Album Review: Tony Martin – Thorns

Gene Vogel
Co-Host – Disciples of the Watch

Nearly 7 years ago, I started a podcast with a good friend of mine. I had been mulling it over for quite awhile after becoming a fan of podcasts, but there were little-to-no good ‘METAL’ podcasts out there. Well, that, and I wanted to add my voice to the podcasting cadre of voices out there promoting the music that I love. It was one of the best decisions of my life. (Even though the market is now flooded with podcasts.)

Ever since, my passion for music has been yet again rekindled; The first time after dusting off my guitar and getting back into performing live, which eventually led to writing again. This ‘second rekindling’ has led me to rediscover SO MANY bands that I’d not had “time for” or ‘didn’t pay enough attention’ to. It’s quite a list, so I won’t bore you with the details.

One of these bands, well, at least the time period of said band – was mid-80’s era Black Sabbath, followed by mid-to-late 90’s Sabbath. The vocalist of this era of one of the greatest bands of all time, was a Mr. Tony Martin.

I eventually became ‘learned’ on the Tony Martin-led Black Sabbath (thanks Cobras & Fire), even becoming a fan of the era that I skipped over.

Mr. Martin has his share of fans, and he’s been keeping busy over the years. In 1992 he released a solo record, followed by a return to Black Sabbath after another falling out with Ronnie James Dio. Another solo record and collaborations/guest appearances followed, until 2013. Tony, as a solo artist, has been absent from the ‘coming soon’ record releases since 2005.

This month, that changes.

Mr. Martin is back, and with an album that looks to be a contender for ‘best albums of 2022’ lists a short 11 months or so from now.

Thorns, releasing on January 14, 2022 is 11 songs that, for fans of Hard Rock & Metal, should get you questioning people like Gene Simmons who claim that “Rock is dead” – if you weren’t already. (It also means that you weren’t paying attention to the slew of new bands putting out quality material. But I digress…)
Kicking things off is the Groovy, even Thrashy ‘As The World Burns’ that has a kick ass breakdown. Where did this come from?! Have I been missing such great tunes by not listening to Tony’s post-Black Sabbath works?! Ok, one song in and I’m interested, but we know that sometimes when you dig, you find there are no more gems to be found.

What follows is a continuation of great tunes, awesome musical moments, and lyrical cohesiveness that many bands seem to overlook. Miss Tony in Black Sabbath? Check out ‘Book of Shadows’ – it’s the closest you’ll get to having Tony back working with Mr. Iommi – at least for now. But this isn’t a Sabbathy-clone song, just the closest thing you’ll get to it.

Tony has surrounded himself with not just competent musicians – he found some very talented individuals. One of these people was Scott McClellan, a multi-instrumentalist from the band ‘Breed of Aggression’, who co-wrote the album with Martin. McClellan said in a recent interview with that he ‘sent Tony roughly 100-150 songs to choose from and was told not to sound anything like Mr. Iommi.’

Tony wasn’t looking to sound like his past – he’s looking forward to his future.

Thorns also features Venom drummer Danny Needham, bassist Magnus Rosen from HammerFall. Another contributor is Greg Smith who performed with the likes of Alice Cooper, Rainbow, Blue Öyster Cult – just to name a few.

And before I forget to mention it, I do need to comment on Tony’s vocal abilities. Tony sounds as great as he always has. While many of his peers have lost a step or two due to age, luck or neglect, Tony – like Rob Halford – is a bright spot in the ‘aging rockers’ category.

Final Thoughts
It’s been a while since I’ve sat down to write on anything musically for a while – I mean, that’s what I have a podcast for. However, upon hearing Thorns, I was inspired to put thoughts to (digital) paper to sing its praises. I clicked on the link to hear the songs for review, expecting to simply breeze through the tracks in a ‘click to start, click to find the chorus, click to find the lead’-type fashion – as I am want to do – but immediately I was drawn into the album and dutifully sat through the whole release; tethered to my laptop, taking in every song.

If you’re looking for the ‘must-hear’ track, I am going to pick two: ‘As The World Burns’ and ‘Thorns’. (Try ‘Crying Wolf’ for something a little different than those two tracks.) The only ‘grower’ track for me on this one is ‘This is Your Damnation’, but after a few spins on it, it’s a nice palate cleanser for the album.

After my first listen, I preordered the album, so that’s saying something right there. I want to get this baby on my home stereo and in my car, and really – REALLY take it in.

This albums sends a message to the ‘old, living in the past’ vocalists out there. New music doesn’t have to be blah or capture some sort of former glory. It can, if done right, bring new glory to your artistic history.


OUT Jan 14th, 2022

Pre-order Tony Martin “THORNS” in North and South America:

Pre-order rest of the world:

For More info go to:
Tony Martin Official Facebook Page –

Special Thanks: Michael Brandvold

Watch the video for “As The World Burns”: