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Black Sabbath - Sabbath Bloody Sabbath CD (album) cover


Black Sabbath


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4.13 | 806 ratings

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Cesar Inca
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This is my all-time fave Black Sabbath album, and I see I'm not actually alone regarding this notion. I, as a proghead, don't get the prog related label that has been endorsed to this band's discography, but now that I am here with an intention to review Sabbath Bloody Sabbath, I will go on with it. This fifth studio effort was conceived and recorded in a moment when the band had already settled comfortably in an eclectic attitude where the typical intense rockers shared room with other trends, mostly acoustic pieces rooted on Renaissance and pastoral moods. This had started on the Master of Reality album and was continued on Vol. 4: Sabbath Bloody Sabbath pursues the enhancement of this Sabbathian eclectic trend with the inclusion of pieces ordained through a more controlled and sophisticated use of rocking power (the lats two tracks are enormously successful at it), as well as some Gothic-driven semi-prog rocker with heavy use of synth and mellotron ('Who Are You?'). The namesake opener brings a powerful demostration of aggressiveness on a mid-tempo frame: this track is really not that speedy, but it sure states a robust dynamics. 'A National Acrobat' resumes the preceding track's controlled power for its main body, properly fed by a bluesy touch: the last section brings a clever jam that mixes psychedelic heavy rock and fusion (with less guitar and more sax it might as well have been an East of Eden number!). Just when you think that a tight rocker would come next, the Sabbath guys decide to slow down things a bit more with the acoustic instrumental 'Fluff'. Built on a 3/4 tempo, Iommi really captured the serenity of Renaissance music in this piece, whose harmonic basis is built by the acoustic guitar arpeggios and harpsichord scales. The augmentation from grand piano and slide guitar conveniently adds texture without breaking the basic mood. This is my personal fave Iommi acoustic composition... and who would have thought that he would be that interested in leaning a bit close to Oldfield's pastoral side, at least for 4 minutes during his career? 'Sabbra Cadabra' is the relentless, tight rocker that the average BS-head usually waits for. The bluesy undertones cry out pure Black Sabbath all along, but this piece manages to grow beyond the standard rock'n'roll scheme. This song is designed to be really loud and catchy, yet there's still room for some adornments - a special one is provided by Rick Wakeman on synth and piano for the song's second half, turned into a real heavy metal jam. 'Killing Yourself to Live' starts the album's second half, kicking from where 'Sabbra' had left: the theme is also the alienation that comes with glory, just like tracks 1 and 4 (that is, if the lovely lady is a metaphor for the drug that gives you stamina to move on). The tracks is very heavy metal at first, then it moves to a jam with Hendrixian undertones, ultimately ending on a blues-rock note. 'Who Are You?' brings fresh airs of stylish prog-related psychedelia with its treatment of multiple synths and mellotron (shared by Ozzy and Geezer): the intro section, while calmer, serves as motivator for greater density and an increase in the spacey tones that emerge all the way till the end. 'Looking for Today' is an agile rocker with a clear melodic stance and a controlled heaviness, plus a dynamic rhythmic structure and a clever use of acoustic sources (acoustic guitar, flute, hand percussion) - this is almost Jethro Tullish, in fact. Introduced by a lovely pastoral acoustic guitar interlude, 'Spiral Architect' basically reiterates the melodic stance and controlled heaviness, but with a more epic feel due to the strategic presence of string arrangements. These last 3 tracks state a great closer for the album as a whole. 4 stars for Sabbath Bloody Sabbath!
Cesar Inca | 4/5 |


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