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Black Sabbath - Never Say Die! CD (album) cover


Black Sabbath


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2.97 | 390 ratings

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Tom Ozric
Prog Reviewer
3 stars Black Sabbath have been quite a special band for me since my teen-age years, indeed I purchased all of their LP's back in 1989 ( released up to that point) and was fairly impressed with each and every one at some point. From their amazing debut, Sabbath created a new, 'heavy' genre in music, with a decent dose of 'doom' almost unheard of at the time. This to me is quite a 'progressive' move in itself. Most of us are familiar with many stories of legend surrounding the band, in particular lead vocalist Ozzy Osborne, with all the hedonistic tendencies (soap-boxes full of Cocaine brought to recording sessions.....) that go with 'superstardom' - it all ended up with Ozzy being booted out of the band after recording this album.

By now, Keyboarder Don Airey (from Jon Hiseman's Colosseum II) was brought in and that resulted in quite a different sound for the band. Beginning with the catchy title-cut, 'Never Say Die' rocks out with a simple melody and hard sound (kind of generic by that time) and became something of a minor hit for them. Things change rather abruptly as a very spacey synth arrangement introduces 'Johnny Blade', a tale of a street kid with an attitude problem (thereabouts). The song goes through many changes with guitarist Tony Iommi churning out some 'tough' riffs and energetic soloing, the song lasts almost 6 and a half minutes and is very good . An immediate fade-in of a cool, bass led riff backed with some almost jazzy drumming leads us into 'Juniors Eyes', another semi-lengthy track featuring crunching guitars at the choruses, and floaty keys during the verses. Great track. 'Hard Road' is quite a standard hard-rock song of which the master tapes should've been spliced up and recorded backwards at double-speed to make things sound just a little more interesting.

Side 2 - 'Shock Wave' is a decent track with some blistering guitar work (even including some strummed acoustic) but the end riff drags on a little long. Next up is what I consider as Sabbath at their most 'prog' - the often overlooked track 'Air Dance', a composition which displays adept technical understanding and ability - it contains some of Ozzy's most accomplished vocals, Airey's keyboard work is absolutely spot-on, riffs, tempos and melodies chopping and changing all the time, a very atmospheric interlude and incredible outro, just when the song takes off and could've been worked into a lengthy epic of sorts, it ends. Still, a superb song, with all band members in top form and one many proggers should enjoy. 'Over To You' is pleasant but a bit middle-of-the-road, the short instrumental 'Break Out' is based on a simple riff featuring a brass arrangement - it doesn't really amount to much, but is quite different and off-the-wall for Sabbath. Album closer 'Swinging the Chain', is a rather strange song, with some vocals from drummer Bill Ward, and hints at the state of the band at the time. 3 and a half star effort, some really good songs here, but some average efforts as well.

Tom Ozric | 3/5 |


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