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SABBATH BLOODY SABBATH

Black Sabbath

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5 stars Sabbath has come of age! An excellent introduction to Sabbath which proved to me that their is more than meets the eyes with this band, two songs on this album will make you hooked; Sabbra Cadabra and Who Are You with their prog keyboards and classical leanings, the rest of this album will grow on you in a short period and then you'll realise you can't give this album less than five stars. The album kicks off with Sabbath Bloody Sabbath, a great introduction, yes its heavy, but so original, the guitar riffs and style of Ozzy's vocals so cerebral, and surreal to me it sounds like the tunes just come from a different place, but such were the 1970s. It seems to me when the music goes up a notch in heavyness so does the level of creativity. I certainly find their music fascinating at times. ANational Acrobat reminds me of Wishbone Ash's Argus, but I'm not sure, nevertheless Sabbath spins it their own way,Iommi makes some brililant sounds on his guitar Fluff is a pleasant acoustic piece memerable tune, which prooved to me how diverse these guys were, its not just noise. Sabbra Cadabra is a fantastic piece of music I've been playing this tune to ad nauseum and beyond, here Rick Wakeman's contribution is (of course magical) I wish Wakeman stuck with this band for more than one song while he was away from Yes. Everything about this song screams brilliance Ozzy's singing over Iommi's riffs the awesome mind blowing instrumental in the middle make Sabbath rfub shoulders wiuth the giants of prog comfortably. Killing Yourself to Live is a traditional Sabbath piece, full of bright energy its one of those pieces that would have to be seen and heard live, with midway a a brillian memeorable bluesy bend by Iommi again with Ozzy's brilliant voice complementing it the song changes to a traditonal blues tune harking back to John Mayall and the Blues Breakers, and gives the song a strong prog resonance with its changes. Who Are You has this evil, throbbing sounding synthesizers the lyrics are about questioning authority, a beautiful (yes you read correctly) classical bolero piece in the middle that cement Sabbath's place in the archives. Looking For Today sounds kind relatively upbeat and quite influential to Rush, while Ozzy sounds a bit like Sting it has beautiful flute in it, and Ozzy voice sounds really uplifting when he sings therepeated lines "looking for today", this song will make you feel as good as any Rush rocker, I really like it when Ozzy says "Listen" in the song those who've heard this song will know what I mean. Spiral Architectstarts witrh a nice acoustic piece that adds an epic feel to the piece, which then morphs into a thrilling rocker and has brilliant experimental music with orchestra with a kind of climbing tension to it. What I Love about Sabbath is that they wern't afraid to turn of the gain on the guitar and compose some really diverse stuff, the songs Sabbra Cadabra, Who Are You, Spiral Architect are pure prog while the rest of the songs have a strong prog resonance with their changes, musicality and sheer creativity and innovation. Believe me you don't have to be a metal head to enjoy this stuff, I can't stand metal but Sabbath has so much strength, innovation and substance to their material just grabs you,and it comes from an age when what they were doing with their heavy riffs was new and unique before it was borrowed and used into banality by countless metal groups,(just like Kraftwerk with techno). What a lot of metal bands have missed the point with Sabbath is that they were diverse, the unique phrasing of Ozzy's voice and Ioomi's guitars, sadlly a lot of metal bands seem to only get inspired by Iommi's gain and the bands dark image (I'm not saying all metal). But like I said earlier there is more than meets the eye with Sabbath. Pure brilliance!
Report this review (#143814)
Posted Friday, October 12, 2007 | Review Permalink
russellk
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars With this album BLACK SABBATH continue to explore unfamiliar territory: sophisticated songwriting.

A number of the tracks on this album don't finish in the way they start. In other words, they are not straightforward rock songs. As such they warrant attention from the progressive community. The songs with a progressive brush are the title track, 'A National Acrobat', and 'Killing Yourself to Live'.

I'll make special mention of the title track. Using a riff and rhythm more than suggestive of something from native North America, this song grinds along for three and a half minutes, combines a driving riff underneath OZZY OSBORNE's cleverly processed voice spitting vindictive lyrics, then becomes a different and altogether more menacing beast with a riff from the depths of Sheol. OZZY's voice reappears over this riff - unprocessed this time, raw as only his voice can be - and you are left in no doubt that this band is still visceral. Surely purchasing this riff from the devil must have cost one of the band members his soul. Nothing prepares you for this change, and it grabs you by the glands every time. Then the song changes yet again for the drum-led fadeout.

'A National Acrobat' is near as good. The guitar is toned strangely for this one, but it's effective, giving the song an epic sci-fi/fantasy feel. A dramatic middle section, complete with fx the early SABBATH would never have embraced, leads to a quite disparate but very fitting outro. Two down, and finally it seems BLACK SABBATH are fulfilling their promise.

In an unfortunate move they position the obligatory acoustic instrumental too early in the album. This might have been better as the sixth track, but we don't need interrupting yet, certainly not for four minutes. A nice four minutes, to be sure, but not what I spent my pennies on, and IOMMI is no AL DE MIOLA. 'Sabbra Cadabra' sounds like a great title but it's a fairly MOR love song, a little bit of a surprise. Well done and all that, especially the latter half, with a hook in the bridge (funny place for it, lads) and a stunning funky outro, but I'm getting itchy feet ...

Cured by 'Killing Yourself to Live'. This is another three-parter, the parts welded together by main force. Again the guitar tone sounds genuinely ominous, as befits the lyrics. The chorus is lifted by another great riff from the IOMMI riff factory - and again, the central section is simply superb, a real chill moment. 'I'm telling you, believe in me!' And then, suddenly, it all changes, growing even more menacing, with a hint of keyboards. Riff follows riff, enough to fill a normal album, a riot of genius one after the other - and the song changes again, picking up tempo. No, OZZY, I don't know if I'm up or down either.

Why did I stop listening to BLACK SABBATH? Because in 1977 a teenage boy was found in my home town, hanging in his bedroom, this album on the platter, side two upwards, lyrics to this song in his diary, and speculation was he'd obeyed the title. Look, back then this music was considered sufficiently powerful that listening to it could, we thought, do stuff like that to your head ...

'Who Are You' was another not-very-good idea. Kudos for trying something different - the central piano section sounds almost TONY BANKS-like - but the synths are so dated now, sounding like bees in a dustbin. 'Looking For Today' is a surprisingly gentle rocker of no particular interest, and 'Spiral Architect' follows a lovely acoustic intro not with some blinding riff, but with another gentle upbeat rocker. Seems IOMMI used up his year's quota of riffage from hell earlier in the album. This sounds like something from ELTON JOHN or THE WHO (I'm probably reminded of 'Pinball Wizard' by the dual notes that herald the song) - not a bad thing, but not what you want from the demonic foursome, particularly given the lyric. And who let the orchestra in? Were they in the wrong studio? And what's with the finish: a polite audience clapping and a post-concert outro? Haven't quite worked that one out.

Thing is, they simply couldn't play this stuff live. Early SABBATH was lead or rhythm guitar: by now they have two leads and at least two rhythms going at once, some with studio effects. OZZY's voice was so processed (a great idea) he could not make the songs sound anything like the studio versions. After this and the next album, the miraculous 'Sabotage', they abandoned all progressive ideas and studio manipulation. Sad. But you can still listen to this and reflect that when they told you BLACK SABBATH was simply a heavy blues band, they weren't telling you the whole truth. Or, with this album as evidence, not even most of the truth.

Report this review (#144214)
Posted Saturday, October 13, 2007 | Review Permalink
ZowieZiggy
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars WHEN SABBATH MEETS WAKEMAN !

As usual, "Sabbath" release d their annual album. As usual it will be a good one. There is also someone lots of progheads cherish in the line-up (including myself of course). Mister Rick Wakeman himself holds the keyboards ! (but he did it already loooooooong before on the album "Space Oddity" from whm you might know about.

The opener is again a killer. In their past history, the band has always have the excellent idea to start an album with a killer song. "Black Sabbath" on their debut one, "War Pigs" on "Paranoďd", "Sweet Leaf" on "MOR" and the fantastic "Wheels Of Confusion" from their fourth effort. And don't worry the title track "Sabbath Bloody Sabbath" just prolonged the tradition. A monster song and a fantastic witness of the early ages of the heavy metal genre (invented by "Sabbath" back to 1970).

The next song is also a highlight. More complex, "sophisticated". One of my fave here thanks to its hypnotic guitar riff (but Iommi is a master in this respect, able at times to compete with the Blackmores and the Pages). The middle part is totally heavy-blues oriented. This part is a bit longuish but the closing section is again brilliant. So mighty. So "Sabbath" !

Another tradition of the band, is to include soft / acoustic songs on their album (remember "Planet Caravan", "Solitude", the splendid "Orchid" and the less splendid (to say the least) "Changes". On this album, "Fluff" will do the job. A nice guitar instrumental. But it won't reach the sentimentality nor the perfection of "Orchid". Just a break.

This is now the fifth "Sabbath" album, and inevitably the band will start to repeat themselves like in "Killing Yourselves". A good song with a great guitar solo but this is a feeling of déjŕ vu (if you do not appreciate this band so much, you'll get this feeling already after their first release only).

No, "Who Are You" is not a cover from "Who" you know. It's a mellow rock ballad featuring synth and piano. Don't forget that Rick is holding the keys... But he is really the only attraction of this number that won't be much remembered in the future. "Looking For Today" is a more elaborate piece of music again. Not brilliant but the catchy mood is pleasant enough to bring some divertion in this album.

Those were the days of the most drug abuse by the band (especially Ozzy and Bill). The legend says that both of them were under cocaine every single day for about two years...They must have a damn good health for having survive to this treatment !

Globally, this album was a bit of a disappointment for me at the time of release. Fortunately there is a very good closing with "Spiral Architect". Heavy but completely original with the addition of some strings. I am not really a fan of such mixes but I have to say that they are pretty much bearable here. A bit mellow at times, but this is one of the best song of the album.

Three stars.

Report this review (#144273)
Posted Saturday, October 13, 2007 | Review Permalink
Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars For "Sabbath Bloody Sabbath" (November 1973), the band brought in Yes keyboard player Rick Wakeman on one track, signaling a slight change in musical direction; it was Black Sabbath's fifth straight Top Ten hit and million-seller. Musically, this is a solid album by Black Sabbath and was in fact it was the first album that I listened to in its entirety when the album was released in 1973. The album title track "Sabbath Bloody Sabbath" is truly a killing rocker that would definitely attract million rock ears by that time.

The album remarked a sad story in the band's career because their manager Jim Simpson sued them for wrongful termination. The band realized that their manager screwed them out for millions of dollars. The lawsuit went on for two years. As Osbourne said, this "Sabbath Bloody Sabbath" album was made to pay their lawyers. Through this album Black Sabbath reflected the brutal realities of the music business. "Killing Yourself To Live" was representing their grievances from the music business.

"Sabbath Bloody Sabbath" is for me an excellent album as it has good combination of melody, riff and structure. For those who have never heard the music of Black Sabbath ('coz you Mom did not let you collect their record!) can even start with this album. Keep on rockin' ..!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

Report this review (#146171)
Posted Sunday, October 21, 2007 | Review Permalink
Chris S
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Four and a half stars to be exact! Forgetting all the historical events that helped create this album, SBS is without doubt their second most influential album alongside the irrepressible Paranoid and Volume IV. Sabbath Bloddy Sabbath is probably the most musically incisive album. At their peak so to speak.... The title track opener is arguably their most laconic, acidic and vitriloc spending spree ever. Sabbath were at their peak, there is no denying that and ' National Acrobat' and ' Sabra Cadabra' endorse that very point. Sabatoge followed suit with similar themes but not so close in total fulfilment.

' Spiral Architect' is epic suff and this album will not be missed from diluted " OK ' Albums from the archives because it is so vintage in so many ways. A solid recommmendation for their fifth album.

Report this review (#147711)
Posted Saturday, October 27, 2007 | Review Permalink
Sinusoid
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars This helped me in the transition from hard rock fan to prog rock fan. SABBATH BLOODY SABBATH takes these prog rock sensibilities and merges them wonderfully with the heavy hard rock metal sound they've been developing for their whole career. The songs are still riff heavy, but carry much depth to them. Don't believe me? Take a listen to ''A National Acrobat'' as each riff and idea spoils you with catchy accessibility and cerebral pings in one swoop.

For my money, Ozzy has never sounded better here. Most people seem to undermine his singing ability, and while today his voice is marginal at best, back in his Black Sabbath days, he was a competent, powerful vocalist. ''Sabbra Cadabra'' is one of his best vocal performances to date, only to be outdone by ''The Writ'' on the following album. Tony Iommi has also taken a more in-depth approach to his guitar riffs as he gives a wonderful acoustic piece in ''Fluff'' (one of the first acoustic solos I've heard, so there's bias here), turned up the heaviness in ''Killing Yourself to Live'' and elaborated the riff pretty much everywhere.

