George Starostin's Reviews



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Nick Karn <> (06.10.99)

A 1 for Black Sabbath? You mean to honestly tell me that on an objective, quality music review site that you'd rank one of the most influential metal bands ever (and no, I don't consider Zeppelin a pure heavy metal band, half the time they played acoustic music or heavy blues, not dark and evil riff-oriented stuff that is the standard for this music, although they did play a good part in it) on the same tier as John Fogerty, Blind Faith, Free, Ringo Starr, Traffic, and The Traveling Wilburys? You've got to be kidding me. Sure, they were limited songwriters, but hey, every band is... how many of them can keep going for 10-15 years with consistently great material? Even some of the legends like the Beatles, the Doors, Hendrix, and the like weren't around long enough for us to know. You can fault Sabbath to a degree for letting their work seriously deteriorate over the years when they were well past their prime, but man, their influence and pure epic power of the early work is hard to be denied. For this reason, I think you should have given them a minimum rating of 3 (or possibly 2 if you're really bored with them) - a 1 is just ridiculous. In my opinion, this is almost as bad as the prospect of Johnny Rotten reviewing Pink Floyd, I'm sorry.

[Special author note: yeah, I got carried away originally, but I did upgrade the rating to a two eventually].

Chris Cormier <> (19.06.2000)

Black Sabbath were the most atrociously overrated band that ever made it to a 'great influence' category.  Unbelievably lame in all respects (except lyrically, they get a few points for having different words on every line), their sheer monotony makes Rick Astley sound not that bad.   I originally wanted to write about how bad this band is, but it seems pointless to give details, because their music has no details.  I can't be sure this comparison is exact, having never tried it, but i suppose it's like putting a tin can over your head and having friends throw cinder blocks at the can.

Paul Stadden <> (03.09.2000)

This is to the Chris Cormier person. Ok, you're right. Black Sabbath was not an influence. There are absolutely no bands I can see that have an influence from Black Sabbath. Metallica, Soundgarden, Pearl Jam, Pantera, Megadeth, Nine inch Nails, Smashing Pumpkins, Ugly Kid Joe, White Zombie, NONE of these bands show a Black Sabbath influence AT ALL. They NEVER used any note or chord combinations that weren't used for hundreds of years in any song, due to the fact that they were actually outlawed because of their dark and evil sounding nature, only to be used again by a little old blues band from Birmingham, and ESPECIALLY not on their first album, which was at #23 in America and #13 in Britain. And Paranoid has NEVER been considered by most rock critics to be the peak perfection of a heavy metal album. No, of COURSE not. Why, they probably never even any albums in the top ten. SURELY Master of Reality didn't reach #8 in the U.S. of A. Oh, and I'm positive that they never had ANY famous musicians in the lineup. Ronnie James Dio, Glenn Hughes, Ian Gillen, Ozzy Osbourne, Cozy Powell, Bev Bevan, Ray Gillen, Rick Wakeman, Don Airey, Eddie Van Halen, Ice-T, Rob Halford, Brian May, those guys wouldn't touch Black Sabbath with a ten foot pole. And the band COULDN'T have lasted 30 years. There's NO WAY they could EVER have lasted THAT long. I mean, it's not like they did a three year consistantly sold out reunion tour across the world or anything like THAT. I mean, they couldn't possibl have millions of loyal fans. And that Tony Iommi, what a loser HE is. I mean come on. Only 3 signature guitars from three different guitar companies, 2 signature guitar pickups, and 1 signature guitar amp? Puh-LEEZE. That's pathetic. Look. You may not like Black Sabbath, and I can understand it. But please. You don't think anyone else that was successful was monotonous? Just because you don't like Black Sabbath doesn't mean you have to claim that it isn't something that it plainly is. Namely, one of the most influential bands in history. Period.

Boyd Jackson Jr. <> (23.09.2000)

About your opinions on Black Sabbath. Even though I disagree with you about them, I'm not going to say you are wrong. I know everybody has their own opinion as to what band is better. That's what makes us (the fans) purchase there CD's. Black Sabbath is my favorite heavy metal band of all-time. I have never heard so much variety that one group can accomplish. Every time I listen to a Black Sabbath album, I can't help but be amazed. Now I agree with you on some things. For one, Ozzy doesn't have the greatest voice in the world, but the way he can think up lyrics that rhyme is unlike any other. I realize his voice is high, but that makes him unique. Bands that sound different then everything else that is popular at the time is what I like the most. Another thing I like about Black Sabbath (besides the deep guitar riifs), is the drummer, Bill Ward. I like the way he drums to a different pattern on repeating guitar riffs (example: "War Pigs, "Hand Of Doom," and many others). They deserve credit, and to be honest with you, many bands in the 70's did sound different from each other. That's what made the decade so amazing. I love Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow, etc., and have heard many albums by those bands, so I am positive that Black Sabbath ranks right up there. Please, I'm not saying you are wrong about what you said, it's just that everyone has there own opinion, and mine is that Black Sabbath is really unique. I also want to say that I agree with you about the Eagles. They were never really my favorite either. How about this. If I said that one of the greatest albums of all-time was Master Of Reality by Black Sabbath, you would say I'm wrong. If you said (for instance) that Led Zeppelin II was the best album ever made, I would say you are wrong. So who's right? Both of us. Everyone has different thoughts about everything, and that's what made all these bands popular. Thank you for reading.

<> (29.09.2000)

As much as I disagree with you 50% of the time George, I do admit that you're spot on about your definition of heavy metal. No one ever wants to admit they like heavy metal, preferring to call the stuff they like hard rock. I'm as much at fault as anybody - as my recent response to your Physical Graffiti review exposed.

The problem with throwing around the term "heavy metal" - at least from its '70s perspective - is that the sound that would have been considered heavy metal in the '70s practically engulfed rock radio. Examples: Is Nirvana grunge or metal? Is Offspring punk (which is only just fast, sloppy metal anyway) or is it metal? Are today's faceless corporate bands like Matchbox 20 or Third Eye Blind just Journey (who, as hard as it might be to believe, were once considered something of a metal band) in disguise? But I digress... I personally do not think Black Sabbath deserves only a 1, but at least your reasons for rating them such are well-founded. But, to give them credit, at least they succeeded with some of their experimentations ('Sabotage', 'Laguna Sunrise', 'Fluff', etc.).

Morten Felgenhauer <> (15.01.2001)

Yes. They were influental, but who did they influence? I will probably recieve death threats directly, so that George won't be bothered, for writing this, but 'heavy metal' was a dead end in the first place. Deep Purple (mark II) and Led Zeppelin did everything interesting that could be done with the genre and it should have been left there. What later bands learned from Sabbath was mostly image and lyricwise and this has been taken to riduiculus 'heights' in later years. You can use this against me for not understanding Sabbath, but I have only one album with them, a collection of the Ozzy years. But what I hear doesn't encourage me to get any of their original albums. They had a few good songs, like "Paranoid" and "Iron man", but even Lee Jackson in the Nice sings better than Ozzy in my opinion. Their production in the early years also leaves something to be desired, especially that thin drum sound. What it boils down to is this: good guitar and a few good songs. If you bother at all, buy a representative collection.

Glenn Wiener <> (17.06.2001)

These dudes definitely have their following. The motto of theirs that they Souled Their Souls For Rock N Roll tells it all. I don’t particularly care for their evil flavored style of metal but there is not doubt upon their heavy and I mean HEAVY influence on many of today’s modern bands. Ozzy Osbourne has the perfect helium styled vocals for their overall sound. And Tony Iomini’s guitar playing style is quite unique if not overly spectacular. Whereas I don’t mind their music in small doses, I could never include Black Sabbath in my music collection.

CRANE MIDI LAB <> (22.06.2001)

I noticed an inconsistency in your review: You say that Led Zeppelin had already created the genre of Heavy Metal and then, in the 4/5 mark you give Sabbath for originality you say Sabbath were the procreators of heavy metal. I imagine that the latter was a throw away comment, based on what you say at length in the body of the review. Of course, it doesn't really matter a whole heck of a lot in the end. Heavy metal has been called different things since its "conception". Poison, Def Leppard (sp?), and Bon Jovi were considered Heavy Metal in the eighties but today are mainly referred to as "hair bands". Is the new label correct or was the old one? It must be noted that today's heavy metal bands show a stronger influence from Sabbath than Zeppelin, however, while the opposite was true during the 80s. Which band truly started the genre? It all depends on how it is defined. Ok. So, my definition? I believe lyrical content is a very important determining factor. For me, the distinction between hard rock and metal is that the former's lyrical themes are generally centered around a macho conception of sex while metal lyrics are usually about chaos and alienation. That would make Led Zeppelin hard rock and Sabbath metal...Most of the time (see "Sabra Cadabra", "Gypsy", and "Dirty Women". These are the exception rather than the rule). In reality, I don't think you can entirely call Sabbath a heavy metal band because of their many breaks with the "metal code" (jazzy numbers, pianos, party tunes like "Supernaut") but the beginnings of the genre can be found in a good deal of their music. Of course, that's just my definition, hardly "the rule", don't know why I bothered to mention it.

<> (05.09.2001)

How do you feel about the Beatles?......They were Ozzy's influence. I think they must also be satanic.........

Ratko Hribar <> (29.10.2001)

Am I to believe that Black Sabbath is a worse band than Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin ?

Don't make me laugh, they are a great band which surely deserves a 3. Their influence on heavy metal music is enormous, and they we're totally professional musicians, and I would even say that they we're better than Led Zeppelin. Of course, the both bands are terribly overrated by the fans.

Okay, I'm a fan, but I realize that they are not all that good. Unfortunately, when we rate Black Sabbath, we have to rate a few lineups that aren't similar at all. The first lineup is absolutely magnificent, although I needed a lot of time to start liking Ozzy's voice. Now, I think he really gives the band something special, that their other singers didn't. Don't get me wrong, I think Dio and Gillan are awesome vocalists, but they gave Sabbath their own seal, that was totally different from Ozzy's. In the Ozzy-years Tony Iommi obviously gave his best riffs and created best songs, and the band was fresh and full of ideas at that time. The band did make a few experiments like Sabotage (which, it think, worked very nicely), but overall they weren't all that diverse (or should I say they weren't diverse at all ?).

After Ozzy left, Dio came, and yes, he made the band sound generic. But hey, they we're still better than any other heavy metal band at that time. The albums we're professionally played, and Tony Iommi even had a few nice riffs stashed away in some songs. I personally think that Dio was their best singer, but, I agree, only Ozzy was the real Sabbath, cause he made them sound kinda unique. Then came Ian Gillan and recorded Born Again. Everyone hates that one, but I don't know why. Okay, it's generic, Tony plays a bit worse than a few albums ago, and Gillan sounded strange. I wont say anything about the rest of the band, cause they didn't exactly shine either. Then came Glenn Hughes and Tony Martin, both mediocre singers, and the band disappeared from the scene. I even thought they fall apart after Gillan left, but apparently they recorded more albums. Those albums we're full of ups and downs, but mostly downs.

My personal rating of the band before Gillan left would be 4, and a high one at that. After he left all kind of shit started to happen, and I would even give that pitiful incarnation of Sabbath a solid 2 for their effort and for recruiting Cozy Powell.

One more thing, what does adequacy really means ? Sure, Sabbath weren't adequate if you're referring to rock music in general, but in the heavy metal genre today (and in the 80's) almost all bands have similar texts and they're full of fantasy crap just like Sabbath was. I mean, Iron Maiden has a song called 'The Wicker Man', and is that adequate ? Well, when every band writes exactly that, I'm afraid it is. It is adequate in the terms of the genre, and Black Sabbath is the significant part of the metal genre. It's another thing that the whole genre sounds awful and downright silly. Except for that, the likes of Led Zeppelin, Rainbow, Alice Cooper and Uriah Heep also had similar fantasy/shock oriented lyrics at that time, just like Black Sabbath did. I personally don't like fantasy lyrics all that much (Dio's garbage often makes me sick), but some people do. Let's respect them. And let us give homage to Sabbath with a fair evaluation. Give 'em a 3.

Tony Seljuk <> (29.11.2001)

simply put, this is kid's stuff. that is, if your average kid is into horror flicks and the apparent "sinister" elements of the occult. how would I know? I was once a Sabbath addict about 20 years after the fact. Something about the production of these recordings appealed to me...loud and unprofessional! Exactly. I had a taste of all eras of Sabbath; mostly from the '70s of course, they actually sounded cool then, only one thing from the Dio era (tell me that stuff isn't funny once you find yourself sober), and even something from the later era, TYR I think. Enjoyed all of it until I found David Bowie, the Cure, the Beatles, the Who, and other less embarassing exponents of British rock; subsequently I've never recovered. eventually I donated my entire teenage metal years collection to the local thrift shop for others to get drunk to, or simply gave a it a location in the Round File. Believe me I'm still finding some of that stuff and tossing it.

A 2 is appropriate. BS is enjoyable when you're 14, lonely, bored, and have a hungering for gore and narcotics. Then, if you're fairly smart, you move on to better, less embarassing things. I'd be hard pressed to find anyone who remembers a Sabbath tune beyond their oldest efforts, let alone anyone who wasn't blatantly "metallic" to admit to admiring Ozzy. I saw him recently...looks cool for a 52 year old man, if the 52 tear old man was a complete mess with a young face. Then again he was wearing some makeup...couldn't have sounded any worse though but hey give 'im time!

Koka Chernov <> (24.08.2002)

Good day, George.

I wanna say some words in praise of Black Sabbath. Were they first heavy metal band or not - let's cross out this eternal question. I want to draw ev'ryone's attention to an important detail: Black Sabbath were developing, perfecting their musical ideas & their technical proficiency through their career. Unlike the other members of glorious triumvirate - Led Zeppelin & Deep Purple. These bands had reached their peak of form in 1970 and since then were only falling down - music weakened (and lightened also), fresh ideas escaped 'em, while Black Sabbath were becoming more&more huge and terrific: Iommi rapidly progressed as a soloist and Geezer's web of bass lines could cover listener from head to toes ( :) well, maybe I'm exaggerating, but only a little bit :). Objectively speaking, by 1976 Iommi finally beated both Blackmore and Page - his solos in "You won't change me" are so complex and inspired, mentioned two losers could only dream of (Come on, guys - Ritchie's solo in Stargazer is VERY nice and brethtaking, but it's not a big step ahead). Tony was more modest; he never tried to push his bloody Fender/Gibson in your asshole - occupation, in which named two heroes have succeeded so much. Tony created tons of awesome rifforama, he was never toying with blues (Page) and with fucking pop/mainstream (Blackmore). He had never forsaken rock'n'roll. Enough reasons to respect and love him.

The same with Geezer - in the beginning he was not a solid bassist, anyway by 1980 he became one of the greatest craftsman of genre - I enjoy the way he emphasises the melody and gives extra dimension to songs, his manner is uncommon - he's distinguishable.

That said, I'm not a Black Sabbath fan. They had a certain share of awfully weak songs/albums. Yeah and they had a bad, unimaginative, floppy, amateur drummer - Bill Ward (I'm responsible for what I'm saying, gentlemen, I'm a drummer myself), who ruined almost all their early albums (and who definitly shouldn't be taken seriously after John Bonham), but even he managed to get better (he did a good work on "Heaven & Hell"). Ozzy should had been thrown away in the very beginning, however I've got used to his sour voice.

Imho, "Black Sabbath" of 1981 line-up deserve a four. To my regret they compromised themselves during the next decades. So let's put 'em a strong 3.

Heavy Metal is ALIVE!! Kudos to Black Sabbath!!

Mike Guerricabeitia <> (28.11.2002)

hey george,you obviously don't know dick about a musicians ability.the SABS were a very talented just seem to love to kick geezer butler around,but his bass playing is nothing short of incredible.i've seen black sab concert videos and sit there in awe of his bass fills,don't know how he pulls off that shit(i'm a guitar player myself),which leads me to the master,TONY IOMMI.the mark of a great guitarist,in my humble opinion,is to create something easy and to the point,and he suceeds in spades.his soloing,although chaotic is easily the best and most memorable in the history of hard rock.this man is the most imitated guitarist in the history of rock and roll,i can't believe all the people(past and present)that borrow so freely from his legacy.this guy deserves at least 50 million in royalties alone for this fact.yet he is still not a household name.BILL WARD makes john bonham seem like an amateur,by the way.his arsenal is a huge part of the sabbath sound and he can pull of trippy time changes without a hitch.and yes i would rather listen to his short drum solo on "rat salad" than bonham's excruciating "moby dick".my point is :stop comparing everybody to led zeppelin,"THEY WERE NO GREAT SHAKES"(he'he').now there's a catalog that really needs re-examining.just my 2 bucks worth!!

Dan Smith <> (15.01.2002)

Your reviews of Black Sabbath albums have the bent of a man being forced to listen to something he really doesn't care for. It's like your mind's wandering through most of it and then suddenly something sticks out, so you write that down, then back to dayreaming. I know the feeling. I used to write reviews for a music website and the opinions I formed during the first song sometimes made it nearly impossible to really *listen* to the rest of the album. The point is, if the music doesn't strike a chord within you, it's hard to review it objectively - that job should be left to those who love the genre. I'm a hard rock lover and country music hater - so if I were to review a country music album, my dismissiveness of the whole genre would taint my review considerably. I might find some things to like about the album - but the diehard country fans would probably want to crucify me for my sacrilidge in not appreciating all the fine subtleties of the "twang". And... here's the kicker... they'd be right!

To the diehard Black Sabbath fan, like myself, your comments seem uninformed - as if you gave the albums a casual listen, while reading the newspaper and talking to your wife about the kids. As I was reading through them, I kept wondering if you were even listening to the same albums I'd come to know and love. I mean how could somebody dismiss "Killing Yourself to Live" - a wonderfully complex song which moves from brilliant riff to brilliant riff seemlessly, as "throwawayish"? And how could someone rate "Iron Man" as the best song on Paranoid while not liking "Faries Wear Boots"? Lyrically "Iron Man" is Sabbath's most childish song by far, and musically it's boring - except for the instrumental interludes. It's just Ozzy, Tony, Geezer and Bill playing (singing) EXACTLY THE SAME THING!!! "Faries Wear Boots" on the other hand is sophisticated musically. The guitar, drums, bass and vocals intertwine with each other. Geezer's bass floats out on it's own and then comes back just in time for the heavy parts. Ozzy's vocals DON'T follow the guitar part note for note - always a good sign. And Bill Ward's drum parts are brilliant - as usual - (you don't seem to appreciate his artistry at all. Here's a hint: he's not the timekeeper of the group like most (boring) rock drummers. On the Last Supper video, Bill describes himself as an "orchestrationalist", not a timekeeper. In Black Sabbath, Iommi's the timekeeper, Bill brings the "swing".). But I digress...

Your initial rating of the band as a "1" also tells me that you suffer from the same intellectual snobbery towards Sabbath as most critics. It's just not chic to praise a band with the name "Black Sabbath". It's as if that would somehow put you down on a level with teenage morons or something.

Then there's this: "Diversity: 1/5. There's metal, and metal, and... metal balladry?" Huh? Once again, put the paper down and listen! There's rock, jazz, blues, and classical influences on every Sabbath album (I must clarify that by "Sabbath" I mean the original lineup). To call it all "metal" is just plain lazy! I'll give you that, from 1980 on, the band became one dimensional, but the original lineup was far from that.

In summary, I find your site amusing. It was interesting to read what a non-fan thought of Sabbath. I do appreciate that you actually took the time and effort to review all these Sabbath albums though!

max <> (01.07.2003)

Hi, enjoyed reading your comments on your site. Of course I don't agree with it all, but then would you expect anyone to agree totally? :)

Okay about your Black Sabbath opinions, here's my short take on it. Th main criticism they seem to get is that they were fairly one dimensional. In some ways , yes, but they were a fairly "niche" act, so it goes with the territory. They started the "death" metal genre and for them to stray too far from it wouldn't have been wise. In my view what happened was:

1) They started a new style. Then they thought "We'll take it to the max"

2) After four albums of "taking it to the max" they try to diverge a bit more on albums such as Sabbath Bloody Sabbath and Sabotage. And they succeed!

3)The drugs take over and the records suffer. They still make some good music but their glory days are over.

So I think their "one dimensional sound" as it's referred to derogatively, comes mainly from just wanting to fully explore the new sound they created. It must have been an exciting time for them. Personally speaking I find blues music pretty one dimensional, but it's usually highly regarded.

Ozzy Osbourns' voice is crticised by many, but I think it works well with the other members.It's got a "keening" quality that I like. There's a good chemistry between the four members.

I personally got hooked on Black Sabbath fifteen years ago, and I still find their early music fascinating. I'm not quite the die hard Sabbath head anymore, having gotten interested in other forms of music recently, but their first six albums represent the peak of heavy music to me.

If you consider Black Sabbath overall as a band next to say, The Beatles, then maybe they would rate a 2 or a 3. But in the more nich act of heavy metal I would certainly rank their early music a 5! To me they're The Beatles of heavy metal.

Brian Adkins <> (25.10.2003)

Hello George, great review of this one...........really good album but enough reasons to not be great. I was always afraid to buy any Black Sabbath albums because of their "reputation".  But they're really not as bad as some make them out to be, and if you don't like Ozzy singing about the works of Heaven and Hell, at least you can enjoy the instruments. Tony is a most excellent guitar player indeed, I personally love his solos and don't mind a bit on the 14 minute closer. 'Wizard' is my least favorite song on the album, it's like the song never goes anywhere, the lyric don't build up to anything, there's no mind-boggling solos, just an average ole song. But it's short enough that I've made it to track 3 before it starts getting annoying.  I think Ozzys voice and Iommi's guitar are the perfect combination, I mean could they have really played non-Satanic music? Just picture this in your mind: Ozzy singing "All You Need is Love", who the heck would he have convinced? Haa Haa So I think they chose the correct substance for their music, the sound fits it beautifully. I only own this and PARANOID and love both albums, MASTERS will be soon to come after reading your review. I highly recommend this album to anyone that enjoys excellent guitar work.  The rest of the band isn't bad but the guitar work is really the jewel in Sabbaths music, for me anyway.

Stephen Rutkowski <> (17.03.2004)

The mind boggles at the thought that at one stage in your life you thought that Black Sabbath were deserving of only 1 star. I would give them 3 stars without even thinking, but then I am much bigger on hard rock/heavy metal than you are. (By the way I’m not going to weigh in with this hard rock vs. heavy metal debate so I will just use both terms so no one can be offended.) I suppose 2 stars will have to do then. I am not the biggest Black Sabbath fan, not by a long shot. My hard rock loyalties really lie with Led Zeppelin, but I have the first six Black Sabbath albums and think they are all great. I started off with a prejudice against Black Sabbath believing they were just a generic heavy metal band. That may have been true in the ‘80s but the early Black Sabbath was something truly different. I would generally add 1 more point to all your ratings for the first six albums, except for Sabbath Bloody Sabbath which I would give an 11. I am not prepared to get any other albums though, particularly after Ozzy left. If I want generic ‘80s metal, there are plenty of avenues for me to turn to. The lifeblood of Black Sabbath really is Tony Iommi, most tracks depend on him only. He was the greatest riffer as you said George, and not a bad soloist. And there really are occasional moments of acoustic beauty – I would add ‘Planet Caravan’ and ‘Fluff’ to ‘Laguna Sunrise’ as those really surprising moments. Still it’s only the fantastic riffs that make me return to Black Sabbath. Where they really lose it is in the remaining three members. Ozzy Osbourne is not on the same field as Robert Plant and Ian Gillan, but unlike most non-Black Sabbath fans I would say his voice was adequate. He yelled out the lyrics with a mixture of tremendous ferocity and chilling screams, creating the exact atmosphere that I’m sure ! the band wanted to create. His voice would never be strong enough to s ing ballads with any emotion though, and so hard rock/heavy metal was his role. Geezer Butler’s bass playing was adequate but not talented enough to supercede John Paul Jones or Roger Glover. The biggest loser is Bill Ward. His drum style and tone was fairly underwhelming compared to Bonham’s and Paice’s. The good news is that Iommi’s guitaring is good enough to carry the band, and that is exactly what he did. Black Sabbath’s influence is there for all to see. They came up with the novel idea to combine dark music with equally dark lyrics. Although now this is commonplace with the myriad of heavy/speed/death/whatever metal bands, somebody had to do it first. Led Zeppelin had the dark music, but for the most part the lyrics were just the same old. Black Sabbath tapped into a niche market – I’m sure the majority of their fans were disillusioned teenagers! who were attracted by the lyrics and mystique associated with Black Sabbath. Suffice to say, although I am quite young, I don’t really care about any of that sort of stuff. It’s only Iommi’s riffing and fantastic guitar tone that makes me enjoy Black Sabbath. But whatever you do, do not have the same prejudice that I did. Black Sabbath are much more than a regular heavy metal band.

Divyang Thakur <> (14.06.2005)

Ah,well one fine day last year in september i wrote the word "Rock Reviews"in the google search thingy and was rewarded by getting the result "Mark Prindle"and after that "George Starostin" and decided to go to your site first but hey!You had temporarily retired so I went to Prindle's site.And hey,hey I liked his reviews.Isn't life strange?I hadn't heard one Beatles album 10 months before but thanks to filesharing(Well I am a communist after all)I have heard them,Pink Floyd,Doors,Led Zeppelin,Yes,King Crimson,Black Sabbath,Bob Dylan,Moody Blues,Nirvana,Ac/Dc,Aerosmith,Bee Gees,Cream,Creedence Clearwater Revival,Emerson lake and Palmer,Eric Clapton,Jethro Tull.........I'm surprised myself.Where did i get the time?With my exams and all on top of them too.(I'm 16 so clear the impression that I'm gonna say something of value not that all adults put too much value in their words.On Prindle's site you will find lots of "Prindle you suck this album rules you don't know what you talking about you prick"types.)but I would like to say this about the web reviewing community,most of you are good and before that i used to believe in sites like rolling stones Magazine and in the newspapers.And all of them misguide you.Or why did I get the impression that King Crimson is bad?Or that 'Aqualung' is the only song Jethro Tull made that is listenable?Or that Salt'N'Pepa are a good band?Or that the Moody Blues are not good?

