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Black Sabbath Sabotage album cover
4.06 | 672 ratings | 36 reviews | 35% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
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Studio Album, released in 1975

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Hole in the Sky (4:00)
2. Don't Start (Too Late) (0:49)
3. Symptom of the Universe (6:28)
4. Megalomania (9:40)
5. The Thrill of It All (5:52)
6. Supertzar (3:42)
7. Am I Going Insane (radio) (4:15)
8. The Writ (8:09)

Total Time 42:55

Bonus track on 1986 Castle reissue:
9. Sweet Leaf (live) (5:30)

Line-up / Musicians

- Ozzy Osbourne / vocals
- Tony Iommi / guitars, piano, synth, organ, harp
- Geezer Butler / bass
- Bill Ward / drums, percussion, piano & backing vocals (8 outro)

- Gerald Woodruffe / keyboards (9)
- English Chamber Choir / chorus (6)
- Will Malone / chorus arrangements

Releases information

Artwork: Graham Wright (design) with Cream Group (Art direction)

LP NEMS - 9119 001 (1975, UK)

CD Castle Communications - NELCD 6018 (1986, Europe) w/ a bonus Live track
CD Essential - ESM CD 306 (1996, UK) Remastered by Ray Staff

Thanks to Terra Australis for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
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BLACK SABBATH Sabotage ratings distribution

(672 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of rock music(35%)
Excellent addition to any rock music collection(44%)
Good, but non-essential (17%)
Collectors/fans only (3%)
Poor. Only for completionists (1%)

BLACK SABBATH Sabotage reviews

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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Review by russellk
5 stars 'Sabotage' is, in my opinion, the best metal album ever made.

Not the heaviest, certainly not the most complex, not even the most innovative. But for sheer musical craftsmanship welded to songwriting genius, I believe this is unsurpassed.

BLACK SABBATH were in the throes of enlarging their musical voice. Though known forever from the album 'Paranoid' and the single of the same name, the group had far more to offer. By 1975 they had absorbed the progressive sounds embraced by their illustrious contemporaries such as LED ZEPPELIN - and had without doubt absorbed enough drugs to think a progressive album was a good idea. They'd cooked up three albums in eighteen months, a fourth and fifth followed at yearly intervals, but this took two years to appear. It was the result of months, not days, in the studio.

It shows. The opener is relatively straightforward, twin trademark IOMMI riffs, all menacing claws and teeth, following a strange little intro. 'Hole in the Sky' features excellent drum work from BILL WARD, earning his keep, and a lovely rumbling BUTLER bass. The drama starts at the four minute mark as the song suddenly stops mid-riff, to be replaced by a mini-acoustic track, the aural equivalent of a doorstop keeping out a hurricane. Because the hurricane is coming, oh yes.

The main riff in 'Symptom of the Universe' is the riff of the twentieth century. Too simple, really, to be respected by guitarists, it is nevertheless numbingly effective, a beast at your throat. This opening never fails to thrill me. BLACK SABBATH have made something here of such simplicity and glory. Added to that are wonderful drum fills in between the riffs, then an astonishing instrumental section repeated after the second and third verses, all bass run and growling guitar. Then a bridge at three and a half minutes heralds the most crazy and unexpected transformation. SABBATH turn a song with two enormous pendulous testicles into the most gentle funk. I still shake my head at this, at their audacity and at the fact it works. Whatever they're taking, I'll have some.

And if that's not enough, this track is followed by the best song in the SABBATH canon, at least for those with a progressive bent. 'Megalomania' is a nine-minute psychedelic monster with cymbal, keyboard and guitar effects comprising a three-minute intro to six minutes of insanity. This ought to be on any prog lover's list of songs that must be listened to. Crackling, crunching, shrieking and growling guitar, driving bass, thunderous drumming, another riff obtained from the devil by the sacrifice of virgins by the light of the full moon, and OZZY's best vocal performance all worked into the most astonishingly frightening exploration of sanity and insanity. Sting me! Sock me! Truly, this is what these lads were born for. A full-on outro set to maximum overload ends Side 1, and it's five stars already.

How many times have I said it: Side 2 doesn't measure up to Side 1. How could it? Humans are given only so much genius. But this is still a better side than anything else in their career, save Side 1. 'Thrill of it All', like 'Killing Yourself to Live' on the previous album, goes through two distinct changes, as though the lads simply didn't have enough vinyl to contain all their ideas. Listening to the lead guitar in the first section reminds me how much IOMMI improved his technique since 1970. And - surprise - another Faustian riff leads into part 2 of the song. Great lyrics: "Won't you tell me, Mr Jesus, won't you help me if you can/When you see this world we live in, do you still believe in man?" Then another bewildering change at the three minute mark, and a synth-led section and a lovely guitar solo concludes the song. 'Supertzar' is yet another moment of sweet genius, an instrumental with what sounds like every massed male voice choir in Russia intoning sonorously as IOMMI takes his guitar for another workout. This track was used at concerts to introduce the band, and provides a welcome change of pace here. 'Am I Going Insane' was the single (!) from the album, and does sound oddly commercial, if your idea of commercial radio is OZZY's voice cheerfully ruminating on his sanity, something he's done on television more recently, of course.

And so to the finale. 'The Writ' is as scathing a piece of invective as you'll hear. The fadeout laughter and crying of insanity leads to an intensely dramatic beginning - I won't spoil it. Suffice to say I stuck my ears close to the stereo speakers, trying to hear the bass, the first time I played it. Big mistake. The song - actually, more like a mini opera - is about a legal dispute between the band and some former manager, and OZZY doesn't hold back. Again the song changes, this time around the five minute mark., and finishes with a piece of backroom foolery.

From the cover through the organisation to the effects to the stellar songwriting, this album has absolutely no weaknesses. Well, apart from one. OZZY complained that IOMMI's increasingly complex arrangements couldn't be replicated on stage, and so, sadly, the golden three-album era of prog-tinged SABBATH ended here.

This is not the BLACK SABBATH your mother warned you about. There's nary a word about the occult. Instead it's about the dissolution of the mind - ironic given OZZY's more recent public appearances. It is, however, the most interesting stuff they ever did. Essential.

Review by ZowieZiggy
3 stars For the very first itme, the opener of the album will just be an average song. Nothing to do with all their previous ones (on each out of their five prior albums). And the weird feeling goes on with the very short (fortunately) "Don't Start". I always wondered about the use of a fifty seconds track. In this case a dull guitar intstrumental. Come on Iommi ! You've used us to better than that ! Much better !

"Symptom Of The Universe" reverts to the great standards. and mixes the heavy sounds with some acoustic/ funky ones at the end of the song. If this must be their musical evolution, I can only applaude. But don't be wrong. This is not a song for young schoolgirls. Heavy beat is there; only tempered during a very much later stage with a softer mood : that's all. And that's pretty much fine with me.

"Meglomania" starts almost as a psychedelic song (but just for a minute or so). It is the longest "Sabbath" studio track so far. After the psyche intro, the song will build up crescendo and will turn to a classic "Sabbath" song. Solidly anchered to its heavy metal roots, this song has an inflexible beat during the last six minutes. Extremely violent (which is not always a synonymous of heavy). Still, it is a bit repetitive and it is not my fave "Sabbath" overall one, but on this album it stands out as one of the highlights. It ends up as a good hard-rock song.