I find ''Who Are You?'' the only slump here; the synth lines are annoying. ''Looking for Today'' would've fared much better had the production been so much better. Hearing an orchestra on ''Spiral Architect'' might sound odd, but it works so well. I may hold bias towards Black Sabbath as they were one of the first hard rock bands I really took to heart, but just the way that SABBATH BLOODY SABBATH was constructed ought to have progsters at least somewhat interested.

Report this review (#154684)
Posted Friday, December 7, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars This has always been my favorite Sabbath album.This was the album that proved all the critics wrong who said Black Sabbath didnt play with boxing gloves on.The song Sabbath Bloody Sabbath highlights Ozzys range unlike no other BS song.In the total picture of rock music this album is a masterpiece.Metal music is built on the foundation built by Sabbath.We could have never enjoyed the satanic screaming of King Diamond or the double lead attack of Judas Priest with out Sabbath.All metal is indebted to Sabbath.We however are prog fans and we hold our bands to a higher standard and Sabbath could never stand up to prog musicianship but sometimes being the first carries wieght.By the dosnt Spiral Architect sound like Pinball Wizard at first.
Report this review (#155688)
Posted Monday, December 17, 2007 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars I know it's knd of cliche to say that you really need to give an album a lot of spins to really get into the music, but of all the BLACK SABBATH's albums I found this statement to be most true concerning this record. I'm not sure if that means there is more depth to this one, or it's more progressive, or it's just me, but i've grown to really like this album.The first three SABBATH records demanded my attention, they sort of grabbed me by the throat one way or another. "Vol 4" really lacked that quality, even though there were some great songs on it, I didn't feel any energy. Perhaps that was because the band were out of there element, as they recorded that one in L.A., California. They were i'm sure in the holiday mode after so much touring. For this one they are back in the U.K., and actually in an old castle to record this. I would say that is more their element than the beach would be. It's cool that Rick Wakeman is playing on this album under the alias of Spock Wall. Haha.

"Sabbath, Bloody Sabbath" opens with a killer riff from Iommi (the king of riffs). The vocals from Ozzy are very passionate, he's really into this. I love the contrast between the heavy passages and the pastoral sections. Nice solo from Iommi 2 1/2 minutes in. Check out the heaviness a minute later as Butler lays them down, while Ozzy lets it rip vocally. "A National Acrobat" is a very proggy tune. Ward is quite prominant on this one while Iommi grinds out the melodies. Ozzy spits out the lyrics. Iommi fires off some rounds after 3 1/2 minutes. Up to this point it's been quite hypnotizing, then the melody changes to a brighter tone 5 minutes in. "Fluff" features gentle guitar with piano arriving a minute in. "Sabbra Cadabra" is an uptempo rocker. Wakeman comes in with some piano melodies 3 minutes in. Ward and Butler shine late in the song.

"Killing Yourself To Live" seems to get better as it plays out. I like when Iommi comes in playing over the soundscape 2 minutes in with some great melodies.The song changes and the tempo shifts gears a few times the rest of the way. "Who Are You ?" opens with ominous synths. It slowly plods along. It changes as mellotron waves blow in softly, but then were back to those spacey synths. "Looking For Today" is an upbeat song, I like the chorus.The guitar to end it is a highlight. "Spiral Architect" along with the title track are my favourites. It begins with gentle guitar for a minute and then a full sound comes in. Ozzy sounds great on this one. Some orchestration on this one. The bass is prominant. Amazing sound. It ends with the sound of an audience clapping.

It's not as good as any of the first three albums in my opinion, but it fits in well with them, and is my fourth favourite of their first six classic records.

Report this review (#157860)
Posted Sunday, January 6, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars Netherworld Meets Art World

Much like Led Zeppelin and The Who the kingpins of doom `n roll discard previous formulas in favour of more structured compositions incorporating elements of art rock to produce what could arguably qualify as one of the earliest examples of progressive metal. Ozzy Osbourne`s banshee wails acquire melodic qualities, Bill Ward evolves into more of a percussionist, Tony Iommi becomes an arranger of songs and multi-instrumentalist ( he plays keyboards, flute and even the bagpipes here ) while Geezer Butler`s once macabre lyrics play at nuances of optimism.

After bouts of writer`s block and rock`n roll burnout the band relocated to a rustic castle in the Welsh countryside in `mid `73 to rehearse in it`s dungeon ( where else? ) where Osbourne and Iommi encounter an apparition ( actually in the armoury ) and snap out of the creative lull to record the finest and most musical Black Sabbath album ever.

This is not to say that the rack and ruin and plodding riffs are discarded altogether but are cleverly merged with orchestral-like arrangements which feature acoustic guitars, synthesizers, flutes and even a string ensemble. Even the grand wizard of art rock Rick Wakeman makes a guest appearance on one track. The suprising fusion also results in several radiant tracks with single potential but oddly the band chooses the less-than-cheerful title track " Sabath Bloody Sabbath " b` sided with the mournful " Changes " from their previous Volume 4 album which also features Wakeman for single release. One of the more splendatious tracks, " Sabra Cadabra " , is not only a great rock`n roll song but also deals with love, sex and happiness, subject matter once athematized by the band. Be that as it may, the title track and " Killing Yourself To Live " dispirit any illusion that the Sabs have taken an about face on their gloom ridden trepidations and are placed appropriately at the opening and middle of the tracking sequence as if to make good this point. Both follow similar patterns which allow for doses of grinding heaviness which illustrate the fluctuating moods which seem to allude to the consequences of overindulgence in illicit drugs.

The Prince of Darkness himself, Ozzy Osbourne, also pens his first composition for the band which questions the motives of God. Astonishingly enough, " Who Are You " is one of the more orchestral tracks on the whole record, coloured with synths and mellotrons becoming one of the most cultivated Black Sabbath tracks ever. Two other tracks, " A National Acrobat "and " Spiral Architect " explore cosmic sci / fi themes and have lyrical depth which almost seems to indicate that the Sabs want to flush out the fatalistic mould that they embodied themselves in throughout their previous work. The latter track, which concludes the album, once again brings in various symphonic elements which actually turns their music into a sublime experience leaving the listener with a sense of solace which is evinced through the superb conceptual cover art by poster artist Drew Strizan.

While not making a complete crossover into the realm of art rock Black Sabbath`s occasional forays heard here are well worth the nod with superior production and a more lucid approach when compared to most of ther previous an subsequent work.

Report this review (#157955)
Posted Monday, January 7, 2008 | Review Permalink
Raff
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
RIO/Avant/Zeuhl Team
5 stars By 1973, the Birmingham quartet had already taken the rock world by storm, and were ready to explore new musical pastures. For a band whom many consider to be the antithesis of prog, they had worn those influences rather visibly on their first, legendary album, and occasionally on the three that followed. However, for their fifth release, Black Sabbath decided to pull out all the stops, and record an album that is more than simply prog-related - therefore the one that has the most appeal for open-minded prog fans.

The first clearly noticeable thing about "Sabbath Bloody Sabbath" (besides the elaborately, stylishly disturbing cover artwork) are the vastly improved production values, which emphasise the complex song structures and confer a definitely more melodic quality to the band's music - instead of pushing for a raw, 'wall-of-sound' effect like on their previous releases. Clarity is the key word here - Tony Iommi's monstrous, hypnotic riffs shine like rough diamonds, enriched by the constant presence of keyboards (courtesy of Rick Wakeman, though he is only credited on one track) and other assorted instruments which in the past one would have hardly associated with BS. The rhythm section of Butler and Ward is also more distinctly audible, and not reduced to a murky background roar. Moreover, it is quite evident that the individual members' technical proficiency has improved, as well as their compositional skills. All of this makes SBS the band's most musically accomplished album so far.

While the title-track opens the album by closely following the style of Sabbath's earlier albums, with Ozzy's voice at its whiniest over Iommi's crunching, relentless riffing - a real, heavy metal behemoth of a song - "A National Acrobat" (at over 6 minutes, the longest song on the album) suddenly steers things into a different territory. In spite of the band's trademark riff galore, there is also an air of melody and sophistication which is further developed throughout the album. Gentle, wistful instrumental "Fluff" offers a moment of respite before "Sabbra Cadabra", the only track in which Wakeman is esplicitly credited, contributing his brilliant piano lines to this driving, energetic heavy rocker.

The second part of the album is also the proggiest, with keyboards taking centre stage, and song structures becoming increasingly more elaborate. The sneaky, obsessive synthetiser riff of "Who Are You?", mimicked by Ozzy's eerie vocal tones, relaxes into a beautiful piano interlude. "Killing Yourself to Live", one of the most complex songs on the album, contains a bitter, sarcastic indictment of the music industry, driven by Iommi's corrosive riffing and Ozzy's sneering vocals. While "Looking for Today" is a more upbeat piece, featuring assorted keyboards and even flute, "Spiral Architect", one of the album's highlights, alternates slow, melancholy, orchestra-backed parts with more dynamic, riff-driven ones. Incidentally, the sci-fi-inspired lyrics are somewhat reminiscent of what their American 'counterpart', Blue Oyster Cult, were doing in the same period.

A true example of crossover between heavy rock and prog, "Sabbath Bloody Sabbath" has a lot to offer to the discerning listener. Even if lacking the shock value and groundbreaking power of their self-titled debut, this is an awesome slice of heavy yet intelligent music, and (together with that big favourite of mine, 1980's Heaven and Hell) their best offering ever.

Report this review (#161465)
Posted Sunday, February 10, 2008 | Review Permalink
SouthSideoftheSky
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Symphonic Team
3 stars No "fluff" here!

After the somewhat directionless Volume Four, Black Sabbath once again got back on track with Sabbath Bloody Sabbath. With this album, Black Sabbath really started to take their progressive ambitions seriously. The progressive aspects had, of course, been there all along in their music, and albums like the groundbreaking debut or the masterpiece Master Of Reality were particularly strong in progressive tendencies. With the exception of Master Of Reality however, Sabbath Bloody Sabbath was Black Sabbath's most progressive album up to that point and also one of their best very best ones. I guess that Master Of Reality and Sabotage will always be my favourites, but Sabbath Bloody Sabbath is really great too. There are no weak moments as such on this album, but I feel that there is less urgency and flow here than on Master Of Reality and Sabotage. Still, nearly every track here is a true classic!

The excellent closer Spiral Architect features a very symphonic introduction and Sabbra Caddabra, which has a more Rock 'N' Roll feeling at times, features a guest spot by none other than Rick Wakeman on keyboards! It is a common mistake to think that Rick played keyboards on the whole album but it is clear to my ears that the rest of the album's keyboards were not played by Rick. Fluff is Toni Iommi's traditional acoustic piece and it is again a very good one, perhaps it is a bit too long for its own good, though.

For me this is one of Black Sabbath's best albums and a near-perfect album in its own right. A must for all fans of the heavier side of Prog or the proggier side of Heavy Metal.

Very highly recommended!

Report this review (#177921)
Posted Wednesday, July 23, 2008 | Review Permalink
Tarcisio Moura
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars Black Sabbath´s fifth studio album is their best and the most progressive of their discography, at least up to this point. It was a truly remarkable album that showed both critics and public they really were better musicians and songwriters than most people thought (including fans) or cared. There were already glimpses of their skills on earlier releases, most notably on Vol. 4, but on Sabbath Bloody Sabbath they really surfaced as a very versatile, strong and accomplished band.

Most prog fans here make a point of noting that Rick Wakeman plays on the album so to give the CD a kind of prog credential. Unfortunatly for those who were not curious enough to dig some more information, Wakeman plays only on one single track (piano and synth on Sabbra Cadabra). All of other keyboards duties are handled by band members Tony Iommi and Geezer Butler. Some reviewers insist on the old legend that Wakeman is the one behind Who Are You´s tasteful keyboard lines, but all involved have denied that claim through several interviews during the years. it is like som ecould not believe Ionni or Butler were not talented enough to do such job! Iommi specially is quite proeminent here, playing a nice piano and Harpsichord(!) on the instrumental Fluff and adding great flute licks on Living For Today. Not bad for a guy who has already being called ´riffmaster´!

Production is way better than earlier releases and some orchestral arrangements help enhance more progressive experiments on songs like Spiral Architect. Of course the band is not really symphonic, but clearly had expanded the bounderies of heavy music like very few others did, before or since. And on this particular CD they are at their peak, both as writers and players. There is not one single filler in the entire album. Of course some tracks are better than others, but that´s more to do about personal tastes than any song flaws.

Even if some earlier stuff had more proto metal classics than this one, Sabbath Bloody Sabbath is their masterpiece in rock music as a whole. They proved they could deliver a fine work of art and that heavy music could be really progressive. Varied and very well crafted, this album impressed me a lot in a time my heroes were Yes and Genesis. Most radical progheads at the time had the same reaction. Black Sabbath and Deep Purple proved prog and heavy were not so far apart as it seemed at the beginning.

Classic album, a masterpiece of prog music (even if it is heavy prog!). 5 stars.

