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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