One of the highlight is "thrill Of It All". A great hard-rock song with a lots of theme changes, wild beat, catchy melody. The album keeps on the good track, finally. And the next song, although not a classic "Sabbath" one is almost proggy for most of it. Imponent choirs, almost an opera (!). This should have been an intro of an epic which we won't never have...Domage (what a shame!). This is completely out of their traditional catalogue (but on the good side).

The next song "Supertzar" is very strange. Fully "Floyd" oriented ("Piper"). Completely psychedelic, crazy, funny. Thousands of miles again from their usual production. The long closing number "The Writ" will also include some extra-terrestrial moments. In the midst of the most heavy stuff, the listener will be plunged into some acoustic parts. All of a sudden. An original way to close this album.

IMO, "Sabotage" is the weakest of all "Sabbath" albums released so far. The best rating I can think think of would be 2.5 stars. Since the band is an integrant part of my youth, I will upgrade it to three stars.

Review by Finnforest
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Great shoes Ozzy! The one-two punch of "Hole in the Sky" and "Symptom of the Universe" is a potent one for any Sabbath fan, the latter song especially is just awesome. Not only do you get the monster riff, the heavy Bill Ward fills that would make Keith Moon drool, but you have that cool funky bridge towards the end. It's an amazing opening that makes you think you're listening to a masterpiece, but the best of the album is already behind you. "Megalomania" is a slow crawling beast initially with a later section that picks up steam, but here the repetitive riffs are less effective and at 10 minutes in length it gets pretty boring. "Thrill of it All" is nothing special. "Supertzar" is interesting in that it sounds like a precursor to Therion with the operatic vocals, and as with Therion, the heavy riffs and dark mood work very well together. "Am I Going Insane" was a clear sign that the ideas were beginning to dry up, really quite an embarrassing song. "The Writ" like "Megalomania" is another long mini-epic but it works better here, nice changes and some interesting breaks with acoustic guitars. Ozzy handles the emotional variances pretty well.

Sabotage is a decent rock album with one of Sabbath's best songs ever (Symptom) but it is far from a masterpiece, prog, rock, or otherwise. Surely recommended to Sabbath fans for the few good tracks but I can't recommend it wider than that. [2.6 stars]

Review by Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars "Sabotage" was my best favorite Black Sabbath album because for me personally it was, I think, the most solid in album interms of composition and musical drive. Take the opening track "Hole In The Sky": you will get everything you need from rock music from poerful lyrics, excellent musical breaks followed with great riffs and powerful drumming and wonderful vocal delivery by Ozzy. "Symptom of The Universe" which has different kind of style from any typical Balck Sabbath song. "Megalomania" which has excellent drive and energy and also the ambient "Am I Going Insane (Radio)". It's very hard for me to pick any bad track or say .. "not so good" track beacuse all tracks are excellent ones.

This album meant a lot for Black Sabbath because the album title actually represented their anger about the music business."Sabotage" and "Sabbath Bloody Sabbath" moved away from topical issues to reflect brutal realities of music industry. "The Writ" was a diatribe against their former manager; one line went, "You bought and sold me with your lying words". The title "Sabotage" was a reference to their negative experiences with music industry. As Iommi put it: "You've got to be really careful of the business side of it, not to sign anything until you've had it read. First thing to do before you learn to play, is get a lawyer."

"Sabotage" is important for me as well because when this album was released, the cassette version that I purchased had Kansas "Song for America" was featured at leftover portion of the cassette. Since then I knew Kansas. What a nice memory of the past teenage days! Keep on rockin' .....

Pecae on earth and mercy mild - GW

Review by Chris S
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Excellent stuff is Sabotage. Just when people reckoned BS had reached their peak ( well they had , kind of) they released this phenomenal follow up to Sabbath Bloody Sabbath. This album has, as one reviewer aptly references, a VERY metal flavour. More metal than any other album, maybe, but still for all the stress internally within the band they again managed to produce some of their finest work.' Hole In The Sky' is a solid opener for Sabotage.My personal favourite has Ozzy screeching' Sympton of the Universe' in the craziest paranoid voice ever. Vocally Osbourne was at his best on this album.' Megolomania' continues where ' Sympton of the Universe' signs off, angry dark metallic edged angst!!

" Am I going Insane' is also a great manic plea from the band and the album closes with the dynamic ' The Writ'. One other band followed in similar footsteps to BS from a metal underground point of view and that was Judas Priest but their longevity as a true force was much swifter in reaching a climax. A solid four stars for Sabotage. The last epic studio album from them.

Review by Mellotron Storm
3 stars 3.5 stars. Intersting that the band thanks Spocks Wall for his assistance in making this album. Spocks Wall was Rick Wakeman's alias that he used when he helped them on "Sabbath Bloddy Sabbath". Of their first 6 studio albums I would rate this as fifth best ahead of "Vol 4". I really feel something is missing on this one, i'm not sure what though. It's not as dynamic or maybe it's the lack of attitude, anger and darkness. Butler's bass work seems a little lost in the sound as well, which might be part of it. Having said that the song "Symptom Of The Universe" is a killer track, that for me is heads above all the other songs on here.

"Hole In The Sky" is a catchy track with Ozzy in fine form as Iommi grinds it out. I don't like the way it ends so abruptly. "Don't Start(Too Late)" is a short song of acoustic guitar melodies. "Symptom Of The Universe" is the last great track by SABBATH with Ozzy at the helm. Heavy, fast paced riffs are featured, and Ward is on absolute fire. Check out Iommi before 4 minutes. The lighter section from 4 1/2 minutes to the end is very cool sounding,especially the guitar. "Megalomania" is my second favourite. I like the dark, psychedelic flavour to begin with. It's building. Keys after 3 minutes before the tempo picks up with riffs. I like the heavy, dark riffs before 5 minutes and a couple of minutes later. The rest in between though i'm not a fan. I prefer the first half of the song.

"The Thrill Of It All" opens with lots of drums and guitar before it breaks out with some heavy riffs and vocals. It changes to a beautiful sound after 3 minutes. "Supertzar" has choirs with guitar throughout. I like it. "Am I Going Insane" is commercial sounding but fun. It ends with some funny laughter. "The Writ" opens with Ozzy's vocals blasting off right away. A calm after 2 minutes. It changes to a lighter sound 4 1/2 minutes in to the end. Actually after 5 minutes i'm reminded of an Alice Cooper tune.

Tough to give this less then 4 stars but for me there are far too many sub par moments.

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
4 stars Megalomania

I have been a major fan of Black Sabbath for some ten years. Sabotage is in my opinion one of Black Sabbath's very best albums. Actually, it ranks as one of my favourite albums of all time by any band. Sabotage represents for me the very peak of Black Sabbath's 70's era. It is a million miles more elaborated and adventurous than Paranoid or Vol. 4. You can really tell that they worked on this album longer than any of the other albums they did in the 70's. This is easily the most progressive Black Sabbath album.

The album opens with Hole In The Sky with a typical Iommi guitar riff, this song is then interrupted by the hyperactive acoustic guitar piece Don't Start (Too Late) and this, in turn, leads directly into Symptom Of The Universe. This song features one of Iommi's best and most memorable riffs and the drumming is frenzied here. Towards the end of this song it changes radically and a funky, acoustic part is introduced with something of a 'hippie' feel to it. I don't understand why they don't play that part of the song live, it is brilliant!

Megalomania is another great piece of music with many great tempo, and mood changes throughout its almost ten minutes running time. When you hear the beginning of this track you couldn't really imagine were it is going to end up! Sabbath once again offers great surprises.