Report this review (#178333)
Posted Monday, July 28, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars So, I was at my local public library earlier this week and came upon this album. Right off the bat, I'll say, I've never really taken a liking to Black Sabbath (I do own Paranoid), but in all fairness I never really gave them a chance either. I decided to check it out. I listened to it three times. The first two, pretty much right in a row, and then a third a couple hours later, louder as well. What can I say, I am impressed. A previous reviewer wrote something along the lines of there's more to Black Sabbath then what meets the eye I couldn't agree more. I never questioned the musicianship of this band, but never respected them either, until now. Sabbra Cadabra is the highlight of the album, with honorable mentions to Who Are You and a personal favorite Spiral Architect. I can't believe this album came out in 73', and it's their 5th work! They were so ahead of their time. Its almost mind blowing that they were cranking out this heavy stuff so early. I'm really going to put some effort into checking out more of a Black Sabbath's albums.
Report this review (#182002)
Posted Sunday, September 7, 2008 | Review Permalink
UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Sabbath Bloody Sabbath is the fifth studio album from heavy metal legends Black Sabbath. Their previous four albums are all classic early seventies heavy metal. Dirty, raw and mainly power chord driven music with the distinct wailing vocals from Ozzy Osbourne. Sabbath Bloody Sabbath is a bit different from the first four albums because it is a bit more well produced and at times a bit more well composed ( not that it´s always a good thing). The raw and primitive productions from the first four albums are forgotten while listening to the polished sound on Sabbath Bloody Sabbath.

The music is still distorted and power chord driven heavy metal, but there are also some acoustic parts in the songs which contributes greatly to the diversity and even at times remind me of progressive rock. The progressive rock influence is of course also due to the fact that Rick Wakeman ( Yes) guests on keyboards. Most notable on Who Are You?. Most songs are still dark and heavy rock songs. Songs like Sabbath Bloody Sabbath, A National Acrobat and Killing Yourself to Live are really heavy tunes while Sabbra Cadabra, Looking for Today ( which I find to be the weakest heavy song here) and Spiral Architect have progressive moments. The latter even has some symphonic tendencies.

The instrumental Fluff which is a mostly acoustic guitar and piano driven song was Toni Iommi´s reaction to the bad reviews that Black Sabbath got from the press in those days. He desperately wanted to show the world that Black Sabbath was more than a primitive heavy metal band. Even though Fluff is a beautiful song it´s a bit boring in my ears and easily my least favorite track here. Too bad Iommi would continue this trend on the next couple of albums trying to please the reviewers. Black Sabbath was always best when they played their most heavy songs IMO.

The musicianship seems to have taken a notch up since Vol.4 but maybe that´s more due to the polished sound than to the actual skills of the musicians.

I actually thought about giving Sabbath Bloody Sabbath a 5 star rating but came to my senses. The more I think about it the more I realise that I enjoy the more raw and primitive early albums from Black Sabbath more than this more polished version. But let me state that it´s not because I don´t think that Sabbath Bloody Sabbath is an excellent album, because I´m gonna give it 4 stars. It really is an essential Black Sabbath album and it comes down to personal taste if it´s a 4 or a 5 star rating IMO.

Report this review (#183613)
Posted Friday, September 26, 2008 | Review Permalink
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!
Report this review (#185462)
Posted Monday, October 13, 2008 | Review Permalink
Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars Who are you? Well, Rick Wakeman actually!

Recorded in 1973, "Sabbath bloody Sabbath" represents a minor turning point for Black Sabbath. Here, they begin a two album drift taking them as close as they would come to prog, with the following "Sabotage" for me being a genuine prog album.

Back to "SbS" though, and although we have an unchanged line up, the presence of Rick Wakeman guesting on keyboards gives us an immediate indication that we can expect an element of refinement in the band's style. That expectation is confirmed loudest and clearest on "Who are you", where Wakeman's heavy synth tones dominate the song. The sound he creates here was still relatively novel at the time this album was released, and it's appearance on a track by a band who up until this point had been as predictable as Status Quo, raised many an eyebrow.

The album overall is not as radically different as "Who are you" might imply though, the distinctive riffs of Tony Iommi still dictating the overall mood. There is an emphasis on melody and a slightly softer edge to the album as a whole here which will make it more appealing to those who perceive the Sabs only as the band who made "Paranoid". The opening title track for example will surprise many with its more intricate structure and thoughtful arrangement. Later we have the fine balance of the acoustic instrumental "Fluff", named if I remember correctly after legendary DJ Alan "Fluff" Freeman, a man who did so much to promote prog and good music in general.

Like Uriah Heep, Black Sabbath have tended through the years to me misunderstood and conveniently labelled as simply being a band of heavy riffs and little else. Those with such a perception of the Sabs should try "Sabbath Bloody Sabbath", they may be pleasantly surprised.

Report this review (#190603)
Posted Thursday, November 27, 2008 | Review Permalink
The Quiet One
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars Prog Bloody Rock

Sabbath's 5th studio album, is in my humble opinion there best in means of composition, being highly elaborated compared to their previous albums. This album is what I would like to call Sabbath's Heavy Prog album. It isn't actually for Rick Wakeman's addition, if not for the inclusion of keys as an important role of the music. The rest of the line-up is the same, Tony on the guitar, Ozzy on the vocals, Geezer on the bass and Bill on the drums.

Another difference from previous Sabbath albums is that this album brings no more 'verse-chorus-verse-chorus' formula to the songs(well, on most of them), even if in previous albums they had adventured like in the songs War Pigs or Faires Were Boots or Wheels of Confusion, those still featured the heavy and raw sound of their debut, here the Prog aspects are predominant and not made coincidentally. But I'll have to warn you, while Sabbath is proggier they're also more melodic, key factors being the use of keyboards, Ozzy having a drastic change of voice, Geezer's bass is not sludgy and as present as before, and due to the cleaner production. However, compared to other classic Rock/Prog bands, Sabbath Bloody Sabbath is still relatively heavy.

The album opens up with the killer title track. While it may seem a simple hard rock song from the first listen, you'll then discover that there's more to that: swift of riffs and contrasting acoustic guitar. A fantastic way to open an album, and it very much sums up the new sound of this album.

The album follows up with A National Acrobat. Another heavy song, with again time and mood changes. This song, as the previous one, evolves into heavier moods, led by Tony's heavy riffing. There's a lot of complex stuff through the song.

Typical for a Sabbath album, you got a soft instrumental between the heavy songs, this one is called Fluff. While I never was fond of them, this one is a pretty nice one with acoustic guitar and piano. Though as always, well at least for me, they're a bit out of place.

The album continues with the famous Sabbra Cadabra. As the first two tunes, this one starts off as an unstoppable machine of heavy guitar/bass riffing with Bill doing some fine drumming. However, in the middle of the song you got a drastic transformation with synths and piano by virtuoso key-man, Rick Wakeman. The mood there is a bit more funky if you want, but still the main riff is there hidden. The one who shines here, besides Rick, is Geezer's stunning bass playing.

Next stop, Killing Yourself to Live. Another evolutionary buddy as the already mentioned ones. Amazing this song is, a tiny-epic, even if it's just 5:41 minutes, seems like 10. You got some few synths, but the dominating instrument here is Tony's razor guitar, it kills everything in it's way, giving some fantastic solos throughout the whole song, as well as riffs.

We continue and we find Who Are You?. A synth led song, a tad too electronic for Sabbath. You have some average deliveries from Ozzy's voice and the song really is a bit dull and monotonous. Not a bad song as for what it is, but Sabbath isn't a good candidate for it.

We move on and find up with Looking for Today. Similar to the title track, mixing from electric, semi-heavy, guitar to soft, yet entertaining, acoustic guitar. At the end, the song changes of riff slowly, with the appearance of Tony's guitar solo.

The album finishes up with another killer song, and quite a classic I must say. Spiral Architect begins with gentle acoustic playing ala From the Begining from ELP, and then moves to a rock ambient but with less heaviness compared to the other heavy tracks from this album. It has some very nice orchestral arrangements throughout the song, but the end of the song is quite odd and really leaves the album open, but overall the song is great.

Certainly you may notice by just reading this review, Sabbath progressed a lot. While there are some flaws like the experimental Who Are You? breaking the whole majestic flow, nonetheless this is a masterpiece: Sabbath's most elaborated album. Highly recomended for Heavy Prog and Hard Rock fans!

Report this review (#194615)
Posted Sunday, December 21, 2008 | Review Permalink
b_olariu
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars BLack Sabbath was and is a big influence for many bands, doesn't matter if they are prog bands, heavy, doom, etc, because of their manner of interpretation and stunning ideas made them to be one of the best bands ever and one of the most respected in music circles. Now it may sound strange for some of you but I don't considered this album release in 1973 named Sabbath bloody sabbath to their best as amany claim here, is just another typical album for them, maybe in places a little light then previous works but not the best for sure, at least not for me.The music remain on same coordonates like on Master of reality for ex, but in places is more sophisticated , even more proggish than on those albums mentioned before. Here are everything from changing moods, heavy riffs, great choruse, nice keboards arrangements, Ozzy's voice shine on every piece, so a good album for sure. Master of reality and Vol 4 are the best Sabbath albums with Ozzy no doubt for me. Anyway this album is the peak of their career, leaving the listner with no regrets after purchase him. The sound was clearly more crystal than on previouses works and even lighter, but keeping that doomy atmosphere on almost all pieces, they even collaborate with one of the best keybord players ever from prog music - Rick Wakeman - this collaboration turn to be very good - th example is the piece - Sabbra Cadabra. No doubt a solid album, not only for them but to '70's music, many musicians have this Sabbath bloody sabbath as main influence in their music. All the pieces stands as strong and very well written, the band is in their most accompliced moment of their career, but with all that not better than previouses works and not better than Sabotage, the next one from 1975. To me this is a solid 4 stars, recommended to anyone intrsted to discover the sound of the best band from the gloomy Birmingham.
Report this review (#200776)
Posted Tuesday, January 27, 2009 | Review Permalink
3 stars

This is such a mature effort from Black Sabbath, it almost came as a shock to me when I first heard it.The songs have multiple elements and progressions, the guitar work is much more diverse and varied. The whole band seems fired up, and Ozzy actually does a good job singing with passion?! Indeed. The guitars when doomed down, seem even more dark and de-tuned than normal, with Ozzy demonically screeching in the fore.

The songs are inspired and creative (for Sabbath) and remain interesting. The material is solid and never devolves into filler. Iommi could write guitar lines that wrapped around your ears and choked them masterfully. The lyrics don't venture too far from metal's cliche (but, hey these guys invented that cliche!)

I normally dislike Ozzy's vocals, but I actually am quite fond of them, here. the guitar is bluesy and metallic, either when it is sludgy and doom-laden, or screeching and flinging itself about. National Acrobat loses a bit of steam, though, and I feel it is overlong.

Fluff is a simple song, and has pretty melodies. Does it fit on a Sabbath record? I think so. It is mature and adds much needed diversity. It is also an instrumental, and no one who isn't very familiar with these guys would ever guess it came from them. Again, I feel it wears out its welcome near the end, but a good change.

As a note, the songs seem a bit muddier than normal, which is very muddy. And the lyrics, which were never amazing, seem just as mediocre. The songs also sort of lose their metallic edge in favor of standard hard rock, halfway through (at about Sabbra Cadabra/Killing Yourself To Live) Although, the guitar effect is interesting on the latter. The songs are still fairly dark, and that is a good thing. Who are you has the Wakeman work. And, it is perhaps one of my least favorite songs, here. It just comes off as a mundane little trick to say "hey, we have Wakeman!" It doesn't rub me the right way, and is hardly progressive. The keyboard riff is mediocre, and the song feels weak. It is a sad sight when my favorite part of a Sabbath song is Ozzy's singing...

The rest of the album is solid hard rock with metal undertones except for The last song, which is a synthesized strings pop rock song. The album has a good deal of experimentation form Sabbath, and a few of the numbers are absolutely great, but some of it falls flat. Still a solid release. Again, nothing ever feels like filler, the title track is damn good, and they do open their minds a bit, here. Also, some of the songs seem to go on for longer than I'd like.

Not Black Sabbath's best, but a fine listen. Three Weak Stars.

Report this review (#212426)
Posted Saturday, April 25, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars This album,which is the last in the series of classic Osbourne-era Sabbath recordings,stands out as the one that gathers more prog elements,and actually has Rick Wakeman as a guest(!).Even if the final result somewhow fails to captivate as much as Master of Reality or Vol.4(for me personally)did,this is one of the band's most relevant musical efforts from a technique point of view.If Paranoid was a major sucess due to a great number of catchy heavy metal hymns,Sabbath Bloody Sabbath achieved similar popularity without containing a any anthems such as War Pigs or Iron Man.This is a very consistent and elaborated record,and would be a masterpiece if some flaws that are unfortunately hard to ignore didn't exist.

Tonny Iommi takes a step backwards here,brining the arrangements more up front throughout the album.Although passionte moments such as Embryo are indeed missed,it's safe to say that this was ultimately healthy to the music,and passages such as the brilliant chorus of the title track reflect that mervelously.The latter opens the album with a typical Iommi riff and threatens to become a generic Sabbath tune at it's first moments,but soon evolves into a geniously crafted composition,structured in two parts connected by a very dramatic guitar solo.This is the only track in the album that became an all-time classic of heavy metal(even though it isn't quite suitable in the genre).My only complain towards it is the unsatisfatory vocal performance of Ozzy Osbourne,which in this album became to high-pitched and would actually never be like it used to again.On the other hand,the lyrics found here are among the band's very best.

