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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.