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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.