Sound — 8
Recorded during a troubled time Led Zeppelin, Presence has some of the band's rawest sound. Unlike Houses of the Holy, where each song had a squeaky clean sound to it, the songs here are dirty and reflect what the band has gone through since then. Robert Plant's voice isn't as strong as it was 5 years earlier, and it shows on tracks such as For Your Life. However, he still puts out great performances on the record. Also, Jimmy Page was starting to battle a heroin addiction, but still managed to record inspiring solos on tracks like Tea For One, a slow, moody blues number. Achilles Last Stand is the only exception to the raw sound on the record, with a sound like that of The Song Remains the Same and a beat similar to Immigrant Song. This is considered by many fans to be one of Zeppelin's best songs, displaying drummer John Bonham at his absolute best in the studio, Robert Plant singing with a voice like that of the old days, and Jimmy's army of guitars. Nobody's Fault But Mine is also a highlight, with Jimmy's piercing guitar tone and a reunion with Plant's harmonica. Unfortunately, some songs on the album are much less inspired. Royal Orleans fails to grab your attention in any way, as well as Candy Store Rock and the funky Hots On For Nowhere, though these songs have impressive drum and bass tracks (respectively).
Lyrics — 8
The lyrics on Presence are rather impressive, though not quite as good as those on previous Zeppelin albums. Many songs here have more "realistic" lyrics, instead of some of the more "mystical" lyrics Robert Plant is known to write. For Your Life has a direct message about drug use (don't you want cocai-cocai-cocaine) and Tea For One shows his depression after being separated from his wife following a near-fatal car accident. Achilles Last Stand is the exception to this, however, containing lyrics similar to The Song Remains The Same. These are some of my favorite Zeppelin lyrics, along with songs like Kashmir.
Overall Impression — 8
While this is an impressive album, it showed that Led Zeppelin was getting tired and that they weren't immortal. While some of their greatest efforts can be found here (Achilles Last Stand, Nobody's Fault But Mine), as a whole the album drags a bit compared to the band's other releases. Still, it's a must have for any fan of Led Zeppelin.