For a recording as exeperimental and 'off the wall' as this one,Killing Yourself To Live and Looking For Today,although not bad songs(if again slightly damaged by Ozzy's voice) could have been kept out in favor to more prog-oriented music,or at least something in the line of Sleeping Village from the first album,a song that would be perfect in Sabbath Bloody Sabbath,with it's haunting guitar laments that are beyond the simple boundaries of therms like'hard rock' or 'heavy metal'.

Fluff,although a nice and original instrumental attempt to follow the tradition of a soft song on each record(for instance the very good Changes from Vol.4 or Laguna Sunrise also from that album),ended up sounding to pastoral and ultimately boring,but the intention of giving a break between heavy tracks remains effective.

My favourite track from this album would have to be A National Acrobat,with a swirling riff that literary haunts the song,echoing every time a verse is concluded,before the piece become a free-form experimentalism jam,with Iommi's guitar scratching the speakers.Spiral Architet is another remarkable composition,orchestrated for greater drama and with a climatic chorus,closing the album as a powerfull epic.

All in all,the overall sounding of this record is very dark,even if it doesn't holds the charisma of previous efforts.Compared to what was going to be made by the band in a near future,this is an absolute masterpiece.From an early-mid seventies perpective,though,Sabbath Bloody Sabbath still turns out to be a very good album.

Report this review (#215046)
Posted Monday, May 11, 2009 | Review Permalink
2 stars What are many fans thinking? Sure, this is a pretty good album by a classic band, but there's not much in the way of progressive rock on the album. For sure, there's "Fluff", which is a wonderful acoustic (non- prog) guitar piece, which is a nice instance of a heavy metal band stretching its legs. There's also "Spiral Architect", which is a great hard rock track with great energy, wonderful chords, and an orchestral backing that is actually progressive in nature.

However, there is not much on the rest of the album that indicates that it is a masterpiece of progressive music. It is a collection of songs with tons of repetitive riffs all in standard rock format. Granted, this is a classic band with tons of excellent riffs. It is a very standard rock album with a couple of non-standard ideas on it. Prog fans may get bored of the repetition, no matter how great the riffs, or how high the highs on the album are. Standard rock is standard rock.

Report this review (#217963)
Posted Sunday, May 24, 2009 | Review Permalink
Kazuhiro
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars The history of their music goes back until 1969. Because another had the band of the same name, the name of their bands will be renamed though they were acting with the form of the Jazz combo that is called Earth. The fashion of psychedelic was active at the last time of the 1960's and people were sensitive to the fashion. After announcing the tune of the single in 1970, they announce first album "Black Sabbath". They announce the album with the composition of a reformative performance and an overwhelming tune always afterwards. Their mid-term music characters might have left the top and a few reverberations with this album in a general opinion though the evaluation of "Master Of Reality" or "Vol.4" was high. After it had debuted, they always challenged the composition of a reformative tune. It is gradually weeded out and the perfection of the tune has increased though their debut albums had the element of Blues a little. Their styles reach the very top by established extent "Vol.4". However, it is said that work to invent the tune after "Vol.4" is announced became difficult them. The idea and the directionality of the tune might have been a little loose. However, they kept challenging the creation of music further. It was Riff of "Sabbath Bloody Sabbath" to which Iommi had given birth to save directions of them who had become loose. It is said that their work made progress by this idea to flow.

They change the composition of the performance, the technology, and the tune cultivated till then a little. The keyboard and strings boldly taken give musical the tension and the extension further. It works at the direction where the appointment of Rick Wakeman to perform the keyboard in "Sabbra Cadabra" is good. The member of Sabbath is doing the work of the keyboard in other tunes. It is guessed that the magic of the progress of the code exists in one of the charms of them in my opinion. Their characteristics often take E Minor to the code of the tune. However, it is possible to make anxious a new charm and mysteriously by gradually introducing the tune of the majors code into the whole of the album. These are not bad elements at all. It is guessed that their charms are doubled by introducing a little bright tune and a friendly tune. "Spiral Architect" collected at the end of this album might proven the respect. I think that this tune with strings and an active element is one of the masterpieces of them. They are chosen and, of course, this tune is chosen to be a repertoire of the re-formation.

They evolved gradually after it debuted really and were always introducing a reformative element. He guesses that the charm of Sabbath is in the individuality of the point and each member who establishes one style in the world of the Hard Rock/Heavy Metal in the upcoming album though they accomplish the revolution further.

Report this review (#223905)
Posted Monday, June 29, 2009 | Review Permalink
Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Metal Team
3 stars On Sabbath Bloody Sabbath, they tried to expand their style a bit further. They even decided to try out some progressive moog doodling from mr Wakeman, who puts in a fine performances here by the way (take it from a non-fan!) They also tried to diversify their song writing into something more polished and mature. That certainly charmed the progressive rock audiences but even though it works really well on some songs, the attempts to broaden the sound can not mask that things were going downhill for Sabbath.

Especially Ozzy has lost something for me, he's sure singing very passionately and he looks fresh and crisp like a schoolboy on the back cover but he has this very winy tone in this voice here, it's no longer the human incarnation of the hoofed Prince Of Darkness but rather resembling the sound of a goat that you stepped on the tail.

Anyway, the first two tracks together with Sabra Cadabra and Killing Yourself are excellent, the rest of the album gets painful at times. Especially the vocals on Looking for Today and Spiral Architect are very mediocre, not to say cringe worthy. Too far fetched for Ozzy's possibilities. Even Wakeman's nice mellotron parts can't hide that.

My conclusion is that Sabbath should be applauded for the ambition and the drive to go forward and explore other lands. But it doesn't sound like they felt very good at easy there. The most effective songs are the simplest ones again.

Besides, some band pictures reveal that Iommi had cut his hair and his moustache during this period. That sounds like a serious identity crisis to me! 3.5 stars.

Report this review (#255133)
Posted Wednesday, December 9, 2009 | Review Permalink
snobb
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars After very average "californicated" Vol.4, Black Sabbath returned back their more clear acoustic production. Still very heavy and bluesy in moments, they turned to complex structures, many acoustic guitar intros and Rick Wakeman keyboards indeed.

Album is much more progressive, than all earlier works, and if not excellent, has many interesting moments. Sound is not so doomy and killing you with heavy pulsation, but much airy,much more melodic.

Many songs are not slow heavy doom anymore. Lighter producing, more space for Ozzy's voice ( Ozzy never had a great voice, but because of his tembres and charismatic voice he is a great singer). In this album you can hear him better than usual.

Using softer production and Wakeman keyboards, Black Sabbath didn't become Yes for sure. But it gave new nuances and interesting additions to their music.

"Fluff"is one of their greatest instrumentals ever.

Not as excellent as their debut or "Heaven and Hell", but one between their best ( at the same level with "Paranoid").

Report this review (#255587)
Posted Friday, December 11, 2009 | Review Permalink
Rune2000
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Metal Team
4 stars Sabbath Bloody Sabbath and Sabotage look and sound almost identical to me which results in me constantly mixing up which tracks belong to which record. Still, one can't complain about having two great Black Sabbath releases!

It's definitely a surprise that Black Sabbath managed to release an excellent followup to their less inspired Vol 4 and have it not been for Sabotage, I might have started looking for a pattern of a sort where every odd-numbered release is vastly superior to the even-numbered such. Most of the songs on this album have been covered by other artists and that pretty much says everything that needs to be mentioned. These songs are literally what all metal band's that exist today listened to this record while growing up, which might explain why the metal scene of today sound very much like the material on Sabbath Bloody Sabbath! Of course, some play these riffs faster, some groove to them in a Post Metal fashion while others continue replicating exactly the same basic pattern incorporated here.

Unfortunately this album is far from the atmospheric complete experience that was offered previously on the debut album and Master Of Reality. This is strictly a song-based album where the individual compositions comprise the overall sum of the experience. Of course it's not much of a problem when you have a record filled with top notch material as it is here, but ultimately this direction would become one of the main reasons behind Sabbath's fall.

Sabbath Bloody Sabbath is another excellent release from Black Sabbath which is something that can't be taken for granted considering how their story would unfold in a few years time. To me, this album is easily in my Sabbath top three surpassed only by their earlier material. Definitely an album you should check out if you haven't already!

***** star songs: Sabbra Cadabra (5:55)

**** star songs: Sabbath Bloody Sabbath (5:42) A National Acrobat (6:16) Fluff (4:10) Killing Yourself To Live (5:40) Who Are You? (4:10) Looking For Today (4:59) Spiral Architect (5:29)

Report this review (#297524)
Posted Sunday, September 5, 2010 | Review Permalink
2 stars This review was originally posted on my music blog.

A bunch of people like this album a lot because of how different it is from the rest of Black Sabbath's golden age material, and honestly, to me, the things that make this album different from stuff like Master of Reality and their self-titled debut are also the things that make it kind of lame in a lot of places.

First of all, and this is big, the guitar work on this album is really sloppy when compared to other records. Maybe it's just the fact that I don't have a remastered copy, but my copy of Paranoid is one of those bunk-ass editions that have the "may expose the limitations of analog recording equipment" on the back as well, and it wasn't anywhere near this squeaky. Seriously, at a certain point you're left wondering if Iommi dipped the neck of his guitar in butter while he was in the recording studio, because the chord transitions are extremely obvious and, in some places, very distracting. It's a shame, since Tony Iommi is pretty much a riff genius and the sliding really detracts from some killer hooks.

When there are killer hooks to be had at all, that is. See, for a good portion of this album, Black Sabbath decided to include orchestral arrangements and keyboards because, I dunno, that's what a "serious" band has to do, at some point? The point is, it misses far more than it hits. As a matter of fact, the best track by leaps and bounds, "A National Acrobat", is the only one that's straight-up, no nonsense guitar, bass, drums and vocals. Truthfully, it's a spooky, doomy, haunting song that stands as one of their absolute best on any album.

Likewise, the title track, while very different from the usual Sabbath fare, is a pretty excellent underdog anthem, and "Sabbra Cadabra" might be the only Black Sabbath song you could feasibly dance to-trust me, it actually works. The horns, keyboard and barroom piano all coalesce nicely to make one of their most jumpin' tracks, and it's honestly a lot of fun.

Unfortunately, the rest of the album doesn't hold up nearly so well. "Fluff", while kinda pretty, is precisely what it sounds like-instrumental filler, and besides which, "pretty" probably isn't what you're looking for when you turn on a Black Sabbath record. "Killing Yourself To Live" works in places, but it displays Sabbath's fundamental misunderstanding of what makes for a good psychedelic song(hint-it's not Ozzy randomly proclaiming "Smoke it...GET HIGH!!" during the bridge for no discernible reason), and after a certain point it gets too goofy to really pay much mind to. "Looking For Today" can actually be described as being upbeat, which is basically, like...screw that completely for a song that shows up on a Black Sabbath album.

None of those songs, though, match the goofy, embarrassing failure of a song that is "Who Are You?" This is the most keyboard heavy song on the album, and to answer your question, no, they are not the tasteful sounding kind of keyboards. They're the "wom-zee- wow-bee-wom-pychuu" kind of keyboards, and they turn what should be a foreboding, ominous dirge into the band's silliest screwup next to the entirety of Technical Ecstasy. It's not a freethrow that bounces off the rim, it's an attempted dunk that somehow manages to miss the net completely, give you a wedgie and kill your grandparents in midair.

Sabbath Bloody Sabbath has some great moments, but ultimately can't live up to the metalness of the album title or the cover art. Keyboards and strings had worked for Black Sabbath in small doses on earlier albums, but this album proved that the band couldn't structure an entire record around anything outside of their core instruments.

Report this review (#297765)
Posted Tuesday, September 7, 2010 | Review Permalink
Seyo
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars This is the BS album that I discovered most recently, unlike the first four classic ones which I listened in my youth. "Sabbath Bloody Sabbath" was not available in the shops in my hometown when I was getting into the band so I never had a chance to listen it earlier. But now, when I finally got it and listened thoroughly I can only pity what I missed previously.

This is by far the most accomplished, the best produced and arranged and excellently composed of all 5 early albums. The music palette is expanded with an array of keyboards, synths, flutes, acoustic guitars, strings and percussion. Rick Wakeman's appearance, although notable, is in my opinion overstated - he played on only one track ("Sabbra Cadabbra"). Kudos instead must be given to Iommi and the company for their composition and instrumental skills that made this album perhaps the most progressive of all their albums. Highly effective and polished sound may attract even those who do not like the harsh heaviness and black murky production of early albums, followers of narrow-defined progressive rock included.

I will not mention particular tracks because all are excellent each in its own way. Perhaps synthesizer-dominated "Who Are You" is the weakest moment but overall it is recuperated by wonderful heavy/acoustic ingredients of the title track, amazing dual lead guitars in "National Acrobat" or the "symphonic" baroque feel of strings-laden closer "Spiral Acrobat". This album should be part of any decent prog collection! Sabbath at their best!

