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The first album of literally any kind that I can remember hearing - 100%

Kronisk, December 21st, 2018

Doo-oom, tick-tick, doooom, doom doom doo-ooom, tick-tick, doooom, da da dah doo-ooo-ooom, doom doom doom...

Sometimes, when I have the laptop in front of me, I try to come up with creative ways to describe what a musician is playing. Not because I want to obfuscate or make my meaning more dense, but seriously just because of copyright concerns. The above is an example of what I could come up with in five seconds flat for the opening guitar riff of Sabbath Bloody Sabbath, which happens to be the first *song*, full-stop, that I remember ever having heard. Why am I pointing that out to you? Because I have come across people online that genuinely believe that everybody who listens to doom, black, or whatever, has to have a "gateway", like Poptallica, or Poison, or the other million inbred assholes who tried to force a babifying mask upon those of us who got the message from the get-go. Considering that I was a toddler when I first heard the song Sabbath Bloody Sabbath, and the male parental entity who put it on without knowing at first that I could hear it from where I was was about eighteen years old when Sabbath released their first blueprint, well, what I am hoping to convey to you is how ridiculous the whole gateway "theory" (or rather, fanatical belief) really is. When a five year old boy can hum in perfect timing the bass parts of Sabbath Bloody Sabbath, what is a "gateway" to him other than a momentary distraction from the real thing?

Black Sabbath loved their drugs. More and more of them they took as they got more successful, until they rented a mansion and tried to record songs for Sabbath Bloody Sabbath. The story goes that they were having trouble coming up with any songs, and that the eight on SBS are miraculous in that they got written and recorded at all. If nothing else, this proves that Tony and Geezer were a good deal more talented than either of them are ever going to get credit for. I do not find Side B of SBS to be anywhere near as strong as Side A, but that is like saying I do not find a kick in the balls nearly as powerful as a knife in the chest. Side B is far more loose and experimental, clearly written on the spot to fill out the record, but if every band that needed to fill out a record could come up with songs like Spiral Architect, we would already be in the Wunderwerck, and doom metal would lose all relevance to us. (That is a good thing, by the way.) SBS is not my favourite Sabbath record, but it puts up a damned good argument throughout concerning why everyone else out there thinks it to be Sabbath's best.

If you ever entertained notions of learning to play bass guitar and becoming the next Geezer, Billy, or Cliff, then you are in for a real treat concerning riffs to consistently fukk up until you finally get good enough. A National Acrobat is a great lesson in how it is not just what you play, but when you play it, and when you keep quiet, that make all the difference. It is also one of the strongest vocal performances that Ozzy has ever put on in his life. Whether he was as coked out as the rest of the band when he sang that he is the world that hides the universal secret of all time, you believe in the way he sings it because he is putting everything he has got into it. There are classically trained, beautiful-sounding vocalists out there who never deliver anything as strong as this. And I am the guy who likes to tune out the vocals because they are getting in the way of my enjoyment of the bass, bear in mind. Ozzy pulls another rabbit out of a hat during Sabbra Cadabra. Singing how he don't wanna leave you anymore, sure, he is cheating a little by putting his voice through a couple of channels at times, but you will never get a clearer demonstration of why Tony, Geezer, and Bill stuck with Ozzy throughout eight albums, corresponding tours, and all of them getting so shitfaced at times that it is a wonder they are still alive. Yes, Ozzy is a very lucky shower singer, but he is a good very lucky shower singer, as Sabbra Cadabra proves.

Getting back to Geezer, it was decades later when a man made a video about how to be a good bassist, and cited Geezer as an example. The responsibility the bassist takes on is enormous, as their level of professionalism and musicianship tends to reflect throughout the entire band. Throughout SBS, whilst Tony does give great guitar riff and Bill great pounding drums, the thing that makes the come-back-in from Tony's solo on Sabbath Bloody Sabbath or the whopping sense of not being in Kansas anymore during the intro of A National Acrobat is Geezer's bass. Without that low, rolling, slimy presence in the tubs of your speakers, many of the riffs and thumps on SBS would just plain not work. It also helps that Geezer writes the vast majority of what comes out of Ozzy's mouth, so he knows exactly what kind of mood he wants the record to have when all the pieces are put together. Tony might have been the one in charge, but Geezer was the one who made all those trains run on time. It shows in songs like Sabbra Cadabra. Yes, the quick-strike guitar riff grabs your attention, but it is Geezer's low, rhythmic anchor of same, and his change into a rolling elevation, that keeps you listen after you start to twig to how simplistic Tony's guitar riffs still are after five albums.

There are a small few not-so-wonderful moments tucked away here and there on SBS, sure. Listening to Ozzy sing the phrase "looking for today" (or rather, "looking for todaaaaaaaaaay-hey!") over and over does get on the nerves quickly. Only mildly so, but enough to make this little black duck want to scream at him to shut up for a couple of seconds. Fortunately, given that the rest of the song is well-composed and even has a good use of the flute at times, and that the song is immediately followed by closer Spiral Architect, you can forgive this little slip-up. If every song that I composed whilst I was in a rented house, trying to come up with material to finish album, were as good as Looking For Today, I could retire. As I indicated earlier, Side B is definitely the weaker half of SBS, and at times noticeably so, but there are numerous bands out there claiming to have followed on from Sabbath who would give their left nut to be able to make albums that are half as good as SBS' Side B. Given that this is quite probably the only qualifying thing I can say to temper my praise of SBS, that alone should tell you what a treat you are in for here. Even the (slightly) too-lengthy instrumental, Fluff, is awesome because it lulls you into a false sense of ease and relaxation before Sabbath slam you in the head with one of the most aggressively-introduced love songs in history.

People have told me when I was a younger person, that I got off to a great start if my story about SBS and especially its opening song being the first music I ever heard is true. That it is is irrelevant. What you should be taking from this little tale is that what you put into your child's mind from day one will be reflected back at you when they are old enough to have children of their own. The rest of what certain individuals put in there is horrible, awful, not worthy of being put there. But as long as I am alive, I will be thankful that four drugged-out, fatigued men made yet another blueprint for billions of facsimiles (most of them inferior), and largely by accident, I got to partake at a time when everything I heard and saw would be reflected in the man I am today. The people who have crippled you... you wanna see them burn! Damn right, Ozzy and Geezer. Damn right.

Damn, I Just Got Bog Blasted On - 94%

Superchard, September 6th, 2018

Okay, I'm not sure I know exactly what 'bog blast' is, but I'm pretty sure this album just bog blasted the fuck out of me. For anyone who's confused as to what I'm talking about, join the club. It happens to be a lyrics Ozzy Osbourne sings aloud in the title track opener of the album "God knows as your dog nose, bog blasts all of you!". From that line alone we can pretty well agree on one thing: Black Sabbath are still in that cocaine fueled stoner rock era of their discography that they established back on Vol. 4 and have written and recorded an album that fits in with the 1970's while still being a heavily experimental journey, and of all their 1970's releases, this is by far my personal favorite, a fantastic album from front to back with only one horrendously terrible song and an instrumental that most listeners will find jarring and doesn't fit the overall mood of the album.

So lets get the bad tracks out of the way with first. The aforementioned instrumental is "Fluff". It musically tiptoes and frolics around like a little pansy through a field of... pansies. All I can say about this song is that it's excruciatingly difficult to have throw this album on in the background of a social situation involving friends and "Fluff" comes on on the third track. If this is your album of choice to partake in illicit activities, "Fluff" is going to come on down the line three tracks in and make everyone in the room feel like a bunch of sissy boys when the couple of tracks before that were Black Sabbath absolutely tearing it up in ways we've never seen before. The majority of this album finds Black Sabbath honing their skills to both write more intricate, and at the same time more complex pieces than before all while utilizing more different types of instrumentation. Just look at the credits in the booklet and take a gander at all the instruments everyone is playing, especially Tony Iommi. You've got your standard instrumentation, but so much more than one would expect; organs, synthesizer, piano, even fucking bagpipes. Love you some Jethro Tull? The album even has some flute on it. Anyways, I think "Fluff" is a good display of variety, but I think Sabbath, Bloody Sabbath would have been much better off omitting it entirely. I would say that it could be used to finish the album off, but "Spiral Architect" already does that job better than anything else ever could.