The Thrill Of It All starts in typical Black Sabbath fashion and the beginning sounds like something from Vol. 4, a bit bluesy and not very fast paced. Then it suddenly changes into a heavy riff and the vocal melody enters. A bit further into the track it changes again, it slows down, piano and discrete synthesisers enter and the vocal melody becomes more bluesy and funky until the first part comes back. Brilliant stuff!

Supertzar is an instrumental with a choir and heavy riffing to marching drums. Amazing!

Am I Going Insane (Radio) is a very good song dominated by vocals and driven by synthesizers and guitar chords, no heavy riffs in this one. This song ends with insane laughs that segue into the last track, The Writ. This is another fantastic piece of over eight minutes similar to Megalomania. There are several different riffs and melodies in this one, with slower parts among the heavier parts. Overall, the tempo is a bit slower than in the other tracks. At the very end of this track there is a very short song called Blow On A Jug which was recorded at a very low volume. If you turn the volume up loud enough you can hear it, but you really shouldn't because it adds nothing to the album.

If you don't own this classic album you should get it now. I'm in awe every time I hear this gem. It is essential listening for anyone with an interest in heavy, progressive rock and a masterpiece of progressive music.

Review by b_olariu
4 stars Sabotage is maybe the last good heavy metal album with Ozzy behind the microphone. With this album problems begun to appear in Sabbath's colective, Ozzy begun to feel more like an outsider, and for good reason, Iommi give him some kicks in the butt because he (Ozzy) was unable to do the vocal parts on some pieces, because of drinking problems or drugs addictions . With all this problems the album was released in 1975, and surprisengly is a major succes in Sabbath career. Many considered this album among the best in Sabbath catalogue. The music remains on the same coordonates as on previous one but more heavy , more doomy. Some pieces are real winners like: the opening track Hole in the Sky - the powerfull voice of Ozzy is shown from the first note, Symptom of the Universe - this is the best piece from here and among the best they ever done, very heavy , with some solid doom sound, great riffs and solos made by the main man of the band Tony Iommi, Supertzar - is an excellent instrumental one with grandious choruses, simply amazing tune and Am I Going Insane (Radio) - a bit more mainstrem to cool down the doomy atmosphere from the previouses tracks, again solid and good. All in all a great album, among my fav from Sabbath - Ozzy years, after Master of reality or Vol 4. 4 stars for sure.
Review by Eetu Pellonpaa
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars I consider this album as a major culmination of imagination, artistic ideas and focus, being the fines record of this group along with their first album to myself. Heavy riffs have neat stoner rock rhythms, contrasted with more quiet acoustic sequences and experimentations. Compositions are great, and form a solid flow of music swirling in pleasant vintage rock themes. Lyrics and scale of emotional moods of the music makes the album quite intensive, and as interesting listening experience worth to return after many listens. Several of the tracks are quite long, and have solutions emphasizing the lunacy of their stuff, which is preserved also to the funny occult cover. Something between Budgie and Uriah Heep, maybe?
Review by UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Sabotage is the sixth full-length studio album from UK heavy metal legends Black Sabbath. Allthough easily recognisable as Black Sabbath itīs a pretty different album compared to the early releases from the band. Sabotage was the most elaborate and costly production from the band at the time of its release. Produced by Tony Iommi himself Sabotage took almost a half year to record and produce. The tensions between Tony Iommi and Ozzy Osbourne that had already started to emerge got even worse during the recordings of this album as Ozzy Osbourne felt that Tony Iommi was way too obsessed with getting the right sound.

The music is still riff based heavy metal, but there are some slightly more sophisticated elements on the album as well. Sabotage is a rather difficult album to review as it both have some of the greatest songs that Black Sabbath ever wrote and some more average songs as well. After listening to the first five tracks on the album I was sure I was gonna give Sabotage a 5 star rating, but the last three songs are not as good as the first part of the album. Hole in the Sky, Megalomania and especially Symptom of the Universe are fantastic masterpieces of classic heavy metal IMO. The opening riff in Symptom of the Universe is one of the greatest examples of the essence of classic heavy metal riffing. Pretty simple yet powerful, memorable and effective distorted guitar riffing. The more sophisticated elements in the music I mentioned above is examplyfied by the acoustic ending to Symptom of the Universe, the structure of a song like Megalomania and the symphonic ending to the latter. A good example of proto-prog metal IMO. As mentioned the second part of the album doesnīt quite hold up to the extremely high standard the first part sets and the simple Am I Going Insane (Radio) is a very average tune. For all itīs progressive promise I donīt find The Writ that interesting either. The instrumental choir and classical music/ heavy metal piece Supertzar is pretty interesting and succesful to my ears and The Thrill of it All is actually a great song so the second part is not bad at all but just not as good as the heavy metal classics that make out the first part.

The musicianship is excellent. Itīs obvious that the band used more time in the studio than they used to. Their early releases sometimes come of as sounding a bit sloppy which is rather charming but Sabotage is very well played and it suits the music on the album well. I have to give a special mention to Ozzy Osbourneīs vocals on Sabotage. Itīs like he gives his all on this album and he comes of sounding really sinister on some of the tracks.

Ozzy Osbourne might have been unsatisfied with what he referred to as an over produced sound but I think the sound is absolutely wonderful. Seldom have I heard something this powerful.

Sabotage started out as a 5 star album for me but after listening to the album many times I have to admit that I donīt find the second part as great as the first part and therefore a 4 star rating is more warranted. Sabotage is an excellent and very enjoyable album though and highly recommendable to fans of powerful riff based classic heavy metal.

On a site-note. Remember to take a look at that cover an extra time. Iīm not sure what Ozzy Osbourne is suppossed to look like but thatīs a weird outfit if I ever saw one. He looks like a cross between a geisha and Punky Meadows. Boy they must have had a great time back then.

Review by Sinusoid
4 stars Black Sabbath was unfortunately one of the bands I shoved to the side when I first discovered prog rock, and I say unfortunately because Black Sabbath has made great rock records throughout the early to mid 70's. I put them in a higher tier than say Led Zeppelin (too much over hype) and Deep Purple (came into that band too late) because I familiarised myself with Sabbath first and found them to be more musically fulfilling than I expected.

So after over a year long ''Sabbathical'' (couldn't resist) from the band, SABOTAGE made its way into my collection. Through the PAST LIVES thingy, I was already familiar with three of the first four tracks (''Don't Start'' is a little acoustic fart that Iommi does commonly); surprisingly, ''Symptom of the Universe'' and ''Megalomania'' are superior here, particularly the latter, a song I consider to be the first prog-type epic I ever listened to. I guess the studio allowed for more space to over-elaborate, but ''Hole in the Sky'' suffers from slack production and a slushy tempo, the latter problem being avoided mysteriously on PAST LIVES.

Almost as much as their previous album (SABBATH BLOODY SABBATH), this album dives deep into prog and progressive territories. Of the said tracks, ''Megalomania'' fits a prog epic description quite well and ''Symptom of the Universe'' paved the way for headbangers everywhere giving a precursor of a sound akin to bands like Metallica. ''Supertzar'' is as odd as the title; over three minutes of moaning choirs over epic guitar lines, does it get any better than that? Maybe with the overlooked rock indulgences of ''Thrill of it All'' and ''The Writ''.

This might be dubbed ''detailed metal'' as in the metal is as heavy as ever, yet the compositions here sound meticulously crafted to make an artistic statement. The only goof I could find is ''Am I Going Insane'' as it's chorus gets redundantly inane after too long. Still, I feel that this album could easily trounce much of the hard rock at the time and just maybe could compete with prog rock groups...maybe not quite...