PERSONAL RATING: 4,5/5

P.A. RATING: 5/5

Report this review (#301278)
Posted Friday, October 1, 2010 | Review Permalink
zravkapt
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Perhaps the Black Sabbath album for those who don't like Black Sabbath, they really start to stretch out musically on this one. Oddly, this sounds like their least heavy album up to this point; even the follow-up Sabotage sounds heavier. You can almost hear the beginning of Prog-Metal here. I'm not sure who wrote the lyrics here, but bassist Geezer Butler generally wrote most of Sab's lyrics. Anyway, there are some great lines here that sound both trippy and philosophical: "I've lived a thousand times/I found out what it means to be, believe"; "Don't believe the life you have will be the only one/You have to let your body sleep to let your soul live on" Those lyrics are from just one song, "A National Acrobat", one of Sabbath's best songs and one of their most progressive.

Rick Wakeman plays piano and synthesizer on this album, although apparently it is Tony Iommi who plays the synth on "Who Are You?" That song is one of the few examples from Sabbath where the keyboards are more important than the guitar. The mix of acoustic and electric guitars on the title track is well done. On the acoustic instrumental "Fluff" Wakeman adds some tasteful piano and harpsichord. One of the best songs here is "Sabbra Cadabra", another one of their more proggy efforts. I'm not exactly sure without listening to them if Ozzy double-tracked his vocals on the first four albums; but even if he did the effect is more noticeable here. "Killing Yourself To Live" is another great song about suicide apparently, which includes the seemingly out-of-place interjection: "Smoke it...get high". A teenager once attempted suicide blaming this song. Weird.

"Looking For Today" is the most accesible and mainstream song on here, and clearly the worst on the album. It almost sounds like an attempt at a hit single. Fail. One of the biggest problems I find with this album is that Bill Ward's drumming seems to be pushed back in the mix; you don't notice him as much as you do on the first 3, for example. "Spiral Architect" has a string section and sounds symphonic but the song itself is one of the weakest on the album. One of Sabbath's best albums and it deserves 4 stars.

Report this review (#305209)
Posted Monday, October 18, 2010 | Review Permalink
1 stars The black sabbath and metal genre, this genre is obviously racist since they have done so many drugs they cannot stand straight.

Even if Ozzy says he likes the Beatles, he is a liar, the metal genre will do that.

The album is delved in thought and the sound recording is marginal on the copy I had, it will ruin any good conversation in someone's day like Cham seeing the nakedess of their ancestor NOE.

This metal genre has become soaked in what has become so apparent when using a reference to think along with what they are trying to accomplish, forever.

Metal can die at the groves if you disagree, They said John was poor yet the school he attended in England was titled very rich?

What they meant by poor was industrious it ties along with forever just like their lineages from NOE.

This is Loyalty asshole/bowel sounds.

There support is for the island of England over the common sense mainland referencing.

This group is advertising sex, drugs, anything it can to point the finger to perish the mainland, all island inhabitants have the conjuring system.

It is revealing that the lead singers purchase to sing was built to success while England is the location not the USA? China is truthfully the actual mainland area that features this distancing specifically Shanghai-- Shanghai surprise.

The album once more is performance based not progressive based distancing.

Report this review (#305512)
Posted Monday, October 18, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars The history of Black Sabbath is well known by most of you out there, and I agree with most of you that their six first works should be heard by everyone who likes any kind of rock music. This is their fifth album and maybe it is their finest. For sure it is the one I hear the most and everytime it blows me away.

Is begins with the title track, one of the best in their entire discography, crunchy and gigantic riffs alternated with softer parts. The lyrics and performance from Ozzy is so nice and fits so apocaliptically well.

A National Acrobat is quite psychedelich and progressive in terms of songwriting, something like the guys have never done before. A real highlight in the album, its middle and final parts are so emotive.

Fluff is the typical Iommi's soft instrumental to alternate heavier and softer sounds along almost every sabbath album. It proves the sweetness and expressiveness of the guys in and acoustic way.

It gets to Sabbra Cadabra with Mr Wakeman at the keyboards. This is pure rock'n'roll from sabbath hands, which means that doom mixes with psychedelia and Wakeman delivers a real magic flavour here.

Killing Yourself To Live opens the bside of the album. Great songwriting, Iommi shows his dexterity and variety with tasty guitar work.

Who Are You? is the most strange and psychedelic thing written by the guys. I think it is quite appropiate as the keyboards give to the song a mood of insanity and madness really thrilling.

Looking For Today is another great example of the improved songwriting here, more flexible and softer than other classic songs from the band.

The end is reached with the giant Spiral Architect. This is one my favourites songs from the band, the climax obtained here from the acoustic start to the intriguing end is really majestic. I love the lyrics, the images and ideas are so psychedelic and vibrant, yet so full of hope and joy.

Maybe this is not the proggiest album in the world but I can't give it less than 5 stars!

Report this review (#321662)
Posted Tuesday, November 16, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars Undoubtably one of the best Black Sabbath albums ever, and it even has a place in my favourite albums of all time. My favourite thing about it; how different it is from the rest. The synthesizers take some control in songs, while the guitar still has heavy riffage; makes for an interesting sound. The songs all have something worth while about them, which makes it a personal favourite.

1.Sabbath Bloody Sabbath - The heaviest of the tracks, a pure heavy metal mixed with symphonic rock and tempo changes. This is one of the most complex cuts, as the switch from heavy riffing and soft acoustic rock is astonishing, and makes for some excellent variety to the track. Ozzy's vocals are great and have an added shriek, which, in all honesty, isn't the greatest thing, but he sounds more mature. Great instrumentation as usual, but with a much more proffesional type of feeling. A metal classic. (10/10)

2.A National Acrobat - Another pure rocker, with some excellent tempo changes and incredibly demonic lyrics from our amazing bassist lyricist Geezer Butler. The stomping riff can trip anyone out in an instant, but that's not the point. The point is that the longer the cut goes, the harder and more complex it gets. Bill Ward keeps up with the great time changes and is easily one of the best performers for this song. (10/10)

3.Fluff - Not the best track, but a very cloudy and dream - like track. Pure acoustic guitar on acoustic guitar, Iommi plays well and shows that his contributions to the band are indeed larger than life at times, as the scale of this track is rather big. A track that you really can't forget for it's trance quality. (9/10)

4.Sabbra Cadabra - The most progressive and one of the best tracks on the album. Stomping rhythm section, heavy guitar riff that is so excellently played, you won't even believe it's Iommi. The track has a truely symphonic feel, while still having a Sabbath sound with the heavy vocals and the almighty riff, but is progressive in the fact that yesman Rick Wakeman plays some amazing synthesizer and keyboards, which really make the song unique from the rest. An masterpiece of music, I would suggest. (10/10)

5.Killing Yourself to Live - A much more bluesy number than the rest, it's quality is lacking in that the performance is lazy. The lyrics are about a more or so depressed man who contemplates suicide, but it's much more than that. Our friends at Sabbath play with the convincing quality. Ozzy's singing is top-notch, and easily out-performs the instrumentation on this track, as he sings some great lines. (9/10)

6.Who Are You? - A personal favourite, I don't get why it's so underrated. Repetative and trance - like in nature, the synth riff is one of my favourites, played by Iommi, was acutally created by Osbourne. The fuzz bass really adds an apocolyptic feel, as Osbourne lazily sings about the death of man - kind in a more proffesional fashion. Symphonic synth riffs at their best. (9.5/10)

7.Looking For Today - An extremely grooving track, the riff dominates the cut. Great vocal melodies make the song complete, but it's the rhythm section that sets the beat for things to come. The changes are so sudden and is much like the title track, though it is augmented by subtle flute playing, really adds an electric feel that stimulates the band through this excellent track. (9.5/10)

8.Spiral Architect - A great closer, starts with possibly the best playing of the acoustic guitar that I have heard from Iommi. He plays with a subtle passion that makes the song really complete, and the rest of the band is great too. After the intro, Butler and Ward play their hearts out and completely make the track something to behold. Ozzy's vocals are great, surrounded by the happy but gloomy instruments, makes everything sound different. Lyrics are great and bring even better connection. (9.5/10)

This album is a true classics, with no bad tracks to think of. With it's devilish album cover, it remains one of my favourites in the Sabbath catalog. I have to give this album a 5 stars for being a sophisticated and heavy breakthrough to wider and more progressive audiences around the world. A needed part of anyones collection.

Report this review (#322882)
Posted Tuesday, November 16, 2010 | Review Permalink
tarkus1980
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars I don't know this for a fact, but somehow I strongly suspect that this one cost Sabbath quite a few fans, even if it sold pretty well. Over-the-top gory album cover or not, this album is easily the band's least heavy, least dark, and least stereotypically Sabbath one to this point (not to mention the prominent presence of synthesizers on a few tracks), which basically means that diehard fans of the band's established sound will have a good chance of not liking this one anywhere near as much as the first four. But doggone it, I *like* this album, and were it not for a serious stinker (and another track that's really dull) I might call this one my favorite. The heaviness that characterized the previous albums is nowhere near as all- encompassing and suffocating on this album as on past ones, and while many will lament at this, I rejoice at the fact that this means there's some more friggin' diversity in the style of rockers Sabbath tackles.

Of course, Sabbath isn't really the ideal band to have go out and experiment, which means that there's a massive duffer to be found within. Yes, it is the infamous "Who are You" that I speak of, which is, without a doubt, my least favorite Sabbath track from the first six albums. The synth tones sound absolutely ridiculous in this context, the melody is plodding and completely uninspiring, the lyrics can't help but be noticed in their horribleness, and ... did I mention the synth tones? I like Yes and (to a lesser extent) ELP as much as anybody, but Wakeman (who actually appears on another track) and Emerson tended to play much more interesting and engaging parts than the "majestic" lines given here, not to mention that their 'beauty' parts actually had a chance to be moving from time to time. Frankly, this is a track I cannot imagine enjoying, and if you do, I have a feeling you and I wouldn't have much in common if we met.

Other than that and the ultra-mundane "Killing Yourself to Live," though, this album is terrific. The opening title track is easily my favorite of a good bunch, as it does a good job of alternating a good anthemic heavy riff with poppy acoustic parts that keep both fresh and enjoyable, while Ozzy's ever-getting-higher voice providing a good deal of entertainment all its own (especially when he yells out "You bastards!"). Throw in an all-new heavy riff in the coda, a riff that puts half of Vol. 4 to shame, and you have a really awesome classic on your hands.

The other 'rockers', though, largely (as mentioned before) avoid the kind of heaviness that had defined the band to this point. "A National Acrobat" starts out with a nice, relatively 'light' riff, before going into a cool funky, wah-wah'd version of the riff while Ozzy plays off it well (his echoed screams at the end of certain lines sound really nice here). Throw in some brief, tasteful solos, a good "HA HA!" at one point in the coda, a totally unexpected switch to an upbeat guitar line at the end (mixed in with some other riffs), and you have another un- Sabbathy Sabbath classic.

Another un-Sabbathy Sabbath classic is "Sabbra Cadabra," which is as close as Sabbath ever came to doing a generic 70's 'bar-rock' number in their prime, and which pleases me greatly because I love humming that riff and hearing Ozzy sing his "love me til the end of tiiiiiiiiime!!!" lines as well as he does. And hey, it even has Wakeman throwing in some synth lines (not really like anything he'd use in Yes, more like his solo career tones) in the middle (which don't suck, unlike the ones in "WhoRU") and contributing some great boogie piano in the ending coda. And how about those parts in the middle where Ozzy is singing those encoded "I don't wanna leave you" lines amidst some great, tasty guitar-piano interplay, or when Ozzy is laughing at the end in such a disturbing way? Great stuff, I tell you, even if some Sabbath fanatics might disagree.

These same fanatics might wish that the rest of the tracks weren't departures from the formula in the way the aforementioned tracks are, but they'd definitely be disappointed in how things turned out. "Looking for Today" isn't brilliant, but it's a nice, very poppy (in feel and melody, though maybe not in guitar sound) number that provides a good way to close things out (at least, on my copy, which I think is supposed to have this as track seven). Plus, I think I hear flutes here and there on it, which don't really add much to the sound, but are at least amusing to note. "Spiral Architect," then, takes this slight desire for additional orchestration and goes so far as to add strings to a melody and lyrics that have to be among the most goofily pretentious and overblown of Sabbath's early career, which definitely says quite a bit. Some have gone so far as to compare it to Styx, and while that's not necessarily far off, I tend to think of this as sounding exactly like the sort of thing Spinal Tap would have written in the 70's had they really existed. But you know, as much as I love to namecheck Spinal Tap as the quintessential ridiculous rock band, that movie had some really friggin' great songs in it, and this really fits into the mold of their art-metal triumphs.

Finally, there's "Fluff," an instrumental that must have pissed off many an angry metalhead to no end. There's no way I'd ever guess that an instrumental this pretty and delicate, filled with a nice acoustic guitar theme, nice tinkly piano, some moving harpsichord and an occasional 'weeping' guitar sound in the background, was made by Black Sabbath, but here it is anyway.

