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Black Sabbath - Technical Ecstasy CD (album) cover

TECHNICAL ECSTASY

Black Sabbath

 

Prog Related

2.76 | 358 ratings

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Aussie-Byrd-Brother
Special Collaborator
Rock Progressivo Italiano Team
3 stars Recorded around a blur of drugs, alcohol, spiralling ego, gruelling touring schedules and draining legal battles, Black Sabbath's seventh album `Technical Ecstasy' from 1976 is not the complete dud it's often reputed to be, although it's undoubtedly the poorest release from the classic Ozzy Osbourne-fronted line-up of the defining heavy rock group. It does have an admirable eclectic and diverse approach with ambitions of offering something a little more than just the usual sludgy heavy-metal riffs and doomy lyrics as well as a more sophisticated production, but it sadly doesn't deliver too much in the way of quality material, even if it still offers a few gems here and there.

Opener `Back Street Kids' is a reliably brash heavy chugger with Tony Iommi's galloping riffs, Geezer Butler's pumping dirty bass and a screeching Ozzy vocal that also throws in a few whirring synths courtesy of Gerald Woodroffe and Bill Ward's busy drumming. But it's the longer and dramatic `You Won't Change Me' that proves to be a real Sabbath classic - a defiant and blunt vocal from Ozzy delivering a confronting lyric that holds traces of the dark romance and despairing hope that permeates so many great Sabbath songs, backed to snarling evil riffs over gloomy synths and frantic guitar soloing from Iommi, all topped off with a cracking chorus. The much despised `It's Alright', sung by Ward, is a softer piano tune with traces of a Beatles-esque sound is fairly forgettable, but repeated listens reveals a harmless time-passer at worst. After quite an upbeat intro of skittering drums and buzzsaw guitars `Gypsy' tears through a multi-sectioned range of moods and ideas, but despite it not being the most memorable song, the slick studio production really goes to town to make it at least sound interesting and dense.

Side two's misogynist-blasting `All Moving Parts (Stand Still)' is a funky bluesy romp that still remains just a little bit dull, and despite a shrieking vocal and stomping drumbeat, the throwaway `Rock 'N' Roll Doctor' seems lethargic and can't even offer a punchy memorable chorus. Downbeat ballad `She's Gone' is strangely elegant and melancholic with its gloomy orchestration and reflective acoustic guitars behind another tortured romantic lyric and genuinely passionate vocal from Ozzy, and closer `Dirty Women' is one of the more overtly `proggy' moments due to its lengthy instrumental runs with constant organ, melodic reaching guitar strains (and Tony's solo in the climax seems to go on forever!) but still finds time for a roaring vocal and plenty of ballsy chugging riffs.

Along with the band feeling the pressure of the emerging punk bands of the time and the pressure to remain relevant and vital, `Technical Ecstasy' found Black Sabbath in something of a no-win situation - deliver a more typical heavy-metal album and be accused of merely repeating themselves, or experiment with their formula and annoy the metal purists by shifting too far from their signature sound. Time and perspective actually reveals a perfectly OK album that sadly especially suffers when being compared to the classic run of the first six Sabbath albums that stretched from the self-titled debut in 1970 through to '75's `Sabotage', but seriously, what wouldn't?

Three stars.

Aussie-Byrd-Brother | 3/5 |

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