Review by Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars After the big ambitions of Sabbath Bloody Sabbath, Sabbath found a new balance between experimental tendencies and their capital strength, writing heavy metal material. This is a far more accomplished album then Sabbath Bloody Sabbath. It even sounds spectacular!

Really, Hole In The Sky and Symptom of the Universe are amazing metal songs. Ozzy has adapted a more hoarse delivery and puts in an amazing performance, lots better then his winy snarl on the two preceding albums. Megalomania must be one of Sabbath's longest tracks and they accomplish the mission very well. The Thrill of it All is simply superb, driven by a great riff and Ozzy doing an actual vocal melody instead of just singing along with the riff. Even the chord change halfway through is successful and gives the song a very uplifting mood. Huh? Sabbath, uplifting?

Supertzar is a slightly experimental piece but successfully so. Am I going Insane is a surprisingly psychedelic track, as if Syd Barrett dropped in during the recordings sessions (well wasn't he everywhere around the place in '75?). It's an unusual track for Sabbath and I used to hate it fervently, but actually the happy bouncy music gives a nice twist to the morbid subject material. Sabbath? Humorous?

The closing track The Writ is another winner. Real dirty blues with Ozzy still in fine form. I also like the watery bass guitar effect on the quiet parts. Even the melodrama in the second half is most convincing.

I wouldn't recommend this album as your Sabbath starting point, but if you're looking to complete your Ozzy-fronted Sabbath catalogue then this one is right behind the first 3 albums

Review by snobb
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars After successful experimentation on "Sabbath Bloody Sabbath" the band made next step. If previous albums was quite interesting mix of their heavyness,some doom and Wakeman's keyboards,acoustic guitar and complex song structures, "Sabotage" is bag full of everything.

I really like experimentation in music, especially when it gave interesting,unusual and innovative result. In Sabotage there is not many of that all. Few still strong (and mostly heavy rock) songs and full list very average ones. Everything is everywhere here - longer compositions, psychedelic sounds, soft long (and boring) arrangements and even Chamber Choir. But common result for me is not new melted sound, but chaotic mixture of different sounds and pieces, without idea, system or target.

Possibly, for some listeners it sounds like kind of experimental creative. Not for me. it just not Black Sabbath anymore. Not their music, not their way of experiments even. It sounds like they were pushed just to play experimental symphonic prog band there, and they have done it ( like they were able to do it).

Some separate moments are interesting, few songs are good, but album in total for me is first their serious step to future decrease.

Review by Rune2000
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars As I mentioned is my review of Sabbath Bloody Sabbath, Sabotage is a very like-minded album that follows the same ground rules except Sabbath takes it up a notch in heaviness!

Make no mistake, this release represents one of the heaviest Hard Rock albums out there, depicting the band doing exactly what they needed in order to keep things relatively fresh. Although, it's still not clear whether the hardcore fans were interested in much change, considering that Vol 4 is even today regarded as one of Black Sabbath's best releases! Some even claim that the fact that Black Sabbath had already, almost single-handedly, carved out most of the rules of Hard Rock formula should be enough for them to stop trying. As a fan of progress I completely disagreeable with that opinion, since it was that mentality that lead to the two disaster followup releases that I shall retain from calling out by name.

The heavy first side of Sabotage is where most of the best material is, but unlike Paranoid, Sabbath doesn't change their direction during the second act. Even though songs like Supertzar and Am I Going Insane might first seem very different from anything that the band had recorded up to this point, a few revisits will hopefully unveil some of their better qualities, making them work well together with the rest of the tracks. After all, this is a strictly song-based album so I'm primarily concerned with the quality of the album's material which is safely in order on Sabotage!

This would be the last great release by the original Black Sabbath lineup since the band would spend the second half of the '70s in a complete cloud of smoke while observing all these new Sabbath-inspired acts passing them by in both the instrumental skill and in the songwriting departments. Just like most of the albums that came before it, this is another must have release for all Hard Rock music fans out there!

***** star songs: Symptom Of The Universe (6:28)

**** star songs: Hole in the Sky (4:00) Don't Start (Too Late) (0:49) Megalomania (9:40) The Thrill Of It All (5:52) Supertzar (3:42) Am I Going Insane (Radio) (4:15) The Writ (8:09)

Review by Warthur
3 stars An awkward, transitional album from Sabbath, with the prog-metal tendencies of Sabbath Bloody Sabbath competing with two conflicting visions of the band's future. Songs such as the pounding, energetic opener Hole In the Sky or the upbeat, almost funky The Thrill of It All showcase Sabbath as an accessible, down to earth heavy rock band. Conversely, compositions like Megalomania and the closing couplet of Am I Going Insane (Radio) and The Writ find the band becoming increasingly submerged in experimentalism and studio wizardry.

In particular, Am I Going Insane lacks lead guitar entirely and substitutes in keyboard riffs, an experiment unheard-of for Sabbath at the time, whilst The Writ alternates pounding, heavier sections with synthesiser-laden acoustic segments. All the ingredients which would come together in the critically-derided Technical Ecstasy are laid out here for all to see - the increasing abandonment of the doomy sound the band built its reputation on, the growing love affair with studio gimmicks, and internal discord within the band as to exactly what a Black Sabbath album should sound like.

It's a good, listenable album, but it isn't much better than "good". And when you have five Sabbath albums leading up to this one which each consistently knock the ball out of the park, just "good" isn't enough. Sabbath fans will doubtless sooner or later find this one in their collections, but I suspect most will find it gets much less rotation than the band's first five classic albums - or their celebrated early 1980s material with Dio.

Review by Conor Fynes
5 stars 'Sabotage' - Black Sabbath (9/10)

Like most great bands, Black Sabbath have tweaked and changed their sound gradually, maintaining a distinctive core sound, but experimenting with the way they choose to approach it. Everything since "Master of Reality" witnessed Sabbath moving ever closer to a more mellowed, progressive sound. While I felt invigorated as a listener to hear the band transform their heavy riffs into something refined and sophisticated, I could not help but miss the grit and ugliness that made the band's first two releases so great. By the point of their fifth album "Sabbath Bloody Sabbath", I could have sworn that the godfathers of heavy metal had distanced themselves from metal permanently.

Of course, a masterpiece like "Sabotage" was enough to change my mind.

I had heard alot of great things about Sabbath's sixth album before finally giving it a listen. Many fans of the band would even go as far as to tell me it was their favourite Sabbath album. Although the winning streak of excellent albums would allegedly end after this, "Sabotage" is a glorious return to the heavy metal crunch, all the way keeping their more recent prog sensibilities in mind. Although the idea of a 'return to roots' intrinsically means to take steps back and regress, the progress Black Sabbath made with sophisticated rock arrangements has not been lost. Here, the synths are subdued in exchange for a rekindled devotion to Iommi's almighty riff.

Although Ozzy Osbourne and his vocal melodies still reach for the high notes (as was the case for "Sabbath Bloody Sabbath") his vocals feel more accustomed for it. I have never considered Ozzy to be the most technically proficient vocalist, but his dynamic performance on "Sabotage" demonstrates he is capable of much more than his solo career lets on. The incredible closer and highlight "The Writ" has his vocals fit whatever mold the music warrants. The song is first filled with some classic Iommi riffage, and Osbourne's performance matches it with an intense, belting voice. Keeping in line with their progressive side however, the song then breaks into a soft, unsettling moment where Ozzy sounds almost like some of Pink Floyd frontman Roger Waters' more psychotic moments on "The Wall".