In short, Sabbath Bloody Sabbath is an album made for people who wouldn't think of buying a Black Sabbath album, and made to largely annoy those who would. Since I fall into the category of "Music lover who kinda likes Sabbath sometimes" instead of "Sabbath fan," that description works just fine for me. If it works for you, get it, and even if it doesn't, it would do you some good to get it anyway. Just make sure to skip the stuff that sucks, of course.

Report this review (#368066)
Posted Thursday, December 30, 2010 | Review Permalink
colorofmoney91
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars "Sabbath Bloody Sabbath" is one of the strongest albums by Black Sabbath, and notably one of their most progressive. Heavy riffs and soothing passages ensue.

This album contains the powerful riffs that Black Sabbath is known for, but also includes some beautiful acoustic strumming, and the title track contains one of the heaviest Black Sabbath moments that I can think of (almost like a proto-death metal riff). The songwriting on this albums is much better than anything they had done before and it really stands out. Also, Iommi's guitar tone often doesn't seem as dark as it did on previous releases, opting for a more metal twang that wouldn't sound out of place on a Led Zeppelin album. Every song on this album has at least one infectious groove or melody, and there are frequent changes in the songs that really strengthen the album as being progressive.

Highly recommended for fans of Black Sabbath or the more progressive side of accessible music.

Report this review (#431327)
Posted Monday, April 11, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars I was seriously questioning if PA was insane by including Black Sabbath in the archives. A very unsuitable addition, even for Prog Related, I thought. After I have been listening to their 1970s albums again, there is no doubts that Black Sabbath belongs in PA. What I thought were "merely" some sludge metal albums, turned out to be some very varied albums full of adventures and different textures. Sabbath Bloody Sabbath is no difference from this formula and it even includes some keyboards from Rick Wakeman too. I did not know this before reading the linear notes again last week, 25 years after I bought this album.

Sabbath Bloody Sabbath is a bit downer compared to Master and Volume 4 though. The tracks here are very varied and varies from sludge to melodic rock (most of the title track), space prog and even some jazz. Tony Iommi was basically a Django Reinhardt admirer and a most of his riffs is actually gypsy music inspired. That according to himself in a recent BBC interview. Going back to his riffs and guitar work on this and the other 1970s albums, Tony Iommi is most definate not an orthodox hard rock guitarist. That, I believe is the whole Black Sabbath DNA profile from these albums and why they are so interesting. In short; please give Tony Iommi a knighthood now and the recognition he so fully deserve. I am a big admirer of his work on this album and all other Black Sabbath albums.

Ozzy Osbourne does some great vocals too here. Butler and Ward rumbles on like a train in the background. Wakeman also comes out of this with his reputation intact. My main gripe is the lack of some truly great tracks here. If feels like Black Sabbath is threading water here inbetween a very hectic schedule. The title track, Spiral Architect and Killing Yourself To Live is great. The rest is not that good. This is still a very interesting album which demands respect. But it is still a bit of a downer.

3.5 stars

Report this review (#509063)
Posted Thursday, August 25, 2011 | Review Permalink
Warthur
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Whilst previous Black Sabbath albums included a few synthesisers and keyboards here on there, their use was mainly restricted to the occasional stab at more progressive rock- sounding tracks between the heavy songs that were their main focus. On Sabbath Bloody Sabbath, the group finally integrated the synthesisers into the main songs on the album, perhaps inspired by the influence of Rick Wakeman, who had befriended the band whilst they were recording the album whilst his own band, Yes, were recording Tales from Topographic Oceans, and even agreed to sit in as a guest musician on the uplifting Sabbra Cadabra.

Elsewhere on the album, the band integrate the doomy sound of their first two albums with the more mainstream approach of Volume Four on songs such as the title track and Killing Yourself to Live, whilst songs like Spiral Architect and A National Acrobat involve new heights of experimentation and complexity which suggest a fusion of progressive rock and proto-doom metal. Whilst modern-day prog metal acts don't revere this album to the same extent that today's doom metal artists and sludge merchants worship the first two or three Sabbath albums, Sabbath Bloody Sabbath still deserves to be acknowledged as one of the first albums to suggest that sort of blending of the styles. Arguably, it's the last Sabbath album to be quite so trailblazing and influential, at least in terms of the Ozzy era.

Report this review (#509535)
Posted Friday, August 26, 2011 | Review Permalink
Conor Fynes
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars 'Sabbath Bloody Sabbath' - Black Sabbath (8/10)

With "Volume Four", Black Sabbath developed upon the progressive themes they had planted in their previous record, "Master of Reality". Although their sound was still well- rooted in the heavy metal grit they introduced themselves to the world by, Sabbath exchanged some of their less refined sensibilities for more sophisticated arrangements and a generally more artsier approach than what they had gone for prior. "Sabbath Bloody Sabbath" continues this development, albeit to a lesser degree of evolution than witnessed by their last step forward. Although the cover art implies something ripped from the bowels of hell, Black Sabbath had never sounded so refined, their style creeping ever closer to the world of prog rock. "Sabbath Bloody Sabbath" may be less of a surprise than "Volume Four", but the band's firmer grasp of their 'new direction' results in a slightly superior realization of the 'prog' Sabbath.

Proggers will be quick to point out that Yes key wizard Rick Wakeman plays keys here. Indeed, he backs up the band with some inventive piano work on "Sabbra Cadabra", but it's nothing that would have been beyond the talents of Tony Iommi. Although the light timbre of the piano would have stuck out like Michael Jackson at a Klan meeting on "Paranoid", Black Sabbath had steadily built up an openness to using this and other 'pretty' sounding instruments in their work. The excellent instrumental "Fluff" is ample demonstration of the band's fully realized 'softer side'. Of course, the majority of this and any Black Sabbath album still resorts around their brand of thick, heavy rock.

This may be the first album of Black Sabbath's career where I cannot identify a true standout track that could be promised a place on a best-of compilation. "Sabbath Bloody Sabbath" still triumphs over its predecessor for the fact that it manages to pursue these progressive sounds with consistency. Sabbath have still not entirely regained their doomy heaviness, but it's certainly a harder rocking effort than "Volume Four". "A National Acrobat" is my favourite from the album, a slower track with a beautiful dual harmonized guitar lead that foreshadows the music of another legendary British metal band. "Who Are You" is a gloomy throwback to Black Sabbath's doom roots, glorifying the synthesizer and featuring some of the band's most sophisticated orchestrations to date. "Spiral Architect" (the namesake of an excellent Norwegian prog metal band, by the way) is an upbeat and fitting way to close the album, with acoustic and electric guitars backed up with a Beatles-esque string arrangement. Excellent stuff.

Although I did remark that Ozzy Osbourne's vocals had never sounded so powerful and evocative on "Volume Four", there is the constant feeling here that he is attempting to go past what is comfortable for his vocal range. Although some of his 'high notes' don't sound too bad, there are points where the strain in his voice is well evident, and it leaves him with less room to explore the emotion of his singing. Of course, it's that sort of adventurous spirit that largely defines this stage of Black Sabbath's development. Not everything was prone to work perfectly, but they did it anyway. In the case of "Sabbath Bloody Sabbath", it's very clear that they learned some things since "Volume Four". The sound is a little more focused, the compositions more consistent, and the orchestrations more sophisticated. It could have been easily expected given the band's impressive track record, but Black Sabbath's fifth instalment is an excellent album.

Report this review (#761373)
Posted Friday, June 1, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars One of the two albums where Black Sabbath peaked imo. This was a sublime release from the band and I could write a book about it and how it influenced me musically and in life. Here Sabbath enter progressive territory fully and they even incorporate keyboard wizzard, Rick Wakeman, into one of the tracks as a guest instrumentalist (Sabbra Cadabra). A major step up from the previous 4 releases in sophistication. I asked myself at the time when the band would stop improving as each album was an improvent on the last up to that point and my love affair with the band's music had long since started. Ozzie's voice here on this album was better than it ever had been on previous efforts and in fact better than it would ever be in the future barring for one more album to come. Again, on this album, Sabbath show a much softer side being "Fluff". Again, on this album, another reference to weed where on "Killing yourself to live" just after the half way mark you hear the spoken words "Smoke it". The title track of the album has always held me entranced when I hear it - it's a monster of a track including different nuances and becoming as heavy as anything they had ever done toward the three quarter of the track mark. Rick Wakeman has been credited with the keyboard spot on "Sabbra Cadabra" but then I wonder who ran with the keyboards on "Who are you". A solid five star album for me - an album that I respect for what it is, a band at the peak of their form - and the beginning of prog metal for me.
Report this review (#939376)
Posted Thursday, April 4, 2013 | Review Permalink
4 stars "Sabbath Bloody Sabbath" is often considered Black Sabbath at their most progressive. It's not an opinion that I'm on board with. Black Sabbath were innovative from the beginning. Their eponymous 1st album definitely did not sound like most popular music at the time! For the sake of comparison, I checked the Billboard magazine website. The top 3 "Hot Singles" of 1970 were by Simon & Garfunkel, The Carpenters, and The Guess Who. None of the top 10 were by hard rock bands. "Sabbath Bloody Sabbath" shows the band at close to their best, so I will give this album 4 stars.

Let's talk about the good stuff, which incorporates most of the album. I love "Looking for Today", which seems to be about life in the spotlight. "Killing Yourself to Live", which seems to be about fame, or drug use (or both?), is also excellent. One of the strong points of early Black Sabbath is the lyrics. Ozzy Osbourne can write, besides being one of the best rock singers on the planet! "Fluff" is a lovely instrumental. "Sabbra Cadabra" is a fine blues-inspired track; the lyrics are mediocre love song material. I also don't care for the synths on "Who Are You?", and they produce most of the musical material in the song.

The inclusion of Rick Wakeman, as talented as he obviously is, doesn't make an album progressive. I do enjoy the use of mellotron on this album. However, being musically progressive has to do with innovation, not with whatever instruments a band is using. "Sabbath Bloody Sabbath" includes some of the band's best songs IMO. I don't think this album quite competes with Black Sabbath's earlier records, so I can't give it the final star. It's still top drawer material, by one of the most important bands in hard rock and progressive music history.

Report this review (#986856)
Posted Thursday, June 27, 2013 | Review Permalink
Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
3 stars Much has been written here about the appearance of Rick Wakeman on this album, and how it signals a turn to prog by thease early metal monsters. But really, Wakeman's appearance is minimal. He plays on one track, Sabbra Cadabra, begins playing about a third of the way through the song, and only adds two simple synth flourishes and some nondescript piano jamming. It's as if Sabbath had been in the studio, and noticed Wakeman walk by with his synths and grand piano under his arms, and asked him to sit in. His piano on Cat Stevens' Morning Has Broken sounds more prog than this.

Despite that, by the end of the album, well, really the final track, Spiral Architect, the band actually does play some true seventies prog. It's good, but it's nothing revelatory.

Some moments sound derivative. The title track, Sabbath Bloody Sabbath, has a verse section that sounds like Hocus Pocus played on a very slow turn table, and A National Acrobat bears a strong resemblance to 25 or 6 to 4.

It's not a bad album, but I'm not sure if prog is what we really wanted from this band at that time.

Report this review (#1028024)
Posted Tuesday, September 3, 2013 | Review Permalink
Sean Trane
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Folk
3 stars 3.75 stars really!!!

The Sabs" fifth album holds a special place in many metalheads and progheads, but for different reasons, I believe. Indeed, the former will be very happy for the return of more "Machiavelic" artworks and titles, and the latter will rejoice at more instruments appearing and a cameo appearance of keyboard wizard Rick Wakeman. Personally, not being a fan of Satanist bullcrap, I also find a few weaknesses in the present album, the first of which is Ozzy's increasingly annoying voice (though he's getting better in terms from a technical POV) and Butler's bass is all too often buried in the mix, or muffled as such.

Many will point out the opening title track as a highlight, probably, because it is the higher-profiled track on the album, and though good and coming with tempo changes, it's not my fave on the album, as I find National Acrobat a tad proggier. The now-obligatory acoustic track is the 4-mins inaptly-titled Fluff, which features Iommi's piano and harpsichord and guitar over Geezer's quiet bass. Many progheads will listen to up-tempoed Sabbra Cadabra (ha-ah!!) because of Wakeman's piano and synth participation, but it's hardly determinant in the track's overall structure, IMHO. I may just be in a minority, but I find Ozzy's vocals often near-irritating on this and their previous album.

On the (more-interesting) flipside, the opening dumb-titled (not sure if it's Ozzy or Geezer"s text) is a relatively good track on the instrumental side, almost reminiscent of the Paranoid album. Too bad for the crappy lyrics though; because this could've been their best track, when considering their last three albums. Progheads will also pay closer attention to the synth-laden Who Are You, where both Ozzy and Geezer are toying with synths and trons, and Tony over a piano. A rather unusual Sab song, and the following Looking For Today continues the exploration with Iommi playing an organ and blowing a flute (remember his short Tull membership). The album-closing Spiral Architect opens on acoustic guitar, before veering a bit Who-ish with their power chords, but Ozzy's near- annoying voice sort of ruins the ambiance, and almost annulling the string section's intervention. However, I will never understand the need for that short, ill-advised and useless outro.

