Sound — 10
Led Zeppelin IV (or whatever you call it) has some of the best sound quality of any other Zeppelin record (or any album of the era), in my opinion. From the very start, the listener is introduced to Black Dog, with crisp, but heavy guitar tones and Plant's wailing voice (which was at its peak). Rock And Roll features Bonzo bashing the drums as if his life depended on it, but that's not his best performance on the album. That award goes to the closing When The Levee Breaks, with a sound that no one had heard at the time, and probably never will again. The drums were recorded in a stairwell, giving them their almost unnaturally heavy sound. Also, I think the pitch was lowered a bit, making everything even heavier. Truly one of the best blues songs of all time. We also have two folk songs, The Battle Of Evermore (featuring beautiful mandolin playing by John Paul Jones) and Going To California (one of the best acoustic songs the band wrote). Misty Mountain Hop features more heavy drums, and an almost poppish keyboard/guitar line. Four Sticks is also a great song, with creative riffs and Bonzo playing with four sticks. But of course, the highlight is Stairway To Heaven, which is in my opinion the greatest song of all time. From the light acoustic intro to the bombastic, emotional ending, the song is beyond words. But I don't have to explain it, you've heard it before.
Lyrics — 10
This is where Robert Plant really started to shine as a lyricist. There are, as always, songs about women (the humorous Black Dog and the wonderful Going To California), hilarious songs about getting caught with "cigarette papers" (Misty Mountain Hop), songs about Lord of the Rings (The Battle Of Evermore), and everything in between. From here on, Zeppelin's lyrics were just as interesting as the music, telling grand stories and painting wonderful images.
Overall Impression — 10
Any fan of rock music must own this album. It's one of my top three albums of all time, and anyone who wants to get into Zeppelin should start with this album. Though you've probably heard over half of it on the radio countless times, it's still worth your money. Trust me.