"Hole In The Sky", "Symptom of the Universe" and "Thrill of it All" are all powerful, rock- oriented songs driven by Iommi's thick riff mastery. At ten minutes long, "Megalomania" is a step above most hard rock in terms of its sophistication, fitting in crunchy guitars with piano and eerie soft spots. Although less than a minute long, "Don't Start (Too Late)" is an ample demonstration of Tony Iommi's skill with acoustic guitars, a haunting piece that sounds like a rendition of something Igor Stravinsky would do. "Am I Going Insane" is the obvious choice for a radio single here, despite being led with prog-canon moogs. Ozzy's vocals are schizoid and quirky, making it one of the catchiest tracks in Sabbath's discography.

Geezer Butler once said that "Sabotage" was so titled because the band felt that they as a band were being sabotaged by other people 'ripping them off'. Perhaps this concept may be seen as a heavy metal equivalent to Floyd's cynical dissection of the music industry in "Wish You Were Here". Although it's well-known that Black Sabbath weren't getting along too well at this point, "Sabotage" is among Sabbath's best work, perhaps rivaled only with "Paranoid" as their crowning statement. It's unfortunate that things would go downhill from here for the godfathers of metal, but I can't think of a better way for Black Sabbath to wrap up their classic era.

Review by GruvanDahlman
4 stars Sabotage ranks, in my opininion, as the last gasp of the Sabbath that was. If "Sabbath, bloody sabbath" was a less heavy affair than it's predecessors with alot of emphasis on the progressive side of metal, "Sabotage" is the perfect mix of the heavier side of the band along with their progressive tendencies.

The opener "Hole in the sky" is one of my all time favorites with the band and the obvious choice for me when it comes to turning the volume up or demonstrating why I love Sabbath. Heaviness, groove and potency are the trademarks of this track and kicks up a storm of utter rage. How do you pick up from there? Why not with a flamenco tune which turns into one of the dirtiest, heaviest riffs of all time: "Symptom of the universe". This song is so amazingly heavy and the guitar sounds like it has come straight from Hell's fires to the sound of Ward's doomsday drumming. Sheer brilliance!

"Megalomania" is another great progressive tune I dig very, very much. It is like a combination of "Planet Caravan" and "Symptom of the universe", that is dreamy landscapes and sudden heaviness of greatness. The last song on the album, "The writ", is simply stunning.

In short, "Sabotage" is a varied well recorded and inspired piece of vinyl. Ozzy never sounded better and the band sounds on top of the world. The darkness which always accompanied Sabbath is maybe at it's blackest on this album. It's dense and pitch black but not by any means depressing. Simply outstanding and the darkness is lit up by a band so on top of their game I find myself amazed every time I return to the album. "Sabotage" is alongside "Never say die" the album I most frequently return to, due to it's depth, variation and inspiration. Every album from 1970 to1981 is great, some more than others, and "Sabotage" is a true juwel in the crown of heavy metal and progressive metal. Great stuff.

Review by Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
3 stars In 1975, Led Zeppelin was at the height of their popularity, and as such was one of the biggest acts in the music industry. So it's no surprise that other bands were driven to copy Zep's sound in one way or the other.

Sabotage appears to be Black Sabbath's entry into Zeppelin style rock. The heavy, lumbering Sabbath sound is still there, but the Led Zeppelin influenced touches are unmistakable. Start with the effects on Ozzy Osbourne's voice, which was alread close to Robert Plant in register. Throughout the album, Ozzy's tracks are run through delays, chorusing, double-tracking and such, that serve to make him sound even more like Plant. And most obvious is the riffing. One can hear a piece of Communication Breakdown popping up in one track.

What makes this more of a Sabbath album than Zep is that Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler and Bill Ward are not the musicians that Page, Jones and Bonham were at the time. Sabbath's forte was still the dark, ultra heavy riffs. The prog touches, like the choral Supertzar, sound forced, and distract from the primal joy of the original BS albums.

Still, it's a pretty good album.

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

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

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

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

Review by tarkus1980
4 stars Supposedly, this album is totally underrated, but given that almost single review I've read for it has raved about how good it is (even people who otherwise dislike Sabbath tend to praise this one, in my observation), I'm not really sure how accurate that description is. Then again, I can't see Sabotage numbers getting a lot of play on classic rock radio, and it differs pretty strongly from the conventional wisdom of what Black Sabbath is supposed to sound like, so I guess I can see where people would be eager to apply the 'underrated' tag. Personally, I find the album more intriguing in theory than in execution, but I still tend to enjoy it a good deal more than not.

The most obvious thing that stands out when listening to Sabotage is that the ambitions shown on the last couple of albums have only increased. Whether this was because the band really didn't want to be thought of as stupid potheads anymore, or whether it was just the drugs fooling them into thinking they were actually capable of becoming "serious artists," we may never know (I'd say a little of column A, a little of column B), but this is definitely not the Sabbath of Master of Reality. On the other hand, it's not really the Sabbath of Sabbath Bloody Sabbath either; the "artsy" elements of SBS were mostly cosmetic (and kinda perfunctory, truth be told) in nature, courtesy of synthesizers or strings or whatever. On Sabotage, the "artsy" features come from the songs themselves, through experimentation in style and structure. Furthermore, the instrumentation makes a very noticeable return to the guitar-bass-drums basic sound of the '70-'71 albums, which has the beneficial effect of largely requiring the experimentation aspect to be coupled with quality riffs. The result is an album that, in many spots, can easily satisfy both an art-rock lover and a metalhead who gets off on ass-kicking riffs (as long as he can tolerate a lack of the killer tone of Reality). It should be little wonder, then, that this album is often hailed as one of the earliest examples of "prog-metal," and is almost always cited as one of the important foundations of post-70's heavy metal.

As cool as this sounds in theory, though, it doesn't cover up that there are a couple of tracks I really don't like that much. "Thrill of it All" bugs me in that the opening minute of guitar wanking just doesn't sound cool enough to me to justify its minute-long ramblings, and the main song part seems too torn between wanting to be a simplistic screech-rocker and a multi-part mini-epic to remember to bring out the best characteristics of either. I'm also not terribly fond of "The Writ," even though I like the relatively slow first part, which combines moderate heaviness with a weird "bubbly" effect on the bass that sounds to me like Sabbath has been drawing on the same muses as Pink Floyd. But sheesh, the variations of the theme that make up the middle chunk of the piece don't inspire me at all (and I'm not sure having the second vocalist trying to harmonize with Ozzy was such a good idea here, and that's not even mentioning the whispering of "cats" and "rats" at various times), and when Ozzy goes into melodramatic mode from time to time, it gets really stupid sounding. I mean, I'm all for maturity, but only when it's done right; otherwise it tends to cross the line into "laughably pathetic," which parts of "The Writ" definitely do.

Fortunately, I tend to like everything else on the album quite a bit, so a good grade still comes to this album from me. For some reason I still can't fathom, George Starostin (a web-reviewer whose opinion I generally respect) ripped on the opening "Hole in the Sky" as predicting "their soon-to-come downfall into the world of mediocrity," but I just can't see it. It's a slightly different kind of metal than what they had done before, but that's fine with me, as I was never a giant fan of their previous metal styles anyway. It cycles through a small set of easy-flowing distorted riffs with Ozzy throwing in one of his best absurdly-high-pitched vocal performances yet, and has such a nice vibe of moderate ass-kicking that I can't help but enjoy it to death. Then, after a brief (and kinda pointless) acoustic instrumental, we hit "Symptom of the Universe," which pretty much invents the chugging heavy riffage that characterized 80's Metallica and other related bands. The main riff is simple but fabulous (making it simply fabulous, I guess), Ozzy's singing sounds incredibly intense as it crashes against the main rhythm, the brief speedy section has quality soloing that Tony couldn't have even tried to pull off five years ago, and then out of nowhere they end it with Ozzy singing over a cool Spanishy acoustic guitar section. Man, if the entire album sounded as inspired as this track, I'd name it as Sabbath's best in a heartbeat, and maybe even consider an overall rating upgrade. But alas, I'll just have to settle for this piece of Sabbath perfection.

