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Black Sabbath - Sabotage CD (album) cover


Black Sabbath


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4.05 | 598 ratings

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2 stars Gateway to Heaven, and possibly the Ozzy-era peak?

For all the heat I give the boys in black, I am a fan. Of both Ozzy era, and Dio era (I deny the existence of it after that, 'cept maybe headless cross). And this is the last great Ozzy album.

The game is commenced with Hole in the Sky. A fine blistering metal tune, where Ozz-man actually utilizes his voice in a frightening and captivating fierce manner. The riff is good enough, and he sings his soul away. Then we have a soft interlude before the roaring distortion heavy Symptom of the Universe, with its thick running riff and barraging drum rolls. Is it me, or does Ozzy actually sing...well? Because he has yet to disappoint me. On the contrary, these are fine metallic vocals, not even with any pedestrian bilge like foolish shouts of "oh yeah" or such. He sounds evil, and it fits the music so well. The crashing drum rolls, the distorted guitar attack, the scary singing. So far, the record is nothing but gold. And the solo is terrific. Then things take a turn for the strange. Did Robert Plant sing guest vocals on the second half of this song? Ozzy's flat imitation is laughable.

Epic number 1 :Megalomania. The effects are eerie, the song is somber, and it starts well. The echo-laden vocals are fine. The spooky factor of is amplified when Ozzy returns to his harrowing screech and the guitars turn this into a metallic monster. The lyrics are banal garbage, as always, but it doesn't really offend. The epic is a bit repetitive, and you could expect that at times, but it comes off weak and uninspired. The riffs are great. They really are, but I have heard better, and heard better from this band. Still, it is a solid enough tune. Until Ozzy plays Zeppelin, again, and it doesn't rub me the right way. Is this really the fate of Black Sabbath? To become a mere Led Zeppelin cover, replete with bland lyrics, standard riffing, and vocals that sound like a juvenile cross between Robert Plant and John Fogerty? Tell me it isn't so! No, the song turns that way until the excellent waving solo flashes a spark of brilliance. Saving it from utter mediocrity. This almost feels like arena rock, at times, and the song goes on far too long. Some might attribute this to being "progressive" but it feels more like filler, to me. His screams are nice, though. The song builds up well at the end, and isn't a failure by any means.

Thrill of it All is a sharp enough funky metallic rocker. The guitars are blazing, and the rhythm section handles things well. That cock rock "yeah" tosses it all out the window, though. But it catches itself before the fall, with some above average metal, Ozzy shrieking his drug-addled heart out. Memorable, but not by too much. It is a very solid song, though. Certainly better than the usual Sabbath "rocker". Supertzar is funny to me. I can never take that operatic beginning. It all seems so deep in parody, or self-parody, even. They strive to be this serious Gothic metal band, but this song is just foolish. The guitars come in, and you'd think they would be worth the wait, sort of. To be fair, the song does have an epic feel but that vocal opera flop is ridiculous. I still kind of like it, but only when I take it as a joke. It might have been more tolerable if the "angel chorus" was maybe a bit...better? The composition of their sound is trite and boring. Interesting song, though.

Am I Going Insane (Radio) is next. And I feel Sabbath have finally become a knock off band. A damn good one. Here they seem to want to knock off Genesis, only without good lyrics. Yeah, the album is more cohesive and experimental than Vol. 4, but it isn't enough to save it from amateurish writing. The song, pulsing synth and all, is not too bad. True, the entire album is at least competent. Which is more than I could say for Vol. 4. That laughing is just another ridiculous addition that makes me feel like I am listening to a cartoon soundtrack.

Epic 2 : The Writ. The laughing turns into a moaning that I feel isn't so bad. The song explodes, and Ozzy howls hellishly. The guitars are powerful, the drums erupt, and the lyrics aren't intolerable. The tinges of Deep Purple rock are still here, and it bothers me, but it is a very solid song. And these vocals are prototypical ripping metal, and I like them. This is Ozzy's second best album, vocally. This final song is perhaps the best, here. It is fierce, and biting. The guitar lines are fine, and everything goes across well. The calm break isn't offensive, and if Ozzy didn't stumble, it would be a massive track. The song feels like it goes on too long, though. I can say this about any post-Paranoid song that goes on for more than 6 minutes, though. Boy, these fellows lost steam quickly. It is a shame. They released metal brilliance, then turned into a catch all joke, a highly competent cover band, going so far as to imitate themselves. I'd take the originals over this, any day, but it is still a solid release, I suppose.

Ozzy does a fine job singing, when he isn't imitating Gillian or Plant, Iommi is amazing when he isn't imitating Iommi, and The rhythm section is more than competent, as always. But, the songs meander, the ideas are stale, and the "progressive" effects, fall short of achieving greatness. I'd give them 3 stars, but there is no real progression at all, unless you count cheesy synths or stupid laughing. I hate to be harsh, but I can't give this more than two stars.

Alitare | 2/5 |


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