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Decent and of course pushing the envelope - 72%

UltraBoris, December 24th, 2002

Oddly enough, this is where Sabbath seemed to fuck around uselessly the least, of all their first five albums (before Sabotage, where they really just put their shit together with a fucking nailgun)... there are no really overly short interludes thrown in (well, other than that Jack the Stripper bit, and Rat Salad), and the riff work is as usual phenomenal. However, it seems to have aged poorly, mainly due to overplay of some songs (Hell, I was familiar with the Iron Man riff by the time I was SIX), and also some rather weak ideas.

We start with War Pigs, which everyone has heard - but they need to hear again. The riff set at the end is apparently called Luke's Wall (didn't find that out until I got the album, and to this day I still have no idea where the split is, probably when the song speeds up...). After all these years, it still owns. Then the title track, which is almost speed metal. Not quite, though - it's above midpaced but no Highway Star.

Planet Caravan is kinda cute. I used to hate it, but then I listened to it while drunk... maybe that's the secret - to be under the influence of substances not occuring naturally within the body ;-) Then, there's Iron Man. It's really worn on me after a while (more so than War Pigs) but the ending solo/riff set is still a total monster. Electric Funeral is okay but it features probably Ozzy's worst vocals on here - he is a really crappy singer and at times brings the album down a lot. Other times he is tolerable, like on Iron Man, but not here. It's got a nice riff, though.

Hand of Doom, this is a song that cemented the genre that Black Sabbath spawned. Slow, heavy... instead of getting beaten by ten bricks every second like with a thrash album, this time the beatings occur only once every three seconds (well, a bit more often in the faster middle section)... but the bricks are a thousand times as heavy (even in the middle section, whoo!). Either way, you lose. Or win, if you actually like metal.

Rat Salad - what the fuck. Fucken drum highlights. Metal is about guitars. Enough said, here's Fairies Wear Boots, which starts off kinda average (it's also worn on me) but then at the end has a really simple but really nifty guitar solo that Metallica later borrowed to good effect. It's the most classical-sounding solo of all old Sabbath, and goes well as an outro piece. Who ever said Iommi couldn't play lead?

So do you need this album? Maybe, if just for Hand of Doom - that is the song on here that few people have heard, because all the other great heavy shit is a classic rock staple... it's a decent album, though it still is missing the drive and consistency that would mark heavy metal of later years. Too much drugs, kids.