The only other track besides "Fluff" that I really don't care for is "Who are You?". It's slow, not very well done space rock in which Iommi's guitar playing is absent. Instead Ozzy plays a synthesizer riff and Iommi plays piano. I find the synthesizer riff annoying and I always skip this track. "Fluff" was mildly jarring, this is just repetitive, dull and irritating. That synthesizer riff is so bad it almost sounds like it's mocking me for listening to it. Think that childish "nana nana boo boo" chant put into musical form, fuck this song. There's few redeeming qualities to it, so I won't say it's a total waste. It's cool to see them try to be this adventurous, but it's a good example of why innovation isn't always a good thing. I found that "Fluff" wasn't as bad as most people tend to make it out to be. At least I find myself not being quick to press the skip button, as I think it's actually an impressive instrumental in some ways. I can't say the same for "Who are You?". I skip it every. single. time.

Now, I've bitten into those couple of tracks enough, the rest of the album; in my opinion, is entirely flawless, and though six really good tracks is a little too short, at least they're all pretty beefy songs spanning 5-6 minutes respectively. What transpires in these songs is reason enough to consider this Black Sabbath's best album. I'm hesitant to call it their best, I'm sure many would, but I can't justifiably say that it's better than some of the albums they would do with Dio and Tony Martin. As far as Ozzy Osbourne releases go though, you can't get much better with only Paranoid competing with it. The rest of this album is simply classic. It fuses the stoner rock of the previous album with a progressive rock mentality. The title track opens up to a ferocious Black Sabbath, with Ozzy's vocals sounding more fierce than ever before. The song weaves back and forth between stoner rock and light lounge jazz of all things. The final part of the song is comprised of a guitar riff that one can only describe as "bludgeoning". It's the kind of thing one would expect from a 90's death metal band, but definitely not Black Sabbath, not in 1973.

I'd say that the opening track is really the only one that's ahead of its time. Everything else here oozes 70's progressive rock and is firmly rooted in its own decade, just a little heavier than any other acts around the time. Heavier than Kansas, Emerson Lake & Palmer... just not quite as technical as those bands. But hey, at least Black Sabbath could perform their songs live without sucking ass from a straw. "A National Acrobat" is a simpler groovy song that could've fit well on Vol. 4. It's mildly psychedelic and doesn't have the extra bells and whistles all the other songs on the album have. The band tacks on a simple instrumental segment towards the end of the song full of transitions and solos. It's hard to believe they were able to fit all of this into a succinct minute and thirty seconds, unabashedly challenging conventional songwriting and keeping things interesting.

"Sabbra Cadabbra" is a funky, sexy swinging blues rock masterpiece that Metallica would cover on their Garage Inc. album, completely missing the mark as most of the covers from that album do. I'm sad to say it, but i think Metallica's cover may have been my introduction to this album. The original here makes Metallica out to be nothing more than a bunch of posers. "Killing Yourself to Live" is interesting how it goes back and forth between distorted guitar and clean guitar with a flange effect. Halfway through it delivers some more blues rock badassery. The doomy Black Sabbath of yesteryears is long gone by this point, "Looking for Today" cements this drastic change with acoustic guitar and flute, apparently taking some inspiration from Tony Iommi's short-lived live career stint with Jethro Tull. The album ends with my absolute favorite, "Spiral Architect". Its uplifting and thunderous rock n' roll destruction is unparalleled with anything Black Sabbath ever wrote in the 1970's. It's in a league of its own, even compared to all the other tracks this album has to offer. This is the progressive Black Sabbath finding their absolute pinnacle, and the orchestral works in the song raise the hairs on the back of my neck and send chills down my spine.

Sorry for coming off as the biggest Black Sabbath fanboy on the planet, but of all the things I value most of all, I look upon this album and know that it is good, you know that i should.

Superchard gets super hard for:
Spiral Architect
Sabbra Cadabbra
Sabbath Bloody Sabbath
A National Acrobat
Looking for Today
Killing Yourself to Live

Not quite as terrifying as the album cover - 89%

TrooperEd, April 4th, 2018
Written based on this version: 1987, CD, Warner Bros. Records

The story goes that Black Sabbath tried the same method to write their follow up to Volume 4: Bel-Air mansion, cocaine galore, only this time nothing happened. Then they travelled back to England and found this spooky castle and even then it took a while for the band (or rather Tony Iommi) to come up with anything. Finally, the Sabbath Bloody Sabbath riff emanated from the strings of Tony's Gibson SG, and the ideas began to flow forth.

Amongst those ideas were Fluff, Who Are You, Looking For Today, and a few other oblong constructions that seem to fit the album's angelic back cover rather than the muse for demon-rape hentai of a front album cover. Given how many seemingly un-Sabbath ideas there are on this album, it's fascinating that people still include this amongst Sabbath's classic period, choosing to ignore the much heavier Sabotage over this. To be fair, I've heard anywhere from "after the first four Sabbath albums" to "after Never Say Die." Now, in no way am I saying this album is bad, or even that all of the more unconventional ideas here are bad, just that it was pretty incredible this album allowed Ozzy to get away with singing "lovely la-ay-ay-ay-day." I chalk it up to the 70s, where everyone was just more open minded and fan bitching was kept in bowels of bars and playgrounds where it was promptly marginalized the second the band came to town for a live show. I'm not really sure any band could get away with this album today, given that one simple blabbermouth comment will immediately dissuade scores of mouth breathing retards. Ignoring the cries of the fans isn't always a bad thing, folks.

Still, I have to call a spade a spade, and Fluff is easily the second worst track from the Ozzy era. I can understand the occasional interlude like Orchid or Laguna Sunrise for the sake of variety, but this? This is just awful. The band America laughed this shit out of the room for being softer than melted ice-cream. Then there's Who Are You, which was written lock stock and barrel by none other than Ozzy Osborune all by himself. Of course this song also falters under scrutiny, because as nicely as that keyboard riff fits the Sabbath sound, we all can't help but wonder why the hell Tony Iommi isn't playing that riff on the guitar? He doesn't even play it as a doubling rhythm track to the keyboard, which I think would have given the song a massive boost. Spiral Architect and Looking For Today is where we start to cross into the realms of great ideas of expanding into the Black Sabbath sound. The former seems to use an acoustic guitar as it's backbone (though a proper electric riff does pop in from time to time), and Looking For Today seems to undergo an R&B diva vibe that Judas Priest would briefly embellish a bit further on the Killing Machine album. It's also worth mentioning that there's a lot of orchestra instruments on this album. Hell, Looking For Today even has a flute underneath the pre-chorus.

For better or worse, there's enough proper heavy Sabbath songs to fill up an album side. A National Acrobat, Killing Yourself To Live, Sabbra Caddabra and the absolutely nightmarish title track are just as much staples of what Black Sabbath do best alongside Children of The Grave, Iron Man, etc. Well, ok, Sabbra Caddabra is also another weird one, sounding like a lost collaboration track between Black Sabbath and Elton John, but again, that riff! One thing you might not be prepared for is Ozzy's Judas-fucking-Priest like performance in the second half of Sabbath Bloody Sabbath. I had heard most of the Sabbath classics live before the studio versions so hearing "WHERE CAN YOU RUN TO" erupt out of nowhere, along with everything that followed was such a gut punch. It was the first time Black Sabbath managed to scare the shit out of me. Master of Reality and Volume 4 had gotten listeners accustomed to an Ozzy Osbourne that could at the very least, last a few rounds with Robert Plant and Ian Gillan, but nobody saw this vocal performance coming. I guess the fact that Ozzy wasn't capable of performing this part live after 1974 (if he ever did that is) has preserved it like a horror movie scare that hasn't been copied and parodied in an attempt to soften the blow. Then you combine that with the song's coda, which actually sounds like the remaining ensemble is musically ripping your mind apart and sucking it into a black hole, and you have a tour-de-force that screams "this is heavy metal!" It's surprising Fluff wasn't placed directly after this track to try and bring the listener back to reality.

While the rest of the album doesn't quite match that song's caliber, you best believe Sabbath Bloody Sabbath is worth buying for the title track alone. Even if you already have the song on one of the greatest hits comps or on an MP3, get it anyway. You never know when those other "copies" might scratch/get corrupted from internet viruses.

Heavy Beautiful Heavy - 92%

ReleaseTheBears, January 15th, 2017
Written based on this version: 1998, CD, Warner Bros. Records

Sabbath Bloody Sabbath was the first Black Sabbath album that I ever bought on CD. My Dad recommended it to me based on the fact that it was his favourite of the three Sabs albums that he owned on vinyl (along with Paranoid and Never Say Die). And boy did it turn out to be the perfect introduction to Sabbath for me! On a slight side note, I think the album cover is perfectly evil, if a bit dated looking.

