Sound — 8
This is Black Sabbath's last album with their orginal and best known singer, Ozzy Osbourne. It is also their weakest with him, although it is far better than it is usually given credit for from critics and fans of the band. This album forsakes most of Sabbaths usual heavy, sludgy, sound, and even most of the experimental musical and production techniques of previous albums and instead goes for a straight ahead hard rock approach. For the most part, it's a solid success, not as good as previous Sabbath albums, but when taken for what it is, it's a damn good rock album and a thoroughly enjoyable listen. Tony Iommi still puts out memorable riffs like it's nothing, and Geezer and Bill's rythm work still backs up with the relative same power it always has. There is some major weak points though, (airdance, breakout) but songs like the title opener and Shockwave are awesome songs and are definately worthy of any greatest hits collection the band puts out.
Lyrics — 7
Some of the songs were actually written by a different singer, Dave Walker, because Ozzy had left for a while. But when he returned to the band to make this album he actually wrote the lyrics himself for the most part, a noticeable change from the past as Geezer Butler created most of the lyrics on previous albums. As usual, the lyrics fit the music and even sometimes demand notice, such as on Junior's eyes, written about the death of Ozzy's father. Ozzy performs his usual wailing vocals, but it's really interesting to note how far he's really come along since their self-titled debut eight years earlier, a pretty decent improvement.
Overall Impression — 8
Black Sabbath is easily one of the greatest musical forces of all time in my opinion, and their work with Ozzy, the classic eight albums, ranks as their best. Even though this album doesn't quite meet the standards of their first six albums, or the preceding Technical Ecstasy, it's still an essential listen for fans of the band. Never Say Die, A Hard Road, and Shockwave are all classics. Sometimes it gets corny in the production value and keyboard work much like Technical Ecstasy before it, leaving some songs to be not particularly worth multiple listens, but again overall it's a solid record and an essential listen.