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Class 6(66)

Black Sabbath: Sabotage

14/05/10  ||  Khlysty

Introduction

Someone must’ve told them that with “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath” they became total pussies, ‘cause “Sabotage” RAWKS!!!! Gone is the experimentation, gone is the texturing of the songs, (mostly) gone are the keyboards and synthesizers and whatnot, gone is the “progressive” songwriting, leaving in their places an almost palpable sense of pure heaviness, as if the band wanted to pulverize the listener with piling riff upon heavy riff upon downtuned riff, until your ears bleed and your eyes pop outta them sockets. If one wants the ultimate “heavy metal” Black Sabbath Mk. I record, “Sabotage” is the one.

Kicking in with the one-two punch of the “let’s-kick-some-serious-ass” rocker “Hole In The Sky” and the “pure” metallic mania of “Symptom Of The Universe”, the boys seem out for blood. Even “Megalomania”, a bizarre, textured, quasi-psychedelic ballad-turned-biker-rock track sounds on the verge of losing its shit at any moment. Of course, things don’t always work: Ozzy’s screeching sometimes sounds laughably inept. Some mood changes within some songs (e.g. the ending part of “Symptom…”) sound out of place. And, hey, what the fuck’s with “Am I Going Insane”, huh? How the fuck can anyone scare the listener with such “prog” songs?

Anyway, maybe I talk bullshit here, but I think that many a band (like Judas Priest, Iron Maiden et al) listened to “Sabotage” A LOT, before forming their sound. If one LISTENS carefully to it, one will surely find in it a whole lotta stylistic devices later used to form what we call “modern metal” today. By the way, supposedly the boys had started again using blow during the recording sessions of “Sabotage”. Wonder if that played any role towards the formation of the record’s final sound…

Songwriting

8,5. As I said before, this is a return to the heavosity of, say, “Volume 4”. The songs generally follow linear development, even though there are still the trademarked Sabbathical changes in mood, texture and rhythm during some of the songs. Basically, the songwriting here reminds me ‘70s hard rock, more than any other Black Sabbath record. But, whereas hard rock was usually anthemic, good-time music, the boys here write songs that are generally dark and pessimistic. The mood is a bit tangled: it’s like using uppers and downers at the same time. Only exception is “Supertzar”, which sounds like music for a Tim Burton film, overlaid with Tony’s usual grungy guitar tone. “Am I Going Insane” is obviously an experiment in mixing melody and mood, with questionably results. But, to cap things off, this is a characteristic ‘70s Black Sabbath record. It’s heavy, nasty, experimental enough to keep the listener interested and super-heavy when it needs to be.

Production

9. They don’t make them anymore like they used to. Organic to the bone, with great separation and care to tone and sound. Yes, it sounds a bit dated by today standards. So what? I don’t give a fuck, as far as it sounds as good as this.

Guitars

9. Tony “The Tonal Meister” Iommi is back, with many, many tricks. Overdubbed guitars, harmonies, creative, controlled soloing, riffs to fill fucking Ontario Lake, different sounds for different songs… Man, the guy’s got everything a great guitarist should have and more. So, not to repeat meself, go listen to him and bow down.

Vocals

7,5. Ozzy’s getting better –and, at the same time, worse. His technique has developed in leaps and jumps, but, fuck, his high-register screeching is almost unbearable. Sadly, a lot of people though it was rad, so they adopted it, instituting, thusly, the “metal screamer” style of singing. Shit.

Bass

9. Business as usual, for da Geezer. Keeping the reigns of the songs tightly, adding swing and swagger to them, pushing the heavosity forward and generally doing what he’s always been doing for the Sabs all them years.

Drums

9. The same goes for Bill the Thrill. He’s one of the most iconic drummers in metal, and that didn’t happen for no reason. This time around, without many trudgers, he bangs the skins mightily and does a great job at that.

Lyrics

8. It’s the usual Sabbath stuff. A bit a’ Satanism, a bit a’ social commentary, a bit a’ escapism, a bit a’ everything. Workable. ‘S okie-dokie.

Cover art

1. Hideous, to say the least. Check here for the gory details…

Logo

7. The runic “S” is back, so we gots ourselves something of a logo. Yay!!!!

Booklet

8. Lyrix, info, pix, other shit, some blow for the listeners, a dead bat, Ozzy’s dick… Nah, just the first three. Nothing bad, nothing to write home about.

Overall and ending rant

I like “Sabotage” just fine. It’s obvious that the band’s still evolving, still trying out things to see what works and what sucks. Some suck. Some don’t. Still, it’s got lotsa classic material, a genre-defining song (“Symptom…”), some cool tunes and generally nothing really embarrassing or awkward (okay, “Supertzar” is a bit, ehm, bizarre, but nothing that will hurt your soul). It rocks, it swings, it shakes, it slithers. It’s got no “real” doom song –the fuckers-, but it still remains one of the best Black Sabbath Mk. I records. Fuck, man, why am I still talking? “Sabotage” is a good record and you should have it. Like, NOW!

8,5

  • Information
  • Released: 1975
  • Label: Vertigo
  • Website: www.blacksabbath.com
  • Band
  • Ozzer: vocals
  • Tony the Toner: guitar
  • Geezer the Gazer: bass
  • Bill the Thrill: drums
  • Tracklist
  • 01. Hole in the sky
  • 02. Don’t start (too late)
  • 03. Symptom of the universe
  • 04. Megalomania
  • 05. Thrill of it all
  • 06. Supertzar
  • 07. Am I going insane (radio)
  • 08. The writ