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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.