Review Summary: Unlike dirty women, this album messes around a lot. Despite that, it remains an enjoyable listen, and a worthy addition to the Black Sabbath catalogue.
Black Sabbath of the early 70's released some of the heaviest, most drug-influenced and dirtiest albums ever. After their fourth effort, Black Sabbath Vol. 4, the band changed its sound. Sabbath, Bloody Sabbath, the band's fifth effort, ended its sludgy phase. The production was much cleaner, and the riffs became much more melodic. In addition, from that album and on Black Sabbath have started adding more and more progressive elements and synthesizers to their music. Despite the sound change, the album was well received among fans and critics, and it is still loved to this day. The following album, Sabotage, would drive further away from the band's original sound. Much more progressive than before, two songs in it pass the 8-minute mark, and in addition there is a heavy synth use, as clearly seen in Am I Going Insane (Radio). Sabotage was also rightfully well-acclaimed, and the problems only began to show up on their seventh studio album, Technical Ecstasy. It is considered by many the first bad Black Sabbath album.
In Technical Ecstasy, the band started experimenting a lot with different sounds and types of music. A lot of the heaviness they were known for is gone, and synth use is very prominent. Some of the tracks, and especially Rock N' Roll Doctor, can barely be considered Metal. The aforementioned is a failed attempt at making a Pop/Rock hit, while All Moving Parts (Stand Still) and Gypsy are both groovy and upbeat with some sort of Funk influences. The album also contains two ballads, It's Alright and She's Gone. The former actually being sung by the band's drummer Bill Ward. That leaves us with only three Heavy Metal songs on a Black Sabbath record, all of which are highlights of the record.
The opener Back Street Kids is fast and heavy with some great riffs and an unusual bridge to keep things interesting. The heavily synth-driven You Won't Change Me is extremely melodic and emotional, turning up to be one of the best moments of the album. The real highlight, though, is the closer Dirty Women. Almost 7 minutes in length, the songs shifts between some of the best riffs and solos the band ever preformed. The song could be easily matched against most of the songs on Sabbath, Bloody Sabbath.
Even when leaving the Metal tracks aside, the album still does have some fine moments. The two ballads are both very nice, and the vocals by Bill Ward end up being very refreshing and fitting for a ballad, even though the ballad itself comes across as slightly cheesy. In contrast, She's Gone has a beautiful atmosphere, but lacks in the vocal section, seeing as Ozzy Osbourne is not very talented singing clean. Thus, the three track span from Gypsy to Rock N' Roll Doctor is easily the worst part of the album, but all three, and especially the first two, have some nice moments that prevent them from being total ***.
Lacking in the songwriting section as it may be, some other aspects of Technical Ecstasy pick it up. The production is perfect, very much resembling the great one on Sabbath, Bloody Sabbath, and the vocals on the heavier tracks are surprisingly very well executed and end up being some of Ozzy's finest moments. That being said, his vocals on some of the other tracks are absolutely atrocious. The performance by other band members is also very good, especially the surprising vocal performance by Bill Ward.
Technical Ecstasy is an album most Sabbath fans love to hate. While the band's distinctive sound did change in it, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Despite having some bad/average tracks, the album contains some amazing and overlooked tunes. These tunes, incredible production and great performance by the band are all enough to make this album worth your time, although they aren’t enough to make Technical Ecstasy anything close to amazing, and the album does in fact mark the beginning of the downfall of Black Sabbath.
Technical Ecstasy was released in September 25, 1976. The record label is Vertigo and it is 40:35 minutes long.
- Dirty Women
- You Won't Change Me
- It's Alright
Ozzy Osbourne – vocals
Tony Iommi – guitar
Geezer Butler – bass guitar
Bill Ward – drums, lead vocals on "It's Alright"
Gerald Woodruffe – keyboard
Producer - Black Sabbath