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Black Sabbath - Sabbath Bloody Sabbath
Published by kinzz
28-06-2007
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Black Sabbath - Sabbath Bloody Sabbath

Ah, I remember it like it was yesterday. My 14-year-old self was browsing the “rock/pop” section at my local “Music World” looking for something to satisfy my classic rock desires. As I neared the “B” portion of the large alphabetized row, I knew immediately what band to check out. I had become intrigued in some band called Black Sabbath due to the constant radio play of a song titled Iron Man. I darted through the backside of every Sabbath disc until I stumbled upon the one that included Iron Man. Alas, my ten dollar budget wouldn’t allow me to purchase this so called Paranoid album, and the only two Sabbath discs that were in my price range were Master of Reality and this one. I instinctively chose Sabbath Bloody Sabbath. I mean, the cover art was so much cooler; it had to be the better album. Little did I know, my life would soon change. As my interest with Black Sabbath grew, my interest in heavy metal music did as well. It didn’t happen instantaneously, but I eventually grew into every metal sub-genre, and I haven’t looked back since.

My attraction to this album; however, was immediate. Despite differentiating from Sabbath’s usual style, Sabbath Bloody Sabbath rocked my world constantly, and it wasn’t for another two weeks that I would give the disc a rest. By the time the album was released in 1973, Black Sabbath had become all the rage amongst young rockers. Their live shows were a must-see, and critics who had previously given the band hell, were beginning to agree with the masses. Sabbath Bloody Sabbath is an intriguing album; at the time of release, it was their heaviest work, yet it toyed around with progressive elements and synthesizers in a way that none of their previous work had. Rick Wakeman of Yes fame was brought in to work on keyboards, and his presence adds a neat sense of dynamic to Sabbath’s gloom and doom sound.

Album opener and title track, Sabbath Bloody Sabbath is perfection. A slower variation on their typical guitar riff opens the song, and Ozzy Osbourne’s shriek is harrowing and absolutely stunning. As the song progresses in time, the instrumentation becomes more progressive as soft acoustic guitars make their entrance alongside a pastoral vocal performance from the Ozz-man. The lyrics take full form as Ozzy screams you bastards, perfectly solidifying the theme of betrayal and lies. Tony Iommi’s riffs play off of Ozzy’s godless shriek as the song nears its end, and the song meticulously becomes a song so heavy, it wouldn’t seem out of place today.

A National Acrobat takes the album to a whole new level. As the music resides in a clam, collected whole, the listener is treated to a previously unknown adversity. Ozzy’s layered vocals are captivating in their simplicity, and Bill Ward’s drumming is certainly not played in its usual one-legged home. Fluff is an unappreciated masterpiece in many ways. The acoustic guitar melodies are soothing as are Wakeman’s beautiful keyboards. I have always felt that Fluff really proves that the band were more than stoners who wrote music for stoners. Sabbath enthusiasts may find it simple to criticize this piece for not pertaining to their hard rock needs, but it is easy for nearly anyone to appreciate its abstracted structure.

Sabbra Cadabra picks up where A National Acrobat left off. These are classic Sabbath riffs being played here! No more soft stuff! It is true that Iommi’s guitar is a force to be reckon with, and that Geezer Butler’s bass guitar is heavily layered in the background, but what it eventually becomes is more of what made this album so ingenious. Wakeman makes another appearance as his synth pierces through the guitars and creates a reverberating effect for Osbourne’s vocals. As the synth dies down, the keyboards are put to good use, and stand out even amongst a cavalcade of guitar and drums.

Who Are You is another track that often gets a bad reputation. Sabbath were certainly experimenting by this point, and this is completely evident from the complete lack of guitars. Wakeman’s spacey synth job comprises the musical forefront, making Who Are You the most unique Sabbath song. I’m in the minority with my opinion of this tune; I personally applaud the synth (and later the keyboards) for helping to construct a misty feeling. I can’t think of any other Black Sabbath song that sounds like this, and I have nothing but grand gratitude for the band (especially Wakeman).

Flutes and acoustic guitar drive the album into new territory as Looking For Today cements itself as the most melodically breezy song on the album. This song is certainly a bold move for these rockers as it borders on “pop” territory. This is different, but surprisingly enough is not a bad thing. As upbeat guitar solos drive Looking For Today to a close, the listener should be preparing themselves for one last taste of creative brilliance. The haunting strings that open Spiral Architect set a mood like no other. The final appearance made by Rick Wakeman helps concentrate this ghastly energy along with a brilliant orchestral passage.

Sabbath Bloody Sabbath is Black Sabbath’s most diverse album, and it is certainly my favorite of their 1970s material. The keyboards, synth, acoustic strings and the orchestral music all add to the brilliance of this album. Certain Sabbath fans mark this album as the “beginning of the end” due to this drastic change in sound. Those Sabbath fans should stop their daily dose of weed, and appreciate this for what it is, a masterpiece.
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By zagger on 17-07-2007
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A great album, one of the best ever Black Sabbath albums and still onr of the best albums of all time,... rock on OZZY!!
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