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Black Sabbath - Sabotage CD (album) cover

SABOTAGE

Black Sabbath

 

Prog Related

4.02 | 567 ratings

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Sean Trane
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk
3 stars After a fairly SBS, the Sabs come back with another "black" artwork, with a relatively original idea, but horrendously realized, and not just because the band members look like just-unearthed zombies that should get themselves a sense of fashion. Otherwise, inside the sleeve, not much has changed in musical terms. Mainly standard songs with endlessly-repeated guitar riffs and the odd twist here and there, to avoid dozing off. Just as before in SBS, the main two gripes are production choices: Ozzy's voice is again fairly irritating and Geezer's bass parts are often muffled, sometimes almost inaudible. Maybe recent remasters or remixes have corrected the latter problem, but I doubt anything can be done about the former.

Despite some aerial song titles, the musical mood is so heavy that it has no chance in any kind or form of elevation, because even Sabs' Satanic incantations won't reverse the laws of gravity. Indeed Hole In The Sky is just a riff-laden track, like we've been hearing since Master Of Reality. Of course, the Symptom Of The Universe tune (with it's short acoustic intro Don't Start) is one of the highlights of the album, despite a 100 mph start, the but second half is more interesting, ending with some acoustic moments. The almost 10-mins Megalomania is obviously the second highlight, as it prefers to set a slow mood with sound effects, slowly growing in intensity and speed, but with a slowly eroding interest for progheads, especially once the cowbell appears about a third of the way into it. Nevertheless a few synth layers in the closing minute or so ensures that this track is the best here - even if it probably wouldn't have made the cut on Paranoid.

The flipside opens on another riff-laden Thrill Of It All, where some synths appears in the background, but overall, it's one of the weaker tracks of the album. The following Supertzar features some surprising choirs (whether they sound Russian is debatable) and this is a novelty item on a Sabbath album. The best-known track from the Sabotage album (a fairly weak play on words with Sab letters) is Insane, but I find lacking subtleness, especially with the demented sound effects at the end. The closing 8-mins Writ starts slowly (ala Floyd, IMHO) and explodes intelligently until the 2/3 mark where keyboards appear and they sound like Alice's Only Women Bleed ? or was it the other way around?

Mainly worthy because of the three longer tracks, Sabotage is an album that worthy of its predecessors (maybe better than MoR and V4), but not so compared to the band's early two albums. Nevertheless, this album is the last 70's "classic" of theirs, since the band was continuing their excesses, which was increasingly apparent both in the studio and on stage, as their next two albums would show, and there would not be a live album released world wide for another two decades (Live At Last being an import in many markets). Anyway if not stopping at Paranoid, than it's better to stop at this one and maybe move on to the early 80's Dio albums

Sean Trane | 3/5 |

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