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The Finest Hour? - 90%

brocashelm, April 21st, 2006

This is it, my friends, the pinnacle of the Sabbath food triangle. Simply one of the heaviest records of its particular decade (or ever, really), and a wellspring of inspiration to crafters of malevolent music decades hence, Sabotage is the black goat of the Black Sabbath family of music. The vibe, the sound, the oppression of this slab’s sound is Sabbath at their most obscure and isolated. No thought is given to writing pleasing music, so what remains is the sinister soul of the band’s core itself. Breathe deep and say goodbye to your loved ones before entering the cavern of Sabotage…you might be gone for some time…

Blasting off with the swaggering lope of “Hole In The Sky,” we’re in easy view of the band’s chemistry and foul odors here. Ozzy’s voice is detached, the lyrics totally away from any semblance of reality, perhaps only meaningful or indeed profound in the now clandestine collective Sabbath subconscious. A creepy acoustic refrain (“Don’t Start Too Late”) follows before IT. The riff of all riffs, the song of all songs; the Rosemary’s baby of the band’s canon. “Symptom Of The Universe” simply has it all. The heaviest riff ever (no kidding kids, do not attempt writing anything this heavy without adult supervision) some of the most sublimely forlorn lyrics the band ever penned (“Come with me my child of love come step inside my tears, swim the magic ocean I’ve been crying all these years”) with bonus images from the Biblical book of Revelations itself, mind you. And if that wasn’t enough, the acoustic segue that closes the song, complete with impassioned and impressive vocals from the Oz, is perfect as well. Just friggin’ unbelievable. I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of hearing this song, and neither should you.

“Megalomania” is up to bat next, perhaps the most harrowing cut ever from the band (damn close to “Black Sabbath” itself actually). It’s actually very scary in a very real sense, the lyrical rant of an addict begging to be permitted to drown in his own world of self-obsessed and perpetuated misery. And that second riff! Meaner vibes are dam hard to find here in this mortal world.

Side two can’t compare in any serious fashion, but it does do it’s best. The totally unexpected Satanic ritual background instrumental “Supertzar” is as unexpected as could be, but an enjoyable piece of music all the same, exactly the kind of tune you’d hear playing in the background of the great old British Hammer horror films. “The Writ” is a long and progressive discussion of the band’s legal troubles, but just doesn’t congeal as well as other similarly expansive Sabbath speeches.

No worries, though, as the balance of this album is simply untouchable. Black Sabbath would never again make an album this masterful, though they would keep trying for 30+ years to come. If that doesn’t illustrate that Sabotage is a nearly impossible act to follow I don’t know what does. Simply put, my attentive acolytes: if you don’t understand this album’s greatness, you are on the wrong website. Class friggin’ dismissed.