Up next is the 9-and-a-half minute "Megalomania," which I don't find as great as some people I know do but nonetheless entertains me quite a bit. The opening slower section is longer than I'd prefer, but it does have that neat effect of (twice) fading in Ozzy's vocals with incessant overdubs until he actually starts singing. And come to think of it, I do like the wailing, moody and dark bits of guitar sounds that surround Ozzy as he builds to lines like, "Why doesn't everybody leave me alone," so really, the only thing I have against the opening section is that it's drawn out too long (then again, I like Yes' "Ritual," which pretty much marks me as a hypocrite in this matter). As for the second part, it didn't really get me that much the first few times I heard it, but then one day while walking home from work, I found that not only couldn't I get the riffage and vocal hookage out of my head, but I really enjoyed singing those parts to myself almost ad nauseum. Overall, then, the song could probably be cut down to six minutes without much problem, but the stretched-out length doesn't exactly leave me feeling cheated out of precious seconds of life, so I can largely ignore that little quibble (and besides, I'd be bummed if the three minutes cut from it would include Ozzy's out-of-nowhere "SUCK MEEEEEEEE!!!").

The other two tracks tend to split some fans a bit, but I'm fine with them. "Supertzar" is definitely the most atypical track they had yet done, but it's a case where I largely applaud the band's creativity. Over the standard "dark" instrumentation, we have what I can only describe as "The Monk Choir of the Damned," as the concept of Gregorian chanting is totally turned on its head and stripped of any and all positive spiritual connotations. It seems kinda silly when I take a step back and think about it, and I can see where some might want to see this as a clear example of the band going off the deep end, but I'm cool with it. Just as I am with the surprisingly synth-drenched pop-rocker "Am I Going Insane (Radio)?," which functions extremely well as a contrast to the over-overblown "The Writ" (on my copy, "Am I Going Insane" actually ends the album, even though on most the closer is "The Writ;" that makes three Sabbath albums I own that have the ordering of the last two tracks wrong). What can I say, the chorus rules, the guitar breaks are surprisingly melodic, the synths don't really interfere much, and there's disturbing laughter at the end. Fine by me.

Overall, then, I kinda want to give this album a higher grade than I actually do (this is a low 4-star rating), since I like to dwell on positives instead of negatives, and maybe I should. Then again, those two tracks I don't like really bug me, so I guess I'll just keep it where it is. Regardless, this is a crucial album to own for anybody who calls themselves a Black Sabbath fan, and is just as essential in understanding the overall nature of the band as is Master of Reality or Paranoid. Besides, this the last Black Sabbath studio album that I can say I like with no reservations (the first couple of Dio ones are okay but only have a song or two each that I tend to love), so it can probably be considered a farewell of sorts to the band's prime.

Review by The Crow
4 stars The last great album from the first Ozzy Osbourne's era!

This time, with the help of producer Mike Butcher, they created a very solid album which supposed a little return to their roots after the more commercial and bland Sabbath Bloody Sabbath. The sound of the album is fantastic, especially the Iommi's mammoth guitars and the playful Butler's bass lines.

The drugs and alcohol problems that the band was suffering at that time had not affected the quality of their music yet and Sabotage deserves to be remembered as another seminal record, obligated to understand the heavy metal explosion at the end of the 70's.

Best Tracks: Hole in the Sky (pure Black Sabbath heavy metal!), Symptom of the Universe (along with Queen's Stone Cold Crazy, this was one of the first thrash metal riffs in history), Megalomania (one of their most progressive, catchy and incredible compositions) and The Writ (another seminal track for the development of Stoner Rock)

Conclusion: despite not being so relevant these days, Sabotage is my favorite Black Sabbath album after Master of Reality. Not so pompous and commercial like Sabbath Bloody Sabbath but far more progressive and complex.

Sadly, after Sabotage the band entered in an unstoppable downward spiral.

My rating: ****

Review by siLLy puPPy
5 stars What sounds like just like a form of wordplay on the band name BLACK SABBATH, SABOTAGE, the final album of the classic mandatory six found the quartet of Ozzy Osbourne, Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler and Bill Ward culminating all the heavy metal thunder one last time before the band effectively lost all momentum and quickly fell from grace. SABOTAGE is also one of the most misunderstood and least appreciated of the big six but for us diehard fans the album ranks very well near the top of the mighty SABBATH's canon for being one of the most intricately crafted and esoterically interesting of the bunch. Graced with epic proto-prog compositions that eschew conventional songwriting with a fiery passion reinvigorated that allowed more experimental touches to seep in, SABOTAGE allowed SABBATH one last moment of musical glory before the band hit a creative brick wall. The album while seemingly random in many ways actually makes a lot more sense once the story behind it is unmasked. The tale is somewhat hinted upon with the oddball album cover that shows the band's reflection in the mirror behind being SABOTAGED.

SABBATH had a phenomenally successful run with the first five albums but like many rock bands of the era found themselves in the spoils of riches which led to hedonistic drug abuse rituals and incessant bouts of self-indulgence. Around the time of "Sabbath Bloody Sabbath" the band discovered that the management had been ripping them off all along and siphoning funds like a parasitic scourge. SABOTAGE was created during the time when the litigation against former manager Patrick Meehan and others was taking place. Many of the references on the album are derived from the experiences of this period of time and despite the stress that the never-ending legal battles generated, the incident seems to have reinvigorated the fiery passion of distrust, paranoia and rage against the machine that made the first two SABBATH albums so amazingly focused. Despite all odds, the band seemed to channel all of the angst into crafting one of the most sophisticated and fine-tuned albums of its career. While SABOTAGE usually ranks last of the classic period amongst the general fanbase, the album that requires more than the average spins before digesting is actually one of the band's highest artistic statements.

SABOTAGE is a unique mix of stylistic approaches. Not only does it contain some of the band's heaviest moments such as the crushing "Symptom Of The Universe" which some cite as one of the first blueprints of thrash metal (another would be Queen's "Sheer Heart Attack" the prior year) but the album also contains the bizarre "Supertzar" which while based on Iommi's guitar riffing, employed the English Chamber Choir to ululate wordless vocalizations which eerily accompanied the heavy metal thunder. The opening "Hole In The Sky" sets an important tone of blistering heaviness that evokes the zeitgeist of earlier albums like "Paranoid" and the short acoustic guitar snippet "Don't Start (Too Late)" which i always assumed was about taking political action was actually an inside joke that referred to tape operator David Harris who was often frustrated because they band would start playing before he was ready to begin recording. The less than a minute echoed guitar sequence reminisces of the short instrumentals on "Master Of Reality" and provides the perfect fluffer between the heavy metal bombast of "Hole In The Sky" and the soul crushing uptempo heaviness of "Symptom Of The Universe, arguably one of the band's finest moments.