About Black Sabbath.I feel that the first 6 albums are worth listening to and except for 1 or 2 crappy songs (especially on Sabbath Bloody Sabbath)they are pretty good.But how did Ozzy become a music legend absolutely baffles me.His voice fits into Black Sabbath's marketing strategy I would say.(And so does the date on which they released their first album.)but starts sounding bad in not so good songs that your average singer could have made into quite good(And singers like Jim.M quite delightful) into outright unlistenable.But the rockers oh!the rockers!(Incidentially I started a review site recently and it's rather cheeky of me but would you go and sign my guestbook?I have a bet with my friend that nobody would sign my Guestbook or come to my site so I want to prove him wrong.And I have done some reviews too!Including Black Sabbath.Though my style is the complete antithesis to your style.)And Led Zeppelin is not Heavy Metal!It's like when people say things like Pearl Jam is grunge!Even though they are Heavy they are the precursor to Heavy Metal not Heavy Metal.Out here in India people haven't listened to the Beatles but the kids sure as hell have listened to Eminem's latest rap record.I can't understand how you can be so soft on rap in your Creed Page.Rap isn't even music.It's spoken word.Uncatchy.Unmelodic.complete antithesis to music.I can hardly restrain myself from saying something like"this is complete shit" when other guys keep listening to 50 cents and Will Smith.

Brian Dickson <> (08.10.2005)

For all the snobbery against Black Sabbath by many music critics (whcih incidentally I tend to view as kind of funny rather than anything that annoys me!) I can't see how anyone can deny that their first 6 albums are full- and I mean brimming over - with good catchy riffs. In fact more than any other band in rock history Sabbath should be praised for the riffs that they created. So while some seem to find gratification by putting on a silly "Black Sabbath are disgustingly bad" act, I say put away your monocle and give them a chance. (Not meaning you George!)

Bad news though is that while Ozzy fitted into the original lineup very well, without Black Sabbath he's pretty much a clown. Today many people tend to think of Black Sabbath as "Ozzy Osbourne's old band" So I suppose many people think Black Sabbath = Ozzy Osbourne= silly pseudo Satanic music. A lot of post Ozzy Sabbath isn't actually all that bad, but it seems kind of stale a lot of the time, like "yeah not bad song but I think I heard it done a bit different on your last album"

And what's wrong with Geezer Butler and Bill Ward?

I don't actually listen to them much anymore.but I used to be a huge fan. In fact while some bands have gradually grown on me, when I first heard the early Black Sabbath I was in fact pretty much blown away by the sound they achieved. Kudos to them!

Oh and by the way as to the question of who invented heavy metal- no band did! It evolved. It didn't start anywhere. From The Kinks to The Yardbirds To The Jeff Beck Group to Led Zep to Black Sabbath, they're all links in a chain. It's like asking who invented soul music? James Brown or the blacks who used to sing out on the cotton fields?

Tim B. <> (07.01.2006)

Only just wanted to say that I've had the 'Led Zeppelin created metal not Black Sabbath' argument with lots of people. At first I was inclined to agree that Zep did create metal, but further thinking made me realize that they didn't.

Led Zeppelin were merely a more METALLIC sounding ROCK band. They had heavy riffs that often bordered on and occasional were metal riffs. However, their celebratory lyrics and general love loving was without any doubt rock n' roll, not metal. Black Sabbath created metal by engineering among others #1. dark lyrical themes #2. minor-key doom progressions #3. proto-thrash of the kind that Led Zeppelin never took ANY part in their entire career. Zep had high distortion but there were so many elements of metal that were completely missing from their sound. Some have cited 'No Quarter' as undeniably a metal song. I agree that it was, but their delivery of it was more soft-rock prog. They were not dark enough, nor sinister enough to be metal.

Things considered I see this Sabbath page pointing out that Led Zeppelin were the founders of heavy metal as a factual mistake. I know a lot about this, and they seriously DIDN'T. They made rock heavier, but they didn't make metal.

And just one more thing: you are clearly extremely biased against metal as a genre. As a non-fan it seems you are fighting against your idea of what metal is to you while you me that means you aren't really the right person to be reviewing this music. For example I could review some country albums, but I hate country. What's the point then, all it will do will produce a bunch of bashing that will rile up country fans. Coming from the complete flip-side I think Black Sabbath were the ultimate 70s band and Zeppelin were overrated (semi) crap a lot of the time.

Also all these people talking about 'growing out' of dark lyrics about satan and evil and stuff. That's stupid. Why do you have to be 14 to enjoy dark, evil and sometimes cartoonish lyrics. Is everything to be taken literally!? Maybe I should go listen to Led Zeppelin, I love it in that song when he says 'baby' 15 times in a row. That's heaps more thoughtful than lyrics about man destroying the atmosphere with rockets and polluting the environment. Wait a minute, that's relevant to real life! Gosh darn!

I've never in my life understood people who grow out of music because it is too 'evil' and 'dark' for them. Seems to me you're kidding yourself and want something more sacharrine and feel-good to block out the fact that life isn't perfect. Metal is often just a reflection of the state of things in a very real, honest way, and Sabbath takes part in that alot. As much as you wish to accuse their lyrics of stupidity, they had SO much more relevance and clout than Deep Purple talking about loving their cars and Led Zeppelin going on about how they were really horny and loved rock music, with some extremely under-developed psuedo mysticism thrown in. Black Sabbath were only ever guilty of invoking dark forces, besides that they were very honest and talked alot about REAL LIFE.

Tagbo Munonyedi <> (19.09.2006)

The story of the Sabs is really in three parts; 1. The original line up/2. The Ronnie years and 3. everything after that. I'm not really interested in 2 and 3 from a musical point of view though it is fascinatingly sad from a biographical/filling in the history point of view.

So what are we left with ? A weird phenomenon....I mean, you got a fat burgular called John, who did time in prison, an Italian guitarist who lost the caps of two fingers in a factory accident, an Irish poet that was mad at catholicism and a frustrated rhythm guitarist to boot, and a guy who played drums but by his own admission couldn't keep time and had the mind of an historian.

That combination made great music across their first six albums in an era when it was much easier to be new, fresh and original because they came into a genre that had not had it's parameters defined so many of the heavy metal bands could expand the limits somewhat and add something {s} new. We speak with the benefit of hindsight of course but the Sabs were certainly a vital part of the evolution of heavy metal. As Geezer has pointed out, they didn't sit down to invent anything, they brought their collective influences together to bear on their debut album and it gelled into one sound; having found that, they took it in a particular direction, as did Zep, Purple, Heep, Funk, Budgie, Quo and many others. There was much nicking from each other and cross pollination { for example, Ward pushed John Bonham to envy by having a double bass drum set up, which he in turn had appropriated from Ginger Baker} of sounds and ideas {Jimmy Page was shown tons of runs by John McLaughlin and Page was the first sessioneer to utilize a fuzz box}. By the way, the lyrical themes of the many heavy bands were by no means unique to that genre, not at all ! You can find all the subjects of 70s heavy rock covered by a variety of groups, artists and genres, ranging from soul to country.To my mind the only music that has ever been defined purely by it's lyrical content is Christian rock {or in it's wider guise, contemporary Christian music; A couple of years back after I'd transferrred all my vinyl to CD, I sold all my LPs and alot of it was by Christian artists of all musical genres. But the guys in the shops said that the Christian stuff wouldn't get much of a price, even though some of it was dynamite heavy metal}. Which is daft ! Even gospel is a musical style. Speaking of lyrical themes {and it's just not true to say that heavy metal lyrics are irrelevant; if that were true, no one would be able to sing the songs at gigs !}, the number and variety of things Black Sabbath covered in six albums is staggering - fear, the devil, hell, the judgement, the afterlife/eternity, temptation, magic, dreams, revenge, marijuana, LSD, DNA, heroin, cocaine, conception, childhood, the past, present and future, death, deception, drug addiction, overdoses, biblical reality, mythology, theology, domination, the horrors of war, poverty, the state of the world, work, politics, disease, medicine, women, children, family breakdown, youth culture, skinheads, violence, paternity suits, nuclear holocaust, pregnancy, rest, peace of mind, libido, unfaithfulness, sorrow, lovelessness, desire, class, armies, witchcraft, brainwashing, mental illness, paranoia, insanity, human nature, boredom, searching for meaning in life, tripping, societal caring, God, Jesus, the Pope, science, religion, comics, revenge, escapism, youth, manipulation, enlightenment, personal change and growth, peer pressure, the choice in salvation, revolution, rebellion, the peace movement, love, Eastern philosophy, transexual confusion, managerial hassles, lonliness, pollution, the environment, suicide, unreality and fantasy, broken relationships, Catholicism, Christianity, Satanism, religious cults, the occult, preachiness, self determination, marital bliss, sexual satisfaction, God's intention in creation, doubt, the disposability of fame, the media, the influence of movies, town planning, colonialism and slavery, recovery from depression, loss of vision/ clouding of judgement, schizophrenia, hope.....need I go on ??!! And backed up with a very loud, huge and yes, intelligent barrage of sound.

Of the original band, I think they were leaders in their fields for a while, consumate team players. And while I do think that Gillan and Plant were better, more versatile vocalists, it's equally true to say that they both spawned quite a few imitators {not their fault, they were great and worthy of imitation} whereas, I can't think of any Osbourne influenced singers. There must be some obviously, I've just never heard any. So from that viewpoint, he's unique. I don't mind his pre '76 voice. His great gift was in the way he interpreted the lyrics {so much so that many think he 'wrote' the songs } and made them his own by so firmly stamping his personality on them and also the way he found melodies for the music. His Black Sabbath were wonderfully melodic, not just loud bruisers. That they often couched those melodies in heavy music is testament to how good the music actually was. I consider Tony Iommi to be metal's riffmeister general....most heavy guitar players from the late 60s and the 70s were adept at creating good riffs {Blackmore, Bourge, Page, Charlton, Rossi, May, Roeser, Perry, Young - Mal, Angus and James -, Galley, Bolin, Scholtz, Robertson, Nugent, Lifeson, Marino, Powell, Gibbons, Chapman, Schenker, Turner, Merrill, etc, etc} , it was part of the job description and the standard was, in my opinion, really high for about a twelve or so year period so Tony had alot of competition and certainly up to and including SABOTAGE, he was knocking them out, though as he says, with less input from the others and with increasing difficulty. Geezer was the British equivalent of Grand Funk's Mel Schacher, he developed a solidity as time went by but coz he was really a guitarist to start with, his approach was left field, a bit like other notable bassists who came from the guitar, Paul McCartney, Greg Lake and Noel Redding. He played a fluid cross between lead, rhythm and bass and was essential to the Sabbath sound. And his lyrics defined their image - unfairly in my mind because as has been pointed out earlier, whatever he likes to play up to as regards the media, he was one of the deepest lyricists to try his hand at the game. He had deep thoughts and even when drugged out, at least initially, his depth came through powerfully. He was responsible for the overwhelming majority of them up until Ronnie came into the band.

I guess it's a matter of taste but I think that Bill Ward is the great lost artefact of the early metal era. I love many of the heavy rock drummers, from the basic to the flashy, they have often fallen victim to terrible snobbery and much of their contribution to heavy metal has been consigned to the cutting floor of history, Bill Ward definitely. I think he was a great drummer, jazzy, orchestral, steady {I've never really understood why he felt he was a lousy timekeeper}, versatile, cymbalic and high hatty, hard hitting, energetic, multi-dimensional, deft of touch....I could go on. I know he had difficulty in getting some of the trickier parts but he stuck at it and on those first six LPs he is, for me, one of the quintessential heavy rock drummers.

In the end, in fact from very early on, the Sabs were severely pigeonholed by three disparate sources - the record companies, the critics {including the general media}....and their own fans, to the extent that they later became a caricature, playing up to the Satanic image and imagery {look at the covers of SABBATH BLOODY SABBATH, HEAVEN AND HELL, MOB RULES, BORN AGAIN, DEHUMANIZER and FORBIDDEN and stupid titles like HEADLESS CROSS} and a fourth category seized on this narrow banding, namely, some of the speed/thrash/death metal bands that were influenced by them. I think that takes away from the legacy of a fine band, that in their first period, put some nourishing meat on the bones of an emerging monster. In retrospect, they've had an even longer range influence than Led Zeppelin.


jemster <> (01.10.99)

Look, I haven't heard this album, but I've heard Paranoid, and after hearing that a lot of thigs begin to disturb you.

First of all, the whole idea disturbs me, so I never listen to that any of these at night. Second, though Ozzy and Tony, who practiced black magic, are both totally untrustable, the lyricist claims that after a vision he had, he began to make an anti-satan statement, particularly through this band. Anyway, why in the song on the first album were the people scared of being accepted by Satan if they were Satanic then? And why did the band wear crosses? Whether thay were evil or not is a mystery that we will never find out. Last, despite this atmosphere, I like the Sabbath sound because they have a much bluesier edge than that spaced out heavy metal band, Deep Purple, and about the same amount as that non-metal band Led Zeppelin. The riffs get me, and I want the other albums although my consience keeps me from carrying it out.

So therefore, one is probably safe if they look at the Sabs from a musical standpoint. In the meanwhile, I'd give Paranoid a 10, and I'd persuade you to voice your opinions on that as well as Masters of Reality, Sabbath Bloody Sabbath, and Sabotage.(author's note: this comment was posted before I'd gottten around to these albums - G. S.) It might help determine whether the band who Rolling Stone hates, the All Music Guide loves, and every teen today remembers was a pioneer rock band or a Satanist group of kids who could play guitars and sing.

Nick Karn <> (14.10.99)

I heard this album straight through once a couple years ago spending the night at a friend's house, and I distinctly remember the desire to completely doze off during Iommi's guitar soloing near the end of the album, which I eventually did at around 5 in the morning. So I guess you side with the general opinion that this solo section is a real tedious drag, and it seemed that way to me. I also agree with you that the title track is a monster - it's the only song here I still have a great memory of, Ozzy's desperate vocal wailings and his unusually warped style on this track, and that unexpected, "evil" solo section. Could very well be the defining Sabbath song, and maybe the most obviously Satanic thing they ever wrote.

Michael Rohm <> (08.01.2000)

Actually, a minor note to your comment on the first Sab album, "This is the first truly 'Evil' rock album..." No, it isn't. There was a band called Coven who released an LP a year earlier called Witchcraft Destroys Minds and Reaps Souls - it actually contained a black mass on side two of the record. The music itself isn't really evil, a la Sabs, but the lyrics are purely Satanic, about black masses, witches' sabbats, soul selling, hexes and curses, and so forth.

Just thought I should note that, in case you're interested (or perhaps not).

<> (07.12.2000)

Definitely the first true heavy metal album (NOT Zeppelin's debut, contrary to popular belief). See, Zeppelin's debut was more or less just your average 60's hard rock music, although heavily blues-based. But this album was something entirely different, something newer, something darker, something more mysterious than anyone had ever heard before. Just imagine: It's early 1970, and in the midst of all this flower power shit comes Ozzy and co. bellowing lyrics like "Is it the end my friend? Satan's comin' 'round the bend!" and "Look into my eyes, you'll see who I am. My name is Lucifer, please take my hand". The opening number is perhaps the darkest, most frightening song ever. It's of course titled "Black Sabbath", and it tells of a dying man about to go to Hell (this would sure serve well as a bedtime song for your kids, huh?!). I don't really care for it that much, except for Tony's lightning-quick guitar rumbling at the end. Next comes a real ass-kicker- "The Wizard". It features more heavier-than-thou riffage from the master of metal himself- Tony Iommi, and also some awesome harmonica interludes from good ol' Ozz. Without a doubt the best song on here is "N.I.B.". The first time I heard it, I absolutely fell in love with the guitar riff. And Ozzy's vocals are so eerie and fit the song so perfectly it just sends a shiver down one's spine! Funny enough, the song was named after Bill Ward's beard, which looked like the nib of a pen (hence the name "N.I.B."). The lyrics are about Lucifer falling in love with a human being and changing his ways (I'm a big Black Sabbath historian and researcher so I know what I'm talking about!). "Wicked World" was actually the very first song the fantastic foursome ever wrote together. When they originally wrote it in 1968, it was nearly 15 minutes long! This version is impressive too, though. Ozzy's voice on this song is just awesome, though not as hypnotic and eerie as on "N.I.B." The guitar solo in the middle is nothing to write home about. After all, Tony's a master, but he's no Jimmy Page, and he's certainly no Blackmore, but he is what he is: the undisputed king of heavy metal guitar riffs ("N.I.B", "Paranoid", "Iron Man", "Sweet Leaf", "Into The Void", "Tomorrow's Dream", "Supernaut", "Sabbath Bloody Sabbath", "Symptom Of The Universe", need I say more?). "Sleeping Village" is mystical in all it's glory, even if it is only 55 seconds long. And Ozzy gives perhaps his best vocal performance EVER on this song. The first time I heard "Sleeping Village", on a cassette I borrowed from a friend, I didn't even believe it was Ozzy singing! He sounds so relaxed and peaceful, yet so eerie and mystical at the same time, as only Ozzy can. And the last number, "Warning", never ceases to take my breath away. Black Sabbath playing a blues tune? Who'd of ever thought? Oh well, after all, their main inspiration was blues-based stuff anyway (Ozzy credits Cream and John Mayall's Bluesbreakers as the band's most significant influences), and they do it rather well too. It's all starts with some maniacal riffing and soloing from Mr. Iommi, then leads into Butler's calm, six-note bass riff that is indeed the backbone of the whole track. The lyrics, about faded love, are splendid and the guitar playing towards the end is, regardless of what anyone says, brilliant. This is without a doubt Tony's finest moment on the guitar. He goes from relaxed and bluesy to wall-rattling heavy, without warning (no pun intended). All in all, I'd give this record an 8 out of 10. Too influential to be put into words, this will forever be remembered as THE ALBUM THAT KNOCKED THE WORLD ON IT'S ASS!

Fred Anderson <> (22.01.2001)

Rating this album anything lower than 5/5 is a federal crime in many states. Whoever wrote this review is not a metal fan, and has never been one. It's that simple. (Fred Anderson is absolutely right! I am not a metal fan. However, I have actually explicitly stated it in the intro, so it didn't take a logical genius to figure that out - G.S.)

CRANE MIDI LAB <> (20.06.2001)

My congratulations on a well-crafted review! A few bones must be picked, as is inevitable. When you say the lyrics are Satanic, do you mean they are in praise of Satan? That seems not to be the case. They do say the name, but they don't say "worship him!" 'N.I.B.' is surely the closest to Satanic the band got, but it is just a silly story about Satan falling in love. The lyrics tell a story, nothing more, nothing less. I think this is what you meant? Bone #2: I believe that, instead of sounding stupid, Ozzy's singing along with the riff on 'N. I. B.' adds to the overall power of the sound. Besides, it is a catchy little melody. The third bone: There is much more than just the riffs to jump up and down and say "yahoo!" about. The band interaction works to enhance the riffs. Think what the album would be with the riffs alone! Furthermore, Ozzy's singing is flat on occasion (note the real bomb at the ends of both verse sections of 'Warning'...Yech!), but the delivery is very expressive and adds to the mysterious quality of the record. One area I strongly agree on is the long solo passages in Warning'. Some interesting contrasts happen along the way (like the clean-toned rockabilly section), but many of the sections go on way too long. One of the most interesting solos on the album is the double-time double tracked one on "Bit o' Finger". Check it out, listening for the interaction of the two guitar solos. Granted, there are spots along the way where they step on each others toes so to speak, but for the most part, they seem to carry on an interesting competition/dialogue. I'd say your 8 rating is just fine in the end.

Ratko Hribar <> (06.10.2001)

One of my favorite Sabbath albums, no doubt about it. Naturally, it's heavy and moody, and it is the first well-known 'Evil' rock album. Since it came out in 1970, it found a comfortable middle ground between the much inferior Led Zeppelin III, and the superior Deep Purple In Rock, both of which came out the same year. However, the thing that made Sabbath the prime band of the year 1970, was the quick release of Paranoid. I suppose the songs on this album, could be considered monotonous, especially since 'The Warning' lasts so friggin' long, but with such colossal riffs thrown in for good measure, who the hell cares ? Ozzy's voice does demand a little of getting used to, but he will get better with time, and by then, he will grew on ya. His helium voice is expressive enough, although his range is totally limited, however, his vocal delivery is completely unique and he can't be mistaken for anyone else (a rather unusual thing in rock music). I have to mention that on 'Wicked World' he sounds very much different than on the other tracks, which is probably partially caused by the mix. The lyrics here, aren't awful, cause Led Zeppelin wrote similar stuff, and this is actually even more acceptable, cause it's not so overblown or blatantly stupid ('Battle Of Evermore', people ?). The lyrics here are, at least, straightforward, and not particularly offensive (that is, unless you're an extremely religious person).

This is a very atmospheric record, which is completely clear when the title song kicks in with the sounds of rain, thunder and church bells. Actually, that reminded me, the production of this album is really magnificent, much better than on the first Deep Purple albums (they often had a mix bag of satisfying and unbearable production). The track features a solid crushing riff, but on the downside it's too slow for my taste (the original demo tape version is completely unhearable). However, this track is strong, but nothing more. The real hidden gem here is the strange harmonica+megaheavy riff combination on 'The Wizard' that just shatters all competition and gives the song a bizarre touch. In my opinion, the pretty obscure 'The Wizard' is one of the band's most shining moments ever. The enduring classic 'N.I.B.' also contains a catchy, hard 'n' heavy riff, but it's not quite as explosive as some of their later ones. 'Sleeping Village' is a little unnecessary here, but Ozzy's eerie vocal delivery is much better than expected. 'Behind The Wall Of Sleep' is frequently overlooked, but undeservedly so, cause the track has a decent riff, not worse than the one on the title track. The single 'Evil Woman' is a nice number with a catchy chorus line, and it has a pleasantly funky riff , so the song reminds me a lot of the Dio-era track 'Lady Evil'. BTW, the lyrics on 'Evil Woman' sound just like they we're written by Ronnie James Dio. 'The Warning' has a great chorus and a fluent melody, but it's just too overlong with a lot of dull and forgettable solos by Iommi. The jazz influenced rhythm of 'Wicked World' pounds along nicely, but it leaves me a little unsatisfied. And that's it. The evil record of Black Sabbath. See ya in hell guys. Until then, I'll give this a 9.

Glenn Wiener <> (28.11.2001)

Certainly a groundbreaking release. The titlet track is one scary piece of music. The thunderstorms and church bells create an eerie mood and I am blown away by those power chords. However, the shift in rhythm and ending guitar solo is what captivates the experience for that song/piece. Truthfully I'm not much for harmonica driven pieces especially in a Heavy Metal Band. Therefore, I do not care for 'The Wizzard' too much. 'Wicked World' has some nice shifts in tempo and 'NIB' has a fairly captivating melody. The parts of the songs in the suite aren't bad either. The last suite of songs goes on for a little bit too long. 'Warning' is pretty cool but Tony Iommini should have saved the riffage for a live concert rather than this CD.

<> (06.12.2001)

Perhaps the best Black Sabbath album. Perhaps not. Still, I'd give it a 10 either way. One sees the influence of all those old Hammer horror films at work here -- the album sleeve, with the old keep, the mysterious smiling woman in her funeral dress, and the fat black raven in the briars, makes all this rather obvious. In fact, the album sort of comes across as a youthful tribute to all of those awesome old horror guys ... Christopher Lee, Vincent Price, Peter Cushing, Charles Grey … actors from a time when horror movies were well-crafted and thoughtful. This is a great album despite the fact that Ozzy hadn't really achieved his full vocal range yet (as George has already pointed out, and he's right), and despite the occasionally cheesy song lyrics the man had to work with. The main reason for my rating of '10' is threefold … first off, this was the album that, for better or worse, began the genre of "heavy metal" as we know it today, and deserves a lot of respect for sheer innovation alone (who else had such a heavy sound back in 1970)? Second, there's not a single bad song on the album. And third, the album opens and closes with two of Sabbath's best songs EVER. These two songs - "Black Sabbath" and "Warning" - stand so far above the rest of the album, I've decided to single them out and review them specifically.

First off, I have nothing but respect for the simple yet brilliant title track. With its thunder and rain and church bells, the song "Black Sabbath" makes a perfect beginning for the first satanic heavy metal album, right down to the name. It doesn't get much heavier than this, and I doubt I'll ever outgrow it entirely, nor would I wish to. Of all the Black Sabbath songs, this dark and lumbering behemoth is probably the truest example of gothic rock. And I don't mean "Goth" rock … I mean "gothic" rock… there's a big difference. "Goth" is essentially just an inaccurate, unrealistic, and hopelessly modernized emulation of gothic themes, typically popular among college kids who favor black clothing and have bad enough taste to listen to Marilyn Manson, often while writing visceral little poems about their vampire fantasies. Most of the "Goths" I've met wouldn't know a cathedral from a friggin' abbey … (most of them probably don't know how to spell cathedral or abbey, now that I think of it). Goth-IC, on the other hand, implies a more respectable level of thinking. With that in mind, I cannot call Black Sabbath a "Goth band", despite the occasionally dumb lyrics of their songs. They were above that. Having said all this, the song "Black Sabbath" is probably the essence of 20th Century Gothic, at least as far as heavy metal goes (not to mention that this song, as well as the band itself, were almost certainly named after the old horror film of the same title ... "Father, the dog is barking" ... (deadpan) "Kill it." ... interesting movie). The thunderstorm sounds at the beginning truly make the song. In my humble opinion, if they'd kept the dismal, stormy background for the entire song instead of cutting it off when the music started, perhaps drowning it out during the louder instrumental passages, but keeping it faintly audible during the softer vocal parts, it could maybe have been the best song on the album.

As it stands now (at least in my book), the honor of best song falls to "Warning", which sounds like the aftermath of the title track's raging tempest … a song which, for me at least, instills the same sober and thoughtful mood as that strange off-white color of the daylight towards the end of a big thunderstorm, when the dark clouds are finally parting and the rain has dwindled to a cold, steady drizzle. It would have made an interesting addition to the song, too, putting that drizzly sound in the quieter parts ... in those pauses between the disjointed, often dream-like guitar solos. And yet, unlike the title track, "Warning" doesn't really NEED any rain or thunder in the background, for "Warning" has a certain inexplicable character all its own, a peculiar grimness which seems to defy analogy (still, I'll try). This striking peculiarity, this essential hollowness, makes "Warning" far more effective than fat, bloated, evil songs like "Black Sabbath" or "N.I.B." -- great as those songs are in their own right. That unnamable feeling of dread, which lingers in the background throughout the rest of the album, finally reaches its climax in "Warning" which is, in its own way, the most dreadful song of all, symbolizing as it does the aftermath of some great evil rather than the evil itself. For despite the ominous title, I associate "Warning" with the calm after, rather than before, the storm - the tired fatalism and pallid indifference that follow in the wake of an apocalypse. And apparently, the band was wise enough to recognize this aftermath-like quality as well, and wisely placed the song at the very end of the album, where it serves as a perfect and inscrutable coda.

