Blast From The Past: Black Sabbath – Sabbath Bloody Sabbath

Black Sabbath is possibly the most influential band ever in Heavy Metal, often cited as creating the best God damn genre of music ever.  Although the band have now reached legendary status, the band were often received criticism in their time for their dark sound.

Despite the early critics, Sabbath were undoubtedly ahead of their time, making use of dark lyrical themes and down-tuned guitars, taking the blues inspired rock of the late 60s into much darker and heavier territory.

One of my favourite Black Sabbath albums is easily Sabbath Bloody Sabbath and this is where the band really stepped things up to try and prove that the critics were wrong.  Read on after the jump to see my review of the album.

Black Sabbath – Sabbath Bloody Sabbath (1973)

Sabbath Bloody Sabbath is the album where Black Sabbath found a perfect blend of Heavy Metal and musical accomplishment.  With this album, it’s obvious the band were really trying to broaden their musical approach and this can be heard from the use of orchestration, synths and keyboards played by the legendary Rick Wakeman.  The band Yes is one of the best progressive rock bands of all time, so the inclusion of Rick Wakeman really adds much greatness to the album.  Sabbath Bloody Sabbath had a lot of progressive rock influences that added depth to the already unique Sabbath sound.

The opening track, and one of my favourite Sabbath songs, Sabbath Bloody Sabbath is so damn heavy, even by today’s standards to an extent.  If you need proof that Sabbath were before their time, just listen to the breakdowns and Ozzy’s gloomy screams on this track.  The vibe can be described as very apocalyptic and dark.

Second track, A National Acrobat, is much more laid back.  The song is incredibly catchy though and if you’re not nodding your head to this shit, there’s something wrong with you.  The band writes some crazy psychedelic stuff on this track that’s just off the wall.

The third track, Fluff, is a slow meandering instrumental track with arpeggiated acoustic guitars interweaving with high piano notes.  This isn’t heavy at all, it’s the complete opposite, creating an almost dream aura and displaying the band’s talents and diversity.  It’s got that 70s vibe going on.

Sabbra Cadabra is back to the heavy traditional Sabbath sound, with Rick Wakeman adding some great keyboard parts to the track.  Nothing much more to add about this song, other than it’s great, obviously.

Killing Yourself to Live sees the band experiment more with the verses, but the chorus is the real strength of the song, with Ozzy singing “killing yourself to live” over some fantastic instrumentation.

Next up… Wait a second, is this fucking Lady Gaga or something? No, it’s 1973 and Black Sabbath have taken experimenting keyboards a bit too far, with some frankly awful synths present on the track, Who Are You.  Before, the synths were never too invasive or vulgar, but here they are brought into the forefront of the track.  70s cheesy synths don’t really match the quality of today’s standards, and this makes this one of the most dated songs of Sabbath’s career.  Who Are You is slow and dull, but once it reaches the 2 minute mark, the track gets a hell of a lot better as the tone shifts and pianos are brought into the track.  It almost saves the track from being the worst of Sabbath’s career, but unfortunately it’s not long before that horrid synth bass comes back into the track.  The track is largely dull and the worst on this album.

After the dull and slightly annoying Who Are You, seventh track, Looking For Today, thankfully returns to the quality heard on the previous tracks.  Ozzy’s singing again is top notch (by Ozzy’s standard’s anyways – which isn’t high incase you didn’t know) and the song writing is good.  Random flutes are brought into the mix when the mood alters some point after the minute mark, but everything fits pretty nicely.

Spiritual Architect is the finale of the album, and what a finale it is.  Beginning with an amazing acoustic introduction, the song kicks in after 50 seconds.   The chorus of the track features some great orchestral arrangements, with Ozzy again displaying some great vocal work.   Towards the end of the track, the orchestration is brought to the forefront and is a fitting end for the album, before the track fades out with a groovy bass line.

Final verdict:  Fantastic.  Sabbath Bloody Sabbath is one of the most experimental and mature Sabbath albums ever.  It displays a broader range of musical qualities, but still retaining that classic Sabbath sound.  Only Who Are You lets the album down slightly.



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