Personally, I always found the Satanist artwork almost laughable and its back-cover hardly better, and despite its overall proggier feel, it is a tad inherently superior to their few previous or succeeding albums. Indeed, there seems to be more new ideas on SBS than on both their previous albums together, especially so on the flipside; but this old dog will still prefer their first two looser albums.

Report this review (#1076149)
Posted Wednesday, November 13, 2013 | Review Permalink
4 stars The world's first progressive metal album?

Every subculture has it's universal truths, and the heavy metal genre has quite a few: Metallica sold out with "The Black Album", Dimebag Darrell is a martyr of the genre, Dio is a god among men and above reproach, metalcore insults the genre, saying Slipknot is even decent is tantamount to heresy, and Black Sabbath is responsible (directly or indirectly) for every sub-genre in heavy metal. In regards with that last gospel truth, there is some genuine truth to that. Nearly every metal band under the sun has cited Black Sabbath as an influence. There first two albums laid the foundation for the entire genre and their next two albums extended the genre even further and indirectly influenced sub-genres such as doom, sludge, and stoner metal. So after laying such foundations, where else can they go?

Their answer was their fifth album, Sabbath Bloody Sabbath. When it was initially released, fans, critics, and even the band themselves, weren't too sure what to think about it. It received acclaim for sure, but it was vastly different in comparison to its predecessors with its use of synthesizers and cleaner production values. Some fans were put off by it and the band even commented that this was the start of when album's cost more to make due to studio influence. However, in hindsight, this album was the first instance seen of the two genre's of progressive rock and heavy metal fusing together.

The album opens with the title track, which is dubbed "the riff that saved Black Sabbath", and that claim is not unfounded. I've noticed that the reason many prog-heads gravitate towards this album because of Rick Wakeman's presence (despite the fact that he only appears on one song). Even if he played on every song, the focus on Wakeman takes away the attention from Black Sabbath's true star; Tony Iommi. Not only could the man churn out heavy riffs like a factory, but he was also the leader of the band's creative process. Without him, Geezer could not write his lyrics and Ozzy could not sing. Tony also took a lot of elements from jazz and psychedelic rock, allowing him to create unique pieces such as "Wicked World" and "Fairies Wear Boots." Sabbath Bloody Sabbath is another weapon in his unique arsenal which shows the roots of a popular style in progressive metal; alternating between heavy and soft on a regular basis. Tony plays a heavy and catchy riff while Ozzy sings his typical fashion but then Tony switches to an acoustic guitar while Ozzy sings more smoothly. A guitar solo transports us to the last part of the song which is heavier and tonally different than the first half, another prog-metal style. This amazing song, this genesis of prog-metal, is 99% the work of Tony Iommi. Let's give credit where credit is due.

The progressive rock elements are peppered throughout the rest of the album but do not come together with the heavy metal was well as the title track does. A National Acrobat, starts off with a riff similar to the title track (albeit a bit softer) before delving into fantasy-like lyrics and Tony's extended guitar solos. An enjoyable track, but it kind of meanders on.

Fluff is an excellent piece that shows Tony can write beautiful compositions on instruments other than the electric guitar. However, the instrumental sounds remarkably out of place. This is not because it is a soft song on a heavy metal album. Black Sabbath has done it before with "Planet Caravan" and "Solitude". These two songs came after some extraordinary heavy material (the former after "War Pigs" and "Paranoid" and the latter as the penultimate final song on it's album) and sounded like something Black Sabbath would do (a psychedelic journey and a mournful song). I don't detract any points because of it because a good song is a good song regardless.

The prog-head's interest peaks at Sabbra Caddabra where Rick Wakeman makes his appearance. However, the keyboards and pianos sound like something Tony could have easily handled and don't show the skill Wakeman is capable of. He recorded his parts while Yes was recording Tales of Topographical Oceans, an album which Rick hated. He even asked to be paid in beer rather than money for his contribution. I don't say any of this to insult Wakeman or his fans, but simply to show how little involvement he had and how little he cared about it (it was something more he did for fun). The song itself is like that, fun, but really nothing too memorable.

Killing Yourself to Live is a typical heavy metal song, but that's not always a bad thing. Tony still shows that he is the king of the riff even when he decides to dabble into other things.

The two songs I've seen most picked on by both metal and prog-heads are Who are You? and Looking for Today, the former relying a synth melodies while the latter attempting to be a "hit" song. While I do agree with the criticism towards the latter (I've listened to it multiple times and can't remember a single thing about it), I must confess I have a soft spot for the former. It's more of an experiment on Ozzy's part and the song does have a heavy feel in line with the Sabbath style.

The album closes with Spiral Architect, which opens with Tony playing an elegant melody on the acoustic guitar before the hard rock and the orchestras break out. A very interesting experiment that Sabbath has never done before, but manages to pull off very well.

Despite being a little rough around the edges, I believe I can (without a doubt) give this album four stars. It's an excellent addition to any prog-rock music collection and an essential to heavy metal listeners. Just as they did before, Black Sabbath sowed the seeds for another sub-genre in heavy metal, but also for a genre they originally had very little to do with.

Report this review (#1504938)
Posted Tuesday, December 29, 2015 | Review Permalink
The Crow
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Maybe the most progressive Black Sabbath's album... But also their best? I don't think so.

Heavily dealing with drug abuse, the band decided to make a more symphonic and progressive approach for their songs. In addition, with the band fully stablished as one of the strongest rock bands of their time they had enough money to make a lavish and rich production.

However, I think they lost some of their charm in the process and this raw power that their first albums had. The guitars are not so hard this time, Iommi's solos are not so good and Ozzy incorporated his typical synthetized and filtered vocals that would become his trademark from this record till now. Bill Ward and Geezer maintained their typical and powerful sound nevertheless.

Let's talk about the songs!

Sabbath Bloody Sabbath is the best track of the album, introducing a very hard and splendid riff which leads to a more psychedelic chorus. The second riff is even better and it has surprising high-pitched vocals from Ozzy. This song is, like Wheels of Confusion in Vol. 4, a successful attempt to broaden the musical range of the band this time even more progressive than before.

A National Acrobat starts in a very Vol. 4 style, but with the aforementioned synthetized vocals. It is a sort of diabolical hard rock with great wah wah guitars and a very progressive part after the fifth minute. Very good! Sadly, Fluff is a letdown in the album. A song in the style of Laguna Sunrise but less inspired despite its good keyboards.

However, Sabbra Cadabra raises the mood with a very rock n' roll feeling. It's an accelerated and funny song with Rick Wakemann keyboards and lot of progressive influences. In addition, it also contains a great piano improvisation towards the end. A fine surprise! Killing Yourself to live starts with a weak riff, but after that the song gets better with good melodies and doubled guitars in the solo. Nevertheless, is a sort of lackluster.

And another lackluster is Who Are You?, a strange and dark song driven by synthesizers which is a bit boring despite its obscure lyrics. Looking for Today is better, despite being a bit too positive and festive in comparison to previous Sabbath's releases. The psychedelic influences appear again in the chorus in the form of mellow acoustic guitars and flutes. Fine song.

Spiral Architect is another interesting moment of this album, because it has surprising orchestral arrangements. It starts with precious acoustic guitars which lead to a riff which reminds me to The Who every time a hear it. After that we have a soft hard rock song again very festive and happy, with unfitting lysergic lyrics. Strange and not really brilliant, but interesting anyway.

Conclusion: tons of keyboards, mellotron, synthetisers and even orchestral arrangements.... Black Sabbath evolved their sound thank to the influences of the successful symphonic and progressive rock at the time Sabbath Bloody Sabbath was recorded. Sadly, the songwriting was not so outstanding this time, and they lost a bit of strength in their guitars and riffs too.

This album has great songs and very good intentions. And it's also a capital and influential record for the developement of heavy metal and hard rock. But as a whole, I think it was their less stellar release since their debut.

Best Tracks: Sabbath Bloody Sabbath, A National Acrobat, Sabbra Cadabra.

My rating: ***

Report this review (#1768334)
Posted Thursday, August 3, 2017 | Review Permalink
4 stars REVIEW #4 - "Sabbath Bloody Sabbath" by Black Sabbath (1973)

After doing three straight Zappa-related albums, I felt that it would be nice to switch over to another band and another sound. Progressive rock is a very diverse genre, and many people apply loose interpretations of it so that it can absorb other bands. Pioneering heavy metal icons Black Sabbath are a good example of that; while some will argue that Sabbath had progressive tendencies at some points over their existence, and others will say that their brand of metal inspired future progressive acts, the same cannot be said about the actual band. Nevertheless they are my favorite ROCK band and since they are featured on this site, I am more than eager to write a review about one of my favorite albums by the band, 1973's "Sabbath Bloody Sabbath."

By 1973, Sabbath was in full swing. Successful albums such as "Paranoid" and "Master of Reality" had cemented the band's reputation in the rock scene, and had already inspired several contemporaries. Even Frank Zappa claimed that the band's 1972 song "Supernaut" was one of his favorite songs. However, following the release of "Volume 4", the band found itself running short on ideas, while definitely not running short on the supply of drugs. Cocaine abuse was rampant in the band as evidenced on the track "Snowblind", but nevertheless Sabbath went on to release a few more good albums before Ozzy left. "Sabbath Bloody Sabbath" is perhaps the most technical of these albums, with the band experimenting a lot with various pitches, sounds, and instruments.

The album starts off with an absolute gem in the title track. The opening riff is absolutely brutal, and Ozzy's high- pitched and distorted vocals breach the wave of sound perfectly. The chorus is just as money, with some acoustic influences and the typical independent Sabbath lyrics. The band released a music video alongside this with the members wandering through the forests outside Birmingham in the UK, as well as some dreary shots of the West Midlands at the height of British industrialism. The band's working-class, heavy, and rugged sound matches the emotions of the area very well. The song's riff was considered the band's breakthrough during the recording process, it reinvigorated the group and motivated them to continue on through a creative dry spell. Midway through, we get our first solo, continuing on to a pseudo-progressive shift in rhythm and tempo with a bridge. So far there is definitely a lot more going on than in previous Sabbath staples, but the overall product is still simple. However, this is Sabbath's best attribute; they had the ability to take simple riffs and give them an edge the likes of which had never been seen in music until then. This motif continues into "A National Acrobat", which hammers down the point just as good as the opener. Another candy riff, with some more hard-hitting vocals. Sabbath's lyrical themes always struck me as particularly epic, especially in the rock scene. Early on in their careers, they spoke on the occult and the horrors of war, then as they moved into their Golden Age the concepts of religion, drug addiction, and philosophy seeped in. As far as I can tell, this piece is about the concept of unborn life and a creator, but there are several interpretations of this song. The classic Sabbath style of having bassist Geezer Butler follow the riffs of the legendary Tony Iommi continues, which really makes the melodies better on this one. The opening half of this song is pure gold, but it tapers off a little bit in the funkier middle section. Really, it's the first time so far in the album that I've even lost a little bit of interest, but fortunately the band returns with a very solid coda that includes a guitar solo which in my opinion trumps the title track.

The obligatory Sabbath calm and acoustic piece follows in what I perceive to really be the wrong moment. The first two songs create amazing momentum, and when we hit "Fluff", all of that momentum dies in its tracks given it's four minutes long. Nothing much to say about this one except that it's a cute Iommi acoustic showcase that would be a great lullaby song. Personally, I feel the band should have continued onto the following track, "Sabbra Cadabra" which brings us back to that typical Sabbath metallic edge. Now, for all the prog fans who are likely reading this, we get a little cameo appearance by the keyboard god Rick Wakeman himself! Yep, Sabbath was recording this album in the same studio as Yes during the symphonic prog staples infamous "Tales from Topographic Oceans" sessions, which eventually culminated in Wakeman pursuing a solo career. Bored from having to follow the creative will of Jon Anderson and Steve Howe, the keyboardist wandered over to where Sabbath was rehearsing and offered to do the keyboards on "Sabbra" for free beer after he rejected financial compensation. To make things even more interesting, Led Zeppelin were in the same studio as well, and the legendary John Bonham had desired to do the drums on this piece, but the band was busy rehearsing other material. What a shame - to have Ozzy, Iommi, Wakeman, and Bonham all on the same song would have likely produced something awe-inspiring. Nevertheless this is a very good song, another great guitar riff, and Wakeman's piano work stands out very well during the middle instrumental section. "Sabbra" grooves the best out of any of the material on this album, which serves as a testament to why it is such a popular song by the band. I would not say it is even top three given the breadth of material that "Sabbath Bloody Sabbath" serves up, but this is another great offering by the band. You can see why fans consider this album to be a work of progressive rock; the tempo changes, the prevalence of acoustic interludes, and the presence of Wakeman's keyboards make this a very musically challenging LP side, especially for a crude metal act such a Black Sabbath.