Eric Rogozin <> (01.07.2002)

Nothing special! I heard it once and I wasn't much amazed. Maybe a couple of tunes are decent. There's no way to compare it to magnificent Deep Purple In Rock, Led Zeppelin III and Very 'Eavy, Very 'Umble releases, which came out the same year!!! Overrated! Speaking 'bout Sabbath, Paranoid and Master Of Reality are much better.

Koka Chernov <> (06.09.2002)

I regret, that "The Rebel" is not present here. But Sabs had thrown away their bluesy past (and their previous name "EARTH", too), although that past contained some beautiful songs. Furthermore, they changed their direction drastically.

Album opener - "Black Sabbath" - is, probably, their best attempt in frightening little boys and girls. Ohh, it is creepy. I confess: it frightened me, too. Tony's multilayered solo will satisfy even the most strict guitar-connoisseur: one guitar is producing satanic buzz, while the others are putting satanic wires in your brain and fry it. Very, very painful, but incredibly deep feeling. With this solo Iommi had entered into the guitar elite of rock'n'roll.

Other good songs - 'NIB', 'Wizard' and 'Sleeping Village' (first part). Maybe you know it, but Geezer had once revealed, that they've chosen name 'NIB' only because Ward had a sharp goatee. This is, probably, the most noticeable positive contribution Bill made here. Apart from that, his weak drumming spoils all picture. Were skins too loose or something is wrong with his understanding of how the snare must sound, anyway the result is miserable - totally unprofessional sound, unpowerful beat, etc. Imo, Black Sabbath is only preparation for something heavier, although it caused an epidemic of Metal all over the world.

General impression is very controversial and ambivalent. So I consider George's rating rather fair: 10-1 (Thanks to Bill) -1 (Boring ending)=8.

Stephen Rutkowski <> (17.03.2004)

Although as I said I don’t care too much for evil and that kind of thing, I will dwell for just a moment on the album cover. For mind, this type of picture is much scarier than –looks through other Black Sabbath covers– the covers for Sabbath Bloody Sabbath or Dehumanizer for instance, as it represents what humans are most afraid of – the unknown. It seems as though prior to movies like The Blair Witch Project, Hollywood had also forgotten that this is the most effective way to create true horror. I am not a movie buff my any means, but I thought I should point that out. The relevance to the cover is that the eerie woman and raven are amongst the briars in front of the equally eerie keep. If faced in this situation, you would have no idea what could happen. Is the woman evil? What could she potentially do to you? Why is the raven looking towards her for? It’s the unknown that would scare you most and this creates a truly effective album cover.

Anyway, after the amateurish analysis of the front cover it’s time for me to discuss the most important part – the music. First I wanted to state that my version of the album contains a cover called ‘Evil Woman’ and the track order is slightly different. ‘Black Sabbath’ is truly immense with powerful riffing and chilling screams from Ozzy. The track is a little slow, but as George says this adds to the overall feeling. ‘The Wizard’ contains some truly god awful lyrics. If you are able to ignore that though you get a delightful interplay between Ozzy’s harmonica and Iommi’s booming riffage. A harmonica on a heavy metal track? I wouldn’t recommend any band to try it but it works here. ‘Behind the Wall of Sleep’ is a bit of let down but not too much. That is made up though with more immense riffage on ‘N.I.B.’. Sometimes I’ll be humming ‘N.I.B.’ and before I know it I’m singing ‘Sunshine of Your Love’! Although it is sometimes annoying when Ozzy follows the guitar melody, I think it works well on this track. The ‘Bassically’ part is also a nice interlude. ‘Evil Woman’ is a bit superfluous – it’s just a nice easy ‘50s sounding rocker – but it does nothing to harm the album. ‘Sleeping Village’ isn’t anything special, but as others have said there is an eerie quality to Ozzy’s voice. The unnecessary soloing on ‘Warning’ make it much too long, and the main theme is nothing special but all is not lost. Every now and then during Iommi’s soloing marathon he hits a terrific groove. The only problem is that because he is moving through all these solos at such a speed the groove is only held for a few bars. ‘Wicked World’ is another good song with a slightly mediocre riff – it is nowhere near as heavy or strong as those on ‘Black Sabbath’ and ‘N.I.B.’. Believe it or not, if you listen closely you will notice the distinct jazz influence in Butler’s and Ward’s playing. Overall the album’s position in rock history cannot be denied and some of the tracks are truly wonderful. This would force me to give it a rating of 11.

<> (28.10.2005)

I'd like to make a couple of corrections: First of all, it was Geezer that came up with the horror music idea, not Iommi. And the song "Wizard" isn't literally about a wizard. The "wizard" is actually the local drug dealer. Why do you think people are so happy about the "magic" that he's spreading?

Personally, I think this is one of the best heavy metal albums ever! This, Paranoid, and Master of Reality; everything else gets worse as Iommi abandons the spurts of heavy riffage that made them popular. "Wicked World" and "Evil Woman" are the only songs I don't like. There are certain short instances of heavy riffage that are so appealing to me that I listen to the songs just for that part: 5:14-Black Sabbath; 1:06-Wizard; 0:37-Behind the Wall of Sleep; All of N.I.B.; 1:37-Sleeping Village (Best riff on the whole album!!); And the bassline of 'The Warning'.

I also love the basslines. I don't understand what you mean when you criticise them. In "The Wizard", the bass is the only reason the riff even sounds good, and to an extend, the same is applicable to every other song. As for the lyrics, I actually enjoy them (and the vocals compliment the music perfectly). I'm pretty young, so these lyrics are much deeper than anything you'll hear on the radio today.

After this album, they wanted to appease their critics by showing their Christian side ('War Pigs', 'After Forever') which really made my respect for them plummet. I don't care much for Satanism, but it's so much more pleasant to listen to than the bloodthirsty jealousy that is Yahweh (and his anointed son, Joshua).

I agree with you on many of the reviews, but the criticism of the early Black Sabbath songs seem much too harsh.

Tagbo Munonyedi <> (19.09.2006)

Categorically ! This is not the album that invented heavy metal, as the British paper, the Sunday Times claims. I was reading someone's paper last week, initially upside down, when I saw an article called "50 albums that changed the face of music" and my interest perked up. In fairness to the article, it wasn't the top 50 of all time or anything like that {I've had it to here with those kind of things though they are interesting}, just fifty that changed the face of music. And the contributors looked at all genres {I mean, Aretha Franklin, Miles Davies, Otis Redding and Frank Sinatra were in there} and the many singles that have changed music's face {arguably more singles than albums have done so } weren't included and no artist had more than one entry and those parameters explain why there was nothing by Bob Marley, the Sex Pistols, the Mahavishnu Orchestra, Cecil Taylor and a whole lot more. There were only maybe three that I didn't agree with, the Stooges' RAW POWER and the Clashes' LONDON CALLING being two of them. BLACK SABBATH was a worthy entry coz while it didn't invent metal, it's future influence did spawn subsequent genres so on that point alone it should be there, even if it had been a load of crap and crap this debut was not.

It may not have invented what was an evolving genre, but it certainly put the et al into heavy metal. For me, one of the most dynamite debuts in rock's history. The sheer sonic brute force of the opening track, BLACK SABBATH, is impressive and almost painful. It's like the secret police kicking down one's door in the dead of night ! There's just so much of consequence in this one song alone, musically, lyrically, sonically and socially. While, during the verses, Bill Ward's toms are prominent, it's his high hat work that is really commendable and absolutely crucial in setting up that petrifying tension, along with that clanging bell. Oh man, that bell ! After the first break after the first verse, that bell disappears and some of the fear factor goes as a result. But only a little bit ! Rarely have three notes sounded so foreboding as Iommi's ominous riff that is followed by Geezer's bass {they both claim ownership of the riff, Butler saying he wrote it on bass, Iommi saying it just came to him; Ozzy tips the scale in Iommi's favour} complete with swoops that plunge sickeningly like a plane careening out of control in mid air. As for that vocal.....this is for me one of the greatest vocals Ozzy ever did, it's so, um, appropriate. The funny thing is that he sings it like he speaks, in a Brummie accent ! In England the Brummie accent is renowned for it's depressive qualities, the people up there all sounding like they're one slash away from one moans with greater effect than someone from Birmingham {which is probably why my Mum always wanted us to "speak properly" and didn't complain when we moved to London}. Oz sounds so defeated, so scared, the way he howls "Oh Noooo...." and "Oh no, no, please God help me !!" at the ends of each verse is sufficient to give one nightmares for a lifetime. The force with which Ward hits the drums in the break and his ride cymbal will be imprinted on my mind for many decades to come. The second part of the song {'is this the end'} is almost light relief and could be a song about pixies picking dandelions or something suitably psychedelic/progressive until that "No, no, please,nooooo....." and that maniacal solo. As a Christian who most certainly believes in the concept of hell as an existence to be avoided at all costs, I've not heard a song that evokes it's horror as convincingly as BLACK SABBATH. It's let down only in the lyrics though, not because they're crap, but coz they take the Milton stance on Satan, as opposed to the biblical one. The poet Milton said of the devil {well, it was Lucifer, but that's another story} 'It's better to rule in hell than to serve in heaven' and so the picture here is of Satan as the one who determines who goes to hell, rather than the biblical picture of Satan who is himself cast into hell for eternal torment. I guess Geezer had been reading alot of Dennis Wheatley ! That aside, it's a fabulous song, on a par with King Crimson's 21st CENTURY SCHIZOID MAN for opening debut track impact.

I can't prove this but I think certain Sabs had been listening to Crimson coz the riff to the next song, THE WIZARD, seems like a convoluted rewrite of that of SCHIZOID. And throughout the LP, Geezer Butler's bass playing is pretty close to Greg Lake's on Crimson's debut opener. I'm not sure who plays harmonica on this but it's fantastic and I wish the Sabs had used it more over the years. It's actually a great compliment and variation to the guitar. The lyrics are good and poetic but really dumb at the same time, not an easy feat ! Great drums again, cracking with dynamism.

Death wasn't a new subject in rock {Half the first side of 'Revolver' deals with it !} and the afterlife wasn't quite such an alien concept after LSD and Eastern gurus; BEHIND THE WALL OF SLEEP is perhaps the flip side to BLACK SABBATH, or even part two. It's quite a daring attempt to describe the exact moment of death and waking up 'on the other side' and sort of ends up being almost as scary as the opener although the outcome is alot more positive. Interestingly, it's reflected in the music which is kind of funky. Ozzy sounds really old, it's weird that he never sounded as old as he did on this first album. Even now he sounds younger than he did then ! They do this really good production trick where his voice is mixed on two separate tracks and panned very wide with one coming a milisecond after the other so it almost sounds like the dislocation of the spirit leaving the body. Cute. BASSICALLY is one of the few bass solos that I have any time for and being only 40 seconds long, it doesn't outstay it's welcome. Actually, it gives an insight into the kind of guitarist Geezer may have developed into had he not been 'saddled' {that's how people saw it in those days, people wanted to be lead singers or guitar heroes. As McCartney has said, the bass was usually given to 'the fat boy at the back'} with the bass. Probably a decent rhythm guitarist who could play the odd lead solo now and then a la Lennon or Whitford.

As influencial and memorable as the opening track is, the most influencial song the band did IMO is N.I.B. It's truly unfortunate that virtually the whole memory of the Sabs on a general level rests with the imagery of this song. And it's not even one of their popular tracks ! People thought it stood for nativity in black, but Nibby was Bill Ward's nickname, a throwback to the days when, in stoned state, they'd mess about and say his nose looked like a fountain pen nib. How seriously they took this song can be judged by the dumb title they gave it and the fact it absolutely nothing to do with the song. From my point of view, it's a hugely ironic song, given all that stemmed from it. Firstly, it's a matter of huge debate whether biblically one can say Lucifer and Satan are the same person. I'm in the minority here but I would say not, because Lucifer ain't a name, but a designation, a title. It means 'light bearer' and is similar to terms like 'morning star' and in Greek is rendered as 'Phospherous'. The only person actually given that title is Christ......ah, somewhat controversial. What's equally ironic for me is that biblically, the devil is described as deceiving folk by posing as 'an angel of light' and part of this song is a humourous look at the devil falling in love so it works on more than one whether knowingly or unwittingly, the band come up with a great little ditty that 36 years later is still taken as evidence that this lot were a bunch of Satanists when in point of fact, it's one of the most biblically correct things they ever did, on a par with, for similar reasons, the Stones' SYMPATHY FOR THE DEVIL, a wholly misunderstood track. For the record, there's as many songs on this album about dodgy women as there is about the devil. I like the way the vocal melody runs with the music. Usually the melody is distinct from the music, so the change is cute.

The first copy of this album that I owned was an American release and had WICKED WORLD as the side 2 opener while the English copy I acquired on my return had EVIL WOMAN. As it turns out, I love both songs, so my now version has both on them. It's always pissed me off the way albums of the same name used to get chopped up for different markets. Ward says he and the band weren't at all happy with the Crows' EVIL WOMAN and that it was a compromise to sell the record. I think it's a great track, essentially about a pregnant woman trying to get some unsuspecting guy to cop to fatherhood so she can bleed him dry and maybe do away with him ! Brrr. Funny thing is that it sounds like a cover version, certainly the most un-Sabbath-like track I heard them do. WICKED WORLD is one of those great songs that sounds really meaningful and scans really well and is all true but not at all poetic when you look at the lyrics. The drumming at the start is brilliant and goes back to the days before Tony Iommi defected to Jethro Tull {for all of a month or so, in '68} when they were called Earth and were a jazz and blues band. SLEEPING VILLAGE is lovely poetry, just four lines, but very still, almost pastoral, probably would've been if Traffic or the Strawbs had done it. Reading the title on the sleeve gives the impression that it's a real chiller, maybe about a plague or some kind of holocaust or something that has left thousands of people dead. But it really is about a load of people sleeping ! And peacefully at that ! It has a lovely extended instrumental section and hearing it, I am often at a loss as to why it became so fashionable to knock the Sabs instrumental capabilities.

WARNING, which was originally by Aynsley Dunbar's Retaliation is a fitting end and possibly my favourite track on the album, sung with deadpan woe, excellently by Ozzy, orchestrated inventively by Bill Ward who not only supplies the time but millions of fills and extras, quite simply one of the most musical drummers I've heard, his playing throughout is extraordinary and a joy to hear, always; Geezer plays that Mel Schacher type of bass where the bass almost doubles as rhythm guitar yet is melodically rich and there's a part where he and Iommi simultaneously solo with Ward crashing about and they resolve that section with such assuredness for debutants. Tony Iommi on this album serves notice that he is an altogether different proposition in the riff creating game and it's no wonder Tull wanted him as they were trying to break away from the blues. But he shows he's no idiot when it comes to lead guitar either, an imaginative fusion of space and flurries of notes. When Ozzy was going through his bitchy phase in '81, having been kicked out of the band a few years earlier, he was really disparaging about Iommi's playing, with particular reference to his inability to improvise. Well, some of this is off the cuff and very good it is too. He managaes to sustain interest, even when he's the only one playing. Overall, there's a great give and take ethos from each member that comes through loud and clear.


Nick Karn <> (14.10.99)

Unquestionably the best out of the albums I've heard so far, and it's definitely the most important metal album ever made - one of the greatest as well. The riffs and arrangements are at their most powerful, especially on the more "epic" tracks like "Electric Funeral", which is a fun as hell song to jam on, because it's not terribly difficult to play but all instrumental aspects of it sound so forceful and great. I played bass when I got together with a couple other people, and we ran through it without vocals. Anyway, no argument with "Iron Man", "Hand Of Doom", "War Pigs" (you should hear the original gory lyrics to the demo of this song from Ozzy's basement tapes!) and "Fairies Wear Boots" (particularly dark intro section), as they definitely show the band at their best, and the stupid and cartoonish lyrics actually give the songs more power because they bring the instrumental strengths to the forefront. The title track is even really infectious - they don't write too many of those type of songs with hooks, and the lyrics are actually well-written (another rarity for them), describing the psychological confusion we all go through at some point in an effective fashion. "Planet Caravan", another departure from their sound, has a really cool bassline, relaxing bluesy guitar work and an interesting vocal effect, and I enjoy it. The only real filler here is "Rat Salad", but to despise the record because of it is just stupid, I agree. It's a nice instrumental, with a good riff and a short drum solo that never approaches self indulgence (unlike the endless "Toad" which I despise). An easy 10 for this album. Classic.

<> (13.06.2000)

Maybe Tony Iommi or Geezer were not in the same leauge as ´Cream´,but could you imganine Eric Clapton playing something _really_ powerfull as 'PARANOID'?

Hell,i´m the biggest fan on earth of Ritchie Blackmore,but even Ritchie didn´t invent THAT riff.

Philip Maddox <> (09.09.2000)

This is my only Sabbath album, and it never struck me as hard as people say it should. The highlights are definately there - nobody can deny the excellent, chuggin' title track, the perfect riff of 'Iron Man', or the powerful opener 'War Pigs'. All of them have got what I like in my heavy metal - power. Those riffs are driven straight into your head without any hope of escape. 'Planet Caravan' is nice, too - very moody and atmospheric. Not great, but very good. That covers side 1. Side 2 is a different story, though. 'Electric Funeral' starts of with a great riff, but it loses me by the end. That middle section just doesn't make it for me. 'Hand Of Doom' and 'Fairies Wear Boots' are both way too long - the former is pretty good in spite of it's length, but I never liked 'Fairies Wear Boots' much. It just drags on and on and refuses to leave any impression in my head at all. 'Rat Salad' is a drum solo. It's short, but it's pure filler. I'd give it a 7/10, maybe an 8 on a good day because the best material here is classic and none of it is really bad. No, a seven because I really don't like 'Fairies Wear Boots'. But a high 7!

Paul Stadden <> (10.10.2000)

You could not be more right. If you want to get the best of Black Sabbath, you pretty much have to buy Paranoid and Master of Reality.

<> (14.11.2000)

Unlike many others, I don't consider this to be Sabbath's best album. That credit would have to go to SABOTAGE (hands down). But this album is still great. The best tune on here in my opinion is "Planet Caravan", beacuse it's so relaxing and eerie. "War Pigs," the title track, and "Iron Man" are the big radio staples here. "Electric Funeral" is awesome. LOVE that middle section! "Hand Of Doom" is a killer jam with an anti-heroin message (funny enough, most music critics and other narrow-minded airheads took this as being a pro-heroin song!) I don't really care for "Rat Salad", even though Bill Ward is one of rock's most gifted drummers. And last, we have "Fairies Wear Boots", which I personally love. I see you're stumped on what the song's about, huh? Well I'll tell you: One day in mid-1970, Geezer Butler was walking the street when a group of skinheads jumped him. He wasn't seriously injured, but he took a good beating before his other three bandmates realized what was going on and fought off the assailants. How is this related to "Fairies Wear Boots" you ask? Well, it just so happens that each of the punks was wearing boots, so Sabbath decided to make fun of those sons a' bitches with the song "Fairies Wear Boots". This REALLY happened. Geezer has even admitted it. Anyway, say what you will about Ozzy Osbourne: he's got a high voice, he bit the head off a bat (and a dove), he's not that great of a singer, blah, blah, blah... The bottom line is WHO CARES? The man came from practically nothing as a child, being so poor that at times he couldn't even be fully clothed. And just a few years later, at the tender age of 20, he's a f**king millionaire and singer for a kick-ass heavy metal band. For Chrissake, that's got to count for something!! I look at the shitty music that's sold to us nowadays (with the exception of Kid Rock), and I think to myself: Where would the world be without good ol' HEAVY ASS ROCK 'N ROLL!

CRANE MIDI LAB <> (04.07.2001)

You may be right about the King Crimson influence on "Electric Funeral". There is one other apparent KC influenced section, this one on "Children of the Grave" from Master of Reality. The part where Tony, Geezer, and Bill all play the unison riff with the stops and starts is very reminiscent of "21st Century Schizoid Man". Don't ya think?

Ratko Hribar <> (06.10.2001)

If you ask an average metal fan what is the most famous metal album of the seventies, he would most likely say Paranoid. Indeed, Black Sabbath we're the real forefathers of the genre, and the songs presented on this disc are some of heavy metal's most enduring anthems: 'War Pigs' (originally 'Walpurgis', that version is on The OZZman Cometh), 'Iron Man' and, naturally, the radio staple 'Paranoid'. This time the drums, the bass and the fat distorted low guitar tone are even somewhat heavier than on the debut, making some perfect cacophony which will stay in your brain forever. But, contrary to the popular opinion, this isn't Sabbath's best album, cause that honor would go to the majestic Master Of Reality, which is one of their heaviest albums ever. Anyway, this album came out in the same year as the debut, and by doing so it finished the job of overshadowing Deep Purple In Rock. The hook filled title track is driven by a powerful rolling riff (to Mr. Dirk Kronen; Blackmore didn't invent the riff in 'Paranoid', but he did invent the riff in 'Smoke On The Water', which is much catchier), and the song has some dark, but not cartoonish, lyrics. The awesome gentle bluesy ballad 'Planet Caravan' is doomy and unforgettable. 'Fairies Wear Boots' is slightly jazz influenced and features some unexpectedly funny lyrics. The drum solo 'Rat Salad' is every bit as tedious as all drum solos, but it's at least short. God bless you Bill Ward !!! Except for those more well-known tracks, 'Electric Funeral' and 'Hand Of Doom' are also colossal songs with great arrangements and REAL solid riffs. All in all, this is an album that should be in the collection of every true metal fan. I think it's understood that this one deserves a low 10.

Koka Chernov <> (06.09.2002)

The most strange thing here, is that Sabs had absolutely no idea what the word Paranoid means! Virtually, they had chosen it because of cool sounding.

As far as I remember, Paranoid was recorded in two days. So, quality is rather mediocre. But song-writing talents are in full blossom! "Iron Man", "Planet Caravan", "Fairies Wear Boots" are simply great; and "Electric Funeral" adds a little bit of dark charm. I can't say, that I'm feeling something particular about title track: solo is nice, but dirty and Ward doesn't provide a necessary tension. The same with 'War Pigs' - riffs are fine and .... and that's all - ev'rything else is like a one big crappy mass: Ward is unbearable, Ozzy is not convincing, Tony's solos had lost rage and fury. Moreover, "Rat Salad" is a piece of shit. Bill is showing (once again) his incompetence; I'm growing more & more suspicious about the skin on his drumkit. Definitely, skins are too loose; and that's the main reason of crappy tom-tom's and snare's sound. But if Bill wants to put himself to shame - what's the problem?

Generally speaking, the album is good. An 8+ here. If you enjoy it, go and get yourself "Iron Man"(Retry) - the best version of famous song and arguably the BEST heavy metal song ever.

P.S. There is a funny rumour about Bill Clinton - do you know that young Bill had served as the prototype for the mad soldier on the front cover. :[ ]

Vuyo Jama <> (03.04.2003)

In response to Koka Chernov's comment about the length of time, that it took 2 dayd to record Paranoid.I would like to state that it took 4-5 days. Black Sabbath was done 2 days( they had 3 days booked).

Stephen Rutkowski <> (17.03.2004)

I would give this album a rating of 13 without even thinking about it. It is easily the best Black Sabbath album (unless that happens to be one of the albums I haven’t heard but I severely doubt that). Out of all hard rock/heavy metal albums, I would rate only Led Zeppelin I and IV higher than this album. The first six tracks represent the greatest stretch of material to ever appear on a hard rock/heavy metal album. Although I regard Led Zeppelin IV as a better album, it contained ‘The Battle of Evermore’ which really disrupts the momentum. There are no such problems here. For mind, the only weaknesses are from the half baked ‘Moby Dick’ rip off ‘Rat Salad’ and the slightly (but ever so slightly) substandard ‘Fairies Wear Boots’. ‘Rat Salad’ is not too bad. The solo is nice and short and we don’t have to worry about Ward throwing the sticks on the floor like a certain Mr. Bonham. ‘Fairies Wear Boots’ is a good and slightly complex track with more jazz influenced rhythms. However it is somewhat overlong and is a slight let down after hearing the five riff monsters that came before it. So let’s discuss these riff monsters. The riffs on ‘War Pigs’ are even better than on ‘The Wizard’ and Ozzy’s screeching is adequate for the song. The only complaint I can have is that the “soft” parts are a little too long. ‘Paranoid’ is a fantastic radio staple and easily Black Sabbath’s most well known song. It has a wonderfully fast chugging riff that is great to headbang or stomp your feet to if that’s your kind of thing. It’s incredibly catchy too. ‘Iron Man’ wins the award for the best riff on the album which is no mean feat. ‘Electric Funeral’ is indeed very reminiscent of ‘Pictures of a City’ but I doubt very much it is a rip-off. It still doesn’t sound the same if you get my meaning, just similar. In any event, it is a very good song. The middle part sounds more like ‘Astronomy Domine’ than ‘Interstellar Overdrive’. Now that part sounds like a complete rip-off. I always expect to hear the astronaut’s voice followed by Syd Barrett but then I remind myself I am listening to Black Sabbath. ‘Hand of Doom’ is slightly overlong with what seems like an endless amount of alternations between the quiet and loud parts. Otherwise it is another fantastic song. And did I mention ‘Planet Caravan’? That is probably Black Sabbath’s best ever soft song, right up there with ‘Fluff’ at least.

Tim Blake <> (14.07.2006)

Paranoid is a great album, but it is totally overrated. I say this as a huge Sabbath fan. As far as I'm concerned Paranoid has the fact that it was extremely popular going for it, memorable riffs and reasonable yet bloated songs, but there isn't much more to it that inspires brilliance. I don't understand how it can be considered as on the same level as say, Sabotage, Masters Of Reality, or Sabbath Bloody Sabbath (which you rated poorly, I totally disagree with your assessment of could well be be their very best but I'm torn).

