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Heavy metal pioneers Black Sabbath were well on the road to glory after releasing their previous album, Master of Reality, but it seems they have lost their footing a bit on there next release, Black Sabbath Vol. 4. Somewhat carrying the heavy guitars from the previous album and making them flatter and louder, while drowning out the bass that made Sabbath so great in the first place. This is not at all a bad album, but can take some getting used to and could turn off fans of the first 3 albums due to its production.
First things first, the guitars. Iommi has somehow taken his monstrous tone from the previous album and made it thinner and louder, a lot louder. This new direction for the guitar tone can take some getting used to, but I'll admit it does have a great middle and high section and even a great low on the intros to "Cornucopia" and "Under the Sun". The riffs on this record can seem kind of unmotivated at times but can be overlooked with great riffs like that on, "Supernaut", "Tomorrow's Dream" and "Under the Sun". Iommi also shows his acoustic skill on the track "Laguna Sunrise" which is a decent track and definitely the weakest of his acoustic work. Some great solos are on this record including one of Iommi's best, "Wheels of Confusion". The biggest complaint about the guitars is they are too damn loud, but the riffs are good so its kind of a double edged sword.
Along with the guitars, the vocals on this record are loud. Ozzy's voice seems slightly too loud as if he is competing with the guitar for decibels. Ozzy's voice is rather good though, its full of energy and ready to play. "Supernaut" has some great energy from Ozzy and keeps the track moving at a great pace. "Snowblind" also has some nice vocals patterns and lines that make Ozzy really stand out. The lyrics on this album are pretty good too. Speaking about drugs, depression, and religion in the typical Black Sabbath style. "Under the Sun" has come great lyrics talking about not wanting to be preached at and told what to do. "Cornucopia" has come great lyrics as well, talking about government corruption and brainwashing. The legendary "Changes", which is a piano ballad piece, that is rather sappy with the lyrics but is a great tune in the end.
Bill Wards drumming on this record is pretty solid. Giving some decent structure to the songs but seems to be unmotivated and just came along for the ride. Ward's cymbals are also way too loud. Covering up everything that there is to be heard at times like on "Supernaut" and "Snowblind". Other than that Ward's drumming is just okay at best and definitely his weakest contribute to the bands discography.
Geezer Butler's bass is nowhere to be heard on this album which is definitely a huge problem. The bass being turned all the way down really takes the great rhythm section Black Sabbath is known for away from this album. Instead he lets the guitar stand up front, which is okay i guess, Iommi does a great job on guitar and but without the bass it does half the greatness it could have.
Overall this album is good but has a few fatal flaws that can turn away fans. Iommi's guitar and Ozzy's vocals are too loud, Ward's drumming seems uninspired and lacking with incredible loud cymbals and Geezer is nowhere to be heard. Yet Iommi provides some amazing riffs, Ozzy displays some fantastic vocal lines and lyrics, and Ward gives decent structure to the song. This can be a tough album to get into but it should be checked about by any metal fan.