As with other Black Sabbath albums, the main strength here is the riffs; most of the album contains epic heavy riffs. For instance, the title track is absolutely epic dungeon metal; that opening riff just sounds like it’s tearing the dungeon manacles right out of the stone walls. Oddly enough that first riff is followed up by a section that sounds rather like Jethro Tull (not a bad thing!) before returning to the heavy stuff. The outro riff used to scare me in my youth, but now I appreciate just how evil sounding it is! With the exception of the acoustic song Fluff, every song contains wonderful Iommi riffs, especially the title track, A National Acrobat, Sabbra Cadabra, and Killing Yourself To Live.

Lyrically this album comes across to me as one of their more interesting/strong albums. A National Acrobat has awesomely odd lyrics (“when little worlds collide, I’m trapped inside my embryonic cell”) and one of Ozzy’s best ever laughs right at the end of the extended middle groove. Killing Yourself To Live is a wise cautionary tale, and Spiral Architect is a gem of a tale. Ozzy does a great job on all the tracks!

Black Sabbath also show maturity and well placed variety on this album, things only hinted at on their previous albums. Fluff is probably Sabbath’s most beautiful acoustic song. It’s certainly a lot more melodic, smooth, and beautiful than Laguna Sunrise, which always sounds a bit choppy to me. And Sabbra Cadabra might be early Sabbath’s most upbeat and polished song. My Dad once described it as “candy Sabbath” and I think that’s a good description, what with all the Rick Wakeman keyboards and the romantic lyrics. But unlike the awful Changes, FX, and the questionable Laguna Sunrise on Vol. 4, the variety really works here!

There are a few areas for me where this album loses some marks. The first three tracks on side two drag for me after repeated listenings, and the synthesizer on Who Are You sounds a bit dated and cheesy. Also Geezer is much less noticeable on bass than in the previous four albums. However for the first time Bill Ward goes an entire album without ever sounding like a silly drummer to me. No indeed, on this album Bill Ward fits in perfectly on every song. It’s as though he learned how to be a drummer between Vol. 4 and Sabbath Bloody Sabbath.

The last track, Spiral Architect, is one of Black Sabbath’s crowning achievements as musical artists. It’s not my favourite song by them, and it’s probably not their best or most influential track, but there’s something about it that transcends the need for genre identification as a listener. It shouldn’t matter if you’re a metal head, regular symphony goer, or a jazz fanatic. Spiral Architect is such a well written song that it should provide something for everyone. It starts out with beautiful haunting acoustic guitar, before building into something majestic and sweeping, with guitars, drums, great vocals, and tasteful orchestral arrangements. The spiral city architects indeed, Messrs Iommi, Osbourne, Butler, & Ward!

Fantastic Bloody Fantastic - 100%

Doominance, January 20th, 2015

It was late 1973 and Black Sabbath had already released four albums: 'Black Sabbath' and 'Paranoid' in 1970, 'Master of Reality' in 1971 and 'Vol.4' in 1972. What was clear was that the band was growing; both musically and in popularity. The four Brummies had managed to record and release four excellent albums that were all unique, so on the first day of December, 1973, Black Sabbath released 'Sabbath Bloody Sabbath' and I can imagine that fans were thrilled to see what Iommi and co. had come up with this time.

Ladies and gents, 'Sabbath Bloody Sabbath' is quite possibly Black Sabbath's finest record ever and arguably the first true progressive metal album. It's difficult to explain how good this album really is. The band had borrowed all the best elements of the four previous albums and added it into a pool of fresh ideas, in which the river went one direction and that was to the land of awesomeness. No, but really, this is, in my opinion, when Black Sabbath peaked.

Instead of analysing every track to death, I will make it very simple: there is not a single bad track; not even a single bad moment on the entire album. This is pretty much perfection. The combining effect of Black Sabbath taking the best elements of previous albums and adding it into a layer of fresh, progressive ideas worked wonders. 'Vol. 4' was a bit like this, but lacked the cutting edge and execution of 'Sabbath Bloody Sabbath', and also had a much darker and creepier atmosphere.

'Sabbath Bloody Sabbath' is a fun listen. Of course it's not all about being jolly and merry, since Black Sabbath was the opposite of that, at the time when hippies were being overly-happy (ignorant). But the music and some of the lyrics (yes, Sabbra Cadabra, I'm looking at you) are much more up-beat and "happy" than on previous records. But naturally, there are also the darker and more mysterious lyrics thrown in the mix.

The music itself is greatly improved and sounds fresh. There is less of the very dark and doomy sound that the band had become famous for and there was a rapid increase in sophistication in the overall song-structures and progression. There are some very melodic and almost symphonic qualities scattered about and there is also an increase usage of acoustic guitar and keys to add to the more "sophisticated, progressive" approach. Take for instance "Sabbra Cadabra". It's got an amazing tempo and one of the more famous guitar-work by Iommi, but the song breaks into a synth-heavy part with normal keys subtlety added, too. Another example is "Who Are You?" is entirely synth-driven. It must be the only Sabbath track that doesn't feature guitars. Then, we have acoustic guitars in songs such as "Sabbath Bloody Sabbath", the beautiful instrumental "Fluff", the insanely catchy "Looking for Today", which also includes a flute, and finally the astonishingly beautiful album closer "Spiral Architect".

This isn't to say that there aren't moments of the good, old, crazy and heavy Sabbath. 'Sabbath Bloody Sabbath' has some of Iommi's greatest axe-work ever. Especially the leads and solos are incredible in some of the songs; most notably "A National Acrobat" and "Killing Yourself to Live".

I would recommend this album to anyone. Even non-metal fans. This is as good as it gets. I can't point out a single flaw on this record. Heck, there isn't even a moment where poor, old Ozzy sounds a bit off! Also, after Black Sabbath had released 'Sabbath Bloody Sabbath', they would finally get favourable reviews from music critics at the time, which they hadn't; despite releasing four excellent albums before this one. So, I think that says enough. This album is amazing.

Bloody fantastic. - 100%

ViciousFriendlyFish, January 25th, 2014

This album is considered by some to be Black Sabbath's final classic (though I personally think that label belongs to Sabotage). Tony Iommi was suffering from writer's block, and the rest of the band themselves felt lost without his riffs to inspire them. But finally, one day he came out with the riff for what would become the title track on this album, and then what followed was a heap of amazing songs, which collectively produced the best Black Sabbath album to date. This, funnily enough, was also the first album to receive positive reviews from the critics as well. Although albums like Paranoid and Master of Reality stand as heavy metal classics today, they were in fact, panned upon their initial releases. This one, however, wasn't.

Sabbath Bloody Sabbath adds a touch of sophistication and an extra atmosphere to the band's sound, with a more prominent use of keyboards, synthesizers, strings and other various instruments added on to the traditional rock instruments the band were accustomed to, but without losing any of the heaviness in the riffs or the drums that were present on each Sabbath release, and certainly not taking away from the strengths of the band as a unit. The band's ideas have clearly been more fleshed out here than on previous albums, with all of the songs lasting 4-6 minutes long and each carrying several shifts in tempo, a change of mood, or at least some kind of surprise to keep the listener hooked. There is a lack of short instrumental or experimental tracks in the vein of "Rat Salad" or "FX" that many of the previous albums had, but the album also lacks in 7+ minute epic tracks like "War Pigs" or "Wheels of Confusion", which isn't a bad thing. The songs are kept short enough to keep most listeners interested but are also long enough to cover enough territory to make them special. Nothing about the band's style and sound is necessarily compromised, but just added onto.

The "doom and gloom" type-themes are still here in all their glory. The intriguing album cover alone is a good demonstration of this particular mindset. On the songs themselves, the band covers themes such as birth, death and religion, with the latter particularly being looked at through a cynical perspective, with lyrics such as "Living just for dying, dying just for you" and "You think all the people who worship you are blind" demonstrating this. The band even goes as far as to acknowledge their own bad habits in one particular song, "Killing Yourself to Live", which contains references to their heavy drinking and drug use. Some regard this album to be the beginning of the end of the original line-up, as relationships between members were slowly beginning to disintegrate, which would eventually affect the songwriting chemistry, more obviously reflected in "Technical Ecstasy" and "Never Say Die!". With that said, the hard feelings generated from the tensions perhaps inspired "Killing Yourself to Live".

However, some of the lyrical themes are more positive, and they contrast with the dark, heavy music, most notably in "Sabbra Cadabra", which is Sabbath's stab at a love song, and certainly not a bad one at all, though unconventional; it creates a moody atmosphere with the help of bluesy drums and pianos despite Osbourne singing about his love for a woman. There are also quieter songs with less instrumentation, such as the acoustic instrumental "Fluff" and the slow, synthesizer-driven "Who Are You" which Osbourne supposedly played a large part in composing, but the songs blend in well with one another all the way through, and there is never a truly dull moment.

