Sound — 6
The sound on this album is essentially just what we all already know as the Sabbath Sound, the album having been produced by Tony Iommi himself, much like earlier releases. Instrumentally, Sabbath are re-opening the synth-can of worms they also opened on "Sabbath Bloody Sabbath" a few years earlier, but in fact more synth-ridden than any release they'd put out up until that point, and it's a very different direction from the latest release of theirs at the time, Sabotage, which was more heavy on the stomping guitar and bass combination. Ozzy's voice seems to still draw slightly from his wonderful, sangry, growling vocals on "Sabotage," but on "Technical Ecstasy," he does seem more "lazy" with his voice, and in some cases his performances are almost borderline bad. Overall the sound is reminiscent of old Sabbath releases, which is not a bad thing, and carries it all a long way simply from that classic mix, but with a seemingly clueless direction, and slightly uninspired performances.
Lyrics — 4
The lyrics on "Technical Ecstasy" seem to be uninspired as well. It seems on this record as though Geezer's lyrical themes shifted from political, or just philosophically experimental topics, to simply writing about "this and that", whatever that might be. For example, the opener "Back Street Kids" has lyrics that are simply describing what I think most of us imagine Ozzy's touring life was like. Other songs just seem to feature slightly cliché love lyrics, or songs that just seem to not be about anything in particular (I'm looking at you "It's Alright"). "Gypsy" is one of those tracks that seems to have a somewhat clear topic, but the relevance or interest-level of that topic is sadly questionable. A song about a Gypsy woman following a song about nothing ("It's Alright") is just an odd thing to do. Some tracks have lyrics that seem to be emotionally charged from a personal point of view, and in and of itself, that seems fine on paper, especially considering their issues at the time, but for some reason, probably due to the uninspired performances, the lyrics lose a lot of meaning and weight, and I end up feeling like they phoned it in a bit on the lyrical side of things. The only lyric that really struck me on this record, would be "All Moving Parts (Stand Still)," which actually features some clever lines, and which interestingly enough seems the most politically charged as well. It is of course well known, that the well was very much running dry in '76 for the Sabs, so that's likely an important factor too.
Overall Impression — 4
Overall this is certainly, in my mind, the weakest original line-up album to be released by Black Sabbath. The main issue for me, is a big and important one, and one that Sabbath usually never seemed to struggle with, and it is this: there are no hits. Not a single song on this record was memorable to the point where I felt like revisiting it, and in comparison to their other records, even the "strongest" song on "Technical Ecstasy," pales in comparison to the weakest songs on any other Sabbath record from the '70s era. The album opens quite weak with "Back Street Kids," a pretty boring song, with an almost cringy, sort of failed-experimentish, otherwise interesting, rhythmical hook. This continues with the ballad "You Won't Change Me," and the Bill Ward penned- and performed, "It's Alright."
A weak start, which takes a turn for the better with stronger tracks like "Gypsy" and "All Moving Parts (Stand Still)," which, as mentioned above, are not particularly memorable songs, but never the less the strongest tracks on the record. It all tumbles down again quite quickly with the super cliché "Rock 'n' Roll Doctor," only to rise to a mediocre ending with the strongest ballad on the album, "She's Gone," and then Dirty Women, which seems to be the most widely accepted song from this album, but even so, I feel it's not any stronger than either "Gypsy" or "All Moving Parts (Stand Still)." A mediocre album over all, and although I love Sabbath, I certainly feel a strange sense of decay and cluelessness to this album, as is reflected clearly on the historical side of things, as the group were facing many issues and problems at the time of this album. "Technical Ecstasy" is a weak release, that followed a strong one ("Sabotage"), which just makes it pale and crumble even more. A good example of what it sounds like when a well oiled machine begins to rust.