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Black Sabbath - Sabotage CD (album) cover

SABOTAGE

Black Sabbath

 

Prog Related

4.02 | 567 ratings

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Easy Livin
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars "What kind of people do you think we are? Another joker who's a rock and roll star for you?"

I thought I would get in early with one review of a Black Sabbath album, as "Sabotage" is for me the most progressive album they made. Here we have two epic prog tracks, "Megalomania" and "The writ", plus 6 other fine recordings. The album relies heavily on keyboards, including synthesisers, played by Gerald Woodruffe. Also present are the English Chamber Choir!

Taking those two epic tracks first, "Megalomania" is a superbly crafted 10 minute piece which focuses on the main theme (or concept) of the album, insanity and mental illness (OK, maybe not a surprising topic for the makers of "Paranoid"!). The track starts as a slow, menacing nightmare with lyrics such as "Obsessed with fantasy, possessed with my schemes, I mixed reality with pseudo god dreams. The ghost of violence was something I'd seen, I sold my soul to be the human obscene."

About midway, the pace is increased and track transforms into a magnificently pompous orchestrated cacophony. Ozzy sounds positively insane as he vividly describes his nightmares, the stereo effects enhancing the experience. This truly is a prog masterpiece which set the standard for many of the prog metal bands who were to follow.

At over 8 minutes, "The writ" also has plenty of space for symphonic orchestration and a fine arrangement. The track, which is reportedly aimed at a previous band manager, is full of acidic lyrics such as "Are you Satan are you man, you've changed in life since it began" and "You are nonentity, you have no destiny. You are a figment of a thing unknown, a mental picture of a stolen soul, The fornication of your golden throne". The final section includes some excellent soft verses which are counterbalanced by the louder "everything is gonna work out fine" choruses.

These two tracks, which represent just under half the album, are good enough reason alone to recommend "Sabotage". In fact though, they are supported by a further six fine songs. Like "Megalomania", "Thrill of it all" sets out as a slow, heavy dirge, but is transformed midway into an upbeat thriller with soaring synths and multi-tracked vocals.

While there are no obvious hit singles, the most commercial track is "Am I going insane (radio)", which features an irritatingly catchy chorus. By the way, the bracketed word "radio" in the title does not mean it is a radio edit, there are no other versions. The word apparently is cockney rhyming slang for "mental", coming from the long gone company Radio Rentals.

The oddest track is "Supertzar", which is nominally an instrumental, but features a choral interlude in true prog style.

In all, a truly superb album which belies any notion that Black Sabbath did not work hard on their releases. There is a level of attention to detail here which when combined with some top class song writing makes for an album which will please many fans of prog, and especially prog metal.

Easy Livin | 4/5 |

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