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Sabbath Bloody Sabbath

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★★★★½
(161 Reviews)

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  • For a very long time, 1974’s _Sabbath, Bloody Sabbath_ was my absolute favorite Black Sabbath album. However, the previous effort _Volume 4_ has grown on me so deeply over the years, that it’s now become sort of a tugowar between these two.From the beginning, Sabbath always seemed to counterbalance hard-hitting, sludgy numbers with mellow, sedate pieces. So, it’s probably not as big of a stretch to find that Sabbath did this with subsequent albums: (in Sabbath’s case at least) it was probably not so much a change, as much as it was an evolution – if there’s any distinction between the two. _Sabbath, Bloody Sabbath_ is probably Black Sabbath’s pinnacle – either this or _Volume 4_, I’d say. It displays a combination of sludgy hard rock, orchestrated rockers and even some jazzy aesthetics can be spotted in certain tracks. It’s a very diverse album.Some of the songs. The title track is probably my all-time favorite Sabbath track. The slow, surging, acidic (and equally beautiful and melodic) wall-of-noise that spurts from Tony Iommi’s guitar blends perfectly with Ozzy Osbourne’s beautiful, utterly multi-faceted wail — and vice versa. I always thought that Ozzy Osbourne’s voice was a powerful instrument amongst itself. Not too many people seem to like his voice, which is understandable, but I’ve always saw beauty in it. “Fluff” is probably my favorite Tony Iommi instrumental. A sedate, peaceful, earthy, wispy piece in some multiple of three, with gentle arpeggios, beautiful, wispy, soothing chords (e.g. D, Gmaj7, Gmaj7/E etc.), and later, an atmospheric pillow of sound comprised of overdubbed guitar parts and keys decorate the song in quite a lovely fashion. “Sabbra Cadabra” gives the title track a run for it’s money in terms of my all-time favorite Sabbath song. This is a tasty monster. Iommi’s bluesy electric lines are as tasty as ever, and so is Bill Ward’s drumming. This track features something that may be a bit peculiar – some strange rhythmic ideas. The verses could well be in 4/4, but a tricky thing seems to be happening: the motifs would appear to be in 6/4 (12/8) due to the placement of the crash cymbal, along with the repeat (and placement) of the motif’s beginning. After the first four beats, a strange, snaky, ascending-descending-ascending melodic line appears over the next two beats, while Ward is doing the kind of creative bass-and-snare drum fill that most drummers would do to close out a time signature. After that little fill, the crash cymbal appears, and the beginning of the main motif is repeated. Thus, making one believe that this (four fourths, plus two fourths) is in 6/4. However, closer inspection will reveal that after this, two more fourth-beats appear before the motif is actually fully completed. Then, this whole motivic pattern (4 + 4[4+2=6+2] = 8 quarter notes) appears again before Ozzy’s vocals come in: only this time, during his vocals, there are no tricky rhythmic and/or accent placements — at least not from Bill Ward during the second repeat of Ozzy’s vocals. I’m not sure how it’s all set up in exact terms, but I find it pretty darn nifty. But, even with all that stuff aside, this track smokes. Later, Yes’ Rick Wakeman gives us some synthesizer sweeps, along with some jazzy keyboard licks, which give this track a bit of an extra kick – an added dosage of flavor. “Who Are You” is a trippy, almost psychedelic-like track drenched in synths, and Ozzy’s tripped-out vocals. I love this track: it’s very trance-inducing. “Spiral Architect” is the orchestral-rock track of the album. It’s almost tear-inducing in it’s beauty, melody, and the way Ozzy delivers his vocal.This is a classic in Sabbath’s catalog — right up there with _Paranoid_, _Master of Reality_ and _Volume 4_. Metal purists may react to it in lukewarm fashion (or worse), but give it time to grow on you. It had to grow on me, and it’s possibly my favorite from them (as mentioned in the opening paragraph.) In a word: classic.

    Posted on December 7, 2009