Overall, Sabbath Bloody Sabbath feels less like a typical Black Sabbath album than their previous releases, because of the differences in song structure, and the general atmosphere, but, at the same time, retains many of the signature elements that made people fall in love with the band in the first place. The riffs are still just as inspiring as ever, the drumming is still just as varied and jazz-fuelled, and Ozzy Osbourne hits some of the highest notes he's sung in his career. The band's lasting influence becomes clearer with each listen. (In fact, I honestly believe that the second half of the title track may have played a big part in the emergence of death metal.) You will need to listen to it for yourself to understand the band's true importance to rock and metal as we know them. I recommend it to fans of pretty much any genre of music; it's that gripping.

Prog Sabbath Does It! - 99%

TheZombieXecutioner, January 3rd, 2013

After the release of Vol. 4, Black Sabbath seemed to be heading down a road of mediocrity. Thankfully they proved all wrong with the release of their follow-up album, Sabbath Bloody Sabbath. The band took a turn into a more progressive band with complex song structures, odd time signatures, and longer songs. Full of amazing guitar work, great bass playing, and tight drums his turn led to one of Sabbath's greatest offerings.

Iommi takes the thin tone of the previous album and amps it up to how it should have sounded while showcasing some of his finest guitar playing. This album is full of complex and heavy riffs like that of the title track, "Sabbra Cadabra" and "Killing Yourself to Live". Tracks like "A National Acrobat" really show Iommi greatness with multi-structured riffs, catchy interludes, and great solos. Iommi shows a great deal of his most interesting solos on "Killing Yourself to Live" and "Looking for Today". "Fluff" is a great piece featuring only acoustic guitar, piano, and synth. This song has a great tone and atmosphere that feels like you are floating high in the clouds making this one of Iommi's best acoustic performances. It seems as if after Vol. 4 Iommi realized his mistakes on Vol. 4 and completely fixed them all. and overall Iommi does a brilliant job on this record providing one of his best performances to date.

The bass on this album is very good. Geezer is actually audible on this album, which is a huge improvement from the last. He has a nice clean tone that can be heard rumbling about on "Sabbra Cadabra" and "Spiral Architect". "Who Are You?" has some great distorted bass playing in the background. This is a great effect to the song and really makes the doomy atmosphere shine. Geezer does a great job of this record keeping the groove and even doing his own in some parts which is nice to hear again.

Bill Ward is back on drums and seems to be more motivated this time around. Supplying some great beats on "A National Acrobat" and "Spiral Architect". It's great to hear Ward actually feel like he is into the music he is playing and work with it. His kit has a great tone with cymbals that are at the perfect volume. Ward does some nice rolls here and there on "Looking For Today" and "Sabbath Bloody Sabbath" that bring back the greatness of his work on the earlier albums. In the end Ward does a fantastic job fixing the volume problems of the past album as well as getting more motivated and into the music.

Other than the regular guitar, bass and drums, the band experiments with other instruments like the flute and piano while Rick Wakeman from Yes does keyboards. Surprisingly these additional instruments work extremely well in this new prog oriented music. The flute on "Looking For Today" is rather nice behind the vocals and acoustic guitar giving the song a Peter Gabriel era Genesis feel. The keyboards on "Sabbra Cadabra" fit shockingly well in the song and bringing it to a great descending passage for the rest of the track. "Who Are You?", which i admit i actually hated at first, is a rather odd song. In the vein of the 70's prog of the time, they made a keyboard oriented song that is very doomy. This song could take some time to understand but you'll learn to appreciate Sabbath experimenting.

On vocals are presented from none other than Ozzy Osbourne who does a great performance. Ozzy's voice is higher this time around but work great with the proggy music on this record. Ozzy does a great job expressing emotions of the lyrics like on "Sabbath Bloody Sabbath", "A National Acrobat" and "Killing Yourself to Live". Overall Ozzy's voice seems really motivated and into the music like the rest of the band and supplies a great vocal performance. The lyrics on this record are some of my favorite from main lyricist Geezer Butler. "A National Acrobat" has amazing lyrics talking about reincarnation and living multiple lives. While "Sabbra Cadabra" tells a story of loving a woman and thinking your life is going well and then leaving her and soon realizing her importance to you. It's a typical 'you dont know what you got until its gone' story but the band expresses the lyrics very well. "Killing Yourself to Live", which is written about Bill Ward's drinking problem, shows the sadness and confusion of drinking and not being able to get out. Geezer and the band wrote their best lyrical content on this record and make it work perfectly with the music.

Five years into the groups career they are still producing great music and possible their greatest offering. Full of amazing and complex riffs, great rhythm section, and Ozzy's emotion vocals this is an album for any metal fan into Sabbath and looking to see their more experimental side.

A realization of Sabbath's progressive vision. - 80%

ConorFynes, June 1st, 2012

With "Volume Four", Black Sabbath developed upon the progressive themes they had planted in their previous record, "Master of Reality". Although their sound was still well-rooted in the heavy metal grit they introduced themselves to the world by, Sabbath exchanged some of their less refined sensibilities for more sophisticated arrangements and a generally more artsier approach than what they had gone for prior. "Sabbath Bloody Sabbath" continues this development, albeit to a lesser degree of evolution than witnessed by their last step forward. Although the cover art implies something ripped from the bowels of hell, Black Sabbath had never sounded so refined, their style creeping ever closer to the world of prog rock. "Sabbath Bloody Sabbath" may be less of a surprise than "Volume Four", but the band's firmer grasp of their 'new direction' results in a slightly superior realization of the 'prog' Sabbath.

Proggers will be quick to point out that Yes key wizard Rick Wakeman plays keys here. Indeed, he backs up the band with some inventive piano work on "Sabbra Cadabra", but it's nothing that would have been beyond the talents of Tony Iommi. Although the light timbre of the piano would have stuck out like Michael Jackson at a Klan meeting on "Paranoid", Black Sabbath had steadily built up an openness to using this and other 'pretty' sounding instruments in their work. The excellent instrumental "Fluff" is ample demonstration of the band's fully realized 'softer side'. Of course, the majority of this and any Black Sabbath album still resorts around their brand of thick, heavy rock.

This may be the first album of Black Sabbath's career where I cannot identify a true standout track that could be promised a place on a best-of compilation. "Sabbath Bloody Sabbath" still triumphs over its predecessor for the fact that it manages to pursue these progressive sounds with consistency. Sabbath have still not entirely regained their doomy heaviness, but it's certainly a harder rocking effort than "Volume Four". "A National Acrobat" is my favourite from the album, a slower track with a beautiful dual harmonized guitar lead that foreshadows the music of another legendary British metal band. "Who Are You" is a gloomy throwback to Black Sabbath's doom roots, glorifying the synthesizer and featuring some of the band's most sophisticated orchestrations to date. "Spiral Architect" (the namesake of an excellent Norwegian prog metal band, by the way) is an upbeat and fitting way to close the album, with acoustic and electric guitars backed up with a Beatles-esque string arrangement. Excellent stuff.

Although I did remark that Ozzy Osbourne's vocals had never sounded so powerful and evocative on "Volume Four", there is the constant feeling here that he is attempting to go past what is comfortable for his vocal range. Although some of his 'high notes' don't sound too bad, there are points where the strain in his voice is well evident, and it leaves him with less room to explore the emotion of his singing. Of course, it's that sort of adventurous spirit that largely defines this stage of Black Sabbath's development. Not everything was prone to work perfectly, but they did it anyway. In the case of "Sabbath Bloody Sabbath", it's very clear that they learned some things since "Volume Four". The sound is a little more focused, the compositions more consistent, and the orchestrations more sophisticated. It could have been easily expected given the band's impressive track record, but Black Sabbath's fifth instalment is an excellent album.

Best Ozzy-era Sabbath album - 96%

Agonymph, February 14th, 2009

Once I had gotten into Metal, surprisingly, it took me a long time to get into Black Sabbath with Ozzy on vocals. I was a big fan of de Dio-era and 'Heaven And Hell' is, to this day, one of my favorite all time Metal albums. 'Mob Rules' and 'Dehumanizer' aren't too shabby either. I guess as a great vocals fetishist, Dio has always had more of an impact on me than Ozzy. However, it was with this album that started really getting into the Ozzy-era. 'Sabbath Bloody Sabbath' is - simply put - Black Sabbath's best album with Ozzy on vocals and one of the best Metal albums of all time altogether.

What makes this one so much better than 'Paranoid' for me then? Well, first of all, the sound - and especially the guitar sound - has vastly improved over the last few albums. Tony Iommi started improving his guitar sound on 'Master Of Reality' already, but this is really where he got his shit together. This is just about as good as it gets for 1973. Only Ritchie Blackmore equaled this at the time. Who also improved is Ozzy. While still not quite one of the world's greatest singers, he has a lot more power than before here. Not to mention that he sings in key much more often than on the band's previous efforts.