I agree that Paranoid is an improvement on the debut, doing away with those long mangled-together songs and generally feeling more like an 'album'. The most striking thing about it is the incredibly memorable riffs, probably the most memorable of Sabbath's career. Unfortunately the actual delivery of the music falls flat...I know slow is good atmospherically, but not when it is noticeabley plodding. And that's what most of the songs do...they plod. 'War Pigs' for example, built on a memborable riff, goes on way too frickin' long at nearly 8 minutes and cannot justify being that long. It's ok, but boring. 'Iron Man' is built on a totally cracker classic riff, but Ozzy's vocals SUCK, just following the guitar lamely, and it's such a slow song that pretty much doesn't go anywhere. The reason I think Sabotage with it's 9 minute 'Megalomania' and 8 minute 'The Writ' is such a great album is because by then they obviously knew how to structure long songs, build them up, flesh them out, create drama and keep you enthralled the whole way through. 'Megalomania' for example has that brooding, doomy first half before bursting exuberantly into that brillantly energetic riff in the middle, Ozzy wailing away powerfully, it's so good it's almost too short...there's nothing that remarkable on Paranoid. On Paranoid the longer songs just plod along repetitively with nothing to anticipate, then just peter out. The memorable riffs almost save them, but they are overall quite boring. Or even 'Into The Void' deserves a mention, a song not but one year later with a riff and general idea so good that it can sustain being that slow and that long.

By my money the best song is 'Hand Of Doom', another long one, but it kicks into high gear after the initial verses. 'Oh you, you know you must be blind, to do such things like're giving death a kiss, poor little fool now'. Right on! And the song is varied and interesting, some of the best riffs and best energy. 'Paranoid' is an assured classic. 'Planet Caravan' never did anything for me. 'Electric Funeral' is excellent for it's huge riff and the darkest lyrics Sabbath ever wrote. Must have blown some minds in 1970, it's despairing and violent. Once again Ozzy sounds kind of lame, following the guitar weakly yet again...over the next few years he improved vastly in my opinion. Finally we have a piece of filler in 'Rat Salad', but it's not bad filler, and the quite good 'Fairies Wear Boots'. Wonderfully quirky lyrics, nice playing and a fun atmosphere.

So overall it is indeed a good album, but all it has to compete with the other albums is good, classic riffs. Unfortunately it has a sub-par vocal performance, sub-par song structuring, and particularly sub-par levels of excitement. I find it to be the most boring Sabbath album. I really like slow atmospheric songs if they have either weight or texture and emotion, but I don't get that from a lot of Paranoid. Master Of Reality improved everything vastly...heavier and darker, much less drawn out and self-indulgent, better song-writing. Better vocals. The lot. However Paranoid still retains its important place in the history of metal and rock, and as much as I think it isn't near the best, it deserves recognition. It's a decent listen.

Tagbo Munonyedi <> (19.09.2006)

In the earlier days the group's fifth album was usually voted as their magnum opus by fans but in the last decade, I note that they've been voting this one in as the tops. I'll probably be hung by Sabbatines for this but.....I think not ! In fact, of the classic first six, I rate this as fifth, for what it's worth. But to put that in context that's coz I rate their first six extremely highly so not viewing PARANOID as a classic don't mean much. It's a patchy album, but that's good patchy, not indifferent or bad patchy.

WAR PIGS starts off in the most fantastic fashion, a classy doom laden electric waltz, bass matching the guitar while also playing a kind of lead line too, Jack Bruce style,the whole thing sprinkled with air raid sirens that paint a more horror filled picture of destruction and mayhem than REVOLUTION 9 ever did. And while what follows is a good song, for me it's all downhill from there. Containing more than a hint of a clue of something for Zeppelin to appropriate in terms of it's structure {and the next year,along with other bits from the Who and Fleetwood Mac it came out as BLACK DOG}, it was a raging cry against the war in Vietnam. I agree with the general sentiment but for me it's spoiled by both the comical tones of Ozzy's vocal and by one of the daftest lines in all creation, "Making war just for fun". What a terrible line, I feel so strongly about it. I don't for a minute deny that too many human beings have been needlessly sent to their deaths in wars throughout time and I can't deny that soldiers and conscripts have been selfishly and disposably used to serve someone else's ends but making wars just for fun ? I woudn't even say that of some of history's worst. I'll concede that some have made war coz they can. But for fun ? The rest of the song is ok though even though I don't think much of the Milton view of Satan. Interestingly, the bible is basically where all our notions of the devil have actually sprung from though of course they've changed down the years - yet, nowhere are we ever told he has wings.....angels usually appeared in human form.

PARANOID is such a funny song, it's not meant to be, but the way it's sung is. On this album, I find Ozzy's vocals sound really different to those on the debut. Here he adds a comical edge that is more in keeping with the Ozzy we all came to be familiar with. This is quite a sad song really and the band tell stories of how it took half an hour to write and record but I don't believe them. Bit of mythologizing there if you ask me...I'm always surprized that it's rated so highly {one magazine poll voted it the song with the best riff ever. Each to their own} but what do I know ! I'll tell you what I know about PLANET CARAVAN, zilch. It sounds like a drug song recorded underwater trying to come over as a dark version of the Monkees' PORPOISE SONG but not quite managing it. I do like it though I think it's the album's most disposable track.

But the first side ends on a powerful note with IRON MAN, a great song with a serious subtext and more classic Iommi riffing. It's a good example of the way that Geezer would write a lyric but Ozzy so Ozzified it that it's almost impossible to accept he didn't write it. Whenever I hear the Who, I always hear Townshend as the writer as I never feel Roger Daltry Daltrifies the songs; just the opposite with Sabbath. Whatever Ozzy's shortcomings as a singer, he could so get into a song and infuse it with his personality. The next four songs restore the balance and iron out what has been a patchy affair thus far; ELECTRIC FUNERAL doesn't sound half so scary as the start of WAR PIGS but it's effect is more lingering and the descriptions of nuclear war and it's aftermath are hard hitting. Like the previous song the vocal melody follows the guitar line and I think it actually gives it focus-you can't help but hear and recall the words as there's little alternative to distract you with. But at the end of each verse there's yet another gilt edged riff with some interesting bass harmony. The bass often supplied an interesting variation in the riffs, not always following it note for note but always shadowing with menace....the fast mid section is a neat little interlude with yet another superlative riff from their riff shop. I swear Iommi ran a riff shop ! AAAARRRGGGHHHH, I'm overdosing on these riffs....HAND OF DOOM alone whacks in three and a half, two and a half of them delivered in nonchalant throwaway mode. More than any of their albums, PARANOID is the album of dual layered allegories where songs are dressed up in fancy clothes, apparently saying one thing but alluding to something altogether different. The lyric is couched in the tale of a soldier in Vietnam who, seeing the horrors of his situation turns to drugs with deadly results, coz the guy dies of an overdose but the song had a wider application than that; at this point, the Sabs own collective drug use and boozing was already getting to serious levels although they still had a lonnnnng way to go before the horrors spelled out in this song began to bite and threaten their sanity. The contrast between the delicate passages and the loud booms are wicked, Bill Ward in particular jumping from subtlety to wildness in the blink of an ear. When I first heard this album on my 19th birthday, I laughed coz I thought I could see what seemed like so many parallels between this and Zep 2 that they may as well have called it BLACK SABBATH 2....but all these years later, I can't remember what any of them were except the obvious one, RAT SALAD. It's the young brother of MOBY DICK which is in itself the young cousin of TOAD {all these animal references !}. The funny thing about RAT is that I think that it's such an obvious rip, even down to being a humourous rewrite of MOBY DICK's riff but it's faster, bolder, flashier and sounds more lively and confident, just like a younger brother. It's also a better drum solo coz while MOBY sounds like the drum part was inserted, RAT's solo carries on the momentum of the song and besides, it's mercifully short.

The first album ended in great style with WARNING and so too does PARANOID with the priceless FAIRIES WEAR BOOTS, which, in common with IRON MAN and HAND OF DOOM is a disguised song that works on more than one level. If you didn't know what it was really about as I didn't for the first couple of years that I knew the song, you'd take it as read that it was basically about an acid casualty like the late Syd Barrett, who, in an interview around the same time started asking the journalist if he could see the people in the lightbulb and ceiling or Steve Took who in the middle of a gig took all his clothes off and started lashing himself with his belt, "coz smoking and tripping is all that you do....." {quite an honest and understanding doctor, I thought}. But it's really a comment on youth culture {via a stop off at the National health service}, with the skinheads as the main focus. They were a group of very neat dressers in their Ben Sherman shirts and Dr Marten boots {known to boys of my generation as 'bother boots'} and they were one of the main popularizers of ska music in England in the late 60s and early 70s, as such being instrumental in the future acceptance of reggae, ironic in the extreme coz they had a dark side.....they were into gratuitous violence and later alligned themselves with extreme right wing fascist groups like the National Front (who later mutated into the British National Party, the hated BNP) and the League of St George, groups whose central tenets were the hatred and repatriation of basically anyone not white {for starters !}. There was alot of racial tension on these shores when I returned in '81 and for a while, til I got my bearings, skinheads {and their,even then, hilarious female counterparts} were a fearsome sight. But it's not just Black and Asian people that they hated, they hated gay people, hippies, basically anyone that had long hair and they were notorious for violence at football matches and sneaky late night attacks where there were no witnesses ! One night up in Northern England, Black Sabbath were attacked by a group of skins, being a band of long hairs. They may have gone on to look fearsome and acquire a reputation that made others scared of them but they weren't really that tough in 1970. But they exacted a lasting revenge in the most devastating way possible, by immortalizing their foes in song.....A skinhead's honour and prestige lay above all else in being macho and being able to kick the shit out of any and everyone and was the antithesis of what was then perceived to be the effeminate ways of gay men who were called poofs, powder puffs, fags and fairies-all for obvious reasons ! To call a skin a fairy was an incitement to war, so seriously did they take their tough guy image and the Sabs did so on a record that sold buckets all over the country and has continued to sell truckloads all over the world. I used to sing this song with a particular relish and I still laugh at it's subject matter. Ozzy sings the song in his classic comic voice that combines drama, descriptiveness and incredulity, all the while backed up with a devastatingly simple riff, some great lead work and an energetic drum part that sounds like it's player really enjoyed playing this one. It's one of their classics and just about my favourite on the album; it was so too, when I thought it was about an acid casualty. In some ways, it's not that hard to see why this album is so loved by metallers everywhere. Although half the songs could be described as multi-part {well, let's say dual part}, PARANOID contains perhaps the most one dimensional and direct songs of their first six albums. I'm still, after all these years, debating with myself whether this represents an improvement on the debut. And I still can't answer that one with any degree of certainty......


jemster <> (13.10.99)

"They should realize before they criticize that God is the only way to love", "I've seen the light and i've changed my ways"...hmmm, maybe the rumor of this band being anti-satan was right!

Nick Karn <> (14.10.99)

Quite an interesting phenomenon of an album, because of its' sheer brutal power (it is a sure candidate for the heaviest album ever recorded), but the lyrics are obviously Christian! I don't really agree with you that the first signs of boredom start to show up here - all of their strengths are still well apparent, and it's a rather excellent effort. I'd give it a 9 instead of a 10 is because of its' short length and the songwriting quality is just a little below Paranoid in effectiveness. "Sweet Leaf" (what's this one about? duh!), "Lord Of This World" (excellent groove and riff and strong time change in the chorus) and "Into The Void" (VERY strong influence for grunge, along with Neil Young's Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere) are mind-blowing riff based songs, while "After Forever" and "Children Of The Grave" are very forcefully played tunes and the best examples of the "phenomenon" of this album - I just can't figure out how White Zombie, a very overblown and cartoonish 90s metal band, ended up covering "Children Of The Grave", which is appropriate for them musically but lyrically it's a hippie song!!! And "After Forever" sounds like an obvious Christianity anthem that, because of its' heavy power, still wouldn't convince Christians that Black Sabbath are anything but Satanic, pot-smoking rejects. The lighter musical moments are fascinating contrasts, too, as "Solitude" may be a bit of a medieval sounding ballad, but it's a rather interesting one - not too overblown, and lots of dreary emotion, while "Embryo" and "Orchid" are not too special, but pleasant, and effective intros for their respective songs.

Anders Hedman <> (24.05.2001)

Just one note. "After Forever" is actually one of the few Sabbath songs credited to Iommi alone. So Geezer probably didn't write the lyrics for that one (or maybe the other members didn't want their names under a Christian song).

Ratko Hribar <> (06.10.2001)

This is it, THE ALBUM. This perfect album represents the true essence of heavy metal as no other. The brutality never ends on this one, amazingly bottom-heavy with it's share of faster moments. The first signs of boredom probably would appear here, for a normal listener, but for a hardcore metal fan this is as good as it gets. It's not at all diverse, but that doesn't bother me a tiny bit, the only thing I do mind a little is the fact that it's a rather short album. Again, the arrangements and songwriting are strong as ever, with astonishing monolithic riffs which are splattered all over the numerous, cleverly constructed songs. The 'cough cough' introduction to 'Sweet Leaf' starts things off, with Iommi churning out another one of his unstoppable bone-crushing riffs that just refuses to leave my head. In the catchy 'After Forever' Ozzy sings some effective anti-Satan lyrics, and Iommi creates another outstanding fast riff. In fact, this is my favorite track here, I just adore that heavenly riff. It's an unforgivable shame that such an excellent song like 'After Forever' isn't getting it's due. Then follows the creepy gothic instrumental 'Embryo' that leads us in 'Children Of The Grave' another speedy track with yet another classic riff. Since the guys correctly assumed we need a little break, they give us the medieval sounding instrumental 'Orchid'. Then it's time for more kick ass power, so we get an evil sounding, riff-driven, slow stomper 'Lord Of This World'. And it's a good one too, but in spite of the decent riffage, it just sounds too lightweight. The ballad 'Solitude' sounds very nice, cause it is moody and mysterious, and Tony plays that soft melody perfectly well. Naturally, since the album is almost over, we need a fast pounding track to conclude it on a high note. And indeed, we get just that, the exciting 'Into The Void' rips with an awesome riff, and kicks us right in the face. Needless to say, that superb song single-handedly created grunge. A perfect, high-as-a-mountain 10.

Koka Chernov <> (06.09.2002)

Well George, maybe you ain't a heavy metal fan, but thank you for precise and fair early-Sabbath ratings. Members of Sabbath were improving their prowess day by day. "Children of the Grave" is the major highlight here, real Furnace of Frenzy, featuring rampageous bass & thunderous riffage - the epitome of early metal. Gosh! Even Bill is tolerable here. "Embryo" and "Orchid" are fascinating melodies. Indeed, salvation for stranded in metallic desert. Iommi's creativity is dazzling, he is the main driving force and his guitar work demonstrates his art approach. The only low point here is "Soltitude" - second-rate and too "liquid" for me. Needless to say that Ward sucks everywhere, except "Children". This is the only reason that prevents me from giving a 10 here. Just imagine what a masterpiece could it be, if they had an opportunity to substitute Ward for Bonham...

One more thing - is it my imagination or Mr. Waters had stolen the bass melody for his "One of These Days" from Mr. Butler's "Children of the Grave"?!? The fact itself is unbelievable. Coincidence? On the other hand such a comparison is flattering Geezer.

Stephen Rutkowski <> (17.03.2004)

Tony Iommi promised the public that Black Sabbath could take up the slack that Led Zeppelin had delivered with III and produce the heaviest album to that point. He didn’t disappoint. Again we are presented with five riff monsters with a bit of filler around the edges. But this time, the filler really is filler. There are no good but slightly inferior tracks like ‘Fairies Wear Boots’ and the ballad ‘Solitude’ is much much worse than ‘Planet Caravan’. Coupled with the curious but ultimately pointless acoustic instrumentals ‘Embryo’ and ‘Orchid’, the album rating suffers by one point (giving us a 12 this time). But this still leaves five really good tracks. Perhaps there is nothing as catchy as ‘Paranoid’ nor are there any riffs to quite compete with ‘Iron Man’ (although they do come close) but that guitar tone puts the tracks on another plane. I’m still undecided about the best riff on the album though. I’ll probably award it equally to ‘Sweet Leaf’ and ‘After Forever’. The ‘Sweet Leaf’ riff is just so damn powerful, but I love the speedier ‘After Forever’ riff too. The lyrics to ‘After Forever’ were indeed written by Iommi. I think I read somewhere that he as a person wanted to distance himself from the satanic aura associated with the band. He actually believed what he wrote; he didn’t just write the lyrics to appease the public or anything like that. It is also interesting to note that Iommi will no longer play 'Sweet Leaf' or any other tracks that praise or criticise narcotic substances.

‘Children of the Grave’ is an ever so slight drop down in quality from the first two tracks. It is still a great track though. It features a cool percussive effect, and the bass line is indeed reminiscent of ‘One of These Days’ as Koka Chernov stated. I don’t find ‘Lord of This World’ to be a weak track at all. I would put it on par with ‘Children of the Grave’. The riff is nowhere near as intricate as the preceding tracks, but it still fulfills its ultimate aim – power and plenty of it. And finally comes ‘Into the Void’. This is a return in quality to the first two tracks and a fantastic way to finish the album. The only complaint I can have here is that Ozzy really does sound like a dumbass when he follows the guitar melody.

Tagbo Munonyedi <> (19.09.2006)

In the early 80s I used to see all kinds of parallels between Sabbath and Zeppelin which could be construed as intentional or unintentional; the Birmingham connection, Ozzy's almost Plant like unorthodoxy as a singer, lead guitarist that wasn't beyond playing electric segments solo, two albums in their first year, the second of which really cements the reputation with slight musical deviations, non vocal track one from the end of second album, and built around a drum solo, to boot (!), no album in '74, band rarely on album covers, peak performance {or let's at least say a very strong one} in '75, acoustic presence on third album.......ha ha, that last one was deliberately misleading because there's only one acoustic track and it's very short, called ORCHID and it comes over more as a prelude to LORD OF THIS WORLD than a piece in it's own right. EMBRYO is identical in purpose though nothing like it. It actually sounds like a hurdy gurdy though I suspect that it's a guitar with that brilliant cello type sound {there's a similar sound at the end of Pink Floyd's ASTRONOMY DOMINE}. Along with SOLITUDE these represent honest departures from the by now established Sabbath sound but they're all so short, especially the two "instrumentals". If there is any resemblance to Zep's trajectory, it ends here coz while Zep's third outing had some heavy moments, it was a sonic departure {though perhaps unintentional} from albums one and two. The same is not true of MASTER OF REALITY. It is unashamedly heavy metal rock, as bruising as it's predecessors and in some ways more so. But for me, much as I love this album, I find this to be the weakest of the first six, partly because it's so short {EMBRYO and ORCHID between them are concluded in a couple of sneezes}, partly because it's as patchy as PARANOID. Back to SOLITUDE for a moment, it sounds like a rewrite of PLANET CARAVAN to me but is also a forerunner to CHANGES on the next album. I'm not even sure that it's Ozzy singing it though I've never seen anything to suggest it's not him. If it is him, I'd have to say that it's one of the most fabulous vocals I've ever heard from him, even if I'm not a great fan of the song. It's ok I guess. But that vocal is something else, he sounds even older than he does on some of the debut LP.

AFTER FOREVER rocks hard and heavy with riffs to spare and is better known for it's lyrics than it's buzz saw delivery. To Geezer's credit he puts in a "Christian" lyric to balance out some of the darker stuff that he had gotten people to think about in 1970. It's a factually "correct" lyric that deals with the afterlife and the reality of the reaction of the general populous to "Jesus the son of God" but as a Christian, I think it suffers from the same banality that so many christianized lyrics suffer from. It is actually a really hard thing to write about in a way that doesn't sound trite and in his favour, few in heavydom had the guts to be so explicit in '71; Mark Farner was fairly oblique about his faith in Grand Funk, Help's DEAR LORD {Help were an amazing three piece heavy rock band from the US, much better IMO but also more short lived than Grand Funk} and Forever More's GET BEHIND ME SATAN {Forever More were a great little prog heavy band that became, would you believe, the funksters,the Average White Band} weren't challenging {although the latter deals with demonization and exorcism} and on the embryonic Christian rock circuit the bands at the time were getting it in the ear from both directions, being shunned by both the church {as worldly heretics} and the music industry {as curiosities that wouldn't play the game and therefore couldn't be sold}. Not that the Sabs escaped; certain churches had a pop at the song while the 'church' of Satan had a go at the Sabs for 'selling out to God'....Although credited to Iommi, Geezer Butler is quoted as saying "people in America just picked up on the words 'Satan' and 'Lucifer' and didn't listen to any of the other lyrics....which is sad coz some of my other lyrics - 'After forever' for example - are as religious as anything you'll ever read ".

CHILDREN OF THE GRAVE casts a wry eye on the peace movement and amusingly depicts the peaceniks as being self willed rebels before concluding that they are right. It is hard to see this as being anything other than a peace and love song which makes me wonder why the Sabs were so scathing about love and peace. In songs like NO NO NO, Deep Purple were the real critics and questioners of the hippy dream. Anyway, this song carries a great timbale to compliment Bill Ward's driving drums.

LORD OF THIS WORLD has one of the meatiest riffs the album serves up. Actually it has two of them and a rhythm so groovy, foot tapping and head nodding become involuntary. The number of riffs on this short album is worth contrasting with some of the compositional approach of the American heavy bands. They weren't beyond great riffology themselves but not in the same quantities or ways. I find that they were more adept at writing heavy stuff that didn't depend on riffs so much. Or is that a generalization ? Some of the US heavy boys like Blue Oyster Cult, Alice Cooper, Grand Funk, Ted Nugent, ZZ Top, Montrose, Aerosmith, Kiss, Cheap Trick, James Gang, Mountain, and even the heavy flavoured ones like Styx, Kansas, Boston and Roadmaster {not to mention some of the Canadians like Mahogany Rush, Triumph and Rush} were all capable of writing heavy songs with or without riffs. But what Sabbath did that they rarely receive credit for is using numerous riffs to invoke and underpin different sections in their remarkable multipart creations. From the first album they came up with multi~sectioned pieces that generally were strong right through. And this album, while containing three such, is bookended by two more and it's these two that not only save the album, but actually go a long way towards making this such a joy to listen to. Despite dealing with totally diametric subjects, they are very similar in construction. SWEET LEAF is just the most superb song, one of the true greats of the Sabs, in metal, in rock, in music per se, about drugs, in terms of riffs.....I'd say it's humour was top notch were it not for the fact that they were deathly serious on this one. It's main riff like so many is very simple but as was so often the case with Sabbath, devastating. And Ozzy's vocalizing in the tune's runout is as spectacular as a sax improvisation in the fade out of a stinging jazz piece. As for INTO THE VOID, what can I say ? Everywhere you turn there's a earthquaking riff; in the intro, in the main body of the song, in the middle section, and if that wasn't enough the song not only goes out on a masterly riff that many would pay good bribes for, Iommi turns in, along with the first one on the future MEGALOMANIA and the debut's WARNING, my favourite solos of his~ over the latter two riffs, very differing solos but incredible both. It's also a very cleverly named album as it's wide subject span hints at different truisms {God, the devil, war & peace, atomic bombs, love, lonliness, misery} and questions them all. On the album, Geezer really comes into his own with the sound of his bass and Bill Ward is perhaps slightly toned down in terms of histrionics but is just as orchestral. He often said he didn't play notes but I beg to differ; I think he played drums on this one like it was an instrument with notes and as such is completely different in his approach. Ozzy puts in a surprizingly versatile set of vocals and sounds as though he's metamorphosizing into something as yet unknown........

VOL. 4

José Humberto Mesquita Filho <> (01.10.99)

Black Sabbath is a band that really belongs in the seventies - and it's an example of a classic band. They evolved their sound, being their first three albums based on merciless rockers, specially designed for you furiously banging your head. Being those rockers either slow or fast, they got the job done. But on this one, Sabbath Bloody Sabbath and Sabotage they did it with some difference: the primary target is still the banging of your head, but with a more accurate production, more complex arrangements. Altough the songs are still heavy, they got kind of "progressive", they are experimenting here. Not that much on this one, but oh... just listen to the next two albums, and you'll be blown away.

So we got a more avant-garde sound here, but what else? The songs, man, the QUALITY of their songwritng - that plus the intricate arrangements is what makes this album a ten for me. "Wheels of Confusion" is a heavy song with a lot of atmosphere in it, kinda Floydish, but heavier as hell, of course. Since I enjoy Pink Floyd very much thank you sir, this first song grabs me by the balls. There's more indeed: "Supernaut" is one of the more ass-kicking rock and roll songs in existence. The key as you obviously would have guesses is the brilliant riff, but there's more. What about the guitar answer to Ozzy's wailings? You know, he sings "I WANNA REACH OUT" and Iommi goes simultaneously "DAN-DUN-DAN-DUN-DAN" and there's the tribal drum solo at the middle that gets soterrated by the riff before it becomes too boring. And the base this Geezer guy plays should be reverenced (he's no Entwistle of course). And what else do we got? There's "FX", a track whose only purpose is to preceed "Supernaut"; there's "Changes", with such primary lyrics that could turn you to tears under certain conditions. And one of the best vocal works Ozzy ever did. There's "Laguna Sunrise" which is used by the early morning show of the Brazilian cable Rural Channel. I think it's the song that best describes a sunset, from all I've ever heard. There's "Snowblind", with rather intelligent lyrics ("we thank the great COKE-cola company of L.A."), and a somehow depressive, blue mood, specially near the ending, with some violin-sounding synths added over the guitar making the song huge. Dramatic effect here. There are some other great rockers here ("Tomorrow's Dream","Under the Sun"), and some others that are just OK ("Cornucopia" and "St. Vitus Dance"). Other Sabbath albums might be more even than Vol. 4, or more well-produced, or more avant-garde. But this one is the most diverse and sincere, and above all that, it ROCKS. The cover is the image of its sound: it's honest, subjective, atmospheric, moody, crazy like those years should have been. Peace to you too, Ozzy.

Nick Karn <> (14.10.99)

Now this is where things kinda start gettin a little "blah", and Sabbath is showing signs that they're not really gonna be able to carry on anywhere near as effectively as before, and that their peak has already passed. None of the songs are bad, mind you, but there's not much GREAT either, except for maybe "Supernaut" (one of Iommi's best riff creations ever) and the dramatic hard-hitting, almost progressive-like "Under The Sun". "Laguna Sunrise" has very pleasant emotional atmosphere for an acoustic instrumental, and "Snowblind" has its' dark moments, but the rest I'm not too sure about. Oh yeah, we have another one of those "pointless instrumental fillers" that everyone thinks is such a huge dent in the album. Again, STUPID! It's nothing more than a harmless interlude between "Changes" (which, in ballad form, really showcases the band's most obvious weakness, and you already know what that is) and "Supernaut". "Tomorrow's Dream", "Cornucopia" and "St. Vitus Dance" are good, but certainly not spectacular, songs to round out the album. A 7 here.

