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The rule of the almighty riff. - 85%

hells_unicorn, May 24th, 2009

Riding high off the success of “Heaven And Hell” and taking the loss of longtime drummer Bill Ward somewhat in stride, Black Sabbath elected to promote their second album with a no nonsense approach to heavy metal. That is essentially what “Mob Rules” the song is, no nonsense heavy metal, blaring out a singular pounding riff that has come to influence a lot of bands, from Dio’s own solo project in the case of “Rainbow In The Dark”, to more recent successful though very different bands like Rage Against The Machine. It’s essentially 3 riffs, one of which behaves as both the chorus, but in typical Sabbath form these 3 riffs are more than enough to lay the ground work for one hard hitting, memorable fit of brilliance.

The b-side that comes with this, an extra rare live version of the first single from the previous album “Die Young” takes the same approach as the a-side here. There’s no extended intro with a woeful guitar lead with keyboards everywhere, just a straight shot into the main riff and a mostly fast song, featuring a riff that’s a somewhat modified version of “Snowblind” played at a much lighter, faster tempo, with a less down tuned guitar tone and a much more driving rhythm section behind it. Ronnie’s vocal performance is a bit more gravely and rough than normal, and sometimes he goes a little bit overboard and loses the pitch center, but it all works in the spirit of aggressive music, which this band helped pioneer.

There are copies of this in vinyl still floating around on either eBay or a few other websites, probably not very cheap or easy to come by, but if you are a fanatical follower of the band who has to own every live version of classic Dio era Sabbath that you can get your hands on, then you are welcome to try. But for those normal people out there who think that the 2 studio albums and “Live Evil” are sufficient from this time period, you’re not missing a whole lot by not owning this. It’s fodder for completists and people who are stuck on a now mostly obsolete medium of music listening.