But most important is the song material. 'Sabbath Bloody Sabbath' is arguably one of the most experimental Black Sabbath-efforts. Of course, 'Vol 4' takes the cake there, but while the band didn't know where to stop experimenting on that album (resulting in utterly horrible tracks such as 'Changes' and 'FX' to drag the average of 'Snowblind', 'Supernaut' and 'Cornucopia' down), only the over-synthesized 'Who Are You' is a true miss on this album, that one really gets on my nerves. Every other experiment here is a successful one. Rick Wakeman's keyboards on the amazing 'Sabbra Cadabra' really add to the Rock 'n' Roll-vibe of the song, the acoustic 'Fluff' is the first truly good instrumental interlude the band has done, there is even a little Folk in 'Looking For Today' and the overall slightly psychedelic edge of this album creates an atmosphere that is irresistable.

Don't let the experimentalism drive you away from this album. The most important ingredient is still Tony Iommi's mighty guitar riffs. The album starts with the crushing main riff of the title track - if the album cover is the visualization of a nightmare, the title track is the "audiozation" of it - and almost every song starts with a classic riff. Just like we're used to from Black Sabbath. Of course, Geezer Butler's brilliance is all over the place as well. I just think there's a lot more power on this album, as well as better compositions than ever before.

Favorites include the amazing title track, 'Sabbra Cadabra' and the incredible 'A National Acrobat'. The latter pummels on in a relatively low tempo, but builds up towards new climaxes so brilliantly, that it keeps on getting better and better. Ozzy's vocal lines are also remarkably good on this track. 'Spiral Architect' is a mighty closer with brilliant use of keyboards (a string section is mentioned, but I'm almost positive that it's a mellotron) and 'Killing Yourself To Live' has a brilliant tension that is almost completely new to this band.

All together, I think that Black Sabbath hasn't ever sounded as inspired as on this album (and its brilliant follow-up 'Sabotage') with Ozzy on vocals. 'Vol 4' was a nice prelude to what was to come, but I don't think anyone at the time could have expected this. Not even the band members themselves, as I understood they were heavily uninspired until they moved into a "haunted" castle for the recordings of this one. If that is the case, I'm glad they got there. This is a monumental Metal release. If you call yourself a Metal fan and don't own this, I won't take you seriously. And in deed, that means I wasn't supposed to be taken seriously until I was about 16 as well. That's when I found out the Dio albums weren't the only great Sabbath-albums.

Architecting The Spiral... - 93%

Luvers666, May 9th, 2008

After Sabbath's unholy trinity of the early 1970's, in the form of their first three albums, the band stopped producing hits and instead focused more on creative and personal ingeniousness that was inexplicably absent on the first three. Volume 4 began the trend but lacked certain things to make it a great record, the same goes for this album. The only Ozzy era Sabbath album that could truly be called a 'masterpiece' is Sabotage, but that is another review. Pointing out the negatives about this album would be unfair, not to mention it would only be a few words, so lets look at the positives.

The first brilliant thing about the album is it's cover, after the previous three dreadful ones we have this demoniacally illustrated picture of demons torturing a man in a bed depicting the number of the beast. May seem dated to those now but for the first twenty years people seen this they were either amazed or shocked, which is the genius of the band, the cut and dry way the band go about this. Here you will not find simple rehashed attempts at the bands debut, or songs glorifying the genre of 'metal'. Instead we have strong political and religious opinions sung with conviction with heavy masterful riffs. Heart-warming instrumentals, eerie psychedelic songs, classically influenced orchestration, all the great things that were absent on the bands supposedly 'better' albums.

We begin with the title track and from it's opening riff to the clapping on the end of Spiral Architect, we hear Sabbath as both heavy and mighty and soft and finesse. Poetic and straightforward, sleazy and humbled. Sabbath Bloody Sabbath's lyrics deal with the evil of mankind, and how unless a higher powered hand is involved, that evil will never end. Since the suggestion is that evil is never ending and it begins with the first track, while the final track has the word Spiral in it, it is safe to assume the band was trying to formulate a concept here. That highly believable distinction is the albums only shining flaw, as Sabbath was not at that stage yet(see the next album). And while that may seem unfair the blame could only be placed on Ozzy as his vocals are, while improved over early albums, still very one-dimensional and the diversity needed to make a concept album is not there. But with that exception this is a fine album that continued Sabbath's string of highly influential albums that shaped the world of Heavy Metal as we know it.

One of the brilliant things about this album, which began on Volume 4 and culminated on Sabotage, was the fact that the songs were grabbing and strong for different reasons. In the past the songs were in your face because of Tony Iommi's guitar and little else, and while there is nothing wrong with that, the material did seem to be waning. Here the songs are special and great because of the sonic experimentation, with the slight polka intro to Spiral Architect, classically influenced Fluff or the Pink Floyd influenced Who Are You. The experimentation may not be for everybody and some even claim it to dilute the established sound of Sabbath but after listening to the boring Paranoid, Master Of Reality albums, one must wonder if the band would have died had they never experimented.

While there is no reason to go through the songs, as they are all equally great, with the exception Looking For Today, I must praise the best song on the album, Spiral Architect.

Question: Hey can Sabbath do anything different than just Metal and have it not be extreme like a ballad, such as Changes or She's Gone?
Answer: Spiral Architect. This is the one area of the album that no one ever seen coming, Sabbath playing a song unlike them, with extra instruments unlike any that fit inside their genre?

Beginning acoustically with a polka feel Tony plays a jazzy arrangement with synthesizers and violins to fill out the sound. Suddenly forty five seconds in the light and happy guitar comes in, joined by Bill Ward's pulsating hi-hat rides, the comes the crashing power chords. Oh the light and shade is magical. The riff repeats itself before segueing into the first verse where Ozzy sings with extraordinary power and buoyancy. The chorus' is not soft but not heavy either, instead placing the emphasis on Ozzy's harmonized vocals and the eerie violins, then comes that infectious main riff and hi-hat majesticism. The entire formula repeats itself setting you up for the intoxicating middle section that is short on heaviness and long on violins, coming across as dreamy and almost spiritual. Yes people this is heavenly bliss and it's delivered by a supposed Satanic band. The formula returns for a final time and extended chorus where Ozzy practically cries, 'You know that I should' three times and then that ending. The climax is the highlight of the entire album, orgasmic and lush, close your eyes and you can picture a conductor signaling that crescendo to his orchestra which the musicians execute flawlessly. Such a perfect song and the perfect way to end what some call 'Sabbath's experimental album', perhaps it would fitting.

In the end Sabotage is better but if your looking for the best Ozzy era material after that album this is where you look.

Sabbath's peak of musical maturity - 100%

Satanwolf, May 8th, 2007

Sabbath, Bloody Sabbath," the fifth album from Black Sabbath, is the perfect mix of their metal and melodic sides. The album is almost prog-metal, and even features contributions from Yes keyboardist Rick Wakeman. Much musical growth was evident on this album, yet Sabbath retained their heaviness and their penchant for tales of madness and mysticism.

The opening title track is a perfect example of where the direction of this album is going to go. Starting off with one of Tony Iommi's classic metal riffs and Ozzy's anguished cries, the song moves between heavy and melodic sections. "A National Acrobat" is total doom heaven and one of my personal favorite tracks, and displays excellent leadwork from Iommi. Bassist/
lyricist Geezer Butler did a bang-up job of the lyrics to "Acrobat," a tale of death and reincarnation. "Fluff" features some beautiful acoustic guitar from Iommi backed by Wakeman's keyboard melodies in an instrumental number very atypical of Sabbath. "Sabbra Cadabra is a fast-paced love song as only Sabbath can deliver, with more emphasis on rhythm in the second half of the song.

Side two opens with "Killing Yourself to Live" a tale of frustration and confusion featuring a strong vocal performance by Ozzy. "Who are You?" is probably the most overtly progressive number on the album, with it's emphasis on keyboards (written by Osbourne?!), yet is another very dark number lyrically. "Looking for Today" is again on the melodic side, with a flute melody played over the lyrics. The album closes with "Spiral Architect," simply one of Sabbath's greatest and most beautiful songs and a live favorite, clearly demonstrating the musical growth experienced by the band.

The album cover features some of Sabbath's best artwork, a man caught in the nightmare of a black mass. Musically this was the peak of Sabbath's creativity, but also their unity. "Sabbath, Bloody Sabbath" remains one of Sabbath's most influential albums and one of the best of the band's contributions to the metal genre. This stunning release should be experienced by every hard rock/metal fan.

