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Black Sabbath - Volume Four CD (album) cover


Black Sabbath


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3.88 | 680 ratings

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5 stars "Black Sabbath Vol. 4" was released in the middle of the heyday for Black Sabbath, but it was at a time when the drug use was at its peak, and was also the beginning of the contention among the original members of the band. Osbourne, Iommi, Ward and Butler were at their creative and performing best during this time and just pumping out one heavy metal masterpiece after another. This album also saw the band beginning to experiment with their trademark sound.

"Wheels of Confusion/The Straightener" starts out the album with the trademark heavy sound, dark and memorable riffs and ever changing melodies and meters within the song. The track is a mid-tempo track at first but at times speeds up in different sections. The 2nd part of the track starts around the 6 minute mark, which shows a faster rhythm and the guitar taking the lead, with some mellotron (sounding like an organ) added in the background. This section is instrumental and fades out after 8 minutes.

"Tomorrow's Dream" was the single from the track and fits into the normal time for a single at just over 3 minutes. It is still heavy and has the same feel as "Paranoid" and "Sweet Leaf" from their previous albums, but has a section in the middle where things slow down. The single itself did not do very well as it failed to chart anywhere, probably because it was too heavy for most radio stations.

"Changes" is that beautiful ballad that most everyone knows by now. For the fans back when this was released, it was an interesting surprise to hear Ozzy singing alone with a piano and mellotron, and nothing else. It is a vulnerable and heartfelt song, one of the band's most beautiful. The music was written by Iommi and the lyrics by Butler while Ozzy hummed the tune. Iommi taught himself to play the piano part for it and the song was written. The lyrics are about Ward's recent breakup with his wife.

"FX" is a short experimental and psychedelic track that uses mostly percussive sounds made by the guitar by throwing various objects at it and adding an echo effect.

"Supernaut" is another fan favorite that returns to the classic Sabbath sound. An amazing and memorable riff with Ozzy singing at the top of his range. This track was a favorite of Frank Zappa's. You can understand that with the awesome guitar work done by Iommi here especially at the instrumental breaks. One of the breaks features a point where the loudness breaks down and you get a percussive section before it all returns again.

"Snowblind" was originally supposed to be the title track, but the studio didn't want to get into any trouble with its reference to drugs, so the album title was changed to Vol. 4. However, the track retained its title. Again, it is another fan favorite, with a great chugging riff that always stands out among Sabbath's best. This one, like the first track, features changing rhythms and themes, similar to most of the tracks on the "Paranoid" album, keeping things interesting throughout. Later in the track, when the song returns to the main theme, you get more mellotron and strings added in before Iommi breaks into another amazing solo. Everything works together flawlessly.

Next we have fairly short tracks. "Cornucopia" returns to the stark heaviness of the "Paranoid" album, specifically "War Pigs". Even though it is under 4 minutes, the tempo, meter and melody still changes, yet it is still developed well enough to be considered a great track. "Laguna Sunrise" comes next, and it is another beautiful surprise. An instrumental mostly performed by Iommi on acoustic guitar. Mellotron and strings add a lovely texture to the track. "St. Vitus Dance" is a quick but heavy track, but not as memorable as it tends to get swallowed up in the other amazing tracks on the album.

The final track is the combined "Under the Sun/Everyday Comes and Goes". This one starts out heavy and slow and then suddenly changes to a faster tempo when Osbourne's vocals start. A repeating riff keeps driving things forward. The bridge of the song is actually the 2nd part of the title and many copies of the album have it titled as "Under the Sun (including Every Day Comes and Goes)". The track is good, but seems like a weak one to end the album with in that there isn't a lot that is memorable here. I think it would have made a better impression to end with "Snowblind" and put this track in its place in the line up. But that is a minor issue.

Overall, I still find this album to be one of Black Sabbath's best, even better than "Master of Reality" which I find to be the weakest of the first 6 albums. I still consider it a masterpiece, even when the album ends on a track that isn't as impressive, because the rest of the album is powerful and even has a good variety of styles on it. The band still hadn't lost their edge, and in my opinion, wouldn't until after "Sabbath Bloody Sabbath" and "Sabotage".

TCat | 5/5 |


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