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Great atmosphere! Awesome power metal! - 92%

UltraBoris, August 26th, 2002

This is easily Sabbath's best album. The atmosphere created by all the instruments is just amazing - the tasteful use of keyboards combined with Iommi's masterful guitar tone, and also Tony Martin's ideal power metal vocals... not too shrieky, but very emotional. The most apt comparison this album can get is really Fates Warning "The Spectre Within", and possibly "Awaken the Guardian" to a lesser extent, as well as some Deep Purple and Rainbow works.

First, "The Shining" - a great combination of fast and midpaced parts here. The chorus has a definite epic feel to it - just the vocal delivery, quite impressively done here. Great production on this album. Usually you just want the production to not destroy everything so you can't hear the riffs correctly - but here, it actually ADDS something to the album.

"Ancient Warrior" is a bit slower, and even more epic, especially the chorus again. The songs do tend to sound a bit similar in that manner, but really the differences between them are quite evident, so much so that the album remains very interesting. "Hard Live to Love", lyrically, doesn't go along with the previous two, but still the song maintains the similar qualities. The verses again go by faster than the choruses, both are backed up by very very solid riff work (it's Iommi, what do you expect).

"Glory Ride" is probably the fastest song on here - it really doesn't exceed midpaced by too too much, but the song is far more adventuresome, and Tony M. gives his greatest effort on the vocals on this song, soaring through "lets take a chance!!!" on the chorus and "Hear them call!" right before the guitar solo.

"Born to Lose" reminds me of Malice, simply because "you think you're chasing shadows in the dark" is similar in the vocal melody to "Shifting shadows, in a demon race" from Hellrider. But that's where the similarities end. There is a really cool driving riff in this song, in fact several, but one definitely stands out - the intro riff which is featured prominently after the choruses as well.

"Nightmare" (which, for the longest time I thought was called "Dream Within a Dream" since I listened to a CDR over and over again while my vinyl sat collecting dust... errr, keeping its good state of preservation!) is more of a ballad, with lyrics harking back to "Heaven or Hell" ("fool forever, don't get fooled by the devil") It's the slowest song on the album, but again, the epic qualities make it very, very interesting.

"Scarlet Pimpernel" is the intro to "Lost Forever", which is another fast one. This one starts out at "Efficient speed" and definitely grabs you and forces you to listen, especially in the middle part, that almost has a thrash break to it. "I'm burning!! With fire!"

Then finally, the title track. This is just absolutely fucking eerie. Black Sabbath have always written totally evil songs, this is one as well. The beginning sounds like total death, it's the kind of thing to play on Halloween to scare kids away so you don't have to buy candy. The song slowly builds up to a killing machine, never quite speeding up but forcing you to your knees one last time before the album ends.

Definitely the best Sabbath album. All of their previous "good ideas" have come together to create a masterpiece: great riffs, evil atmosphere, everything - no fucking around, this is pretty much a winner from beginning to end, with not a weak moment.