Heavy Metal Draft 5, perfection attained! - 100%

hells_unicorn, October 31st, 2006

It had been 4 years since the release of their highly innovative debut record, and they had already put out 3 subsequent releases that all featured a uniquely progressive sound, but the true awakening that this band would bring about had yet to fully manifest itself. “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath” is a culmination of all that Sabbath came to embody in their glory days of the 70s, heavy music that would refuse to conform to the mainstream norms of the time. Previous reviewers have already made note of the vast number of new instruments that have been included to complement Sabbath’s established sound, but what I think is often missed is the true consequences of what those instruments, along with the usual sounds that the band creates, actually ended up producing.

This album is often referred to as the first progressive album to grace the metal genre, and for good reason too, as Sabbath has been at the forefront of bringing new technology to rock music. This progression still holds sway with today’s latest metal acts. The violin work found on “Spiral Architect” created a precedent of marrying classical music with metal that would manifest into the fully symphonic style, as spearheaded by bands such as Rhapsody. The heavy amount of synthesizer work on “who are you?” inspired a whole generation of progressive rockers, although credit must also be given to Rush for perfecting the model that is now used by such bands as “Dream Theatre” and “Symphony X”.

What is often missed by reviewers is the highly technical elements involved in this album, not only in terms of structure, but in the sheer display of dexterity by the musicians involved. “Sabbra Cadabra” has an incredibly inventive and difficult riff at the beginning, one that is well known for being the riff that exposed Kirk Hammet’s flaws as a player. Truth be told, I struggled with this riff greatly when I played this song in my own band, it definitely showcases a strong sense of rhythm on the part of Tony Iommi. The rest of the song is loaded with some rather brilliant musical changes, including some fine piano playing, and the usually active bass and drum work.

One criticism that is often lobbed at this release is that the guitar is a bit too muddy, to which I will simply state that this the tone is as heavy as the last two albums but it mixes much better with all the extra instruments much better this way. Songs such as the title track, “Killing Yourself to Live” and “A National Acrobat” are heavy enough and also contain some rather interesting sounds in the lead tracks. The latter of the 3 tracks takes my pick for the best guitar solo on this album, as Tony has truly turned his multi-track leads into 2 dueling guitars that go in completely different directions.

One would wonder why this album would get a perfect score from me when I have passed up such amazing works both before and after this album with Ozzy, but upon listening to this CD, the answer becomes immediately obvious. I don’t know what happened between Vol. 4 and this release but somewhere along the way Ozzy’s voice got a whole lot better. There isn’t a single track on here where I find his voice to be either grating or unpleasant. In fact, in the cases of the title track and “Look for Today” I think his voice is utterly amazing. He has a rather good command of the higher register, and his voice actually manages to transition well between the acoustic and electric sections of both songs.

I also wanted to give special kudos to the band for the long yet highly enjoyable instrumental “fluff”. Unlike previous releases where instrumentals or quiet ballads would either be too repetitive or too musically flat, this one is loaded with amazing moments. The piano and harpsichord work on here is nothing short of spellbinding, to speak nothing of all the great acoustic guitar tracks. If there is a flaw in this song it is that there are so many tracks on here that it would be impossible for 5 people to recreate the dense atmosphere accomplished on this studio recording.

I will now take a moment to single out one particular track on this album, and that is the well known yet often underrated title track. Ever since hearing this song it has remained my favorite of all the songs ever recorded by this band with Ozzy doing the singing (third favorite of this band as a whole). This song’s true impact is not fully realized by many, mostly because it lacks some of the key elements that defined the genre that it helped spawn, particularly the speed that was taken more from Deep Purple, Rainbow and Judas Priest. Yes my friends, I speak of the genre of melodic power metal. This riff is one that would often be used as inspiration for the music of bands such as Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Gamma Ray, and a host of other bands associated with the current explosion of melodic power metal. It is no accident that when invited to appear on the Sabbath tribute album that Bruce Dickinson chose this song. This also is the song that I play most with my own band, and I take lead vocal duties on this one always, because it is the song that inspired my first set of original compositions. This song is absolutely timeless, and will undoubtedly continue to inspire many great heavy metal acts for decades to come.

In conclusion, although this album is mostly geared towards the Progressive and Melodic side of metal, with a bit less emphasis on the doom, I highly recommend it to all. It presents Sabbath at their most polished and their most powerful. You wouldn’t know by listening to it that the band who recorded it was tiring from 4 straight years of touring and also releasing 4 studio efforts during that period. This band was about as driven as they come, and the music that they have created never ceases to drive young musicians to pick up and instrument and make one hell of a beautiful racket.

Sabbath Steps Up To The Progressive Plate - 90%

brocashelm, April 21st, 2006

Sabbath Bloody Sabbath was the work of band on a mission to prove itself an act far above the press and media derision that had been liberally cast their way throughout their profitable but notorious past. It features keyboards, tricky arrangements, but above all a nearly perfect balance of progression and weight. Simply put, as evolution-minded as the work here is, it’s also loath to leave the punters behind (of which I am assuredly one of).

Opening with the iconic riff of the title song (one of Tony Iommi’s best ever) the track soon takes on a diabolical feel worthy of the band’s most spectral music. “Fluff” is just that, a frilly piece of instrumental whatever that’s quickly forgotten. “Sabra Cadabra,” however, is a self-conscious riff-mungous monster, and a somewhat forgotten gem in this band’s sea of lost jewels (which gives me pause to observe: it’s odd that a band as popular as Sabbath would boast such a sense of fan ambivalence about the depths of their own catalog). But it’s the latter half of the album that lends itself to the sense of advancement discussed above. True, “Killing Yourself To Live” is another plain old kick-ass Sabbath creation, constructed with perhaps a bit more care for craft than elder work, but still pleasingly brute all the same. It’s with Ozzy’s musical (!) effort “Who Are You” that things get enjoyably odd. Leading with a stilted synthesizer riff (!) it grows into one Sabbath’s unlikeliest keepers ever.

The real treat is saved for last though, as “Spiral Architect” is easily one of the band’s best songs ever, despite it being not particularly heavy. It is lyrically and musically amazing, one of Ozzy’s cosmic observations that make real sense, and the writing is second to none, riveting and memorably dynamic. Another cut that has largely sunk to the bottom ‘o the Sabbath sea, only to be hailed by malcontents like me (hey, I’m a poet!).

A fine job on the production end was provided by Iommi himself, and this stands as perhaps the band’s most mature effort, silencing the quibbles of many a jaded critic who were bound and determined to chastise the band’s work (few of whom ever really bothered to listen to it and not just hear it; there is a universe of difference). But at the end of the day it was another hit for the band, the tour commenced, the fans came out in their barbiturate droves and everybody went home happy.

Prog-Sabbath, come get yer Sabbath prog! - 93%

OlympicSharpshooter, September 27th, 2004

Ever onward and upward, Sabbath introduces us to a lighter side after the bristling metal fury of Vol. 4, lighter on the crushing Iommi, more of the experimental side of the band. Every reviewer previous has mentioned that here the drugs have begun to take their toll, and to a certain extent it's true. None but those possessed of earth-shattering genius or mountains of drugs could arrive at a creation so boldly experimental, so schizophrenically varied yet aligned in feel; having seen "The Osbournes" I'm forced to conclude that it was probably the latter.

That said, Sabbath was certainly more successful at experimenting than Deep Purple who, more often than not, appeared to be filled with a pathological hatred of metal to the point that they had to make up for their obligatory speed metal jam with a whole heapin' helping of annoying jazz and horrific white soul. Here Sabbath doesn't have much truck with funk or reggae or any of those other ill-advised muses that most seventies bands succumbed to. Instead we get a pinch of the classic Sabbath trudge mixed in with unique instrumentation, more melody, and yet more brave song choices. It's albums like this that shred the claim that Sabbath were nothing but the musical equivalent of apes swinging their clubs and going 'BAM BAM' on record.

Consider for a start the title track, probably the only song from this record that endures in the collective metal consciousness. Sure, the riffing is pretty damn heavy, but consider the strange melodic breaks, the totally off-kilter song-structures. The lyrics represent a return to the Satanic lyricism of the classic "Black Sabbath", but from the feminine perspective of a prospective parent of a "Rosemary's Baby". They express empathy for the protagonist, sadness and rage in equal shots all through these inappropriately sunny Wishbone Ash-y hippie acoustics before dropping back into one of the most bald-faced hammer-riffs in the whole catalogue. You bastards indeed.

