Sound — 9
"Led Zeppelin IV," "Zoso," "Runes," "Four Symbols" call it what you wish. It won't change the fact that it was one of the most important albums of the 1970's, and ultimately one of the most important albums in all of rock music. I didn't say the best, I just said most important. In case you haven't read any of my other reviews, I'm one of those fans that favor the band's later albums. "Physical Graffiti" and "In Through The Out Door" are my two favorite Zeppelin albums, and no matter how great you tell me IV is, I'm not changing my mind. I'll admit that IV meant more to the music world (I won't argue that at all), but in my opinion it can't measure up to the band's later material. IV still has a lot to offer, though, and still manages to be an astounding album. Containing probably some of the band's biggest hits, IV warps the band's sound back around to a more enjoyable level than III. Don't get me wrong, III was a good album too, but with IV they tried to sound a bit more like II, which was another Zeppelin masterpiece. I know, it's a lot of roman numerals to keep track of, but hopefully if you're a fan enough you'll at least halfway understand.
Lyrics — 8
Lyrically, the album is a quantum leap from III. Not to put down III's lyrics or anything, but with IV, the band started to draw in a bit more outside influence than before. The album shows the band members' interests towards Tolkien's "Lord Of The Rings" novels ("The Battle Of Evermore," "Stairway To Heaven"), a concept that the band would come back to time and time again in subsequent releases. Though the album contains some unnecessary and rather annoying rock cliches ("Black Dog" about a woman, "Rock And Roll" about, well, take a wild guess), the lyrics are still enjoyable and, for the most part, consistent, so I don't have any really major complaints in the lyric department. But the band no doubt tried harder lyrically in later albums.
Overall Impression — 9
On the whole, this album is a great one for fans who are just getting into Zeppelin. It's easily their most accessible album, containing no doubt their most famous hits. It's no wonder why it's their best-selling album. As far as the first four Zeppelin albums go, the only one that I feel beats IV out would be II, and it's really not by a whole lot. If you don't have Zep IV already, chances are you don't have any of the other band's material, and it's a high recommendation from me to get you started on the band. I honestly don't know why anyone wouldn't own it, but hey, fans gotta start somewhere, right?