Dan Miller <> (15.12.2000)

Black Sabbath pushed the boundaries, and with great results. I have the Castle import version with original liner notes, photos and a story, so it's a better buy than the Warner Bros. version. The story claims Sabbath has grown musically and lyrically to rival progressive outfits such as Yes, Genesis and ELP. While I wouldn't go that far, there are plenty of moments in V4 that definitely show an improvement in composition and intelligence, especially "Wheels of Confusion." It begins with a 6/8 blues variation that sounds a little like Deep Purple but then rips into trademark Sab riffage until it ends with an almost acoustic rush miles away from the thundering, bloated carnage of Master of Reality. "Tomorrow's Dream" is one of the most direct tunes they've ever done - straight and to the point. "Changes" works with its simplicity. Yeah, I doubt that's Mike Pinder on the mellotron or Keith Emerson on the piano, but so what? Ozzy's vocal delivery takes some rather trite lyrics and transforms them with sincerity. "Laguna Sunrise" sounds like Tony is backed by a real string ensemble, not a mellotron, thus adding to the song's natural beauty. But yeah, it can be hard to tell, because the production on this album has a certain live quality to it, as if it took its cue from King Crimson by recording a concert and fazing out the crowd noise. "Snowblind" is powerful, with one of Tony's best leads to date and a string (mellotron?) in back that adds to the song's weight and tragedy. "Sweet Leaf" this is not. "St. Vitus" and "Cornucopia" are decent rockers, "FX" is fun, and although "Supernaut" kicks in with an excellent riff, the rest of the song I feel is messy and doesn't live up to its potential. Speaking of messy, or lack there of, V4 is probably Bill Ward's best performance on a Black Sabbath record. His fills are timely and full of energy and drive (like they were on "The Wizard"). I've always thought of Bill as a heavy metal Keith Moon - quick, agile and talented, but just an inch away from total recklessness and abandon. Listen to his insane fills on Sabotage's "Symptom" and you'll know what I mean, but on V4 he's reigned in and effective - he must've kicked the coke habit for a while! "Under the Sun" proves this - it's the album's closer and the most effective track on the album, incorporating V4's compositional integrity with the drone and moan of Master's thunderous guitar sound. Excellent!

Sabbath Bloody Sabbath will carry the band further experimentally, but V4 shows Black Sabbath at a brief moment of total integration, harnessing all of their styles and talents into a cohesive forty minutes of power.

(BTW, listen to "Laguna Sunrise," "Orchid," "Fluff," "Don't Start (Too Late)" and the closing minutes of "Heaven and Hell" - among many others - to repudiate your claim that Tony "was never talented enough for anything but his patented riffs.")

Jaime Vargas <> (06.11.2002)

Just a quick note - I'm listening to the last track of this album ("Under the Sun") and, am I the only one that thinks that the "fast boogie" part of it sounds directly lifted from Deep Purple's "Flight Of The Rat" from In Rock, down to the lead guitar passage that opens and closes the section? Have a listen to it and tell me I'm not hallucinating!!

Ratko Hribar <> (06.10.2001)

It was a matter of time, every classic 70's band with time wanted to get a more complex sound, actually, they all wanted to progress and Sabbath was no exception. Sadly, like all heavy rock bands they failed miserably. Naturally, Led Zeppelin did managed to make some minor triumphs on that field, but they didn't completed that transition either. The hard hitting rockers aren't so powerful as they should be. Sure, they have intricate arrangements, but the experimentation isn't so successful as one would hope. For instance, this stuff is still horrendously heavy, but the riffs are getting artificial. The riffs on 'Snowblind' are lacking distinguishness, and the one on 'Cornucopia' is completely messed up. 'St. Vitus Dance' is tuneless and wretchedly useless. The lame instrumental 'FX' opens the way to the grind of 'Supernaut', which has a memorable melody, and the riff is unbeatable, so, it almost manages to crack my skull in two pieces. 'Wheels Of Confusion' is also overbrilliant, as it is overlong, and hey, it has fresh riffs and lot's of vitality (well, some vitality). 'Changes' is a poppy ballad that can't measure itself with 'Planet Caravan' or 'Solitude'. And yeah, 'Laguna Sunrise' is a simple acoustic thingy, but it works completely. It might just be their best instrumental ever. The progressive edge of 'Under The Sun' assures us that they do have some potential, so it just mesmerizes the audience with it's sheer brutality and the energetic riff. This really is a 8, but a high one at that. Now, some say this is their last strong album, however, I wouldn't agree with that. After the slight downfall with Sabbath Bloody Sabbath, they did succeeded to make a blistering comeback with Sabotage.

Chris Bryen <> (14.07.2003)

Just a quick note...I'm surprised no one has mentioned it before but the piano/mellotron on "Changes" were performed by Rick Wakeman. Keep up the good work.

Stephen Rutkowski <> (17.03.2004)

My initial impressions were that the album was a little messy – like the band were not certain where to head. On one hand there were still some great riff monsters like before, and even better some of these tracks display quite a fair bit of complexity (‘Wheels of Confusion and ‘Supernaut’ being the best of these). But on the other hand there was some odd “progression” in ‘FX’, another crappy ballad in ‘Changes’, a heavy metal track that wasn’t quite sure what it’s doing in ‘Cornucopia’ and two tracks that are trying to beat Deep Purple at the boogie-metal genre in ‘St. Vitus Dance’ and ‘Under the Sun’. ‘Changes’ is truly a terrible song. It has three things going against it: a) Some of the most hackneyed lyrics you will see (or hear for that matter), b) A very primitive piano melody and ineffective use of the mellotron that I am fairly certain was not performed by Rick Wakeman. (I think Chris Bryen is getting confused with ‘Sabbra Cadabra’) and c) Ozzy’s voice was just not cut out for this type of emotional singing. I was completely unsure how they actually created the superfluous ‘FX’. I won’t have a go at the band though because it is not offensive or anything like that. ‘Cornucopia’ is a messy heavy metal track. The riff is hard to distinguish and there is no melody to speak of. ‘St Vitus Dance’ incorporates a nice alternation of vintage Sabbath metal with boogie-metal but again the melody is almost non existent. ‘Under the Sun’ also contains more of this so called boogie-metal, but this one also contains a much better riff.

Don’t get me wrong, I still like this album. It would receive an 11 from me, but that is mostly because of the real heavy stuff like ‘Wheels of Confusion’ and ‘Supernaut’. Throw in ‘Tomorrow’s Dream’ and ‘Snowblind’ and you have a great quartet of riffs and raw power. In fact the beginning of ‘Wheels of Confusion’ (and thus the album) really disappointed me with that “emotional” guitar part. I’m glad when Iommi throws it in the bin and starts cranking out all those riffs. That’s why we love him. However, we don’t love him for soft tracks like ‘Solitude’ and ‘Changes’ but he somehow manages to pull the beautiful ‘Laguna Sunrise’ out of nowhere. (Wait until he pulls out ‘Fluff’ though. Then you will fall off your proverbial chair.) ‘Supernaut’ is much in the same vein as ‘Wheels of Confusion’ but nowhere near as long obviously. ‘Snowblind’ is a little bit laborious, but it s! till contains another great riff and the string (or mellotron) part is a pretty cool embellishment.

Tagbo Munonyedi <> (19.09.2006)

You know, if any album the Sabs did should have been called PARANOID, it was this one. Coz the drug induced paranoia comes across really strongly here and the overall doomy sound back up Geezer's lyrics almost to perfection. Those doomy riffs that the Sabs so specialized in were hugely influential in the decade to come. I'm sort of surprized that their musical infuence wasn't felt all that keenly at this period, but then, I don't feel they were ever truly appreciated for the right reasons. In the last album, they were extolling the virtues of the sweet leaf, having railed against acid and heroin the album before but here they go one stage further in proclaiming the joys of coke snorting....except that it doesn't sound so joyful. Or let's say that what is presented here are visions filtered through the coca plant crystal. Anyways......

This album does show the Sabs musically growing and I welcome that but the songs aren't starting to become multi-part.....they always were if you go right back. I do think that the three instrumentalists were getting more confident on their respective instruments though. I find UNDER THE SUN to be such an interesting track. It's a riff fest, like a number of the songs on VOL 4 and I stand by my assertion that Tony Iommi was probably metal's riffmeister general, [with Ritchie Blackmore-a little help from Roger Glover- as it's commander in chief ] but the fast mid section directly nicks Deep Purple's FLIGHT OF THE RAT riff. It's the most shameful example of riff theft that I can think of, it's not changed or disguised in any way or slowed down or chopped up, the way, say, Kiss did when they nicked Zep's COMMUNICATION BREAKDOWN riff for MAKIN' LOVE. It's even taken at the same pace, tempo and style. It's virtually sampled ! Even the key shift mid way through and the neat wild solo and solo drum sections can't hide such blatant thievery. It's so brazen that I'm often in stitches at such, um, Zeppelinesque audacity. But it's still a good song, great twin lead guitars in the end section and fantastic drumming. It's also of major league proportions lyrically. It has sentiments that sum up absolutely the mentality of English youth over the last 25 years in their rejection of not just Jesus, but of absolutely everything, Godly, spiritual or otherwise. It's the ultimate rejectionist rant; "Just leave me alone to do exactly what I want to ", basically. My favourite line here is "I don't believe in violence/I don't even believe in peace !" which is hilarious on one level but revealing on a deeper level. The idea of being one's own God and of everything revolving around oneself is this song. God's main complaint about humanity, really. With Ringo's effort OCTOPUSES GARDEN, it has come to sum up the post war version of life, the Western way....who would've thought it, Ringo of the Beatles and Geezer of the Sabs !!! Spokesmen of the West !! CORNUCOPIA starts off sounding like the old {!!} Sabs before launching into the main riff and sounding like an updated version of the old {!!} Sabs. I think this is Geezer getting some of his Catholic angst out or rather, his angst about Catholicism. Crackling guitar riffs and tones, good upfront drums. LAGUNA SUNRISE is more than an attempt to out Zeppelin Zeppelin, I think. It's a lovely piece, very emotional and one of the better things Iommi did with the acoustic. It's easilly followable.

I think ST VITUS' DANCE is a cleverer track than some give it credit for being. Aside from having sections that are in a weird time signature and combining these with good metal riffing in standard time, the lyrics are a cute update on the theme first pioneered on SHE LOVES YOU and YOU'RE GONNA LOSE THAT GIRL and are wrapped up in a lovely melody.Though I don't believe it for a second, it is selfless and oh so sensitive. The same set of qualities come through in CHANGES, the main problem with the song being that it sounds forced into rhymes that happen to rhyme. The lyric is pretty lame but I applaud Geezer for trying a STAND BY ME type sensitive male song coz what's being said is more important than the words it's couched in. The piano is the kind of piano you play when you can't's sometimes more direct and memorable than an expert player and the mellotron is even more basic than that. It's an odd song, neither likeable nor detestable. It's ok, really. Ozzy and his daughter had a big hit with it in England a couple of years ago.

FX is just the kind of drug induced crap that gave drug influenced music such a bad name ! It's the kind of nonsense that took up record space that sounded so good to the late Syd Barrett but which irritated alot of people. Such experiments can be great, this one is not one.

A kid of 8 that used to come to one of the playgrounds I worked on used to get quite agitated and occasionally violent whenever he heard me sing the opening lines to TOMORROW'S DREAM. Given that it was the only intelligible part of the vocal, it was the only bit I could sing, hence mucho smacko. The fact that his Dad had skipped the household may not have helped {"Well I'm leaving tomorrow at daybreak...."}, who can tell. Anyway, I really like the song. While it's couched in 'I'm quitting this relationship !' type lyrics, it's drug enhanced and sounds like coke fried brain ramblings.

WHEELS OF CONFUSION is more of the same, too much cocaine during '71~'72 resulting in lyrics that stem from the same inspiration as alot of psychedelia, but without the poetry. From it's Gilmouresque opening lead lines, through that fantastic ponderous riff and Ozzy's wailing deadpan emotionless vocal delivery, we have a classic. Even through the choppy mid section, the Sabs keep up the intensity and Bill Ward shows that he means business as he drives the track relentlessly. I'm not a huge fan of the final runout section but it is a good piece. I once had this dream that it suddenly went up in key to heighten the drama {a bit like Nugent does at the end of FLESH AND BLOOD} and whenever I hear this track, I always wait for the jump and it never comes !

SUPERNAUT is just fantastic in every way. An intelligent opening that just does not prepare one for the savage riff to follow, and more druggy lines that locate this somewhere between WHEELS, CORNUCOPIA and UNDER THE SUN, it's fabulous poetry at any rate. The bass is as 21st Century Schizoid as it gets, Ward pummels his drums with ferocity and skill and even manages a solo of sorts. What I like about his solos is their location. Rather than it being an excuse to an interlude, it's part of the song itself, and a dramatic one at that. And short.There are times when he drums with jazzy deftness of touch, amazing in such a heavyweight thriller. Tony's solo is magnificent, it wouldn't be outside of this tune, but in it it's bang on the button. Ozzy sounds absolutely insane, and convinced of the tripe he's spouting out. It's great tripe though, phew ! And just going out on that riff was a grand touch coz you never want it to end. Apart from CHANGES, it's the only single celled animal on here.

SNOWBLIND was originally the title of the album but Warner Bros baulked at that coz they cottoned onto the fact that it was a code for being high on coke {the year before, they'd stopped the Grateful Dead from naming an album 'Skullfuck'}. Sometimes, naivety is a blessing and ignorance is bliss. This is a song that can work on two levels. Years before I was aware of what it was really about, I really thought it was about being snowblind and the lyrics can be so interprted that way. They are actually quite made me aware of the condition of snowblindness and it's worth reading up on ! It's actually a wonderful song, Geezer's bass during the "my eyes are blind but I can see..." bit is a treat while the guitar tones {not to mention yet another great set of riffs and some excellent lead work} and Ozzy's flat wailing are neat. But as is the case throughout this album, it's Bill Ward who is the star of the show. He is so inventive and sounds so damn good here, fiery yet controlled and controlling. I'm not saying his great mate John Bonham copied him, but Bonham's playing on NO QUARTER is reminiscent of Ward's on SNOWBLIND. I love that style of drumming, I could listen to it all month.

Overall I think this is a great album; I don't advocate the use of drugs, one reason being, because we rarely seem able to get out of them what is positive over a lengthy period without veering close to self destruction and incoherence and whether most of us want to admit it or not, sooner or later, the drug rather than our willingness to be in control becomes assertive. But it's not always doom and gloom, not initially, and before the stage of babbling wreck, there are works of art that can be said to have directly benefitted, like VOL 4.


Anders Hedman <> (24.05.2001)

I just wanted to say that you're probably alone in thinking "Killing Yourself To Live" is a throw away track. I think it's a truely great song!

Ratko Hribar <> (06.10.2001)

This is not as threatening as you might think, given the album title. Overall, the band isn't so dark and powerful like before, and the sound is somewhat lighter. But, then again, it was still heavier than most of the stuff at that time. And guess what ? This album is awfully pretentious. The band inserts keyboards in their sound, which doesn't make me too happy, cause they demolished a good part of their sound. Although, they did hire Rick Wakeman, so it can't be completely terrible. The songs themselves are constructed pretty good and the instrumental aspects of the record are on the level. Again, the arrangements are sharp, but for the most part, the melodies are lacking imagination and spontaneity. The title track is one of the high points, with the crunchy opening riff and a melodic solo by Iommi. 'Spiral Architect' has got a wonderful riff and a steady melody with traces of Zeppelin visible here and there. That track also has some lovely strings incorporated in it, which was certainly a nice idea. 'A National Acrobat' has a fascinating guitar intro, and a powerful groove. Like always, we have a short instrumental, 'Fluff', which sounds experimental, but, well, awful. Wakeman does a mighty fine job on the fast 'Sabbra Cadabra' (IMHO), a song which has a few of different sections blended together with technical perfection. 'Looking For Today' is mighty fine and memorable, but it's actually very poppy, and repetitive near the end. 'Who Are You' is a solid prog tune, with lot's of keyboards and synths. The forgettable 'Killing Yourself To Live' isn't a disaster, but it's hardly anything more than passable. Anyway, this certainly isn't the most important album in their repertoire, but it does give us insight in the development of their sound. Nice and solid, but nothing more. I'd give it a 7.

Revolver <> (29.10.2001)

I enjoy this album a lot. Songs like "Fluff", and "Spiral Architect" are actually beautiful, and "Sabbath Bloody sabbath", "Sabbra Cadabra" and "National Acrobat" are very catchy. Even "Who Are you" (not to be confused with the superior 'Oo song of the same name) is a great attempt at prog. I dont miss the heaviness, 'cuz i can just kill my eardrums with Vol 4 or Master Of Reality if i wanted heavy. 9/10.

Beryl Clarke <> (24.03.2003)

I've always liked this album because every track is unique, but I think ona few of the tracks there's too much guitar overdub. Iommi has always been my favourite guitarist but dubbing solos over solos annoys me a bit. On the live Reunion album(which I think is excellent) 'Sabbath bloody sabbath' sounds much cleaner and heavier. I would love to hear this album played live. 'Killing youself to live' is my favouite track, mainly because of the many riff changes in the one song. A national acrobat is also brilliant with the riff changes. I think Bill Ward is one of my favouite drummers - I can't understand the critisism of some readers. John Bonham would have wrecked this band - he's heavy skin bashing is a pain in the arse!

saman <> (12.09.2003)

Sabbath Bloody Sabbath is one of the best heavy rock albums to date. The comments made just shows a lack of understanding of this type of music.

Stephen Rutkowski <> (17.03.2004)

This is probably the only major disagreement I have with you George regarding Black Sabbath. For mind Sabbath Bloody Sabbath is still a quality album, it is just slightly flawed giving it an overall 11. The guitar tone has definitely become more generic which is probably the biggest flaw for the heavy numbers. ‘Killing Yourself to Live’ is not that bad, but yes it is quite generic heavy metal. The other three heavy numbers are immense though: wonderful use of soft and heavy on the title track, a magnificent riff fest on ‘A National Acrobat’ (Probably my favourite track on the album) and some delightful boogie on ‘Sabbra Cadabra’ (but still not in the same league as Deep Purple). Rick Wakeman does help this track a little bit. He delivers a trademark Rick Wakeman synthesiser solo (reminiscent of his solo career at the time) and the piano is pretty good.

According to my liner notes Rick Wakeman only appears on ‘Sabbra Cadabra’. Iommi performs the piano and harpsichord on ‘Fluff’, the flute and organ on ‘Looking For Today’, the bagpipes(!) on ‘Spiral Architect’ and the synthesiser duties are shared between Iommi and Geezer Butler on ‘Killing Yourself to Live’ and ‘Who Are You’. In addition Iommi also plays the mellotron on ‘Who Are You’. He must have been very busy during recording sessions. This would explain the amateurish synthesiser playing on ‘Who Are You’. This is not great prog (the synthesiser riff is way too simplistic), but if you ignore keyboard wizards like Keith Emerson and the pretension of Black Sabbath believing they could match keyboard wizards like Keith Emerson, the track still works.

‘Fluff’ is simply beautiful, the most beautiful track Black Sabbath have ever commit to tape as far as I am aware of. I am beginning to notice a trend concerning Black Sabbath’s softer songs. Regular Ozzy vocals = terrible, No Ozzy (or encoded vocals) = great. Look at the evidence: we have ‘Solitude’ and ‘Changes’ in the terrible category and ‘Planet Caravan’, ‘Laguna Sunrise’ and ‘Fluff’ in the great category. ‘Looking For Today’ is a delightful piece of pop dressed up in heavy metal clothes, the vocal melody is incessantly catchy. The intro to ‘Spiral Architect’ always reminds me of the theme song to M.A.S.H., but once the song starts proper it is another winner. The song contains a string section known as The Phantom Fiddlers which adds another layer to the track. Overall the album is not a disappointment for me because there is only one bad track (‘Killing Yourself to Live’) and the remainder is a mixture of average to great tracks.

Tim Blake <> (14.07.2006)

This is a bizarre review. But maybe I think that because I just find it bizarre to say that the guitar tone has become more 'generic' (what the hell does THAT mean when the tone has merely become thicker but is almost exactly the same, you telling me Iommi should stick with paper thin guitar!?), that Iommi is out of memorable riffs (whaaat!? comment makes no sense when you listen to the album) and the most bizarre thing of all, calling 'Killing Yourself To Live' a 'throwaway', because it always struck me as the best song on the album. How can you dismiss it 'instantly'!? It is because it's...well...god I can't think of anything wrong with it. It's an absolute classic. Now, to be fair, I'm probably moderately biased in regards to this album. It was the first Sabbath album I ever bought, and it sucked me in instantly. But if it isn't heavy enough just listen to the title track and 'Killing Yourself To Live', two of Sabbath's heaviest songs. The only two things I can think of I don't like about this album is the aforementioned 'Who Are You' (which isn't near as bad as people say, it's just a bit weak), and the repetitious high vocal bits on 'Looking For Today' (which besides that is an awesome song). Plus I guess 'Spiral Architect' sounds a little fruity and fillerish to me, but there isn't anything wrong with it...just preference.

Anyways, 'Sabbath Bloody Sabbath' and 'A National Acrobat', and the lovely 'Fluff' and 'Sabbath Caddabra' and 'Killing Yourself To Live' contain therein some of the best Sabbath ever had to offer. And 'Looking For Today' and 'Spiral Architect' are none to shabby. Pull out some cotton-wool, swab your ears, clear out your brain, listen again and discover Sabbath's near greatest achievement. And it's a cheap shot to call this Sabbath's Houses Of The Holy because besides a few embellishments and moments it is basically just a slightly more developed classic Sabbath. No random experiments except 'Who Are You' and the use of synths for texture and background fleshing can hardly be considered a radical change. It is a tangent from the classic Sabbath noise, but only a very slight one. So wots...uh the deal?

Tagbo Munonyedi <> (19.09.2006)

Hassles, both internal and external have mashed up many a group though every now and then the forces that are making life so uncomfortable seem to conspire to make great art and this album is kind of in that category. By this point, the band were spracked by overindulgence with booze and drugs, so much so that when they turned up to the studios to try and recreate Vol 4, they were seriously freaked out by the sight of a recently built synthesizer which spoiled the atmosphere for them ! On top of that, Tony Iommi had writer's block and given that virtually all of their songs began with his input, this was bad news. He was pissed off that they would never start off songs or bring in ideas and Bill Ward was reeling both from serious coke addiction and from nearly being chucked out of the band coz of his reluctance to get to grips with the song CORNUCOPIA on the last album. Iommi also felt that they'd lost their edge and hunger coz they now had success and also money to burn and were owners of Rolls Royces and other rich rock star trappings. Even the title of the album betrays tiredness and reluctance to get the show on the road again, you know, "oh, Sabbath bloody Sabbath"...... Somehow they pulled it together to produce a sizzling album that ironically did carry on where Vol 4 left off.

It's hard to pinpoint what kind of direct influence Led Zeppelin had on the Sabs, if any, though I wouldn't be surprized if people thought 'oh, they're doing a Zeppelin now', what with the acoustic stuff. But really, I think such explorations like FLUFF were the natural outworkings of a group in progressive mode. It's a lovely little piece and I rate it highly among their 'purely' acoustic ventures {although it's not totally so}. The simple keyboard parts were apparently played by Tony Iommi and are consistent with the kind of accompaniment a guitarist would come up with. I thought they were done by Rick Wakeman, but no. Sabbath's acoustic ventures are very different to Zep's~for one thing there aren't so many of them in the classic incarnation of the band. Secondly, they rarely, if ever feature the band and seem to be a tacit reward for the amount of composing Iommi put in. Thirdly, none of them are cute, they all have this edge to them. Besides, most heavy metal guitarists played acoustic pieces.

Tony Iommi was to heavy metal rock what Brazil are to football when it comes to scoring goals in the world cup; they haven't won the admiration of football supporters down the ages coz they've won more world cups than anyone, they've won the adoration of football lovers because they haven't just scored goals, they've scored utterly exceptional goals all the way back to the first tournament, goals that it's never a bore to see over and over. Iommi was like that in the Sabs' first six albums with his riffs. There are so many exceptional ones IMHO, even in average weakish tracks like SABBRA CADABRA. I've always dug the song though, it shows the Sabs at possibly their happiest as they extol the virtues of marital bliss. Like Bob Dylan, they were rarely happy on record in the early to mid 70s, often all other things but not that. It's a revealing song that speaks of a sexual security within marriage that leads not to boring humdrum repetitive cycles, but rather, like the Song of Solomon {or Song of Songs}, wild gymnastic exuberance that brings the house down and sets off the smoke alarms. I say revealing because at least three of the band were married at this point, Ward was already on his second marriage {his wife wasn't allowed into the UK during the making of this album so Ward was commuting to Belgium every couple of days to see her}, Ozzy's first didn't have much further to go and Iommi has since revealed that his commitment to the Sabbath cause put an unbearable strain on his. I don't know if Geezer was married but it was an astute observation on his part and an interesting juxtaposition with where they were at. Whereas on the last album Geezer's drug use seemed to wig him out into some weird lyrics that betrayed his state of mind, this time around he seemed sufficiently accustomed to a drug enhanced/fried mind to be able to knock out lyrics that seemed like he was in command of his faculties. The title track displays his weariness and pissed off~ness with his bandmates, the industry at large, the fans, the demands, as he blasts angrilly at all around him. It's set to a savage riff, so irrepressable that when the solo comes, it can't keep that riff down and it's almost unnoticed when it does end coz the riff just carries on before mutating into another dark riff. I think that this is the album where Ozzy finally finds the voice for which he became well known, that funny helium sound that is quite comical, even when it's meant to convey anger. He kind of reminds me of the fearsome angry giant in "The Goodies and The Beanstalk" that turns out in the end to be a dwarf.The utterly underated and bizarrely titled A NATIONAL ACROBAT is set to that great heavy cello like metal guitar sound and is one of my all time fave Sab tunes, it's masterful and it's lyrical depth knows no bounds ! It's basically about conception and the mystery of who decides what experiences are programmed into the egg. There's a lifetime contained in the line "when little worlds collide", referring of course to sperm and egg. Bloody heck, ain't this heavy metal ? I love Bill Ward's drumming on this track though overall on the album, drug washout has reduced him to merely brilliant whereas on the four previous I feel he was outstanding and dazzling. KILLING YOURSELF TO LIVE is the most obvious link to the last album with that drug induced couldn't care less type lyric but it also comes across as the title track part two. I think it's a great song, set within yet another groovy riff and some nice effects on the guitars. I like the fast funky bit in the middle, now there's a set of statements ! Tired, confused and drugged, it's a candid view that hints at some of the management upheavals that the band were at the start of, not to mention a little trans-gender rant. This was the era of glam after all.