This song is a microcosm for the album on the whole in the same way "Angel of Death" represents Reign in Blood or "Black Star" from Rising Force. That's not to say that the song is a formula though, it's just the feel of it. Really, none of the songs are in any way alike one another save for this pulsing lifeline of experimentation and the excitement of discovery running through the whole record and Geezer Butler's brilliant lyrics.

Consider the drenched cyborgian synths of "Who Are You", the white-noise shock of "F/X" applied to a real song. In a catalogue full of depressing plodding, it is perhaps this song that plods the most, treads the deepest. The sheer heaviness (in the psychological sense) of Ozzy's distorted vocals as he lays out the destiny of man can put your whole day in a darker mood.

Consider the full-length acoustic instrumental "Fluff", the first acoustic passage to resemble a true song in full. Consider the lively bounce of "Looking for Today", perhaps the first truly happy Sabbath song. That riff is just so damn bop-able, and the vocal melody is all drooling catchy joy. I love the percussion on this song, crazy Ward completely crazy while the rest of the band accompanies with well-timed claps.

I mentioned bizarre instruments earlier, but I think a list of the instruments used according to the liners might be in order to really sink it into the fleshy pink of your mind.

Electric Guitar
Acoustic Guitar
Steel Guitar
Fuzz Bass
Synthesiser (played by, of all people, Rick Wakeman!)
Fiddle, a whole orchestra of them
Anvil + Bathtub (yes, really although it's not in the liners)

It's stupefying that all of these are played on the same album that includes two world-class metal anthems in "Killing Yourself to Live" and the godly "A National Acrobat" (granted the second main riff is a little lame, but whatever), plus the stoner boogie-woogie metal of "Sabbra Cadabra" which is possibly the only Metallica cover that they truly fucked up. Their version has none of the infectious fun of the original, although when they drop the riff from "A National Acrobat" into the mix I am in heaven.

All of this builds up to what remains the most artistic song the band would ever do, and perhaps the best combination of symphony and rock I've ever heard. "Spiral Architect" contains perhaps the most poetic and oddly meaningful lyrics Butler ever wrote. The stuff is doggerel, it means nothing, and yet there is something indefinably grand about them, just like the rest of the song. It sounds like what might be played on the path to heaven as one looks back on their life. It sums up the Sabbath experience without being very Sabbathy, it sums up life without being lively. The instrumentation is precise, delicate, and perfect, more reminiscent of flute music than anything generally performed on a guitar.

There is something oddly delicate about the album on the whole, the production slightly weak, the music vaguely sad and on the whole dreary like an English rain. At the same time it's invigorating to hear such unique music. This is progressive like no other music on the planet, and even on the proggy Sabotage its delicate style has never been re-captured. You know, if the Sabs wanted their respect back an album along these lines rather than absurd, desperately out-of-it attempts at modern thud metal would be the best way to do the job.

Stand-Outs: "Sabbath Bloody Sabbath", "Spiral Architect", "Looking for Today"

A Different Sabbath tune, but still enjoyable - 85%

Reaper, August 14th, 2004

Where shall I start? This is a much different sound than the first two Black Sabbath albums. It has a quicker pace, and the use of guitars is much more evident, as opposed to the first two album, but especially the first album, here guitars weren’t a major part of the sound that the band was trying to portray. Sabbath Bloody Sabbath is a great album for those who do not appreciate the more Doom Metal sounding Black Sabbath albums and desire something more melodic.

The opening track, “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath,” is an example of the different sound that Black Sabbath tried on this album. Both Black Sabbath sounds offer a fantastic listening experience as they both accomplish the same factor that makes this album a must hear. That thing is atmosphere. It produces and atmosphere that relaxes you, and an atmosphere that makes you want to listen to this album again and again. Most of the Ozzy-Era Sabbath albums create an atmosphere that is an imperative aspect that makes the albums magnificent.

The third track is what irritates me. “Fluff,” is an example of a track that does not have to be included on the album yet is added for no apparent reason, which ultimately hinders the overall satisfaction one gets after listening to the album. Countless albums throughout the Metal discography have this kind of track. Most notably, Manowar suffers from this tragic disorder that has ill-fated many albums and bands. I am still unsure of why bands do this, but I do know that it certainly does not make the album better. Now, this isn’t the worst case this disorder, but it certainly is not a track that gets much play when I listen to this album. I would have enjoyed a “Planet Caravan” sounding song much more.

“Sabbra Cadabra,” is one of the highlights from the album and has an extremely recognizable sound to it. The guitar solos in the beginning are one of the strong features that this song displays. The lyrical theme of this song also presents a different trait to the general Sabbath lyrical theme. The love theme that this song contains is a very distinctive approach, yet proves to be a well worth effort to break away from the generally monotonous dark theme of the previous albums.

The weaker tracks on the album are “Killing Yourself To Live” and “Who Are You?” The do offer some great guitar work; yet do not have the same energy that the other tracks are almost in excess of. “Who Are You” is pretty much the filler on the album, with its repetitive sound and not too memorable lyrics.

The song “Spiral Architect,” like “Sabbra Cadabra,” again, offers a brighter lyrical style. It is a much-appreciated feel to the general atmosphere of the album. Songs such as these are what differ this album from the first and second albums. Along the closing track, “Looking for Today,” which is a more cheerful song, the general mood of the album shifts more to the middle, between dark and light offering a well balanced listen. The closing track is very appropriate as it concludes the more melodic Black Sabbath album with a very melodic Black Sabbath tune.

Good, Bloody Good - 98%

westknife, August 1st, 2004

Sabbath… Bloody… Fucking… Sabbath! This album did so many things for heavy metal. No longer was heavy metal only about power chords, plodding drum beats, and rocking you nonstop. The textures and the subtleties on this album are leagues ahead of their time. The acoustic guitars, flutes, crazy percussion, they all come together to form Black Sabbath’s crowning achievement: Sabbath Bloody Sabbath, motherfucker. Bow down and worship this recording, because otherwise you don’t fucking deserve to live. This album humbles the best of us, and enlightens the worst of us.

Sabbath Bloody Sabbath, the song, is first on the tracklist here, and damn, son. This is Black Sabbath’s greatest song ever, and if you don’t agree, then you’re just… wrong! There’s nothing else to it. With those opening VI-VII-i chords, and Ozzy’s maniacal voice (which is better than ever before), the band practically invented power metal. Then the acoustic guitars come in, and they change the face of metal again. Oh man, what a song. You thought that was enough? No way, man. You think the song is about to wind down, and in comes a crushing sludge riff that is heavier than the heaviest modern band. So far ahead of its time, it’s amazing. And the song as a whole is just awe-inspiring. Lock any Mormon in a room with this song turned up to volume 10, and I guarantee they’ll come out worshiping Satan. This is some pretty powerful stuff.

A National Acrobat is probably my favorite Sabbath song. It doesn’t have the monumental leap of the title track, but it just kicks so much ass. It opens with one of Sabbath’s sickest grooves, and then in comes one of the universe’s sickest guitar harmonies. The lyrics are top notch, although very abstract. The words Ozzy sings are perfectly fitting to the evil music underneath, and the entire experience of this song is definitely “evil.” This is some bad-ass heavy metal, and a masterpiece of a song. The whole funky middle part is wah-licious, and the whole instrumental part at the end is killer. And I love the ending! Two guitars climbing and climbing in a jumble of notes, reaching that final note to close the song as awesomely as possible.

Fluff is Tony Iommi’s best instrumental. Embryo and Orchid sucked, Laguna Sunrise was good but too repetitive, but Fluff really hits the spot. A good part of its greatness comes from the production, which is lush as hell, with a lot of different instruments, including piano, harpsichord, and acoustic guitar. This song was created entirely for atmosphere, and it works so good. It makes you want to float away on a cloud. Or maybe on a giant piece of fluff.

Probably the heaviest flat-out love song ever written, Sabbra Cadabra is also an optimum dose of the Sabbath experience. Based on a loose blues tempo, the song rocks in a way that a lot of Sabbath songs don’t. It swings, and it swings hard. Well, except for the synthesizer-blast part. But that’s cool in its own way! The outro jam is so loose and funky, it makes me want to get up and dance. And I’m not one to usually dance.

And then just when you think you’ve heard it all, they decide to throw in Killing Yourself to Live, the most technically advanced, multi-sectioned Sabbath composition to date. This song is just another testament to how the band can be both brutally heavy, yet magnificently epic in scope. And of course, it contains a great message for all the kids: “Smoke it! Get high!” accompanied by inhaling noises. Nice.

