Review Summary: Following a stretch of four masterful albums in three years, the effects of writer's block did not stop this masterpiece from coming into existence. The absolute best in the long career of Black Sabbath.
The year was 1973, and Black Sabbath were on a run of the ages with a string of four albums that defined a new genre of music, heavy metal. Around this time though, writer's block hit the band, and the four members could not think of new material for their fifth studio album at the time. The band went to the Clearwell Castle in England to rehearse and think of some new ideas. It was in this dungeon that guitarist Tony Iommi came up with the riff that "saved Black Sabbath", also known as the opening to the title track "Sabbath Bloody Sabbath". This track was also the title of the album and a fine title it is, with fantastic cover art as well, by Drew Struzan. With this, the review will now begin as we take an insightful look at the pinnacle of the career of Black Sabbath.
Ozzy Osbourne- Vocals
Tony Iommi- Guitar
Geezer Butler- Bass
Bill Ward- Drum
Sabbath Bloody Sabbath:
This album takes no time in making you a satisfied customer when buying it because the second that the album starts, you are treated to one of Iommi's greatest riffs. You are then treated to one of the best vocal performances that Osbourne has ever put into a song from the hard, raw emotion of the opening verse, to the softer, more mellow, parts of the album, and then top the final doomy part of this behemoth of a song. This is one of Black Sabbath's greatest songs without a doubt. The band fired on all cylinders with this song because every instrument performance was masterful and the vocals were top notch for Ozzy. This is actually my favorite song that has been made by Black Sabbath and one of the greatest metal songs that has ever been made, and I am not kidding. Every metal fan needs to hear this song at least once.
A National Acrobat:
Once again, after the intensity of the title track, the listener is then given another one of Iommi's greatest riffs on this album. The bass is definitely top-notch here and this is without a doubt another masterful vocal performance by Osbourne. The drums here are also at their highest capabilities. The most insightful of Black Sabbath fans know of the existence of this song, while it is often overlooked on greatest hits albums. I believe that this song is another one of Sabbath's finest songs to date. Most importantly, this song needs more recognition in the Sabbath community.
At this point, one might wonder how much more awesome this album can get. This is not like the first two songs, most of all because it is an instrumental song. The guitar is acoustic this time, but Iommi still handles it with the utter talent that he has been gifted with. While this song is the worst on the album, in my opinion, it is worth a few good listens, but is nothing extremely remarkable, but overall, still a good track.
Another doozy of a song that picks up right where "A National Acrobat" leaves off. Another great performance by the instrumental performers. I really love the drums on this song, while it is not outrageous, it is definitely felt on this song, and Osbourne has delivered, quite possibly the best vocal performance of his life on this song. Another Black Sabbath song that is often overlooked, but not as much a "A National Acrobat". This might be the second or third best track on the album, and in my top 20 Ozzy-Era Black Sabbath songs, and it might even crack the top ten. Overall, a fantastic song.
Killing Yourself to Live:
It seems like a recurring pattern, but once again, Iommi has another fantastic guitar performance. The presence of Butler's bass is felt as usual. Osbournes vocals are very good on this song also. The drumming of Ward is also present, albeit in a smaller proportion than in "Sabbra Cadabra". Overall, this is another amazing song that needs to be listened to by every Sabbath fan out there. If this was placed as the third song on the album, the A-side of the original record may have been the greatest of any metal album to be released. This is how formidable of an album that "Sabbath Bloody Sabbath" is.
Who are You?:
This song is pure filler it seems, to be completely honest. Yet, that does not mean that it is a bad song. It is easily the worst vocal performance of Osbourne on the album, but still very good to say the least. The use of synthesizers is strange to listen to, but grows on you in time, so no harm, no foul. Overall, a good song, not the best on the album, but not the worst.
Looking For Today:
This is uppity Sabbath and a diverse way to distance itself from the previous track. The song is also filler in my mind. Once again, it is a good song, but not the best, or the worst. Every performer is also damn fine on this song.
The conclusion of the album and it is just a fantastic ending. It seamlessly closes the book on a great album. The vocals are great with Ozzy shining bright and Iommi doing his great guitar work as usual. The drums of Bill Ward are also very good on this song, but Geezer Butler's bass is not heard as well as on other songs. The lack of Butler's instrumental presence on this song is made up by his fantastic lyrics. This has easily the greatest lyrics of any Black Sabbath song that I have ever heard, and probably, ever will hear. This is an amazing conclusion to such a great album.
In conclusion, "Sabbath Bloody Sabbath" was released in December, 1973 to a positive reception from fans and critics alike. This album is considered to be the pinnacle of the career of Black Sabbath, and the last great album of the Ozzy-Era, but I think Sabotage is only topped by this album in the Black Sabbath catalog. It should also be noted that the use of orchestral instruments were present in some of these songs, most present in "Looking For Today" and "Spiral Architect". Overall, this is not only the best Black Sabbath album, it may be one of the best metal albums of all time.
Sabbath Bloody Sabbath- 5.0/5.0
A National Acrobat- 5.0/5.0
Sabbra Cadabra- 5.0/5.0
Killing Yourself to Live- 4.5/5.0
Who are You?- 3.5/5.0
Looking For Today- 4.0/5.0
Spiral Architect- 5.0/5.0
5.0/5.0 Classic (I would put it as masterpiece, but that can't be done on this website)