In my athiest days I used to think that WHO ARE YOU was a jibe directed at God but many years later when I looked at the lyric closely, I saw this couldn't have been. Although couched in a sentiment that's aimed at authority and quite possibly the record company or ex management, it's subtext is, I reckon, the devil. As the Sabs were growing up and progressing they seemed to be repudiating some of the image that they felt had been foisted upon them. The record company seemed to play a dual edged game with them, content to cast them in a role as naughty little Satanists and happy to push that angle which the band thought was crappy once they'd made it big {though they also had milked it for all it was worth initially},yet they refused to call the PARANOID album "War Pigs" for fear of a backlash of those that were pro-Vietnam and vetoed the "Snowblind" title of the previous album coz of the drug associations. This is the first song Ozzy had written on his own and it's actually a pretty good effort, a clever metaphor. Some fans bitched about the synth, piano and mellotron but I think they sound great.The rest of the instruments are somewhat unremarkable and that leads me to an observation of the album as a whole; apart from the odd flash here or there, this album doesn't IMO contain any outstanding individual play. As noted earlier, Bill Ward isn't his previously magnificent self, Geezer plays like a straight bass player rather than his usual "frustrated guitarist" style and while Tony, once he'd gotten over his block and produced the riff of the title track, turned in his usual staggering number of quality riffola, he doesn't do much soloing of note, rather his lead work is sympatheic and integrated into the pieces, often bolstering and doubling up the riffs with harmonic content. The band as a whole are more of an ensemble than they've been previously and they play a submissive role to the songs, the quality of which is still impressively high. Only Ozzy really shines on an individual note, ironic in itself, coz he wasn't thrilled with the direction the band were taking and in retrospect this was the beginning of the end for him in Black Sabbath. Even more ironic is that it was due to the clever production techniques that he moaned about like double tracking that he sounded as he did. One area where the group really come out fighting is in their vocal melodies; I've always said that the heavy bands of the 60s and 70s were really melodically rich {just try listening to many of the bands with the volume really low}. But heavy rock vocalists were not just tuneless shouters, they were first and foremost singers. Those of the 70s had learned their craft in the 60s when singers had to sing. They had to be able to hold a distinguishable melody coz records were mixed in such a way that the vocal was really to the fore and a songs memorableness and singability were it's selling points, the instrumental side less so. And no matter how great the music became, or how important the groove, that's still the bottom line where a song with vocals is concerned, I think. LOOKING FOR TODAY with it's cutey pie flute and acoustic guitar counterpoint {sounding more like Horslips than Jethro Tull}, military drums, and simple but devastatingly attractive electric guitar riff and the glorious SPIRAL ARCHITECHT, which is the only Sabbath song that I know that I can honestly say is relaxed, both house wonderful melodies {the latter was Bill Ward's} that are impossible for me to remove from the hard drive of my mind....The lyrics of the latter in particular are fantastic, Ozzy was in awe of Butler's ability to come up with words; Butler says it took him three months of trying to get that one together before it all came in one blast {though the chorus is also Bill Ward's}. It's on the same subject as ACROBAT, this time about the actual experiences that are added to a person's DNA that make them unique and cleverly addresses the question of whether we are born as a blank sheet or whether we are to some degree 'programmed' by the genetic information. It's one of their best songs IMO and apart from the little twiddle at the end {or start, depending on how you look at it} of each verse, not a riff in sight ! It's got this crazy ending, I think it's the chorus played by the bass and drums with everything else stripped away, a real nothing ending and a great way to see out the album. A few of the songs have almost unfinished finishes. I think it's a brilliant LP but do something about that corny cover, puh-lease !


<> (02.08.2000)

The definitive Sabbath album. You can point to Paranoid all you want, but the truth is this is the greatest heavy metal album of all time (next to Deep Purple In Rock). Not one song on here is boring, although Supertzar gets on my nerves after a few minutes. 'Hole In The Sky' absolutely, positively FUCKING ROCKS! The obvious filler is the acoustic instrumental 'Don't Start Too Late', but even that's enjoyable. But you'll forget all about it by the time you hear the grumbling, bone-crunching riff of 'Symptom Of The Universe'. And, my God, 'Megalomania' is breathtaking! The best song the Sabs ever did in my opinion. I love the part where Ozz sings the chorus: "Why dont'cha just get outta my life". It's the best vocal performance he ever did. He sings it so smoothly and emotionally that you really are convinced he's a megalomaniac. Unbelievable! 'The Thrill Of It All' is awesome too, with that memorable seven-note riff. I don't really care for the aforementioned 'Supertzar', simply because it's boring. 'Am I Going Insane?' is not too good, but it's not too bad either. And 'The Writ' is mediocre in my view. Aside from 'Thrill Of It All', side two isn't too impressive. But believe me, side one more than makes up for it! All in all, Sabbath's best and a true heavy metal work of art.

Ratko Hribar <> (06.10.2001)

I have to admit I found this album to be somewhat depressive. It's not unlike the previous release, but this time it sounds more aggressive and harder. Some rockers are heavy and thundering, and some are pretty much distortion-less and the overall sound is again, light. But, despite the fact that it isn't vintage Sabbath heavy, it's in no way commercial, as it is still dark in places. The tracks are much longer (some are clocking around 9 minutes), and the arrangements are still complex, but there's not so much synthesizers this time around, which can't be bad by definition. The band displays steady musicianship, but, however, despite a couple of shining moments, this isn't their best album by far.

The powerful opener 'Hole In The Sky' is a gloomy mid-tempo track, but it has real driving groove. The essential 'Symptom Of The Universe' was often undeservedly overlooked, just like the album itself. It has some fast as hell, trashy moments, but it gets acoustic midway through, and the outro is kinda jazzy. Now, some people even say that without that song there wouldn't be trash metal, which is a load of bullocks (IMHO), cause Deep Purple practically invented the speed/trash metal genre single-handedly. 'Megalomania' is a long epic with lot's of different parts that show the further development of their sound, and Iommi is increasing the amounts of fuzz on his guitar with every consecutive verse of the song. 'The Thrill Of It All' has a nice generic riff, and it's also memorable, so, count me happy. Some songs sound like the band was listening to mid period Genesis, especially the instrumental 'Supertzar', which has a crunchy distorted guitar that chimes out low key riffs and gives the contrast to the choir, supported by a full-pledged orchestra. Great track, although it gets a tad dull with time. 'Don't Start Too Late' is just a filler, and the keyboard infested pop number 'Am I Going Insane (Radio)' was probably conceived to be another radio hit, but it's nowhere near as successful or popular like 'Paranoid', nor it should be. The complex 9-minute brontosaurus 'The Writ' sounds so fake at times, and, besides that, some parts of the song are just plain dull. The only thing that remains to be said is that this is Sabbath's last great album with Ozzy, and it is a shame that it's so underrated by most critics. Anyhow, the band will have their last attempt at greatness in the 80's, with yet another gruesomely underrated album, Heaven And Hell. Until then, this is a 9.

Stephen Rutkowski <> (17.03.2004)

Black Sabbath managed to add an ounce of brains to their illustrious brawns and deliver some interesting and at times, very good tracks. Ultimately Sabotage is a very good album, and I would rate it only below Paranoid and Master of Reality. As is obvious from Vol. 4 and Sabbath Bloody Sabbath, the band desperately tried to broaden their musical horizons. The results were quite messy in Vol. 4 and Sabbath Bloody Sabbath was way too reliant on amateurish synthesisers. Now this is where the brains come in. The band decided that they would concentrate on their strengths (playing as a three instrument band) but develop it in a more exciting way with occasionally a little extra (most noticeably ‘Supertzar’ which is the only major departure from the three instrument formula), but it also yielded the wonderfully structured, and dare I say it, intelligent ‘Meglomania’. The first part is a bit slow, but it is a nice easy introduction. But the real meat is in the incredibly catchy second part, which is the greatest slab of music on the album. ‘The Writ’ is in a similar vein but nowhere near as good. Unlike you George, I really like the first part of ‘The Writ’. It is hard hitting with an irresistible beat (but a little too slow again!). The second part isn’t very good though.

The only problem I can see with ‘Hole in the Sky’ is that the riff is not as discernible as it should be. (It’s too “fuzzy” for want of a better word.) Otherwise it’s another great rocker. ‘Symptom of the Universe’ is the template for thrash metal. I don’t have a lot of knowledge regarding ‘80s heavy metal but I definitely see this songs influence present in Metallica’s ‘Battery’ and especially ‘Damage Inc.’ from Master of Puppets. ‘Thrill of it All’ is again a little too slow but it’s another great track. The riff is slightly primitive though which drags it down a little (the days of ‘Iron Man’, ‘Sweet Leaf’ and ‘After Forever’ are long gone). About half way through it also kicks into another piece of boogie that Black Sabbath were making quite regularly at this time. The aforementioned ‘Supertzar’ is quite eerie but it can get tedious. That would leave ‘Am I Going Insane (Radio)’ which is another catchy pop track. This one is nowhere near as good as ‘Looking For Today’ though.

Mark <> (24.03.2004)

What a great album! And I agree that it was definately their last great album, (or at least "last stab at a great album" as you put it). Llike you, my two standouts are "Meglomania" and "Symptom". "Meglomania" has that great reverse echo on Ozzy's voice in the first half that is so bizarre, but the last half is what kills me, the fast boogie section. I love Ozzy's little screams in between the fast sections.... "suck me" indeed. And his last scream near the end has got to be one of the coolest screams ever recorded. "Symptom Of The Universe" is an absolute drop dead classic. And I agree, without this song, no Slayer, Metallica etc etc, although if Slayer or Metallica were this good, I'd be a fan. This sounds to me like a band who has discovered something amazing and can hardly beleive it themselves. Wow. One of the best guitar sounds Sabbath ever got on tape too. These two are the obvious "classics" (if you can say that of Sabbath without smiling) on this album, and th! at would be enough. I kinda agree with you about "Hole In The Sky"; is is generic and it predicts the upcoming descent into mediocrity that Sabbath was about to take (although hindsight is 20/20, so maybe we think that way because we now know what followed for the next 25 years - would we have noticed it at the time?) but I like it fine. "Supertzar" is okay, but to me, while it's intersting, it seems like filler. And Tony's little acoustic piece, "Dont's Start" is nice, in fact my fave of all his little acoustic ditties. Nice guitar work and use of overdubbing on this one. "Am I Going Insane" has never really impressed me much. I always thought it was generic or too obvious a stab at trying to get a "radio hit". (I think this one is much more generic than "Hole In The Sky").

But overall, I agree with you. This one is a cult record and you really weed out the Sabbath fans by who has this album in their collection (let alone likes it). The obvious thought that went into it is staggering. It's like they wanted to get people to respect them as musicians and artistes on this one. Mostly, it succeeds. I like it a lot, and "Symptom" is one of my all time favorite riffs. I don't give it as high a rating as you would....NO Sabbath album is worth a 9, but I can give it a 7 and think that's a fair rating. Depending on my mood, either this or Volume 4 is my favorite album, but I think that this deserves a little bit higher of a rating, mainly because of what followed for the last 29 years. (That "hindsight" thing again).

Tagbo Munonyedi <> (19.09.2006)

This absolute pearler of an album as far as I'm concerned sums up the Sabs; it's like a distillation of everything they'd been in the last five years with added's the point at which they'd been aiming and had finally reached and I don't think it ever got this good again though they did continue to knock out good work from time to time. Just about every album has some value and everyone has their faves and opinions. Mine is that the first six albums were a superbly strong and gradual climb through brilliance and constitute Sabbath's classic contribution to 20th century popular music.

SABOTAGE was my first experience of Black Sabbath. In the little I'd read about them prior to August '80, I formed the impression that these were rude and violent men that took no prisoners; Rock On wrote about how Iommi had attacked Allan Jones from Melody Maker coz he wrote a stinker of an article about him and this crummy American rock 'encyclopedia' I had talked about them being a band that dealt in "doom and gloom with such titles as WAR PIGS" {it's been 25 years since I saw it; that is the only bit I can remember from it}. So when I actually saw an album by the Sabs, I had to get it and I can still picture that monday evening when I listened to it for the first time on my Dad's stereo {he was out of town} with his headphones...The cover itself {one of my faves and IMO the only good one they ever did although I have a liking for Vol 4} was fascinating and I couldn't take my eyes off Bill and Ozzy {although I thought Bill was Ozzy} coz they both looked so strange and there was something menacing about the whole band..... HOLE IN THE SKY was pretty much everything that I imagined a group like Black Sabbath would sound like, heavy guitar riff, bass following and running off the riff to create it's own dark counterpoint, pounding rock solid cymbal crisp drumming that threatened to leap out of the headphones and into my head and mad, wailing, utterly disturbed vocals. This was heavy metal man ! I had alot of metal by this point and this was the heaviest lot I'd heard thus far. I had a palpable shock when the song just stopped suddenly, it was such a surprize that I caught my breath and had trouble breathing for a few moments, I honestly thought my heart might give out. Honestly. It was as much a shock to find the next song was an acoustic guitar thingy, and a nice one too. So right from the start I could see that Sabbath weren't strangers to a little diversity. But DON'T START(TOO LATE) was still a rather creepy disturbing little piece, despite being short. The song it segues into, SYMPTOM OF THE UNIVERSE was more akin to the opener but faster, rawer, punkier, more tuneless, heavier and that savage ripsaw riff and Bill Ward's manic wild drumming really got the heart racing more and my fists clenching. He had had a heart attack during the recording sessions but there's no let up, especially on the opening two he drums on. The next part of SYMPTOM is as much of a surprize as the second track, lovely floating, calm music. Some of the sound of the first part is rather death/thrash/speed metalish; some of the lyrics {"Woman child of love's creation, come and step inside my dreams...."} would not be out of place on a Moody Blues record. Had I been aware of their albums prior, I wouldn't have been surprized coz most of their output up to this point was either dual or multipart. I got the debut after this, then MASTER and BLOODY, then VOL 4. It was about 18 months after SABOTAGE that I heard the second record and by then I had a pretty good idea of what the band and their compositions had been about. I could see the genesis of such pieces as the magnificent MEGALOMANIA, which is almost Floyd Zeppelinesque in it's construction and length. In common with those two bands, when flying on song, there is never a second wasted and the way the band delve in and out of control and abandon is masterful. There have been few songs treating the subject of management hassles that quite come over as powerfully as this one. Each band member handles their end superbly and the organ drones eerilly without ever being obtrusive or for that matter, intrusive. The ending is probably the wildest thing to be found on the opening six albums.

THE THRILL OF IT ALL is for me a tale of two cities. The first part is one of the best pieces of music the Sabs ever put together and the way the riff and the vocal melody intertwine is sublime and the way Geezer's bass only partly shadows the riff is real neat. But the riff itself is my favourite Black Sabbath riff, which is saying something when one considers such greats as BLACK SABBATH, THE WIZARD, parts of SLEEPING VILLAGE, WARNING, IRON MAN, ELECTRIC FUNERAL, FAIRIES WEAR BOOTS, SWEET LEAF, LORD OF THIS WORLD, INTO THE VOID, SUPERNAUT, SNOWBLIND, A NATIONAL ACROBAT and LOOKING FOR TODAY, not to mention the aforementioned HOLE IN THE SKY and SYMPTOM..; it's also one of my fave riffs per se and when I think of the huge number of riffs from the 60s and 70s in particular, that's some achievement. I just think it's such a great riff. The lyrics are also fabulous, the way it starts with "Inclination of direction...." is mysterious enough to warrant further listening. I guess some Christians might find the second verse offensive as it seems to be a bit of a dig; when I was an athiest, I took a cynical delight in singing it. But if you actually listen to it, it can be taken quite positively, namely, that the Lord goes on loving people and trying to reach us even though we seem to get worse with each passing year. The question posed is "Is mankind worth it ?", a question that it would make no sense to ask if God hadn't made it clear that mankind is "worth it". The second part of the song is great, but it's a true anti climax after that first part. It does sound funny, saying something is great while simultaneously being a disappointment but in the case of this song, it is. The brilliant momentum created by the superb opening and that glorious riff is halted. I love multipart songs and the Sabs did more than most heavy bands and did them well, often being a wonderful surprize and demonstrating that the reputation they had then and even more so now is pretty unwarranted and I wonder if critics and fans alike actually listened to the music sometimes. But for probably the only time, the multipart thing doesn't work for me so I love the track but am also frustrated by it. Well, that's my story and I'm sticking to it coz I've got no reason to lie.....

SUPERTZAR, the second instrumental, is a clever marriage of hard rock and a YOU CAN'T ALWAYS GET WHAT YOU WANT type choir. But it's hard rock without the usual suspects of bass and drums doing what they usually do to make the rock hard. Bill Ward excels on his drum part and on the glockenspiel and other percussion instruments that he plays. Most of the Sabbath instrumentals were really Tony Iommi works but on these early albums, they fit snugly. The other thing that strikes me is how good choirs actually do sound within a rock context and orchestras for that matter. Many "classical" buffs may have viewed rock with contempt {as did many of the orchestral musicians who played sessions on rock and pop records} but the truth is that rockers were actually far more musically flexible, broadminded and progressive than they were and McCartney is not far wrong when he called rock the classical music of his day.

AM I GOING INSANE is probably for me the song that most seems to encapsulate Ozzy Osbourne. It's one of the few lyrics Geezer Butler didn't write and it doesn't sound like him either. In fact, it sounds like Ozzy trying to tackle a Geezer type subject and while it sounds lightweight in comparison, it's a heartfelt lyric to a really good song and given Ozzy's activites over the next ten years, not entirely unfounded. When Geezer originally wrote PARANOID, he didn't actually know what the word meant, hence the word not appearing in the song; being one of the songs the band did dealing with the instability of the mind, by '75 Ozzy was actually able to sound knowledgeable and use it in it's correct context. Their early mellotron/synthesizer experiments are mixed, but good to listen to and have held up well.

One of the past posters, Koka Chernov, has kept me thoroughly entertained with some of his comments, especially regarding Bill Ward. He seemed to feel that he was the shittiest drummer in heavydom and that his sound and technique was truly crap. It's all a matter of taste and opinion I guess but though I dig his biog and posts, I have to totally disagree. I like loads of different drummers of different genres and personally, for me he was without a doubt one of heavy rock's most inventive drummers. I don't know whether he was influential but whether or not he was is irrelevant to me. He's such a musical drummer, he provided something that was unique and his often deft and intricate bits were probably too subtle for alot of ears. That he managed to be so delicate within such a barrage of metal and thumping and rhythmic and fast is remarkable. He may have been an alcoholic drug addict but he sure was a thinking man's drummer. His playing at the end of THE WRIT is fantastic, energetic, forceful, compelling. The song itself is almost part two of MEGALOMAMIA, one of the best of theirs IMO; a bitter tale of hassles with management, it's a classic. And not well disguised either. Like on some of the serious songs from earlier albums, it's hard not to laugh at Ozzy coz of that voice. I always see his face when I hear that voice and I just crack up. But his vocal performance carries with it the requisite sting and it's a convincing outpouring. The song is a grand ending to a belter of an album.

I've never thought of this or any other Sabbath LP from the first five years as heavier or not heavier; to me they were just heavy like much of 'Physical Graffitti' was, to me, heavy. They did have delicate and sensitve moments and they played these off well against the crush.


Ratko Hribar <> (06.10.2001)

This one is also underrated, but not so much like Sabotage or Heaven And Hell. It is visibly weaker than Sabotage, but some solid cuts are still apparent. The main problem is, to put it short, that the songs aren't individually crafted so good like before, so the quality is slipping badly. This was meant to be an ambitious artistic album, with lot's of complicatedly structured songs and some pretty complex arrangements, and it probably is, but it just doesn't work as well as it should. It's evident that they 'tried too hard, and got so far, but in the end, it doesn't even matter'. Did ya recognize that ? That's from Linkin Park, and it's ploddering on the radio just now. Anyways, Sabbath's songwriting abilities are going upwards, but the riffs are so... NOT THERE. There's not too much real riffs here (and the ones that are here are mostly generic), but instead of them Sabbath uses tuneless power chords. However, overall, the record is still pretty acceptable and decent. And hey, the synth/keyboards connection is back, but, for the most part, the sound is still guitar-heavy. Although, I have to warn ya, if you're looking for a really heavy and dark Black Sabbath album, this should probably be your last choice, cause they're getting lighter with each new album.

On to the songs ! The keyboardish 'You Won't Change Me' is a nice moody tune, and it might be the best song on the album. The nasty 'Back Street Kids' is your average galloping bash-a-thon, but not nearly on the 'Sweet Leaf' level. The hard 'n' heavy rifforama 'Dirty Women' has some okayish lyrics, and the opening riff is just brilliant. 'Gypsy' might as well be a Uriah Heep crapfest of the same name, cause it's just a bizarre multi-part thing, with lot's of corny elements. Pretty enjoyable, but still bad. The mediocre 'All Moving Parts (Stand Still)' is your basic dull rock 'n' rolling track with some bouncy disco parts thrown in for good measure, but with no apparent reason. 'It's Alright' is a cute beatlesque pop song, with a catchy melody and some beautiful harmonies. BTW, Bill Ward actually has a very good vocal delivery, at least for that type of songs. The dumber-than-usual 'Rock 'N' Roll Doctor' is definitely a useless generic track that the band should be ashamed of recording. It has some blues influences in it, but it ain't here nor there, as one might say. The slow pitiful ballad 'She's Gone' features some well-used strings, but that doesn't make it less lousy. Hmm... since I do believe this to be a minor triumph for the Sabs, I'm willing to give them a 6 for trying as hard as they did, and also because the final product isn't as wretched as most people think.

P.S. Did I mention that Iommi's soloing skills are showing some real progression on this album ? I didn't ? Heck, how could I forget that ? Tony is getting much better, soloing-wise. But why the hell are his riffs getting weaker all the time ? I wonder what kind of meek garbage are they gonna think of next ?


<> (22.04.2000)

are you nuts or just stupid never say die is a absolutely great LP

Ratko Hribar <> (06.10.2001)

Ain't this a melodyless, poorly conceived stinker ? What to say about this worthless abomination ? Well, it turns out that this overblown rubbish even has some sort of cock rocking Zeppelin influences in it, but is that good ? Nah. The arrangements are so sloppy and pitiful, and Iommi completely deserts his signature guitar sound, and starts playing as shitty as possible. The 'alleged' kick ass title track is, in fact, noting more than a batch of badly performed messy chords teamed with some laughable singing from a drugged Ozzy. It was supposedly some kind of a hit, but it ain't exciting in no way, just your basic 70's generic-happy slow track, which should have been forgotten with the seventies. 'Johnny Blade' is a goofy comic-book-styled rocker, but it's at least memorable and heavy. The lyrics are ridiculously cheesy, though. The melancholic 'Junior's Eyes' has a enjoyable funky bassline, so it's pretty groovy. 'Swinging The Chain' has a nice intro riff, but it's a truly repulsive hogwash, that maybe did work in the 70's but it's just sickening today. Bill Ward sings okay, but it wouldn't hurt if his voice sounded a bit more polished. But, on the other hand, why try ? It's a horrendous tune, and not God himself couldn't save it. The puke-a-ton continues and burns brightly in sleazy fodder like 'Over To You' (dull piano thing that wonders aimlessly for too damn long), 'Air Dance' (crappy pop number), 'Hard Road' (another pointless pop-rocky snoozefest) and 'Breakout' (weird jazzy track with a sax solo). 'Shock Wave' is a passable rocker, and while it isn't especially interesting, it's a lot heavier than most of the stuff here. And hey, now I know why Ozzy sounds so uninterested on this album, if I was asked to sing on such a massive shitfest, I would also sound just like that. This lineup of Black Sabbath finally collapsed after releasing this album, and Ozzy went on to make a blistering solo album with Blizzard Of Ozz. In the meantime, the band hired Ronnie James Dio and got back in the studio. The result was Heaven And Hell, and with that album they entered the 80's and the NWOBHM.... but that's another story. And this, this is an extremely low 4.


<> (22.04.2000)

now i am convince you know not what you talk about

Paul Stadden <> (03.09.2000)

What are you talking about!? This is one of the greatest heavy metal albums of all time! It starts off with the amazing 'Neon Knights', and if it weren't for 'Mob Rules', this would be the 'Paranoid' of the non Ozyy era. It then goes into 'Children of the Sea', one of the most popular Black Sabbath riffs. It starts out with beautiful acoustic guitar (actually low volume electric), with Ronnie James Dio's perfectly flawless falcetto balancing perfectly over top. Then, both Dio's voice and the guitar go into one of their best guitar lines since 'Sabbath, Bloody, Sabbath'. It moves into a chorus of voices after a great solo by Iommi and moves back to the soft acoustic sound, ending with an explosion of the main riff. Then comes 'Lady Evil', a very addicting song, especially the lyrics ("There's a place just south of witches valley, where they say the wind won't blow. Lady evil, she's a magical mystical woman.") And now here comes the centerpiece of the song, 'Heaven and Hell'. It's amazing main line that goes into Geezer's bass and another showcase of Ronnie James Dio's falcetto. It has one of my favorite riffs of all, right after the chorus of singers and the drum break by Bill Ward, the line reminds me very much of Stevie Ray Vaughan. 'Wishing Well' comes on strong, Tony dubbing an acoustic guitar over his electric during the refrain, something I think was probably not to common. 'Die Young' is definitely in my top five favorite songs of all time (Right up there with 'A Day in the Life' by the Beatles and 'Texas Flood' by Stevie Ray Vaughan). Tony does incredible soloing and lead guitar work over top of the excellent rhythm part, Bill Ward drums better than he has in years on this song, and Ronnie James Dio's vocals take it over the top. I never get tired of hearing it. 'Walk Away' is another one of those addicting songs with good lyrics. 'Lonely is the Word' is an excellent song, blending the heavy metal style and softer pop rock style. There is not a single bad song on this album, in fact they're all fantastic. You should definitely have given this a better review (along with almost every other one of these albums), but I do agree with you on Technical Ecstacy and Never Say Die. Oh, by the way, Tony Iommi wrote 'After Forever', lyrics and all, not Geezer.

