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Black Sabbath - Mob Rules CD (album) cover


Black Sabbath


Prog Related

3.46 | 375 ratings

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Special Collaborator
RIO/Avant/Zeuhl Team
4 stars Released one year after the monumental "Heaven and Hell", "Mob Rules" enjoys the less than complimentary reputation of being a sort of clone of its illustrious predecessor. While I would never dare to state that it is on the same level as H&H, I nevertheless believe MR is a much better album than it usually gets credit for. Though, in a way, it does reproduce H&H's structure, that does not mean it is not a good album. As a matter of fact, some of the tracks on MR number among the best ever written by the band.

The second Sabbath album without Ozzy Osbourne also sees the temporary departure of original drummer Bill Ward, replaced by Vinnie Appice, brother of legendary drummer Carmine (of Vanilla Fudge, Cactus and a hundred other bands' fame). Appice, who would later join Ronnie James Dio's eponymous band, though not a particularly creative drummer, is certainly no slouch behind the kit, and his no-nonsense approach to his craft is quite well suited to the album's heaviness.

The album kicks off with "Turn Up the Night", a song whose intro is somewhat reminiscent of "Neon Knights", though with a distinctly more radio-friendly approach. The following track, "Voodoo", is a classic Dio-era, bass-powered mid-tempo, where RJ's awe-inducing roar gets a chance to shine. On the other hand, "Country Girl" is BS's take on a romantic ballad, which Dio sings in a smoother, more melodic, less aggressive way, reminding the listener of his vocal style on Rainbow's debut album.

As good as the above-mentioned songs are ("Slipping Away" is in my opinion the only really throwaway track, like the similarly-titled "Walk Away" on H&H), the album features three killer tracks that can be easily numbered among the best material the band has ever produced. The album's standout track is undoubtedly the crushingly heavy "The Sign of the Southern Cross" - one of the highpoints of Dio's career, which he still performs live with his own band. Clocking in at almost 8 minutes, it starts out slowly and poignantly to develop into a monstrous, atmospheric, doom-laden ride dominated by Dio's mesmerising vocal performance. "Falling Off the Edge of the World" begins in much the same way, but then unfolds into an energetic, fast and furious hard rocker, which seamlessly blends with album closer "Over and Over" - another slow-paced, moody number enhanced by Tony Iommi's absolutely blistering guitar, a perfect foil for Dio's vocal intensity.

As was the case with H&H, any prog elements in MR are few and far between, but that obviously doesn't detract from the overall quality of the album - which, in my opinion, is worth having even if only on account of the three songs I have mentioned in the previous paragraph. Not a masterpiece by any means, but a very enjoyable effort by a great line-up.

Raff | 4/5 |


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