Released to minimal fanfare in 1995 (‘Plastic Planet’), 1997 (‘Black Science’), and 2005 (‘Ohmwork’), Geezer Butler’s non-Sabbath catalogue has remained largely underappreciated, which is obscene, given some of the material contained within. Receiving a welcome rerelease, the hand of doom’s three solo albums been given some TLC, with shiny new CD, and - for the first time - vinyl reissues. United under the ‘Geezer Buttler’ banner, the confusing G//Z/R / Geezer / GZR monikers are gone, which will be a relief to those with OCD when it comes to filing.
Debut ‘Plastic Planet’ is, without question, the best of the bunch. Geezer Butler’s first forays away from the mothership were a long time coming. Initially teaming up with Peter ‘Pedro’ Howse in 1984 in The Geezer Butler Band after finally parting ways with a crumbling Black Sabbath, it wasn’t until over a decade later that the project would come to fruition.
By then, it was a very different sounding beast. Featuring a nascent Burton C. Bell, who had, at the time of recording, yet to break through with Fear Factory’s ‘Demanufacture’, his addition was a masterstroke, giving G//Z/R the final piece of their contemporary metal puzzle.
Heavy as a slab of concrete to the face ‘Plastic Planet’, is simply packed with underrated gems; from doomy opener ‘Catatonic Eclipse’, to contender for ‘best riff of the ‘90s’ ‘Drive Boy Shooting’, to the groove-laden ‘The Invisible’. With down tuned guitars courtesy of Howse, the double-kick drumming of Deen Castronovo – and of course, Geezer’s trademark sci-fi and political lyrics – it’s griping stuff, with just the right amount of Sabbath sludge – ‘Seance Fiction’ - to connect with Geezer’s past.
Follow-up ‘Black Science’ treads a similar path, and adding occasional drum machines and keys, it's the most experimental of the three. With Bell then busy with his day job, the unknown Clark Brown took over on vocals. Providing a throatier rasp to Burt's baritone, Clarke's sound is more Alice in Chains than Fear Factory, taking the tracks in a slightly more melodic direction. Musically though it's a beast, with the creepy 'Mysterons' pulsating purposeful march, and the frantic 'Department S' a match for anything on the debut.
Retaining Brown, 'Ohmwork' completes the trilogy. What lets the album down more than anything else, is its overall flat sound. There's a spark lacking in the production, and it's disappointing that Butler's monstrous rumble - which is all over 'Plastic Planet' and 'Black Science' - is reduced to barely audible in places. It's the weakest of the set, with the Limp Bizkit-esque rap, and hip-hop styling of 'Prisoner 103' taking a step too far into Nu Metal. That cover artwork though!
It's great to revisit these albums and see that there's more to Geezer Butler than his (admittedly towering) contributions to one of the greatest metal bands of all time. It begs the question, however; "any chance of another, Geez?" Give Burt a call this time though, yeah.
Geezer Butler's 'Plastic Planet', 'Black Science' and 'Ohmwork' are available now.