I feel that had the band put the opener to side two "Killing Yourself to Live" on the A-side, it would have qualified it for one of the greatest album sides in rock history. Seriously, this is a criminally underrated song that performs just as good as anything that Sabbath was really well-known for. It brings back the theme of drug abuse which had been experimented with on previous albums ("Snowblind", "Hand of Doom", "Sweet Leaf") but this one speaks volumes regarding the current state of the band. I feel that if you had to give a phrase to 1973-1978 Black Sabbath, it would be the title of this song. I'd go a bit far and say the riff is a little bit weak to start off this one, but Ozzy's vocals make up for it in terms of power, and the chorus is absolute ecstasy. Following a reprise, we get what I consider to be the best guitar solo of the album; it builds off the rhythm like the title track's, but this one is infinitely more powerful and rich. I'm serious - the fact that this song is not regarded more in the band's catalog is tragic. I do know that Metallica guitarist Kirk Hammett has given "Killing Yourself" the respect it deserves in an interview.

Unfortunately, after this masterpiece, the quality of the music begins to decrease pretty steadily. This begins with the synth-driven "Who Are You?". In this piece, Ozzy literally went out and bought a synth (because they were all the rage back then as Wakeman could attest to) and played it on an actual studio album without any prior keyboard experience. As a result, the synth is very simple, and as is the case with most synth, it sounds very dated in 2018. I'll give the band props for taking an experimental and progressive approach with this song, but after all that good stuff to put us into a state of euphoria, this one brings us back down to earth. "Looking for Today" isn't that much of an improvement; it comes off as the most forgettable song of the LP, obviously given it reuses all the previous motifs the band already showed off to the listener. The guitar sounds flat, and the riff comes off a little bit too generic, but there is a really intriguing melody part with some toned down noise, various forms of percussion, and even what I think is a flute which reminded me of Jethro Tull for a moment. Ozzy's work here salvages the song a little bit, but midway through I am already awaiting the closing track "Spiral Architect." After a prolonged intro, we get our first taste of the guitar riff, and so far I am definitely more interested than on the previous two tracks. This piece relies heavily on what is a pretty good riff and solo combo, and lyrically the band returns to the themes seen on "Acrobat" about life. As the title entails, this one is about the mysteries of DNA - a pretty progressive lyrical theme if I may say so. An orchestra makes itself known in the middle section of the song, but ultimately it is rather forgettable and the band doesn't really use it to their full advantage until the closing bit where they play over Ozzy's vocals. The slow build up works just fine, and while the conclusion features a corny outro applause, the album ends on a rather positive note, even if I may have not been struck by "Spiral."

Had the momentum kept going after "Killing Yourself to Live", I would have likely unveiled my first five-star review. Seriously, the first half of this album is absolute gold, as the band barrels into your head with various new sounds and strategies to further the genre of heavy metal with a tinge of prog. Wakeman's appearance is cool to see, but in the end it really doesn't have such a profound impact on the album as Ozzy and Iommi do, which is a good thing because it shows that Sabbath could still make original music without having to lean on external influences. Both Ozzy and Iommi consider this album to be the peak of the band's first generation, and while I am hesitant to agree with them given how much I like 1975's "Sabotage", I will give this album its due credit. It is strong, it features memorable and seminal works by the band, and Sabbath is not relying on the sounds that helped them attain popularity in the first place. It is a shame that this would be the turning point of the band however, as drug abuse and constant infighting exhausted the four members of the band.

The gems on this album are obvious. The title track, "A National Acrobat", and "Killing Yourself to Live" are obvious standouts, while "Sabbra" deserves an honorable mention. Most of side two's offerings are what failed to give this album five-star status, but even then "Spiral Architect" is a fine song while "Who Are You?" and "Looking for Today" are more mediocre than horrible. Any rock/metal fan should consider giving this album a listen if they haven't heard it already based on the frontline tracks alone. In terms of a rating, I'm gonna get as close to 90% as possible with a four-star (89% - B+) rating; very favorable thanks to prog influences and strong offerings.

Report this review (#1933508)
Posted Wednesday, May 23, 2018 | Review Permalink
siLLy puPPy
COLLABORATOR
PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams
5 stars When the four members of BLACK SABBATH reflect upon the time period when "Vol 4" was released they can only recall upon how the seeds were sown for the ultimate demise of the so-called pioneers of the heavy metal genre of rock music. All the members were suffering from one form or another of substance abuse and the phenomenal success of their albums gave them the financial freedom to indulge in their wildest fantasies in order to achieve the ultimate party like it's1999 scenario. Unfortunately these endless days and nights of hedonistic highs and living in the sin city of 1970s Los Angeles essentially killed the creative process and no matter how hard the band tried to muster up even the simplest of ideas, ended up in dismal failure every time. The team members that consisted of Ozzy Osbourne, Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler and Bill Ward were starting to think that the band's expiration date had arrived and were seriously considering throwing in the towel.

Luckily the band decided to return to the UK and immerse itself into the mysterious and spooky surroundings of The Forest of Dean where they rented Clearwell Castle in Gloucestershire, England where they once again were able to grasp onto the musical mojo that made their earlier albums so sinister and sensational. The haunting environs suited the band well as they recaptured the occult darkness once again. SABBATH BLOODY SABBATH was literally launched when Tony Iommi stumbled upon the main riffs while playing in one of the dungeons in the castle and the evil heaviness is what set the tone for the rest of the album to follow. Once the SABBATH dudes were acclimated to the new surroundings, the ideas started pouring in once again. Scaring the crap out of each in the spooky medieval fortress aside, the band continued the heaviness of the four previous albums and continued the experimental and progressive elements that started on "Vol 4."

SABBATH BLOODY SABBATH introduced even more complex compositional arrangements that included more keyboard styles and also some strings and other touches. While a sitar and bagpipes were attempted to be included, they were nixed from the final editing which was probably a good thing! With the heavy introductory riffs of the title track and the nightmare visions of the album cover art by Drew Struzan, SABBATH recaptured the dark imagery and darkened vibes of the debut album and "Paranoid" but also displayed a more mature musical approach that found the standard heavy metal riffing styles fortified by deviations into more sophisticated flirtations into the world of progressive rock that found the band members taming their demons and taking on the challenges in order to up their game and remain relevant in a quickly evolving music business. Despite almost breaking up earlier in the year of 1973, the band composed some of the best material of its career and once back in the London for the final recording sessions also happened to be in the studio next to where Yes was recording "Tales From Topographic Oceans" which led to Rick Wakeman playing keyboards and piano on "Sabra Cadabra."

Except for a few speed bumps, SABBATH BLOODY SABBATH gracefully returned to the Lords of Darkness' former glory with crushing heavy riffing, evil sounds and imagery and most importantly an album that holds together cohesively unlike the wobbly "Vol 4" that was bogged down by the insipid ballad "Changes" and the pointless electronic experiment of "FM." With the heavy duty bombast of the title track, the album follows with one of the band's most interesting tracks ever, the fiery "A National Acrobat" which holds its own in the heaviness department but also engages in an interesting mixing it up of stylistic changes that includes some funk driven grooves and sensational atmospheric freakery to add the proper spell casting haunting sounds. It also displays Ozzy's vocal style in full fire as he seemed to hit his stride on this album. The track takes many hairpin turns and cranks it out for over six minutes.

While the heaviness is in tact, SABBATH BLOODY SABBATH is a much more daring album as each track takes a different approach. The third track "Fluff" is perhaps the only one that fails to engage. As an acoustic guitar instrumental, it serves well as an intermission of sorts but with a running time of over four minutes woefully wears out its welcome. While similar tracks on previous albums were effective (such as "Orchid" on "Masters Of Reality") they only lasted a short time whereas "Fluff" just goes on and on with a beautiful piano run which would admittedly sound great on a Yes album but derails the tone of what the first two tracks so confidently constructed. Luckily the following "Sabra Cadabra" makes up for its lackadaisical fluffiness and returns the musical flow to sizzling. With the highly fueled octane of Iommi's instantly addictive guitar riffs and Ozzy's controlled manic vocal style, the track delivers some serious chops before Rick Wakeman's Minimoog and piano contributions take the track into the stratosphere. This still remains one of my most cherished SABBATH tunes. The arrangements and compositional flow are just flawless.

Side Two continues the musical mojo with the crushing riffs of "Killing Yourself To Live" which also displays creative compositional deviations from the expected SABBATH grab bag. Ozzy handled the synthesizer duties on all but "Sabra Cadabra" despite not knowing how to play it but still mustered up the engaging track "Who Are You?" which displays a sinister keyboard riff that sounds like the prototype of what would eventually evolve into the intro of "Mr. Crowley" in his future solo career. While simple in design, the creepy scale utilized works perfectly and continues the eerie mood of the album. "Looking For Today" is another guitar riff based track but with a more complex melodic development and while not the best track on the album isn't that bad at all. The album ends with "Spiral Architect" which includes the strings of The Phantom Fiddlers. The track is laced with many changes in tempo, timbre and dynamics and the most diverse of the album. While it contains a huge guitar riffs, the problem with this one is that the delivery style is too reminiscent of Pete Townsend and The Who in certain sections when Ozzy isn't singing. Once again not a horrible track at all but The Who segments bug me. A minor quip. The string section is actually used tastefully and works quite well.

Although the band was staggering along and pulling miracles out of their arses to keep the musical compositions flowing, things were still continuing to unravel as the members were starting to suffer from infighting and the continued drug related incidents. Despite it all the critics had finally caught up to the band's vision and SABBATH BLOODY SABBATH actually received praise from both critics and fans alike. As well as being a bloody excellent album that still keeps me enthralled, this was my first experience with SABBATH so this is an album that has a personal significance as well as just being a great album. While not as perfectly sinister as the band's first three albums, this one holds together quite well despite the many elements thrown in the blender and forced to perform unthinkable things together. Only the lackluster "Fluff" and the overuse of the Townsend guitar style on "Spiral Architect" keep me from giving this a perfect score but because this album was my gateway into the world of the BLOODY SABBATH crowd, i'll round it up every time and for my tastes a clear step up from "Vol 4."

4.5 but this one i'm rounding UP for sure ;)

Report this review (#2246915)
Posted Wednesday, August 28, 2019 | Review Permalink
TCat
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Eclectic / Prog Metal / Heavy Prog Team
5 stars Coming off the successful tour to support "Volume IV", Black Sabbath went right back to the studio to begin their new album which would become known as "Sabbath Bloody Sabbath". However, continual life on the road and excessive use of drugs had left the band exhausted, so they all took a well-deserved, yet short hiatus. When they came back to the studio, the band experienced writer's block. The band decided to go back to the UK and record in the same place that other bands (including Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple) had successfully recorded, at Clearwell Castle in Gloucestershire, England. Amazingly enough, that did the trick. The band rehearsed in the dungeons and scared the crap out of each other, and that seemed to be the impetus that got them over their writer's block. Tommy Iommi suddenly found the main riff to the title track and things just came together after that. In 1973, the album was released to the eager public and once again, the band released another amazing and highly influential album.

The album starts off with the multi-tempo and progressive sounds of the title track, dark and heavy, yet extremely inspired. This track inspired the rest of the album and the topics that would be covered by the songs. The use of synths and other keys would even be more noticeable in this album, and at this point, these were used very effectively. All of the synths and keys were played by various members of the band on all of the tracks except for "Sabbra Cadabra". Most everyone knows that Black Sabbath was able to convince Rick Wakeman to bring along his mini-moog and piano for this track, and Wakeman was happy to oblige and was paid in beer. Wakeman by the way, was a bit put off by the album Yes was working on at the time (in the same studio apparently) which was "Tales from Topographic Oceans". Wakeman's contributions to that track gives it the extra professionalism it needs and a nice, complex accompaniment adding to the dynamic quality of this album.

Speaking of dynamic quality, the instrumental "Fluff" in which Iommi plays all of the instruments except for the bass, is the most beautiful instrumental the band would ever create. This is a track that tears at the soul and still maintains the dark, somber tones of the album. The combination of the acoustic guitar and the harpsichord is simply exquisite. The addition of the string orchestra in "Spiral Architect" also adds to the dimension of the album and brings the album to a very logical conclusion, still dark and heavy, but the orchestra literally drags the listener out of the depths of the rest of the album.

Most of the tracks on this album are excellent and the ones that are slightly weaker ("Who Are You?" and "Looking for Today") aren't really that weak. It's just that there is so much ingenuity and genius musicality to the other songs that, if there has to be any weaker tracks, it would have to be them. However, all of the tracks fit and deserve to be on this album and contribute to it's greatness. The album is a metal masterpiece and is very deserving of the accolades and praise that are heaped upon it along with the claims of inspiration from artists that came after and the entire genre of music that would result from Black Sabbath's best years. However, the waters were beginning to feel a bit troubled as drugs and endless touring continued to take their toll. Fortunately, the band would still find it in them to pull out another masterpiece album following this one before everything came falling down. 5 enthusiastic stars.

Report this review (#2353718)
Posted Wednesday, April 22, 2020 | Review Permalink

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