Ratko Hribar <> (29.10.2001)

The banal, generic and gothic sound is here. Jeez, thank God they hired Ronnie, I fear to think what would happen if Ian Gillan was available. Unfortunately, Sabbath are still going slowly to hell and Ronnie happily leads the way (he's kinda like a piper, or something like that). On the bright side, Ozzy's gone. Yeah, he was okay, but I think a decade was more than enough of him. For those ultimate Ozzyfreaks there's still his solo band (which definitely had it's moments, check out Blizzard Of Ozz, Bark At The Moon and Ozzmosis).

Okay, back to Sabbath. Well, Ronnie is a technically better singer and I'm happy that he came, although Sabbath had to pay a high price for that. He sure loved his "dungeons&dragons" stuff very much, not to say that Sabbath themselves didn't have some similar fantasy songs (like the complete debut album and quite a lot of their other songs).

Let us get back to Heaven And Hell. First off. The lyrics are, naturally, stupid. They are pure and undisputed trash. On the other side, there's some good melodies, there's some okayish riffs, and there's some strong solos. That's about it. Overall, the band sounds okay, but not too impressive. I like 'Neon Knights', 'Children Of The Sea', 'Lonely Is The Word', and even the Rainbow-influenced 'Lady Evil' has a nice groove when I'm in the right mood. 'Heaven And Hell' is a complex tune, but it sure sounds like disco, so I'm a little bit disappointed. I can't help myself, that bass is so irritating to me (disco isn't really their specialty, now is it ?). 'Wishing Well' is kinda cute, although it doesn't do much to improve the general picture. And why only Geezer has to carry the entire song by himself ? Tony, you lazy bastard, where are the riffs ? If I know you, you we're probably stoned. 'Walk Away' is a simple throwaway, no, wait, Dio sounds really good on that one... I guess, that one could stay. And 'Die Young' ? Well, I don't know what to say. There was absolutely no reason for that boring monster to appear on the second single. Frankly, I don't remember the text or the riffs. This is definitely a great album, although the next one is slightly harder and rawer. Did I mention that this album grew on me a lot ? I'm even tempted to give it a 9. Why not ? A big fat 9.

Jeff Hendershott <> (18.12.2003)

This is the album that turned me on to Ronnie James Dio. What pipes! Aside from Iron Maden's Bruce Dickinson, Dio is in a league all his own. As for this album, it rocked. Not much more to say.........

Mark Walker (18.10.2005)

And so amidst a haze of drugs and alcohol, as well as allegations against Ozzy not being able to sing the Sabbath songs anymore, Ozzy was let go and former Rainbow frontman Ronnie James Dio was brought in. The result me at least, one of the best Sabbath albums in years. To make a vocal comparison between Dio and Ozzy is laughable. Dio is a far superior singer in power and range than Ozzy ever thought of being and unlike Ozzy, Dio has taken care of his vocal chords over the years. Maybe that's why the man still packs a wallup well into fifties. One just needs to hear the opening track 'Neon Nights' to put to rest any doubts about Dio being a capable frontman. 'Children Of The Sea' is a very well written song with a nice acoustic intro that successfully showcases the dynamic range of Dio's voice. The title track has a nice hook to it and one needs to check out the dynamic live version on Live Evil to see how Dio makes the vocal even more menacing. There is some filler. I've personally never cared much for 'Die Young', but overall this is a fine album.

It reminds me of Rainbow's first album in a 'Man On The Silver Mountain' kind of way. Like I said...their best album in years and a great way to usher in the Dio era


Ratko Hribar <> (29.10.2001)

Okay, I don't know about the mob, but Ronnie sure rules here. He sounds unbelievable, although the lyrics are horrible (but does that even deserves mentioning ?). I have a bone to pick with you George, because I don't agree with some of your comments about this album. Well, the album is too similar to the previous one, and the patterns are equal, but then again, almost every album from any generic metal band does have the same patterns. Tragic, I know. You're right about the freshness, I feel it too.

You like the title track ? I don't. A good fast rocker ? Why, yes, it is. A timeless classic ? It sure ain't. Catchy ? What are you talking about ? I still can't remember neither the lyrics, or the melody, or the riffs. Just kidding, I can remember them, but I'm still not to enthusiastic about this one. It is very similar to Iron Maiden's 'Sanctuary' which is disappointing, cause Maiden released that one a year or two before Mob Rules came out. 'Turn Up The Night' is a complete rip-off (well, at least they ripped off themselves, they're in title to), but at least 'Voodoo' isn't half bad. 'Sign Of The Southern Cross' isn't a dull rumbling mastodont with a tuneless mess of riffage and too much self-importance. Boring ? Not to me. Maybe a bit too long, although I can't imagine it being any shorter. Rumbling ? Hell yeah, and that's a good thing. Tuneless ? I have to put my foot down at this point. It has a tune. Perhaps you don't like it, but it's there. Self-importance ? Okay, you got me here. Nevertheless, Ronnie sounds majestically, and it's my favorite song from the album. Hmm, there's one thing do. At the end of the song that little annoying shit called 'E5150' starts to butcher the sound. Man, it's so squeaky. WHAT THE FUCK IS THIS ?!!! I asked myself when I heard it. Garbage, that's what it is. Why did they put it on the record ? It only lasts like two minutes, but it destroys the sound of the entire album. Also, I like 'Country Girl', but I don't exactly know why, cause it's a silly, silly song. 'Falling Off The Edge Of The World' brings back the spirit of 'Die Young', which is kinda okay, cause it sounds a bit better now. Tony also sounds okay on the whole album, but this isn't even close to the earlier stuff. Solo parts are one the level, but where are the distinguish riffs ? Well, it could be worse, that could be the Ozzman there on stage. Thankfully, he's not. Helium voice, indeed. 8 points for this one.

Mark Walker (21.10.2005)

This is Dio's crowning achievment with the Sabs. The cover will make you want to go to church, but aside from that, the songs are top notch. They stuck with the Heaven And Hell formula which was fine as that was Sabbath's best selling album in years. 'Turn Up The Night' like 'Neon Knights' is another kick ass way to get the proceedings underway. 'Sign Of The Southern Cross' is one of my favorite Sabbath songs...ever. And I do like 'E5150'. I don't mind a good synth fest if it's done well and it was a hell of a way to start a concert as Sabbath did when I saw them on this tour. 'Falling Off The Edge Of The World' is extremely underrated in my opinion and the title track is a classic. As for Dio's supposed satanic aspirations...I have a contemporary christian album called Seeds Of Change by Kansas guitarist/keyboardist Kerry Livgren. Ronnie James Dio contributes two fine vocal performances on 'Mask Of The Great Deceiver' and 'To Live For The King'. In the accompanying booklet that comes with the cd, Livgren talks about Dio's performances and says "I can assure you that Ronnie is no satanist." Having seen this tour and The Last In Line tour...I beg to differ. But that is a matter of opinion and perhaps we shouldn't take him all that seriously. I wished that this edition of Sabbath could have continued. This and Heaven And Hell are two of Sabbath's very best albums in my humble opinion. Follow this in your cd collection with Holy Diver.


Paul Stadden <> (03.09.2000)

This was one great live album. I rank it up there with Stevie Ray Vaughan's Live at the El Macambo (not above, but up there). Ronnie James Dio is heavy metal's greatest singer, although I don't care for his constant flashing of the devil sign, and his slightly "jolly about Satan" lyrics, but what a voice. My favorite Black Sabbath song is 'After Forever', due to the lyrics. I have been searching forever of a recording of Dio doing it, but so far, no luck. Well, anyway, back to the album at hand. Dio does a great job at 'N.I.B.', but I think that maybe 'Black Sabbath', 'Iron Man', 'War Pigs', and 'Paranoid' should have been left Ozzy. However, I thought that 'Children of the Grave' was meant for this guy! It's like they wrote it in anticipation of someday having Dio in the band, his voice was perfect for it. I didn't care for the live version of 'Mob Rules'. Without the overdubbed lead/rhythm guitar at the end, it sounds wierd. It was kind of pointless to have 'Fluff' tacked onto the end and 'E5150' on the beginning, but with the magic of the track skip button on my CD player, they aren't a problem. The extended medley of 'Heaven and Hell' and 'Sign of the Southern Cross' was neat though, and Dio getting the audience to sing was pretty cool. I do miss Dio in this band. Dio left after Tony and Geezer accused Ronnie of going into the studio and remixing the vocals louder. Oh well, at least they got back together for the Dehumanizer album. It is kind of cool, though, that Tony Martin, the second longest surviving Black Sabbath singer, sounded very much like Dio.

Ratko Hribar <> (02.11.2001)

It's hard for me to be objective when I'm talking about this particular live album. Although I normally don't enjoy live albums, I do like this one a lot. In fact, it would be fair to say I like this one more than Reunion. Since I'm a fan of Ronnie Dio I see absolutely no problems with his treatment of Sabbath's classics. The man growls and screams in a perfect way and his performance suits the selected tracks. The versions of 'N.I.B.', 'Black Sabbath', 'Iron Man' and 'Children Of The Grave' presented here, are simply glorious. Unfortunately, the version of 'War Pigs' on Live Evil just can't measure up to the original. Mind you, I never liked that song too much since I always thought it's tuneless and overlong, but since everyone thinks it's GREAT, I've learned to appreciate it. However, I don't have to appreciate this version, and indeed, I won't. Dio did his work respectively well on this track, but Iommi doesn't. The riff sounds worse than it should and it destroys the little enjoyment I've felt while listening to the original. But hey, Vinnie Appice does a good job on his drum solo, but most people don't like it cause they miss Bill Ward. I dunno, I'm happy with the drums, especially since I've heard Dio's solo albums before the Black Sabbath ones and I'm accustomed to Vinnie's style. 'Paranoid' sounds awful here, but interesting enough, it sounds crappy even on Reunion. BTW, I'm sad that they didn't add 'After Forever' on the album, cause it is one of my favorite Sabbath numbers. The mighty distortion crunch is added to the Heaven And Hell numbers, so they sound more powerful than in their studio versions. 'Neon Knights' is blistering and fast, just how it should be. 'Voodoo' rips live and sounds very menacing. 'The Mob Rules' isn't quite as good as in the original but it still kicks a decent amount of ass. To all open-minded Sabbath novices: 'Children Of The Sea' is also magnificent here, and although George doesn't like it, I urge you to give it a chance. Anyway, the OVERLONG crawling of 'Heaven And Hell' meets 'Sign Of The Southern Cross' simply gets over-boring with time. I tell ye, if it isn't for Ronnie I wouldn't be able to swallow that megamonster at all. Besides that, I regret that the band decided to include low grade instrumental garbage like 'Fluff' and 'E 5150' on the album cause it's repulsive and unnecessary. Overall, it's a solid live album with a great song selection. And the mix is excellent too. One more thing, the Dio's stage presence is just atrocious here. He's terribly stiff and the conversation with the audience is kinda fake. The transition between the songs sounds awkward, but that probably isn't visible on the single CD version of the album. This album isn't recommendable to a average Sabbath fan, but it's essential to a Dio fan, so they should get it. But, be warned that some songs are very slow down and some tracks are performed mediocre at best. Be sure to listen to it carefully before you buy it, cause this isn't suitable for everyone. I personally think it's an very decent release worthy of a 8.

<> (04.04.2003)

This is a decent live album in many ways. The cover is not one of them. If you can get past that, the album itself is a very accurate snapshot of the Dio led Sabbath. His version of 'Paranoid' I just can't listen to. Can't do it. He sings it like he had to be talked into doing it. Probably did. Is it me or does the sound on this album make you feel like your sitting in the balcony listening? I still have my vinyl copy from years ago and have yet to hear it on cd, so maybe it's me. Dio is more powerful a singer than Ozzy will ever be. His voice is capable of metal shrieking one minute, and a melodic intro the next. Remarkable voice. I do like 'Children Of The Sea', and live it seems to have just a little more energy than on the studio version. The centerpiece is the 'Heaven and Hell/Sign Of The Southern Cross' medley. Dio sings his arse off and Tony really let's loose with some killer soloing, but when Dio gets to that part about telling heaven's angel to go away as he wants to burn in hell...well that to me is crossing the line. Everyone has their own opinion, but I personally feel it is really a commercial for Satan, and like all other commercials, I shut it off. It does sound strange having Dio sing Ozzy classics, but he puts more heart into them and sings it like he means it. 'N.I.B.' and 'Iron Man' are perfect examples of this. I really thought this version of Sabbath would go on to much more success. So I was truly shocked when Dio abruptly quit the band shortly after this album. He of course would go on to solo success, creating the excellent Holy Diver album, and is still considered one of rock's greatest vocalists.

Eric Ericson The Killa <> (10.06.2003)

Let's state a personal fact first, I grew up on Live Evil. It was only two years old when I first picked it up on pre-recorded tape. To me, that recording was so awesome. It sounded larger than life, and that was due to a couple of things: One, everything from Iommi's guitar to Geezer's bass, Vinny's drums, and of course Ronnie's booming voice, sounded so over-the-top in the audio department. To steal from Spinal Tap, everything sounded like it was turned up to eleven.

Did I say everything?

Not quite. And Two, the audience sounded like it was a million miles away. Now this can be perceived as a flaw, but in a way, it enhanced the musical portion of the whole experience. It made the band sound like the were twenty feet tall to the ants they were performing for. Even though the audience probably should of been turned up a little during mixing (soooo many mixing stories of this album, which led to Dio's first departure from the band, that I'm not even going to get into it right now), Live Evil's current & original sound adds a permanent feel that it should always remain.

But what about the performance? Brillant. For starters, Dio's vocal interpretation of Ozzy's classics are all acceptable to the harshest original line-up fans. Songs like "Iron Man", "Children Of The Grave", and "Black Sabbath" to name just a few, not only sound updated to the then 1980's audience, but Dio performs them slightly more "over-the-top" compared to Ozzy, making them seem even more satanically atmospheric and up-to-date with their "Heaven And Hell/Mob Rules" song counterparts. Also, Dio's own material with Sabbath, like "Voodoo" and "Heaven And Hell" are far more superior to their studio versions. In fact, the whole band sounds so great on this, with special mention to Tony Iommi himself, due to one of the fattest, heaviest live guitar sounds captured on tape ever! It's just a classic live album in every sense, I mean c'mon, you can't tell me when you first heard the album's opener "E5150", that it didn't give you a slight shrill up your spine, and if it didn't, you're probably dead already!

But getting back to the history, the month this album was finally released by Warner Brothers on double CD, I bought it immediately. It was definately one of my first CD purchases. And I'm so glad I still have it. For you younger Sabbath collectors out there, you may have the one disc Castle remaster version instead. I feel sorry for you. To make it one disc, Castle cut out most of Ronnie's intro's to the songs, cut most of the long audience pauses in between the tracks, and (gasp!) severely cut Tony's guitar solo during "Heaven And Hell"! To me, there was no excuse to re-release it as a one-disc (I tried re-editing it to one disc myself at one time, trimming the audience pauses a bit, but keeping all of Ronnie's banter & Tony's solo and cut/faded "Fluff" and it sounded much better, besides do we really need the pre-recorded "Fluff" on this anyway?), and I were you I'd search for that perfectly sounding (in the first place) Warner version ASAP.

In conclusion, Live Evil is one of the most classic live Heavy Metal/1980's live albums ever, with the ultimate in classic stadium rock feel in both performance and sound. To the Sabbath fanatic (like myself) or to even the casual fan, I give the same advice, highly, highly recommended.

RedSabbath's Stars:4 and three-quarters outta five.


<> (13.03.2000)

Okay, since you asked ... this is my response to you giving Black Sabbath's Born Again a miserable little five. Now personally, I think I made some pretty good points here, but you be the judge.

First off, I don't think Ian Gillan was totally incompatible with Black Sabbath (as opposed to, say, Dio touring with the remaining members of The Beatles; now there's a harrowing thought). Stop and consider for a moment ... both Deep Purple and Sabbath were early 70's heavy metal bands. Sabbath's trademark "doom & gloom" metal was a lot different from Purple's "fast cars, drugs, & chicks" metal, granted, but the two bands were from the same musical school more or less, and a lot of their tunes were similar in structure if not in style. And Purple fooled around with writing supernatural and/or sci-fi lyrics in addition to the usual cars/drugs/girls stuff ('Stormbringer', 'Child In Time', 'Space Truckin' and so on). This in mind, a "Purplish-Black" Sabbath isn't all that far-fetched. You seem to have pigeonholed Gillan as that happy, harmless Deep Purple kid who had no business recording "evil" songs with the likes of the dreaded Black Sabbath, which I don't see as really being fair. Also, I don't think Ian was out of his prime by '83. He still had at least some of the old magic, and he could still deliver, maybe not in the same caliber of Machine Head but close enough for government work and more than close enough for me.

As far as the songs on Born Again -- well of course they're standard heavy metal licks, George, this is Black friggin' Sabbath we're talking about. If you want musical complexity and lyrical enigmas, go listen to In The Court Of The Crimson King. I'll admit you were right about the cover, it's silly (a picture of a normal toddler doctored up to look like a heavy metal version of Rosemary's Baby, wow that's impressive... not). But I think the songs are a little better than you would have your readers believe. Better than at least half of Sabbath's earlier songs, at any rate, many of which were just so lethargic and half-dead, like everyone in the band was shot up on heroin when they were recording the stuff (which, actually, may not be far from the truth). If you judged these songs by comparing them to 'Hand Of Doom' or 'War Pigs', then no wonder you were disappointed.

Okay, now I will admit Ian Gillan wasn't the best choice to sing something like 'Disturbing The Priest' -- the whole idea is kinda ridiculous from the get-go, because Ozzy Osbourne he's not. I also agree with you that 'Priest' is one of the weakest tracks on the album; it's not ominous so much as ludicrous. But Gillan still had one of the most impressive voices in rock and roll, even in the 80's. The man was one of the few rock stars who could by definition actually sing, and his natural talent shines through even on generic filler like 'Priest'. Actually I'd call about half of this album generic filler, but it's not bad generic filler, if you see what I'm saying, just a little ... what's the word ... uninspired. But not bad. And the stuff on it that's good is pretty damn good by any heavy metal standards.

For one, the title track -- majestic and brooding and morose, conjuring images of a proud royal lineage doomed by some ages-old curse and now fallen into obscurity... "the tapestries are faded, their vague and distant glories concealed in the gloom"... I mean, I love that. It reminds me of Edgar Allan Poe's "Metzengerstein" with the young and sullen baron brooding over ancient prophecies in the darkness of his ancestral halls.

When I hear the name 'Stonehenge', I think of druid circles, dark magic, the ancient, primal powers of nature forgotten by man at the dawn of civilization. The track 'Stonehenge', though short and wordless, evokes all these images and more and is one of the best songs on the album.

'The Dark', another brief one, easily rates as the most ominous and disturbing track on the album, succeeding where 'Disturbing The Priest' fails. Short, sweet, and evil. I love it. And the way it segues into 'Zero The Hero' seems so natural and preordained, like 'The Dark' and 'Zero' are two sides of the same face. Or perhaps 'The Dark' is the larval stage and 'Zero The Hero' the full-grown evil. Whatever it is, it works. I see that the "whatcha gonna do..." part sticks in your head too, huh? Yeah, that whole song is definitely memorable. I'm still not sure what the hell he's talking about, exactly, but no matter -- that relentless, remorseless melody just gets into your head and lingers like traces of a poisonous gas. This song is definitely one of a kind, and in heavy metal, that's saying a great deal.

And for Chrissakes George, how the HELL can anyone who purports to like Black Sabbath OR Deep Purple not like 'Trashed'??? It's the closest thing that 80's metal would ever have to 'Highway Star'. Of course, 'Star' is a better song overall, but 'Trashed' is effective in its own right. Case in point, when I was younger my favorite song to cruise to was 'Highway Star'. Putting the pedal to the metal in my old Camaro on a hot summer night with 'Highway Star' blasting out of the speakers made for an indescribable rush at that age, almost like Deep Purple wrote it just for adolescents to blast while they were racing in their hot rods... and maybe they did. Well, with that in mind, my second favorite song to drive to was probably 'Trashed', because the rush was almost as intense. Trust me, in the right circumstances, that song is just as brilliant as 'Highway Star'. It's not exactly the most profound song in the world, and even I admit that a lot of the lyrics in 'Trashed' are downright muddled, but so what? This is heavy metal, after all. Simplistic hotrod music or not, both 'Trashed' and its prototype 'Highway Star' do exactly what they set out to do, and do it well. Which is more than I can say about a LOT of songs, heavy metal or otherwise. I could go on and on about all the similarities between the two songs, but let's suffice to say that 'Trashed' was beyond a doubt a deliberate 80's tribute to 'Highway Star', and with that in mind, NO ONE but Gillan could have really sung it -- not Ozzy, and certainly not Dio. So there.

I'm not saying Born Again is the best Black Sabbath album by any means. All in all, I believe the first Black Sabbath album was the best one -- it was a true original then, and it still is today -- but I can't see how you could give Heaven and Hell or Mob Rules a higher rating than Born Again, which I myself would have given at least an 8 or a 9. Maybe it's just the fact that I cannot STAND that pompous, idiotic, screeching windbag Ronnie James Dio in any incarnation whatsoever. Sorry man, but he sucks. I know a lot of Dio-people will say "How can you say you like Black Sabbath if you hate Dio? You're full of shit, Dwarf dude..." but as far as I'm concerned if it's not Ozzy it's not really truly Sabbath. In fact I still think of Born Again as being done by sort of a "Purplish-Black" Sabbath, I can't really listen to Ian Gillan without thinking it's at least partially a Deep Purple album. And anyway, judging from personal experience, the majority of hard-core Dio fans seem to be a little short on musical taste anyway, not to mention gray matter... (then again, I was the only teenager at all the beer parties who insisted on playing 'Planet Caravan', instead of skipping right from 'War Pigs' to 'Iron Man' in a desperate need to bang heads, so according to many of my "shit-faced beyond all recognition" contemporaries my tastes in music were always suspect anyway, ha ha).

By the way George, here's one that might surprise you... know what my favorite Black Sabbath song is? It's not 'War Pigs' or 'Iron Man' or 'Sweet Leaf' or any of those mega-classics. Believe it or not, it's 'Warning', the last song on their first album. Don't ask me why, I'm not sure myself, but to me that one song encapsulates everything good about Black Sabbath. Then again I was always drawn to the obscure.

<> (27.07.2000)

The most underestimated album in the entire Sabbath catalogue. I would without a doubt deem this the best post-Ozzy Sabbath album. I was somewhat surprised to see all the derogatory things you had to say about this album. Sure, Ian's voice ain't nearly as powerful as it was in the early 70's, but he still can cut it with the best of 'em. "Trashed" is my favorite one on here. Is it just me, or does this song borrow a little from "Highway Star"? Oh well, still a damn good jam. "Stonehenge" is one of those numbers you just gotta listen to at night, with all the lights out, through the headphones. Just downright creepy! "Disturbing The Priest" is awesome, despite the moderately Satanic lyrics. "The Dark" is pretty pointless, but "Zero The Hero" is bitchin'! I think had it not been for this album, you probably would have no Metallica, Megadeth, or Guns 'N Roses. Gillan's singing on "Zero The Hero" is great (then again, I can't think of one song I've ever heard where his voice is less than spectacular). Side two pretty much sucks except for the title track. I really disagree with you're saying that Dio would outsing Ian "in a second". WHAT?!!! Even in '83, Ian would still put that little windbag to shame. IMHO, of course. And you must remember, Ian was epitomizing the role of hard rock singer w/Deep Purple long before Dio came along. All in all, I think this album at least deserves an 8 or a 9. A 6? COME ON, GEORGE!!! I admit, it sure as hell ain't no SABOTAGE, but nontheless it's a metal masterpiece.

Paul Stadden <> (03.09.2000)

You, sir, have been way too insulting to this band. Born Again deserves respect. It was in the Top 40 in America and hit #4 in Britain! It saw the return of Bill Ward, one of rock's greatest drummers. I don't know of anyone, even that Vinny Appice character, that can pull of Ward's stuff without a solid month of daily rehersal. He was certainly better than Bev Bevan of ELO, (Yes, ELO, the pop rock group that had such soft hitting hits as 'Evil Woman'. Their drummer was doing 'War Pigs' and 'Sabbath, Bloody, Sabbath'.) who toured with Black Sabbath on the Born Again tour. Ian Gillan gave Black Sabbath a blues edge again, only vocally, not guitarwise. It was cool, I wish Gillan would have stuck around and done at least one more album. The best song off this album was definitely 'Trashed', Black Sabbath's response to 'Highway Star'. Oh, and to the guy who wrote the first e-mail in response to your review: I know what you mean when you say that you like the obscure songs the best. My favorite Black Sabbath song was 'After Forever', not exactly one of most well known. My favorite riff was 'The Shining' off the Eternal Idol album. Now that's obscure.

Ratko Hribar <> (29.10.2001)

Come on people, let's face it, Born Again is plain bad. It's a very disappointing album in every prospective. Especially the cover art, which is laughable, but also kinda sad. The title definitely isn't just ridiculous, it's also idiotic and ironic (how about Dead Again? - it wouldn't be the first time). Here, we can really see where's Sabbath going to from now on. The first two comments are to some extent correct, and I do agree with some of their claims, but that doesn't change the fact that after Ronnie Dio left, Sabbath started to deteriorate. Look, I'm not saying that after Dio, Sabbath became worthless, because that's not true. The band started to make very BAD albums, but, however, sometimes they did record some very GOOD songs (not a whole album of them, of course). Some of those good songs are here, but not to many of them (and it's quite hard to find them, unlike on the albums from the Dio days). I don't think that happened just because Dio left, they we're just losing steam, and Gillan couldn't help them much. Okay, if Dio stayed for one more album that one could probably be their best one (not counting the Ozzy albums), cause they would shake off that Heaven And Hell influence that popped out on Mob Rules. In 1980. Dio brought them new impetus, and in 1983. Gillan really couldn't do that (and if he could, they probably wouldn't let him - hmm, that's it, perhaps he really gave them some good ideas but they didn't listen... sounds convincing to me).

