Black Sabbath, Vol. 4 review by Black Sabbath

logo Ultimate Guitar
  • Released: Nov 30, 1971
  • Sound: 8
  • Lyrics: 10
  • Overall Impression: 9
  • Reviewer's score: 9 Superb
  • Users' score: 9.5 (33 votes)
Black Sabbath: Black Sabbath, Vol. 4

Sound — 8
This is the hard rock pioneer, Black Sabbath's, appropriatly named fourth album. As you would expect, Its a whole lot of head banging music and shouty vocals, however there's a whole other side of Black Sabbath expressed in this album never seen before in the previous releases. More Specifically, "Changes" and "Laguna Sunrise" are a complete 360 compared to other stuff you might have heard by them. This album also contains its fair share of hard rock of course, it's just those tracks get the most attention. As far as the more routine songs go there's even some changes made in style there too. Generally up to this album, there was a large blues/jazzy swing on songs. Now there's some deviance into more straightforward rock music. The album opens with "Wheels Of Confusion/The Straightener" which is about as basic as it gets, one note through the verse. Ozzy, on the other hand has a very neat part here, but the guitar is louder and drowns out his voice and frankly gets rather annoying after a few minutes, but the song makes a serious comeback after the second verse where they add all sorts of elements including a Jazz style jam and then onto a section resembling the intro and exits into the song's remarkable solo. Next we have "Tommarow's Dream" which is a little more reasonable length-wise at 3:00 Iommi is taken down a tad in volume and has a cool riff here, Ozzy shines again with a great vocal line. good main riff and a very easy song to get into, naturally it was the single. The solo is actually fairly basic. Now there's the first experimental track, "Changes". This one starts with a piano. Ozzy really tried in this one, and he did a good job, adding minor vibrato in parts. The recording helped Ozzy out here by making his voice in the chorus sound distant. The whole song flows very nicely and is one of this albums masterpieces. Next there's "FX" which really isn't a song at all. It sounds like Iommi was just messing around and wanted to share something cool he made, which is nice but I'm not going to rate this one on account of it not being a song. Now we're to one of my all-time favorite songs, "Supernaut". This one has a genius main riff, with emphasis on vocals in the right spots and guitar in the others, the Cymbal crashes and ultimatly, perfectly timed drum work actually bring Ward into the complements I'm dousing this masterpiece with. Ozzy's vocals rule as usual, the song seems made for him. "Snowblind," the album's intended title song. This song has a great, memorable guitar line, but Bill's drums are rather loud and put too much emphasis on the powerchords during the chorus, which makes them sound more punctuated then they actually are. Aside from that minor flaw, Iommi illustrates his guitar virtuosso with one of the greatest solos I've ever heard. Ozzy has some of his best work on here, and Geezer's lyrics are some of his best. "Cornucopia," a more traditional Sabbath song. It has a doomy feel to it. Everybodies instruments seem at the proper volume here cept' Geezer who appears to have been left out of this album. He makes up for it with great lyrics as usual. On to the albums instrumental, "Laguna Sunrise." The song has a neat acoustic guitar line, and a very neat theme to it. One of the album's highlights, it's a great addition to Sabbath's repratoire and shows that they can do more than powerchords and cymbal crashes. I think it starts too sudden though, usually Sabbath songs like that tend to have an intro or something to start it off properly. "St. Vitus Dance" has more volume troubles. The guitar here is louder than everybody else's stuff. The guitar line, however, is alot better than the One-note thing on "Wheels Of Confusion" so its more bearable. As the title states, it has a dancy feel to it, but includes no soloing which is a bit of a let-down, but it takes a few listens to even notice that its missing. "Under The Sun/Everyday Comes And Goes" starts with those giant down-tuned powerchords, gives me goosebumps. Ozzy and Iommi rule through here as usual, and the trademark doom sound rings clear. usually songs with a lyrical basis like this one are a huge let down to me, its boring and over-used and whether or not it was in the '70s is irrelevant to me, but Geezer does a good job here. Bill Ward does a fine job here as well, well worth mentioning. The next part is reminiscant of the classic Sabbath song "NIB." The solo over this part is just amazing, anything you hear about Iommi being a guitar legend is probably 100% true, he really is amazing at what he does.

Lyrics — 10
Geezer wrote 'em and Ozzy sang them, need I say more?

Overall Impression — 9
This marks Sabbath's first full-length compositions that include more than doomy hard rock (not that that's bad though). The best songs would have to be "Supernaut," "Changes" and "Laguna Sunrise," though I think that "Under The Sun" should get an honorable mention as well. I like this album because it was my first Sabbath album that I actually bought (I downloaded a best of previous to buying it). Also compared to the Ozzy-era Sabbath stuff I've heard, there's a great balance on here. The downsides however, would be the apparent volume troubles heard at parts in the songs. I didn't like "Snowblind" for a while because the drumming would give me headaches, also Geezers Bass seems to have disappeared during this album, and a second guitar was used a lot more. All in all its a great album and one of the finest in my collection, If stolen or lost I would probably pout for a while (unless I knew who took it) and definatly buy a new one.

1 comment sorted by best / new / date