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Sabbath Bloody Sabbath

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★★★★½
(161 Reviews)

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  • Since it was a big departure in sound from their first four albums most consider Black Sabbath’s fifth disc the one that most divides critics and fans. Some think that the newly discovered keyboards (by Rick Wakeman, a member of the band Yes) and orchestral arrangements made “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath” too artsy and soft. But others (like me) think that, while this album may be “more progressive” than usual, it is also their most creative effort to date. And, of course, like all Black Sabbath albums, the guitars are still very much involved. “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath” does not skimp on the type of sludgy, rumbling riffs that Tony Iommi made Black Sabbath famous for. The catchy, churning main riff of the first track (the title song) helped to break the band out of the creative “dry spell” they were in, following the recording of their last release, “Vol. 4″ (after Iommi discovered this guitar lick, the rest of the songs came easily.) This song also has a couple of acoustic breakdowns. Next, “A National Acrobat” has shimmering, wah-wah guitars, and “Fluff” is an instrumental. It’s an interlude-type song, with serene, twinkling, acoustic jangles and cool, pretty piano keys. The synthesizers are most clearly evident on tracks four and six, “Sabbra Cadabra” and “Who Are You?” (the latter track, which has a melodic string arrangement, is very spacey–it sounds like it’s the soundtrack to a laser or light show.) But “Killing Yourself To Live” is heavier and more up-tempo, as is “Looking For Today,” which features a catchy, rhythmic hand-clap pattern. Lastly, “Spiral Architect” is where the orchestra joins the scene. Its lively, almost uplifting violins contrast Iommi’s guitar solos well. So, “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath” is a true gem which proves Black Sabbath were successfully able to expand on their sound and add creative touches to their music, while still remaining true to their roots. The sound quality can be a little dated at times, but this is yet another classic in Sabbath’s catalogue.

    Posted on December 7, 2009