“Who Are You?” – ok, this song is fucking weird as hell. Nobody could have expected this in 1973. This is synthesizer OVERKILL, but strangely it works. The main part of the song is downright evil, and you don’t even notice the fact that there isn’t any guitar in the whole song. I’ve heard this song covered a few times, and all of them SUCKED majorly. Only Black Sabbath can pull this kind of weird-ass song off, and I really like it.

“Looking for Today” – This song is decidedly “happier” than the rest of the album, although the band continues to experiment with different sounds and instruments. I must admit, the flute does not seem out of place at all, it fits in very nicely. The main drum beat is very cool, I think Bill Ward uses brushes. This song is not very Sabbath-y, but it is a very strong song, and a welcome addition to this great album.

“Spiral Architect” – What a song. What a fucking song. This is one of Black Sabbath’s wildest experiments, and I consider it their greatest. It sounds so entirely epic, but it really isn’t that long, not even 6 minutes. What is it about this song that makes it so powerful? It could be the lush string section, or the spacey guitar chords, or the wailing vocals… but it’s probably a mixture of all those. This is a great close to an even greater album, and that final string part is just mind blowing.

Sabbath Bloody Sabbath is my favorite Black Sabbath album, and I also want to call it their greatest, but I just can’t… the glorious Paranoid takes the cake on that one. But even so, this is the album where Sabbath proved that they weren’t just playing heavy metal anymore, they were creating art. The world is a better place for this album, and if you don’t like it, then you have serious issues.

The second wind - 98%

radiohater, January 16th, 2004

Black Sabbath were enjoying the longest break of their career at that point. At this point the band was burned out from constant touring, and the drugs (mostly cocaine) were also taking their toll. They eventually reconvened and tried to work on their fifth effort, but writer's block prevented any further part of it. They retreated to an English castle later on, and reportedly came up with some of their most classic riffs, Sabbath Bloody Sabbath in particular. That same night, after Ozzy was almost incinerated when his room caught fire, an encounter with a ghost, and plenty of scary stories, they eventually got
so scared that they ended up leaving! Later on the band enlisted the services of Rick Wakeman (Yes, among others) and finished recording their fifth record Sabbath Bloody Sabbath, which was released to the public in December of 1973.

This is regarded as perhaps the finest hour of the original lineup. It features some of the most progressive and inventive work yet, while still retaining a darker, heavier and more oppressive sound than their competition. Many fan favourites eminated from this album, including Sabbath Bloody Sabbath, Sabbrea Cadabra, Killing Yourself To Live and Spiral Architect. This album catapulted them to even greater heights, including a reluctant appearance on the California Jam (which the band protested against, but consented to after learning of a possible $100,000 lawsuit if they didn't comply). To this day, it's
a fan favourite to this day (along with their first six recordings) and it's not difficult to see why.

The Cast

John "Ozzy" Osbourne (vocals, keyboards) - Ozzy's voice comes across as a little more fragile than in previous releases, but the makes up for it with an increased range that he uses to great effect. He also starts overdubbing vocal harmonies, as seen on A National Acrobat and Sabbra Cadabra. This is trademark Ozzy that would be seen more extensively throughout his solo

Frank "Tony" Iommi (guitars, keyboards, flute) - Tony really steps up to the crease for this one. His riffing has become even more intense in certain areas, most notably Sabbath Bloody Sabbath. He also continues with his experiments with acoustic guitar, as seen in Fluff and Spiral Architect. His 'twin-guitar' solos are more frequent on this album, most notably on
Killing Yourself To Live.

Terence "Geezer" Butler (bass) - Geezer has become increasingly less fill-happy, with his licks showing up less on this album. However, he lends a huge backbone to the sound, supporting Iommi with his thick bass. In some areas he experiments with distortion as well. Highlights include the slow section in Sabbra Cadabra, which sees him playing highly active basslines
typical of his style,

Bill Ward (drums, various percussion instruments) - Bill Ward's playing takes on a more funky feel, especially on cuts like Sabbra Cadabra and A National Acrobat. He still plays some inventive patterns, such as the fill-happy chorus of Killing Yourself To Live, and then using the snare to keep time on Looking For Today.

Rick Wakeman (keyboards) - Rick Wakeman only plays on one cut, Sabbra Cadabra, lending a nice funky piano solo that fits in extremely well.

Production was handled by Black Sabbath themselves, and the sound is a little different from previous efforts. The guitar sound is slightly heavier and more prominent, Geezer's bass is slightly more prominent without being overbearing (a problem associated with the low tunings they used). Bill's kit is also mixed evenly, and Ozzy is mixed to the front as always.

Choice Cuts

Sabbath Bloody Sabbath - Quite possibly the heaviest song of 1973, Sabbath waste no time kicking heads with this punishing cut. The song is driven by one of Iommi's heaviest riffs, and a rather high vocal melody is present here as well. The riff that begins at 3:19 is totally murderous, far heavier than anything else at the time (and quite a lot of material from today as well!). This is intensified by Geezer's distorted bass. Excellent headkicking song and one of Sabbath's most treasured cuts.

Sabbra Cadabra - A driving pulsating cut driven by Geezer's bass, and featuring one of Iommi's catchiest riffs. Ozzy's voice sounds a little different here. It continues along in this fashion until about 1:58, where a couple of synthesisers and an arpeggiated riff signal a transition into a funky Zeppelin-esque section. Ozzy's voice is in top form, showing off some vocal harmonies. This section also features an excellent piano solo from guest musician Rick Wakeman.

Killing Yourself To Live - We're taken back to earth with this aggressive track. This opens up with Iommi's snarling guitar, before going into a cleanish tremolo-pedalled section, before going into perhaps the most aggressive chorus on the album. Iommi chips in with a trademark 'twin guitar' solo on the second chorus, with Bill Ward going off underneath as well. Around 2:47 the song changes into a half-time feel with an arpeggiated riff, which is periodically broken up with Ozzy and Tony's guitar in unison. A quick fill from Ward at 4:07 signals the transition into the final phase of the song, a nice pulsating riff with some of Ozzy's angriest vocals, plus another 'twin guitar' solo from Iommi. An excellent multifaceted cut and perhaps the best song on the disc.

Spiral Architect - Opening up with an acoustic guitar intro, before going into the opening, a little reminiscent of The Who's Won't Get Fooled Again (that acoustic guitar underneath has Pete Townshend written all over it). It goes into a slow section which leads into another section featuring strings and Ozzy harmonising with himself. The section in the middle is totally string led underpinned by a pulsating hihat pattern from Ward and the recurring acoustic guitar figure. The strings are now featured from herein until the end, where the opening is reprised, before heavy-strings bring the track to a close. This track is quite unlike Sabbath, but it works so well.

Raw Sewage

Who Are You - 4:10 of annoying plodding synths. No guitar or heaviness whatsoever. A complete waste of time which serves no useful purpose.

Closing Comments

This album reaffirmed Sabbath's position as the heaviest darkest band of their time. It also showed that they weren't afraid to experiment and add to their sound. This is widely considered to be their finest hour. Any fan of heavy metal owes it to themselves to have at least one copy of this in their collections.

More bludgeoning heavyness - 85%

Estigia666, May 29th, 2003

They released this one on, 73? For it's time is quite an extraordinary album. Hell, for any time. Any metalhead should know and hear this album as it stands as one of the genre's most overlooked gems (not as much as Sabotage, but that's another review).

This full-lenght follows the tradition of lethal-as-fuck riffs that Black Sabbath was famous for, not to mention the display of musicianship of every member (Tommy Iommi was mostly recognized as a rhythm guitar player, but people don't acknowledge his soloing very much. Some of his lead guitar work deserve praises). The best song (IMO), "A National Acrobat", combines some crushing riffing giving a shitload of heavyness and finishes with some fast guitar runs that are no less remarkable. Ozzy gives a great performance. The title track is good, not as good as "A National Acrobat", but it pleases, nonetheless, and i like it very much. "Fluff" is a nice and "romantic" acoustic interlude that opens it's way to the rocking "Sabbra Caddabra". A good song, but it doesn't crush your head until the middle part where they include a piano to counterpoint the crushing riff below it (when reviewing a Sabbath album, i'm always gonna refer to the heavy riffs as "crushing", because that's the best description for them. And my english is kinda limited, unfortunately :P). "Spiral Architect" is a nice experiment with an orchestra. It sounds both glorius and emotional, and is a nice variation on all the bludgeoning heavyness of the previous songs. Don't expect any softness here, though, you will find some great riffs here, too. "Killing Yourself to Live" and "Looking for Today" are good also, but not that great, so i'm not gonna write about them. Buy the fucking album and hear these for yourself.

Oh and, BTW, "Who are you?" is awful. A crappy experiment with sinthesizers, plus the songwriting is pretty bad. There, you have been warned.