Listening to the new records by legendary heavy-metal heavies Black Sabbath and their whippersnapping rivals Bonham side by side reminds me of nothing so much as Fiddler on the Roof. Remember the song that goes, ”Tradition…tradition”? Although the two bands span an entire generation (Black Sabbath began recording in 1970, when Bonham drummer Jason Bonham, son of Led Zeppelin’s John Bonham, was a mere tot of 4), you can barely tell their new works apart. True, Bonham’s second outing, Mad Hatter, is a wee bit poppier and faster than Dehumanizer, but that’s only to be expected: Almost every band on the planet is poppier and faster than Black Sabbath. In fact, the Sab sounds like it has been influenced by the Seattle smash Soundgarden these days. Bonham’s music, on the other hand, is both more commercial and more formulaic. ”Ride on a Dream” is a keyboard-heavy piece of pretentiousness that tries to be catchy without being either heavy or melodic. Still, judging by these two works, the heavy-metal world may be the one place in rock where ageism’s not a factor, and that’s a compliment to both parties.
Dehumanizer: B+
Mad Hatter: C

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