With Gillan at the helm, the band had no idea what kind of music they want to play, so they played a little something from Purple, and a little something of their own, so, overall, they didn't play anything. I can't really find any very good tracks on this record, there all just... mediocre, but Gillan is not to blame for that, because he did sing pretty good. I can't understand why did he wanted to make this crappy record anyway ? I thought he's smarter than that. Okay, the good side is that Born Again wasn't a lethal blow to his career (as some thought), but it did kill any hope that Black Sabbath will regain their leading position as a heavy metal band.

This album is musically inferior to the bands previous albums, and that's why it sucks. Not because of the singer, or even the lyrics, it's all because of Tony. The fact is that Tony couldn't create memorable riffs at that time. He couldn't, he wouldn't, he didn't. That's it. He tried to save the day with his solos, but he didn't succeed. You know, I bet if Sabbath recorded this material in the very beginning, for example, instead of Paranoid, no one would give a flying shit for them. Yeah, that would happen, it's so obvious now. Anyway, since I'm a big fan of Ian Gillan, I'd give this a 5.

And what can I say about the band after Gillan left ? Well, after this album, Sabbath fast became a merry-go-round of players, revolving around good old Tony. I'll pass. Forever.

Evgeniy Legotin <> (12.12.2003)

That's another really unfair review of Born Again. Most people that review it are really biased. They keep on criticizing Ian Gillan and some say that he doesn't even come close to Ozzy This is not true. It's simple: Gillan is a way better singer than Ozzy. Ozzy was a great frontman but NOT a great singer, while Gillan is definitely of the best vocalists ever. ( though I too find it a bit annoying that he screams his ass off throughout the entire album). Now, back to Born Again. I know that everyone hasd their own opinions, but if you take your mind off the cover and the production and stop bitching about Gillan, you might just realize that this album is pretty cool. The opening track, 'Trashed', is a solid number and, although it doesn't come close to Purple's 'Highway Star' (which it is quite similar to), it's still good. The other tracks on the album are also worth listenintoo, although the last 2, in my opinion, are a bit of a drag. But 'Disturbing the Priest', my favourite from ths album, can easily be seen as a Sabbath classic, and 'Zero the Hero' features an awesome riff (sadly, its repeated only twice) and is another cool track, though I find Gillan's rap-like. verses quite annoying. 'Digital Bitch' features awful production, but through the noise you can still hear a solid track. And then comes the title track, an eerie number which sounds nothing like ordinary Sabbath ( I love the chorus). The last 2 tracks,'Hot Line' and 'Keep It Warm', as I have mentioned, are not too good, but nonetheless provide an interesting listen. But I think the two synthethiser numbers are pretty pointless. Anyway, finally, no matter what people say about it, if you have the chance, get it and give it a GOOD listen, and you'll realize that it is REALLY good. Peace .

Linden Jordan <> (22.12.2003)

And speaking of how there would be no Guns n Roses without the song 'Zero the Hero', it's an established fact that the opening riff from that was nothing more than the prototype for the Gunners' classic 'Welcome To The Jungle'. Go compare them, I did.

<> (02.12.2005)

"Trashed" kicks ass! It was really the first time they put a face on Black Sabbath through the MTV generation. Not only is the song stellar, but the video as well. It's a quintessential rock song that made coming of age exciting. Plain and simple! I remember it well at 13 when it first came out and it still resonates in current discussions w/ my mates from the past. That speaks volumes in the fact that the song has transcended over 20 years in an album that was only done once. Meaning, Ian Gillan w/ the 3 other members. I would put "Thrashed" as one of my top 5 metal songs since 1980. Making the album itself, something to be reckoned with. Thank God for VHI Classics and TIVO. And I bet if you asked someone like Dave Grohl, he'd say the same exact thing.

Jeff <> (22.01.2006)

After RJ Dio left, my interest in this band left. Be that as it may, the song "Trashed" is just balls-out funny! I mean, I like it, but just the lyrics and the blazing TI guitar riffs and the lyrics about some drunk-out-of-his-head moron trashing a car is an odd but amusing combination. I still laugh when I hear this song (very infrequently mind you). I can't exactly say why, but it's just funny to me!


Paul Stadden <> (29.10.2000)

The first time I heard this album, I was indeed rather shocked and a bit repulsed. It started out cool, though. I was enjoying the main riff to "In For the Kill", thinking about how good Glenn Hughes vocals are, when they suddenly started playing the chorus. It immediately conjured up imagery of some crappy eighties hair band like Poison or Bad English. Trying to purge my mind of this horridness, I immediately went to the next song, "No Stranger to Love". It started out cool, with the mock string section and the guitar solo. Then came the drums and vocals, and I'm thinking "So far so good." Then, as if to completely repeat the disaster of the first song, the chorus hit and Bad English invaded my immagination again. Beginning to get frustrated with this costly import CD, wondering if it would make a good clay pigeon, I went to the next song, "Turn to Stone". It was a little better, sounding a little like Green Day at first. I went right past the boring instrumental 'Sphinx (the Guardian)' into a song that sounded a little like "Kashmir". The main riff of "The Seventh Star" was awesome, and finally Glenn Hughes vocals sounded like they fit next to Tony Iommi's guitar work. The next song, "Heart Like a Wheel" was pretty cool, as was "Angry Heart". I still don't know why they put two songs with heart in the title right next to each other. Then the album ended with "In Memory". It was kind of neat, being only 2:53 seconds long. I eventually came to like "In For the Kill" and "Turn to Stone". I think that it would have sold better if the record company hadn't forced him to call it a Black Sabbath album. Although, if that had happened, I don't think Black Sabbath would have ceased to exist. Therefore, all the Black Sabbath albums henceforth would not be here today. Although I wish that some of them hadn't been made. However, I think that this album was definitely better than the ever stupid Headless Cross and the pointlessly boring rehash of riffs that was Cross Purposes. I did however, love The Eternal Idol. There was something about the riffs, the vocals, the keyboards, and everything else that just mad that album one of my favorites. I fell in love with the opening riff of "The Shining" right away. "Ancient Warrior" left imagery of graveyards and battlegrounds, and wars in medieval times. "Glory Ride" is one of my favorites. The song "Eternal Idol" definitely has my favorite riff of all time. It's an awesome, highly underrated album. Avoid Headless Cross at all costs. Avoid photos of the Seventh Star lineup at all costs. Buy Eternal Idol at all Costs.

<> (30.03.2001)

What happened yo Black Sabbath? On this disc they sound just like all the other crappy hair bands of the 80's,actually even worse on some songs!! Glenn Hughes has  a good voice,(that is glenn hughes,right?) but the crap he's singing about is just some of the worst sh*t i've ever heard,including anything by warrant or any other hair metal band at the time.This is an example of a once great band following the herd.At least when gillan was in the band they kind of sounded like sabbath.


Roger <> (21.09.2002)

Before even attempting to review The Eternal Idol, some background into Black Sabbath's hard times is definitely in order. Without understanding the context, the transition between the bludgeoning Born Again and the soft soapy Seventh Star back to The Eternal Idol just appears too baffling.

Considering the chaos surrounding Tony Iommi in 1987, The Eternal Idol is quite a good album. In 1986, the album Tony Iommi had slated to be his first solo project (Seventh Star with former Deep Purple singer/bassist Glenn Hughes) was turned into a Black Sabbath album at the last minute by Warner Bros. executives (hence, "Black Sabbath featuring Tony Iommi). It didn't sound like a Black Sabbath album because it wasn't supposed to *be* a Black Sabbath album. Nonetheless, the obligatory tour followed in which Glenn Hughes was fired after less than 10 shows for his inability to sing Sabbath's classic songs. Enter replacement the late Ray Gillen (who later fronted "Badlands" with former Ozzy Osbourne guitarist Jake E. Lee) to finish the tour and lay down the first draft of the album that would become The Eternal Idol.

By this time, Tony Iommi was the sole remaining member, and the rest of the band lacked any big name musicians (examples: Terry Chimes, Jo Burt, Dave Spitz, etc.) beyond Iommi. After the first recording of the album was complete. Ray Gillen quit feeling that Black Sabbath had no future. Any normal person would have thrown in the towel, but Tony Iommi's attitude has always been "never say die", and enter virtual unknown vocalist Tony Martin to record over all of Ray Gillen's work for the new album. The result? The Eternal Idol, and a fine album it was indeed.

After the poppy, MTV overfriendly Seventh Star, Iommi returned to basics on The Eternal Idol with some of his most memorable riffs in a long, long time. The opening track "The Shining" reintroduced the world to the monstrous Iommi riff, while other tracks like "Ancient Warrior", "The Eternal Idol" (what an incredible riff on this song - I can't believe you hate it!) and "Nightmare" get back to the steady paced doom metal that was entirely absent from Seventh Star. Other standouts here include "Born To Lose" (which featured one of Iommi's best solos of the decade) and the extremely heavy "Lost Forever". The weakest track, the acoustic instrumental "The Scarlet Pimpernel" is disposable, and yet does not sound a bit out of place here. That's something even "Fluff" and "Laguna Sunrise" can't claim!

This album will likely never get a bit of the recognition it deserves because of Tony Martin and the non-all-star players (the liner notes declare Tony Iommi as "The Player" and the rest as "The Players"), but any fan of Tony Iommi's legendary riffing and searing guitar sound should give this a listen. It's not Ozzy, it's not Paranoid, and it's definitely not bad at all. This is definitely my favorite album of all the ones recorded with Tony Martin.

Alexander Zaitsev <> (30.05.2003)


My comment will be a true story based on yesterday's events: A friend came to visit me yesterday. He's a great lover of heavy metal but he had never heard Eternal Idol and Headless Cross before, so I pulled the Eternal Idol/Headless Cross CD out of my "trash box" and decided to give the CD a second listen. My friend's first reaction was:"You think it's trash! How dare you! This is Sabbath, it RULES" "Go figure"- said I. We started listening.

After the first song my friend said:"See, it RULES" After the second song he repeated this, but when "Hard Life to Love" started, my friend started frowning, until he pushed the stop button just before the beginning of the title track. "What has happened?"- I asked, smiling-"You have just said that it Rules" " I don't want to listen to this shit"- was the reply of a Sabbath fan "But what about Headless Cross?-I asked -"Don't you want to listen to it?" "No!!! Throw this crap out of the window!!!"- he answered I tried to persuade him, but in vain.

My rating to the two albums together is 3/15. Two first tracks of Eternal Idol are good, as for the rest, I dunno. I'd rather listen to smth different.


No reader comments yet.


Pedro Andino <> (26.01.2004)

i loved tyr! i mean i can picture black sabbath playing to texas in 1990 with poison

i want action tonite ! satisfaction here tonite you got the love i need tonite!

oh yeah i tell you why iommi is in love with c c deville! i mean his licks! he also enjoy the shitty hair bands but i say joe satriani is not shitty! he's my fucking favorite! the 1990 texas world tour rocked! imagine iommi dressed as a hair metal god! in pink spandex! the spandex guy sings his heart out in one of the tunes from tyr! tyr! tyr! tyr! tyr! tyr! tyr! tyr!


Ratko Hribar <> (29.10.2001)

It seems I didn't quite meant what I said earlier, cause I did bought this one. What can I say about Dehumanizer? For example this: "Hell, yeah, Ronnie's back, and am I the thankful one."

It's a kind of reunion, and that is kinda nice. Perhaps now they will stop producing gigantic quantities of crap. Hmm, I presumed that, however, the music doesn't do a lot to convince me. And you know what, I also took this one only and exclusively because of Ronnie. I'm not sorry because of that. Dio sings marvelous, and even Tony gets much better here. There's some interesting songs like 'Computer God' (although some of your remarks are correct), but 'Master Of Insanity' can't do anything for me, cause I don't even like 'Wanton Song'. I think 'Too Late' is very nice, and 'I' is good too. Don't get me wrong, none of this songs are truly great, you could easily say that they are mediocre, but it's a step up from the usual stupidity. The music is violent, and I have no problems with that, cause that is what the dynamic duo Tony and Ronnie do best. And, yes, it could have been a masterpiece, and I think that if Ronnie stayed in the band for one more album, they really could make it a great one.

You know, I believe that Geezer wrote a lot of the lyrics, cause they aren't exactly Ronnie's style. Hey, but why did Ronnie make anther two solo albums just like Dehumanizer? Beats the hell out of me. Strange Highways and Angry Machines we're terrible albums, although Ronnie sounds strong as always. And what about Magica? Did anyone listen to that ? I hang my head in shame - I did. Man, what crap. All the songs are so slow, and the texts are so pitiful. I bored myself to death. Still, Dio sounds great, and I have to say that he still has the ultimate heavy metal voice.

In conclusion, I actually can't give Dehumanizer more than a 6.


No reader comments yet, but here's a review of the accompanying Cross Purposes Live by one of the moderators of the official Tony Iommi forum who was kind enough to send in one.

Eric Ericson The Killa <> (05.06.2003)

Here's a review of Cross Purposes Live someone on the Bill Ward Forum asked me about on February 15, 2003,(the first paragraph is the original question asked me):

"...I was wondering what people thought of this (Cross Purposes Live) album....For those who saw the Tony Martin lineup back in the day, would you say that Cross Purposes Live is a good representation of their overall live performance? And how does it compare to Live Evil?..."

Well, to me it would always be the second official live Black Sabbath album (which it is). I bought my copy of this VHS/CD set way back in 1995 & yes, it went out of print shortly after it. Now, I haven't watched the VHS portion of it in years, and I think I remember it is being in black & white too (but I might be wrong on that). If you want it, I've seen copies of the set being sold on EBay, so it's not impossible.

I love the CD of the show. Unfortunately, "The Mob Rules", "Neon Knights", and "Anno Mundi (The Vision)" aren't on the CD version of it (only on the VHS), and there is only one full Dio song, "Time Machine", on the CD. But man, what a great recording! I've heard alot of stories about how Martin was sick during most of this tour (I saw the actual show in Jacksonville Florida), but my ears can't hear it. I still say that Martin performed songs like "Sabbath Bloody Sabbath" live better than his precessors did, and it shows on this recording. If you want the track listing, here is the CD line-up of songs:

Time Machine

Children Of The Grave

I Witness

Into The Void

Black Sabbath


The Wizard

Cross Of Thorns

Symptom Of The Universe

Bobby Rondinelli Drum Solo

Headless Cross

Tony Iommi Guitar Solo

Paranoid (with Heaven & Hell Outro)

Iron Man

Sabbath Bloody Sabbath

It's a little less than 71 minutes long, but if you can find it, it's a must. The sound quality is very similar to Live Evil, but this time you can hear the audience (?) and Iommi's guitar solo is much shorter. I don't have any other bootlegs from this tour, but I did hear one (forget the name) that had "Immaculate Deception" on it as well, but didn't buy it because Cross Purposes Live was enough for me concerning owning something from this great tour, and that should say something! There has been a bootleg version of just the CD with the bonus studio track "What's The Use" added to it, so you might get lucky there.

As for the VHS portion, I just wish it was re-released on DVD. Unfortunately, it never made it to laserdisc either, so chances of say a Brazilian release isn't likely as well. That's just too bad, I would kill for a pressed DVD of it.

So as a fellow overall Sabbath fan, I suggest going to EBay & buying this great album, I myself still listen to it regularly and always enjoy it. Hell, when I was a Radio Disc Jockey in Tampa, I used to play cuts from it, and people would call and say "Who was this great band covering these Sabbath tunes?", and when I told them it was the '94 Sabbath, it made them want to buy/hear the Martin albums! Nuff said!

P.S.:I posted this response to this two days later:

Okay, some more info on this: The other recording that I mentioned before (with "Immaculate Deception"), also from the 1994 Cross Purposes tour, is called "Iron Men" recorded on March 3rd at the Universal Amphitheatre (a two-disc set). Cross Purposes Live was recorded at the Hammersmith in England (but I don't have an exact date). So yes, it is two different shows (I still prefer C.P.L.). Just a little more info on this, hope it helps.


Eric Ericson The Killa <> (05.06.2003)

I guess the main fault of Forbidden isn't actually the music as it is the production. To put it simply, it sounds like mud. Everything sounds so bassy, much like a fourth generation demo tape, it sounds that low-fidelity. That's what disappointed me with it right off the bat, after the great production sound of Dehumanizer & Cross Purposes, we get that on Forbidden.

However, some of the songs on Forbidden were really, really great! Tracks like "Rusty Angels", "Shaking Off The Chains (which sounds like it was right off the Born Again album!)", and "Sick And Tired" could of been Sabbath classics easily, but I always felt they and others on Forbidden were held back due to that "muddy" sound. Also let me note that the track "Can't Get Close Enough", if recorded properly, SHOULD of been a top-twenty Billboard hit, damn that song is catchy!

People say that Tony Martin was sick during the Cross Purposes Tour. But when I listen to Forbidden I think he wasn't well actually here. Martin's range for all the songs on the album are really shot, sometimes almost off-key. He just doesn't sound as good as the Martin we remember from Eternal Idol or Cross Purposes, or even Headless Cross (I like Headless Cross too, but not as much as those other two). Not to mention that Cozy Powell's drumming (with all due respect to the late drumming God), sounds extremely flat as well. The album is just missing that dynamic big Sabbath sound we're used to, it's not the individual songs fault, just the way they were recorded.

While I can't exactly remember how short of a time it took them to record the entire album (I think it was less than fourteen days, really!), that speedy finish time didn't work in their advantage like it did way back in 1970 with the very first Black Sabbath album. Also, they had Ernie C, formerly of the Ice-T (who "talked" vocals on the horrible "The Illusion Of Power" title track) album "Body Count" & band, produced the album & quite frankly, shouldn't of even been asked to be there in the first place. He mostly knew rap-like production styles and even though the "Body Count" album was rock oriented, it sounded "muddy" and unprofessional as well.

But let's cut Tony Iommi and his Sabbath a little slack for Forbidden though. IRS Recordings, who originally released the album, wanted to end their relationship with Black Sabbath anyway, this being the last album to fulfill the contract, so they probably didn't give Sabbath much in cash & time to complete the album the way Tony probably wanted. However, I do remember reading somewhere that Iommi wanted to keep this album raw and recording it quickly was it's main reason to get it that way, but I just don't think these results were what he was aiming for.

In closing (finally!), Forbidden is truly a mixed-bag, a couple of dirty diamonds that needed more polishing before being sold. To the die-hard Black Sabbath fans (like all of us), it's a must buy, but to the casual one, tell them to get Martin's Eternal Idol or Cross Purposes first.

RedSabbath's Stars:3 outta five


Valentin Katz <> (09.12.99)

This is one great album. You complain about the length but the length is exactly what's so attractive about it. You actually feel that you're there in Birmingham listening to Ozzy spewing his Tourette Syndrome-like lyrics and Tony's heavy and ominous chords. I'm extremely glad that they put all the early songs on there basically refraining from including anything after 1974, which is when they were going pretty much downhill. Best Song: 'Iron Man' (the fact is incontrovertible despite the weak "I AM IRON MAN" opening.

Ratko Hribar <> (29.10.2001)

Wow !!! This is a great live album, and indeed, it deserves a big fat 9. Reunion is an amazing album in all aspects, but I admit, I wanted to slap Ozzy so bad while hearing it. Why is he so obsessed with the word "fuck" in every imaginable shape? Can't he say anything else other than that ? I believe he can, when he wants. Hah, but he didn't, so I wont be able to give 10 points here (and no, that's not the only reason). Well, moving on. The choice of the songs is acceptable, but why didn't they play 'Supernaut' ? I like 'Fairies Wear Boots', 'Behind The Wall Of Sleep' and 'Into The Void' but they could have played some of the later Ozzy stuff. I mean, there are good songs even after Master Of Reality. Okay, they put four newer tracks here, but there's not a single song from Sabotage (not even 'Symptom Of The Universe' or 'Megalomania'). From Technical Ecstasy there's only one track (which I can tolerate), but I miss 'A National Acrobat' from Sabbath Bloody Sabbath. Well, let's not be spoiled. The album shreds, and I simply adore that distorted, gruffer and fat tone, although, I normally don't like live albums. "Greatest hits" packages are the best thing for me. Nevertheless, I recommend it highly to anyone who likes Sabbath, or heavy metal for that matter. Hmm, there's two studio tracks here, and both of them are quite beautiful. I mean, 'Psycho Man' is surely excellent, and even 'Selling My Soul' has something special about it. I want to point out that I don't consider 'Selling My Soul' dull, because it's too short to fall in that category, and it's even kinda catchy (I couldn't get the text out of my head). In every case, this record is the ultimate proof that old friendships, and the lack of cash, can overcome all hostilities between our happy band members. Ain't that sweet ? It sure is.

<> (29.03.2003)

This is a fucking good album that is fucking long over fucking due from a fucking band that fucking couldn't get along for a fucking long time. Annoying isn't it? I do not understand Ozzy's fascination with this word. It really gets old as George pointed out. The band sounds like they are actually having fun again. I've never cared for Ozzy as a vocalist, and it is no secret that his vocals have been "cleaned up" in the studio. This is however one of his best performances. Whether studio magic played a part remains to be seen. Tony Iommi is the star here as he delivers one powerful solo after another. I like the song selection very much, and this beats the hell out of the lame Live Evil, as much respect as I have for Ronnie James Dio as a vocalist. Why Sabbath didn't lauch a major tour after this album's success is a mystery to me.


Eric Ericson The Killa <> (23.06.2003)

Finally some of Black Sabbath's rarest and earliest live concert performances are released for the first time on a world-wide scale. To the casual fan, it's like receiving these live recordings from the vaults of Hell, to others (like myself) it's just getting better versions of what we've already had for years on bootleg. Still, everybody wins. This 2-disc set is actually four different performances of Black Sabbath between the years of 1970 thru 1975. Here's the dates & locations of those performances plus the songlist:

*December 20th, 1970/Paris France (released on bootleg as "Copper", as well as numerous other titles over the years)

**March 11th, 1973/Manchester England (released in the UK only as Live At Last)

***March 16th, 1973/London England (also released in the UK only as Live At Last)

****August 5th, 1975/Asbury Park New Jersey (released on bootleg from the King Biscuit Flower Hour as well as a title called Heaven And Earth)

1)Tomorrow's Dream** 2)Sweet Leaf** 3)Killing Yourself To Live** 4)Cornucopia** 5)Snowblind** 6)Children Of The Grave*** 7)War Pigs*** 8)Wicked World*** 9)Paranoid***

1)Hand Of Doom* 2)Hole In The Sky**** 3)Symptom Of The Universe**** 4)Megalomania**** 5)Iron Man* 6)Black Sabbath* 7)N.I.B.* 8)Behind The Wall Of Sleep* 9)Fairies Wear Boots*

The first disc has been availible for years as the England import title Live At Last, which was released in 1980 after Ozzy was released from Black Sabbath. This title was never released in America mainly due to not having Black Sabbath's (or it's label & management) consent to do so, sort of like commercially releasing a bootleg. In fact, this recording is one of the main reasons we got the 1982 release of Live Evil in the first place! Sabbath didn't want an album of live material released featuring a past line-up to conflict with the Ronnie James Dio led one at the time of it's release, and quickly started work to record & release a live album of this line-up to show what direction the band was in currently at the time. But the performance on Live At Last (Disc One of Past Lives) is pure Original Sabbath. Performances are great, sound quality for the time is good too. "Killing Yourself To Live" has slightly different lyrics than what ended up on the studio version,! mainly to the track being a work in progress at the time (these performances are from the Volume Four tour, and "Killing" was eventually on the next studio album "Sabbath Bloody Sabbath"). "Wicked World", with it's 10 minute plus guitar solo, an uncredited bit of "Supernaut", also has another rare Sabbath gem. Buried within this live opus is what most Sabbath fanatics have called "Sometimes I'm Happy/What To Do", a never studio recorded original Sabbath song, and it's a great one! Even though Disc One is from two different shows of the 1973 tour, you won't really notice the difference, and is the closest to a full concert of Sabbath's on Past Lives.....however, on Disc Two.....

Disc Two is a "best-of" presentation of two different shows & tours and at times, it really shows. But still it's a great collection of live songs. First off, "Hand Of Doom" here (from the classic Paris '70 concert) is one of the rare Sabbath tracks performed live with different lyrics than what appeared on the album (similar to "Killing"), and maybe these words should of been in the studio version instead! Also, it has the complete live version of the instrumental "Rat Salad" on it's end too, but NOT credited on the Past Lives back cover. The other tracks of the Paris performances show Sabbath at it's earliest best, performing for a very small audience while keeping great energy. The New Jersey tracks are a different story. Performed in front of a huge stadium-sized audience, this shows Sabbath at their most powerful. "Hole In The Sky", and especially "Megalomania", are the real treats from this performance, mainly due to the rare amount of times they were ever actually p! erformed. "Symptom Of The Universe" shows Ozzy at his best ever to perform this classic, and later performances he did of it show he never did it live better than here. All the tracks are far more superior to their bootleg counterparts, but it would of been nice to have either show in it's complete, unaltered form, rather than in a compilation set like here.

My main problem about Disc Two lies in the editing of the tracks together. What do you do when you have two shows, one featuring a small, less than a hundred audience members on one side, and other tracks featuring thousands? Sanctuary's answer was to add more audience where needed, faking out the average listener. However, true Sabbath fan's can hear the alterations very blatantly. Songs like "Black Sabbath" during Tony Iommi's opening guitar solo (which was NOT on the studio version, only select live performances), was silent with only the errie playing of the notes. Now there's a real fake-sounding humongous audience cheering in the back-ground at it's beginning that just doesn't sound right there. Also, sometimes you can hear the audience growing very quickly when a Paris track turns into a Jersey one. Sanctuary tried really hard to make this sound like one performance, but they should of left the performance's audience as is, and possibly faded the songs during transiti! ons. In closing though, some have complained about the quality of the sound of the Paris tracks, but trust me, they really have never sounded better, they DID do a good job on that!

In closing, Past Lives is a great first start to bring the rarest live performances to the casual Black Sabbath fan without having to search all over to get the unaltered bootlegs of these four shows. It's worth it, quite enjoyable, and once again shows that when it came to playing live, nobody came close to the Sabbath!

RedSabbath's Stars:4 outta 5.

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