Starting with "Megalomania" the album becomes much more experimental. While heavy metal guitar riffs remain aplenty, the track which approaches the 10-minute mark displays SABBATH's most proto-prog leanings that begins with a sinister mid-tempo slice of echoey guitar fueled paranoia that slowly morphs into a heavy metal guitar riff based powerhouse. The track not only provides the perfect canvas for Ozzy Osbourne to vent his rage and discontent but also allows his much improved vocal style to hit a new level of sophistication by exploring a wider range of octaves as well as some of the most powerfully emotive deliveries of his career. The rest of the album only builds off of the momentum. "Thrill Of It All" follows suit with another dualistic one-two punch of melodic constructs. It begins with Iommi's guitar parts, both rhythm and lead generating a fiery metal experience that shifts into a more keyboard dominated second half which displayed the band's much improved integration of keyboards.

After the choral metal experience of "Supertzar," the sole single of the album "Am I Going Insane (Radio)" also proved to be one of the most hated of the band's career right up their with "Changes" from "Vol 4." While the "(Radio)" annex to the title insinuated an edit of some sort and the cause of much confusion, the title actually was derived from the Cockney slang term "radio-rental" which means "mental" and if like me you're not up on your English dialects especially in the slang department it is an understandable misunderstanding. The song itself is hardly a throwaway despite its commercial appeal. By far the most accessible of the SABOTAGE track listing, it was also one of the few tracks where Ozzy wrote the lyrics, a job mostly performed by bassist Geezer Butler. While Ozzy's lyrics usurp the guitar playing of Iommi on this one as his playing becomes subordinate, the track is quite arty in in display of heavy and soft alternate passages and Ozzy's emotive vocal delivery and lyrical content narrated the depression that the band was in the middle of.

The biggest mind[%*!#] of the album has to be the fact that "Am I Going Insane (Radio)" was a title of the penultimate track however it was the final track "The Writ" that actually repeated the lyrics "Am I Going Insane." The closer wasn't really a bona fide song of sorts but rather a melodic declaration of frustration and paranoia not experienced since the band's earliest albums of 1970. The pop melody is the most repetitive of the album and IMHO was the ultimate statement of a band truly losing its [&*!#] before the inevitable downturn which was prolonged for an agonizing two more albums which finally resulted in Ozzy leaving the band. The track is also rather symbolic. As Ozzy repeats the lyrics like a deranged declarative chant of sorts, the album ends by sinister laughing voices mocking him as if the lawyers had the last laugh. So many ways to interpret all of this but the ambiguity of it all plus the stellar instrumental performances of SABOTAGE are what has made this one of the hardcore fan favorites. While not as immediately accessible as the first three albums, SABOTAGE was in reality the peak of SABBATH's Ozzy-era creative prowess and for true fans where the six year party officially ended. A more careful analysis and the proper time for its magic to sink in will reveal SABBATH's most crowning achievements made all the more remarkable by the traumatic events that surrounded it.

4.5 but rounded UP!

Review by octopus-4
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR RIO/Avant/Zeuhl,Neo & Post/Math Teams
5 stars A poll here on progarchives has made me think to this album that I hadn't listened to for many years. It was my first Sabbath album and I clearly remember listening to it when I was a schoolboy, in particular on a portable cassette recorder while going back home from school. The walkman had not been actually invented, yet.

I can recall the guitar intro of Symptom of the Universe, which is the track that I like the most from this album, but let's start from the beginning: As a Sci-Fi fan, the title "Hole In The Sky" was enough to switch my curiosity on. The song has a regular strucure, so it's easy to follow, but the guitar riff and the high pitch vocals of Ozzy make it special. I've always thought that Ozzy's voice was perfect for the band., especially on slow songs, where it sounds really weird. But the album proceeds with the two guitars of Toni Iommi for an acoustic piece which introduces the metal guitar of "Symptom Of The Universe". Guitar then bass and drums. Bill Ward shows a lot of drumming skill on this song, and Ozzy performs greatly. Really a great (hard) rock song. I have to add that when I write a review I usually relisten to parts of the songs I'm writing about. I can't skip on this one, it's too good.

Megalomenia starts bluesy and slow. It's another great song which I was almost forgotten. The chorus on major chords sounds similar to some Led Zeppelin, but call me crazy, I've always preferred the Sabbath to the Zeps. "why don't yoy just get out of my life...". Then in the second half it turns into a full rock and roll song. Gorgeous.

"Thrill Of It All" opens the B side (I had it on tape, remember?) It's another rock and roll song, highly enjoyable. Strangely it reminds me to a Pink Floyd song from Obscured By Clouds: "Childhood's End".

Supertzar is symphonic. It features the English Chamber Choir, the same of Rick Wakeman's Journey To The Centre Of The Earth, and the choir arrangement style is recognizable. I must say that this album doesn't have any weakness. Every track has its merits and there's enough for every taste. Also "Am I Ging Insane". It's probably me, as I was enjoying this album in the same period in which I was discovering the early Pink Floyd, but this song has for me a similar feeling as Pink Floyd's "Flaming", probably is that sort of Tic-Toc rhythm. The crazy laughs and screams which close it introduce the last track.

The Writ starts with the bass, then suddenly Ozzy screams together with guitar and drums. Again, it may seem strange, but I still hear a relation with Obscured By Clouds. Apart of that, I think this album is superior to that Floyd one. I can't say if it's absolutely the best Sabbath album. I like also its predecessor Sabbath Bloody Sabbath. I can't skip any second and I've already finished writing while the album is still playing in my headphones.

Is it a masterpiece? Considering that Sabbath have been fundamental for the birth of a musical genre and this is possibly their best album I'm not ashamed of rating it with the maximum.

Review by TCat
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
5 stars "Sabotage" was the last of the great Black Sabbath albums. It also tends to get overlooked for some reason, though it is (along with "Paranoid" and "Sabbath Bloody Sabbath) highly progressive, dark, heavy and loud. This time around, the album was going to be centered solely around the band with all of the extra orchestration from the previous album left off. During the recording of this, their 6th album, the band was experiencing a lot of stress resulting from legal battles with their former manager. The band's anger from this was front and center on the album, and only worked to make it even better and stronger, though it had an effect on the band. This, along with the growing inner conflict in the band, was the underlying foundation for the album.

"Hole in the Sky" is a perfect opener which instantly displays the heaviness of the album with some of Osbourne's angriest vocals. A sudden cut off at the end of the track leads to a short acoustic Iommi solo which quickly fades being replaced by another strong and heavy track "Symptom of the Universe". This track has been credited as being an influence of thrash metal's development, most specifically in the main riff. The song features many riff changes as it continues and the last section of the song (the more acoustic section) comes from an in-studio spontaneous jam. Once again, the anger comes through in the frantic playing by all of the band members and most obviously in Osbourne's vocals, even in the excellent sudden change to acoustic in the last section.

The anger and power comes to a head in the amazing "Megalomania", an almost 10 minute track that begins slow and dark with some cool echoing effects in the vocals and Iommi creating a mysterious and atmospheric feel through the organ. A sudden change at 3 minutes sees an up-tempo shift as a new riff is introduced and a new melody starts in the vocals with a bridge that even brings in a boogie-style element. The song then shifts around with the riffs and styles for a while. There is also a lower and darker voice singing along with Osbourne in the lead up to the "chorus" during this time. The music follows this pattern for a while, but builds in intensity as an almost symphonic sound comes in with Iommi adding synths in with his guitar improvisations.

