Sound — 8
The sound on Sabbath Bloody Sabbath seems to follow in the footsteps of "Vol. 4," with a very recognizable emphasis on guitar and bass, but even so, this is also around the time Black Sabbath truly experimented with synthesizers, and one of the only times that experiment went well. The implementation of other instruments, even flute and harmonica, is not a new thing for Sabbath, see for example "The Wizard" from their first record, and "Solitude" from "Master of Reality" on which Tony plays the flute. But on this album, it seems that implementation is handled in a more progressive way, and it suits the Sabbath soundscape to flourish with a little twiddle from instruments that have nothing to do with the classic "rock band setup", like a full on orchestral string-arrangement. The sound is good, and the mixing is great as well. Very interesting arrangements indeed. Good marks.
Lyrics — 7
Lyrically the album also shines, the topics are either about the band itself ("Sabbath Bloody Sabbath") which really seems to hint at the first cracks in the bands' personal situations. Otherwise there are lyrics such as "Spiral Architect" which seems to deal with very avant-garde themes, a lyric i wouldn't be surprised to hear on something like a Tool record. "Who Are You?" is a track that was initiated by Ozzy Osbourne himself, and it seems also to tackle feelings of being used and exploited, which reflects the management situation of the time greatly. "Killing Yourself to Live" gives a look into the health situation of the band at the time, being basically about the members drinking themselves to death, as Geezer Butler was actually hospitalized for drinking-related kidney issues as he wrote it. "Sabbra Cadabra" is the must-have sex-oriented song that any rock 'n' roll band since Zeppelin sort of had to have, and it works well, as it's a very playful and almost sinister song, and an especially interesting outtro. (Full of phased over profanity, sex-related again, naturally).
Overall Impression — 9
This album is regarded by Tony Iommi himself as Sabbath's best effort, the pinnacle. I must say I agree. While my absolute favorite Sabbath album still remains "Sabotage", this is certainly their most ambitious effort, and also the one that seems to combine the old heavy Sabbath sound, with new more experimental tendencies. Tendencies they'd repeat quite badly just a few years later, where the band seemed to have some Technical Difficulties (zing!). The album feels a bit like an updated, more experimental version of the Paranoid album, seeing as it does one very important thing exactly right, just like Paranoid, which is: every song on the record is strong. Like the Paranoid album, there's not really a single song that makes you go "urgh, next!" or at least makes you feel that things could be better, or that the album would be better off with any given song taken off of it. I really feel that every song is memorable, and I happily admit that the entire album is on my Favorites Playlist on Spotify. Very revisitable, immensly good performances, and fantastic singing by good ol' Ozz. It seems to mark the point just before he started to go all out on the screaming, which of course is gloriously present on the follow-up to this album, being my personal favorite, Sabotage. Incredibly good album by Black Sabbath, and an album I feel will always go down in history as the technical pinnacle for the band. Good stuff!