Sound — 8
It's obvious that every band isn't perfect. I am usually the first to say: "Yes there is. Listen to Black Sabbath." However, upon listening to their 6th studio album, Sabotage, I can see actually one blemish in Sabbath's brilliant and overwhelming career. I am not saying that this album is bad, per se, but it certainly was the weakest album of the Ozzy era. The band's guitarist, Tony Iommi, was wholly disappointed at this stage in the band's development. Albeit successful, Sabbath's previous album, Sabbath Bloody Sabbath, marked a change in the band's sound; something that Iommi did not want to pursue. Furthermore, he made it known to the rest of the band that he wanted to approach a straight rock album, and that's what the band did.The album opens with Hole In The Sky, a bombastic shocker of an opener, a seemingly philosophical song and one of my favourite songs on the album and I feel it's one the best things the band ever did. It's also a song that Ozzy wouldn't sing often after the album's tour as its too high for him. Then Don't Start (Too Late) follows, an acoustic instrumental that we are used to get from the band by this point in their history. It's not bad but I think that the other instrumental song, Supertzar is so epic here that it makes this one forgettable. Symptom Of The Universe is next, highly memorable for being one of the first true heavy metal riff, the song is just amazing as it gets to an acoustic part and then gets back to the heavy riff topped with Ozzy's screaming vocals. Megalomania is not cited often when Sabbath is talked about, it's the band's shorter songs that take the credit, but this is something else. It's a masterpiece that is hard to describe, it's great and then it gets even better as it switches to another tempo and an evil voice sings with Ozzy, then there's the solo and then it gets even faster until the conclusion, you're just left sitting there realising you've heard something amazing. Thrill Of It All is a slow rocker, it's not one the high points of the album but it's still pretty good. Supertzar is an epic instrumental talked about earlier, it's just so mysterious with the choir at the beginning and you just have the riff and some percussion at some places and that's it. You just have this intriguing title and that's it. Am I Going Insane (Radio) is Ozzy's showcase, it's him alright as he sings "tell me people, am I going Insane?" it's a great song you get a feeling here of what he would be doing in his solo career. Some may be intrigued by the (Radio) mention, it's actually british slang.
Lyrics — 8
Interesting read. Ozzy could not be any more peaceful and spiritual in his writings. It's really a shame that he's perceived as the anti-christ, when his lyrics are actually speaking of being on terms with God and personal, reflective journeys. Speaking literally, Black Sabbath were one of the more prominent 'know thyself' bands of the 1970s. Read along to the songs sometime. You really might be surprised to learn what these guys are all about.
Overall Impression — 8
By most accounts, Black Sabbath's stride began to waver a bit with the release of Sabotage. In strictly relative terms that may be true. Any band is bound to peak sooner or later, and Sabotage is clearly the day after. No new ground is broken and the performances occasionally lack Sabbath's typically tight delivery. Nonetheless, Sabotage stands quite nicely on its own merits and offers enough to keep any fan happy. On no other album will you find Bill Ward working as hard as he does pounding out Symptom of the Universe. Megalomania is an unheralded classic, displaying great production and quintessential Sabbath song construction. The rest of the album includes similar efforts except Supertzar which is just weird and ends, thankfully, before it ever really begins. For the most part Black Sabbath is guilty only of resting on their laurels, but, given their credentials at this point, zero growth isn't necessarily a bad thing.