Friday, October 24, 2008

Sabbath Bloody Sabbath

I recently took a real good listen to Black Sabbath's "Sabbath Bloody Sabbath" (1973, 5th studio album) for the first time in 20 years. I had the CD for a brief time back in high school or college, but never got into it. So I sold it. As I read about music, specifically the history of metal, this album keeps coming up. So I recently re-acquired it.

Wow! This album is incredible! Just a few quick thoughts:
- Production values are dynamic (adding Rick Wakeman's keyboards and an orchestra work great)
- Great riffs throughout
- "Fluff" is a fantastically beautiful acoustic instrumental piece
- I've never felt such a strong link before between the Sabs and Jethro Tull, but it's here (slightly progressive blues based rock)
- Amazing power chords just after the 3:00 minute mark of "Spiral Architect" mixed with keyboard and orchestra for a fantastically heavy layered wall of power
- "Who Are You?" uses a distinctive analog pad keyboard sound and mentions "Big Brother" in the lyrics. Van Halen uses almost the same keyboard sound on the instrumental song "1984". Coincidence? Or did Van Halen do an intentional homage?

I'm inspired now to seek out more Sabbath (the only other ones I have are Paranoid and Master of Reality... I know... weak). I also had Heaven and Hell for a while and sold that. I need to revisit that. Plus I read good things about the late '80s albums with Tony Martin on vocals.


  1. Don't give short shrift to the Dio albums too. Heaven and Hell and Mob Rules are solid throughout. And of course I LOVE Dehumanizer...although it seems to get forgotten for some reason. Super crunchy riffage and great vocals.

  2. Oddly enough, you sold the album to me! Thank you, by the way. It's worth the price of admission for "A National Acrobat" alone.

    You're right about the addition of Wakeman. The keys give Sabbath songs in extra touch of otherworldly menace, even on "love" songs like Sabra Cadabra.

    Speaking of Tony Martin, we used to have "Born Again" on vinyl when it first came out. I haven't heard anything from it in 20 years, but if I recall correctly, it was pretty solid. The riff on the song "Zero the Hero" (I think that's what its called) was particularly excellent.

    Sabbath's first album (Black Sabbath) is a must own. The title track is incredibly eerie and fantastic -- it can be argued that metal as we know it was born with this song. I can only imagine what it must have been like hearing it for the first time when it first dropped in '69. The Wizard is bluesy hard rock at its finest, plus it has N.I.B. and Wicked World, songs that feature two of Iommi's signature riffs.

  3. Ha! I forgot I sold it to you. Thanks for the excellent suggestions. I'm familiar with a lot of the songs from various sources, but since rediscovering my love for the album format, I need to check these out as a whole.