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It's barely alright - 67%

kluseba, July 17th, 2017

Technical Ecstasy doesn't do its name any justice and is the weakest release of the original Black Sabbath line-up. The problem isn't necessarily that the band shifted its sound from heavy and doom metal to adapt a more blues and hard rock inspired sound. This shift actually worked rather well for this record's successor Never Say Die! that had several great tracks such as ''Johnny Blade'' and ''Junior's Eyes''. Technical Ecstasy's problem is that the songwriting is all over the place. The tracks don't sound fleshed out, the different songs don't really fit together and the record is missing a truly memorable tune. Some people say that album closer ''Dirty Women'' is an overlooked gem but I have to disagree since that song doesn't give me anything and I find it very hard to not skip any parts of it over an excruciating length of far over seven minutes.

There are a few interesting experiments to be found on this album. Interesting has to be taken literally because these songs aren't particularly great but they aren't fillers either. They are just interesting. The ballad ''She's Gone'' comes around with acoustic guitars and violin sounds that one would rather expect from Simon and Garfunkel than Black Sabbath. This elegiac song is the band's most unique ballad and one can't deny that it has a really numbing atmosphere. ''It's Alright'' is another ballad but this one is a little bit more vivid and features some piano sounds instead. Once again, it's a song one would rather expect from a hippie band but then again, all Black Sabbath members were heavily abusing drugs during the recording sessions which might explain these soundscapes. The most outstanding element about this song is that vocals are performed by drummer Bill Ward and while his voice isn't as unique as Ozzy Osbourne's psychedelic style, his vocals would perfectly fit to a blues or soft rock group or a second-rate The Beatles cover band.

Aside of these unusual experiments, is there at least one truly great song on this release? In my opinion, there is exactly one to be found and this track is called ''Gypsy''. I like everything about this song from the vivid percussion overture over the simple but efficient hard rock riffs underlined by uncomplicated piano sounds to the epic and melancholic chorus. The song also features Ozzy Osbourne's most inspired effort on this release since he is missing some energy in most of the other tunes. I also like the slightly mysterious and occult lyrics that recall classic Black Sabbath songwriting. Despite having different parts, the songwriting sounds coherent and fluid in this song which is exceptional by this record's low standard. Still, this song is far from being related to metal and could rather be described as melodic hard rock but it succeeds very well in this particular genre and is good for what it is.

To keep it short, Technical Ecstasy can't be recommended to fans of Black Sabbath's early doom and heavy metal soundscapes and even as a blues or hard rock record, the successor Never Say Die! sounds much more focused and fresh. Technical Ecstasy is for avid collectors only or for people who usually aren't into heavy metal and are looking for a classic seventies rock record with an authentic hippie vibe. Technical Ecstasy isn't a disaster from an objective point of view but by Black Sabbath's standards, it's not only below average but even a contender for the band's worst studio record.