More heaviness mixed with interesting song structure changes and great riff continue with "Thrill of It All" which also utilizes a moderate tempo that is actually quite catchy in a way. Towards the center of the song, layers of synths are added in that actually brighten up the track without being overbearing or annoying. This is another big difference between "Sabbath Bloody Sabbath" and "Sabotage" in that Iommi pretty much plays all of the keyboards, where in the former album, keyboard duties were handled by all four of the members. "Supertzar" is another instrumental. It's driven mostly by Iommi's guitar but with a lot of atmospheric keys and some very dark non-verbal vocals provided by the English Chamber Choir". The track is surprisingly dark, but lightened up a bit with chimes that add a nice layer to it all.

This is followed by a mostly synth-lead track called "Am I Going Insane (Radio)". This was the single for the album, but the band members were mostly disappointed with it, and it is also the weakest track on an otherwise perfect album. The last track returns to excellence with "The Writ", an almost 9 minute track with lyrics by Osbourne. Most of Black Sabbath's lyrics were done by Butler. Osbourne was inspired by the legal battle that the band was experiencing at the time and are a stab at the previous manager and at the music business in general. It starts off quietly with a soft processed bass which is suddenly interrupted when the band kicks in with a return to dark heaviness and a return to the true anger they were feeling. It follows this pattern for a couple of cycles, then enters into another style which alternates with heaviness led by the guitar and keyboard-led softness that sounds somewhat inspired by "Fluff" from the previous album, but with Osbourne's vocals continuing throughout both styles. The track ends on another heavy guitar riff which takes the album to the end.

The stress and anger is what drives this album, but it might be that the underlying events kept the band from focusing too much on their inner battles. At least, they pulled off another virtually perfect album, but unfortunately, it would be their last one. Osbourne would get more disenchanted with the band and lose interest. Even though they would record two more studio albums with their classic line-up, they sound forced and seem like they are also rushed. It must have been difficult to even record the sub-par material that would appear on their next two albums. The band intentionally moved away from the dark and heavy sounds and added more keyboards, but they were definitely poorly directed. Yes the band had keyboards previously, but at least they were well used.

Anyway, this album still manages to get to masterpiece levels, both in progressiveness and in heavy metal aspects. Even if it wasn't as popular as some of their other albums, it has still been revered as one of their best. Sabotage would be their swan song to excellence as after this, the band would fall apart.

Review by Hector Enrique
4 stars Sabotage shows the mature Black Sabbath: challenging themselves, incorporating acoustic sounds that add a greater variety of nuances and colors to their typically rough and dense proposal.

Hole in the Sky begins the album with an accelerated and furious theme that, after the small acoustic interlude spanish-style Donīt Start, gives way to the superb Symptom of the Universe, whose vibrant and devilish riff must be one of those that they claim with authority the paternity of thrash metal. The song takes a surprising turn towards the end, lowering the revolutions to conclude in a relaxed and detached way.

The excellent and intense Megalomania with its almost 10 minutes, combines atmospheric passages with elements of hard rock beautifully, followed by the blues-like The Thrill of it All which, despite having interesting moments, is probably the least recognized song on the album.

The terrifying instrumental Supertzar, with those gloomy guitars and the chorus that seems to be taken from some evil prophecy, gives way to the more dynamic and light Am I'm Going Insane, whose end of laughter and tears is enough to scare the bravest.

The Writ closes the album and is one of the compositions that comes closest to the progressive concept, with constant changes of rhythm and a very elaborate structure, where punchy riffs coexist with magnificent acoustic developments and outstanding vocal work by Ozzy. It is, in my opinion, one of the best songs on Black Sabbath's discography.

Sabotage is the last great work of Black Sabbath in the Ozzy era, and one more example of the remarkable influence that the Birmingham band had on the creation of the metal genre and its variants.

Latest members reviews

5 stars This is the most mature album by BS. It is one of their two the most elaborated ( along with ŦSabbath Bloody Sabbathŧ ) and easily the best work. ŦHole in the Skyŧ is a non-prog, rather simple, yet effective heavy song, full of energy. Bill plays as if he wants to destroy the drum kit. Ozzy ... (read more)

Report this review (#2306512) | Posted by Just Because | Tuesday, January 14, 2020 | Review Permanlink

5 stars 4.86 stars My personal favorite of the Ozzy era. I bought it when I was in 6th grade in '75, and still play it today. tony iommi absolutely was brilliant on this album, especially the acoustic ending of Symptom of the Universe. The Writ is an absolute masterpiece, with several parts to the tu ... (read more)

Report this review (#1605279) | Posted by DrBob806 | Saturday, September 3, 2016 | Review Permanlink

5 stars This album is a giant - for me this is where Sabbath peaked. If the band had showed signs of entering progressive territory previously with the release of "Sabbath Bloody Sabbath" this confirmed that in spades. Ozzie had never and would never sound better again in the vocal department. There i ... (read more)

Report this review (#939528) | Posted by sukmytoe | Friday, April 5, 2013 | Review Permanlink

4 stars I tried to love this album, but in the end I only like it, Funny thing is, I feel as if Ozzy drags the band down, his Vocals don't blend well on this Proto prog metal style. The CD I acquired sounds terrible too, muddy as hell production. A real let down after hearing Mastodon's The Hunter Album ... (read more)

Report this review (#561541) | Posted by darkprinceofjazz | Wednesday, November 2, 2011 | Review Permanlink

3 stars The contents is better than the cover, that's for sure. I have lost the count of where this album sits in their discography. Their sixth ? Something like this. It is obvious the band was tired of just being the heaviest band on the planet by now. They were starting to branch out to rock, AOR an ... (read more)

Report this review (#512290) | Posted by toroddfuglesteg | Wednesday, August 31, 2011 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Progressive Metal perfection all the way through. This album is a milestone, as it single- handedly created Prog Metal and Thrash Metal, all in one album! The scorching guitar riffs, freenzied bass playing, searing vocals and insane drumming combine to make a truely unique sound, far differen ... (read more)

Report this review (#327571) | Posted by Jazzywoman | Saturday, November 20, 2010 | Review Permanlink

2 stars Gateway to Heaven, and possibly the Ozzy-era peak? For all the heat I give the boys in black, I am a fan. Of both Ozzy era, and Dio era (I deny the existence of it after that, 'cept maybe headless cross). And this is the last great Ozzy album. The game is commenced with Hole in the Sky. A fin ... (read more)

Report this review (#212551) | Posted by Alitare | Monday, April 27, 2009 | Review Permanlink

5 stars That`s why we called it Sabotage, because we felt the whole process of being totally Sabotaged by these people ripping us off - Geezer Butler A Black Sabbath concept album? A reminder that you don`t rip rock stars off. Money can take a walk but at the same time keep your paws off ours, we ... (read more)

Report this review (#176530) | Posted by Vibrationbaby | Friday, July 11, 2008 | Review Permanlink

4 stars This is a very good album that could be considered to be proto-prog metal. It is not entirely progressive, but more so than what the band had released before. 'Hole in the Sky' is a straight forward Sab song, with very odd lyrics. It has great heavy riffs, and a great chorus. It stops very su ... (read more)

Report this review (#164835) | Posted by burtonrulez | Monday, March 24, 2008 | Review Permanlink

2 stars 2,5 stars really. Heavy classic rock, doom hard rock metal, i like the heaviness of Black Sabbath. Songs has different parts that alone wouldn't maybe be progressive, but when they're together and some of them are quite arty (well, different, but sometimes it's just because there's some diffe ... (read more)

Report this review (#144301) | Posted by progressive | Saturday, October 13, 2007 | Review Permanlink

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