Sound — 7
The sound of "Never Say Die!" is once again, the Sabbath Sound. It isn't as bonecrushing as previous albums, and the overall sound has most certainly thinned out, or gotten watered down, but also mostly due to the fact that there seems to be made much more space for vocal arrangements and other instruments, including brass and lo and behold, more synth. This is not a bad thing however, and honestly, while it contrasts sort of oddly, maybe even badly to their general body of work, it, as an album, functions as a HUGE improvement to "Technical Ecstasy," (although the actual sound of "Technical Ecstasy" contrasted with "Never Say Die!" seems to be almost the same) and while historically, it essentially flopped and marked the end for the original Sabbath line-up, I actually personally see it as a bit of a positive comeback, at least musically. Also, while on "Technical Ecstasy," it seemed to suffer sound-wise from what felt like uninspired performances, I actually don't get that feeling quite as much with "Never Say Die!"
Lyrics — 7
Lyrically I also feel that there is an improvement. The actual topical side of things doesn't seem that obscured or non-sensical compared to Technical Ecstasy, and I honestly feel that compared to most of the material they produced even before things turned sour, the lyrics on "Never Say Die!" are actually decent and befitting. A few songs do feature song sort of odd, aparte lyrics, such as Johnny Blade, but it fits alright in the overall picture, and I don't really see any major errors or bummers as far as the words go on this album. The delivery of all this is also fine by Ozzy, so there's isn't much to really complain about as far as the lyrical sie of things goes.
Overall Impression — 7
This album came out at the wrong time, and in the wrong way. It's been panned and given lots of hate throughout the years, but I honestly can't listen through this album and say that I hate it. I actually quite like it. It's a fresh album, even if it's usually referred to as a terrible last breath from a dying band. Ozzy's voice through his career has changed quite drastically, from his sort of quacky voice in the early days, to his high-note, energetic growl of the mid '70s, to his cleaner, more strained sounding '80s voice. Being interested in these changes, I feel like this album actually offers quite a privilege as it is a direct look at the exact point in time, where what most people know Ozzy's voice for, the '80s voice, started to become his standard approach of doing vocals at all. It documents and marks that change. Also, Tony Iommi's jazz influences really shine on this record, as it notoriously is quite a departure from the heavy sound they normally are associated with.
"Never Say Die!" the track, to me is a really good opener for this album, rocking, but also sets the lighter tone that continues through the record. Every song all the way to "Swinging the Chain" at the end are actually solid tracks that don't offend, and all have qualities that makes each and every track on "Never Say Die!" better than any track on "Technical Ecstasy." This is a huge improvement, and there is to me a clear theme on the record. The aforementioned "Swinging the Chain" is sung by Bill Ward, the drummer, and is actually a wonderful performance. A strange ending to the LP, but not in a bad way at all. My favourite track will have to be "Air Dance" however, as it is quite a haunting song, with a subject matter that seems ridiculous or odd, but at the same time quite scary in a very strange way (a dancer who's age is catching up to her, basically). "Never Say Die!" really doesn't deserve as much hate as it's received over the years, and I strongly suggest viewing this album on it's own, or in context with "Technical Ecstasy," because then, it suddenly has its own little comfy place in Sabbath's discography.