why the end result is still quite disappointing, because I cannot really say that I would recommend this album to heavy metal fans in general and certainly not to Black Sabbath followers in particular. The instrumental tracks that Michael has chosen to perform, being Stonehenge, Fluff, Orchid and Embryo sound quite good because of the addition of the strings, but the performances of monumental songs like Die Young, Trashed and Hole In The Sky are just very mediocre. That is especially caused by the vocals of Ron Keel, because he absolutely does not live up to what Ronnie James Dio, Ian Gillan and Ozzy Osbourne have done in the past. I am quite a fan of the Keel albums from the eighties, but this type of job Ron should have left to other people, although also then I sincerely doubt if the quality level of the original versions would be reached. On the other hand She is Gone (with Dave Walker on vocals) and In For The Kill (with world-class singer Tony Martin) sound pretty strong and as such you see what difference a singer can make on a song. The absolute low point of the album is the by Michael Suilleabhaim himself sung Changes, because from a vocal perspective that goes in every direction except the right one! All in all I must conclude that this Ninth Star, all good intentions aside, will certainly not be remembered as one of the most appealing Black Sabbath tribute albums ever.
2. Die Young
6. She is Gone
7. In For The Kill
9. Hole In The Sky