BLACK SABBATH — Sabbath Bloody Sabbath

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BLACK SABBATH - Sabbath Bloody Sabbath cover
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Album · 1973

Filed under Heavy Metal
By BLACK SABBATH

Tracklist

1. Sabbath Bloody Sabbath (5:45)
2. A National Acrobat (6:13)
3. Fluff (4:08)
4. Sabbra Cadabra (5:57)
5. Killing Yourself To Live (5:41)
6. Who Are You? (4:10)
7. Looking For Today (5:01)
8. Spiral Architect (5:31)

Total Time 42:30

Line-up/Musicians

- Ozzy Osbourne / vocals, synthesiser
- Tony Iommi / guitar, piano, synthesiser, organ, flute
- Geezer Butler / bass guitar, synthesiser, mellotron
- Bill Ward / drums, timpani, bongos

- Rick Wakeman / piano, mini moog (track 4)

About this release

1 December 1973
Vertigo, Warner

Thanks to Time Signature, Stooge, Pekka, Lynx33 for the updates

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The Crow
Maybe the most progressive Black Sabbath's album... But also their best? I don't think so.

Heavily dealing with drug abuse, the band decided to make a more symphonic and progressive approach for their songs. In addition, with the band fully stablished as one of the strongest rock bands of their time they had enough money to make a lavish and rich production.

However, I think they lost some of their charm in the process and this raw power that their first albums had. The guitars are not so hard this time, Iommi's solos are not so good and Ozzy incorporated his typical synthetized and filtered vocals that would become his trademark from this record till now. Bill Ward and Geezer maintained their typical and powerful sound nevertheless.

Let's talk about the songs!

Sabbath Bloody Sabbath is the best track of the album, introducing a very hard and splendid riff which leads to a more psychedelic chorus. The second riff is even better and it has surprising high-pitched vocals from Ozzy. This song is, like Wheels of Confusion in Vol. 4, a successful attempt to broaden the musical range of the band this time even more progressive than before.

A National Acrobat starts in a very Vol. 4 style, but with the aforementioned synthetized vocals. It is a sort of diabolical hard rock with great wah wah guitars and a very progressive part after the fifth minute. Very good! Sadly, Fluff is a letdown in the album. A song in the style of Laguna Sunrise but less inspired despite its good keyboards.

However, Sabbra Cadabra raises the mood with a very rock n' roll feeling. It's an accelerated and funny song with Rick Wakemann keyboards and lot of progressive influences. In addition, it also contains a great piano improvisation towards the end. A fine surprise! Killing Yourself to live starts with a weak riff, but after that the song gets better with good melodies and doubled guitars in the solo. Nevertheless, is a sort of lackluster.

And another lackluster is Who Are You?, a strange and dark song driven by synthesizers which is a bit boring despite its obscure lyrics. Looking for Today is better, despite being a bit too positive and festive in comparison to previous Sabbath's releases. The psychedelic influences appear again in the chorus in the form of mellow acoustic guitars and flutes. Fine song.

Spiral Architect is another interesting moment of this album, because it has surprising orchestral arrangements. It starts with precious acoustic guitars which lead to a riff which reminds me to The Who every time a hear it. After that we have a soft hard rock song again very festive and happy, with unfitting lysergic lyrics. Strange and not really brilliant, but interesting anyway.

Conclusion: tons of keyboards, mellotron, synthetisers and even orchestral arrangements.... Black Sabbath evolved their sound thank to the influences of the successful symphonic and progressive rock at the time Sabbath Bloody Sabbath was recorded. Sadly, the songwriting was not so outstanding this time, and they lost a bit of strength in their guitars and riffs too.

This album has great songs and very good intentions. And it's also a capital and influential record for the developement of heavy metal and hard rock. But as a whole, I think it was their less stellar release since their debut.

Best Tracks: Sabbath Bloody Sabbath, A National Acrobat, Sabbra Cadabra.

My rating: ****

This review was originally written for ProgArchives.com
Conor Fynes
'Sabbath Bloody Sabbath' - Black Sabbath (8/10)

With "Volume Four", Black Sabbath developed upon the progressive themes they had planted in their previous record, "Master of Reality". Although their sound was still well-rooted in the heavy metal grit they introduced themselves to the world by, Sabbath exchanged some of their less refined sensibilities for more sophisticated arrangements and a generally more artsier approach than what they had gone for prior. "Sabbath Bloody Sabbath" continues this development, albeit to a lesser degree of evolution than witnessed by their last step forward. Although the cover art implies something ripped from the bowels of hell, Black Sabbath had never sounded so refined, their style creeping ever closer to the world of prog rock. "Sabbath Bloody Sabbath" may be less of a surprise than "Volume Four", but the band's firmer grasp of their 'new direction' results in a slightly superior realization of the 'prog' Sabbath.

Proggers will be quick to point out that Yes key wizard Rick Wakeman plays keys here. Indeed, he backs up the band with some inventive piano work on "Sabbra Cadabra", but it's nothing that would have been beyond the talents of Tony Iommi. Although the light timbre of the piano would have stuck out like Michael Jackson at a Klan meeting on "Paranoid", Black Sabbath had steadily built up an openness to using this and other 'pretty' sounding instruments in their work. The excellent instrumental "Fluff" is ample demonstration of the band's fully realized 'softer side'. Of course, the majority of this and any Black Sabbath album still resorts around their brand of thick, heavy rock.

This may be the first album of Black Sabbath's career where I cannot identify a true standout track that could be promised a place on a best-of compilation. "Sabbath Bloody Sabbath" still triumphs over its predecessor for the fact that it manages to pursue these progressive sounds with consistency. Sabbath have still not entirely regained their doomy heaviness, but it's certainly a harder rocking effort than "Volume Four". "A National Acrobat" is my favourite from the album, a slower track with a beautiful dual harmonized guitar lead that foreshadows the music of another legendary British metal band. "Who Are You" is a gloomy throwback to Black Sabbath's doom roots, glorifying the synthesizer and featuring some of the band's most sophisticated orchestrations to date. "Spiral Architect" (the namesake of an excellent Norwegian prog metal band, by the way) is an upbeat and fitting way to close the album, with acoustic and electric guitars backed up with a Beatles-esque string arrangement. Excellent stuff.

Although I did remark that Ozzy Osbourne's vocals had never sounded so powerful and evocative on "Volume Four", there is the constant feeling here that he is attempting to go past what is comfortable for his vocal range. Although some of his 'high notes' don't sound too bad, there are points where the strain in his voice is well evident, and it leaves him with less room to explore the emotion of his singing. Of course, it's that sort of adventurous spirit that largely defines this stage of Black Sabbath's development. Not everything was prone to work perfectly, but they did it anyway. In the case of "Sabbath Bloody Sabbath", it's very clear that they learned some things since "Volume Four". The sound is a little more focused, the compositions more consistent, and the orchestrations more sophisticated. It could have been easily expected given the band's impressive track record, but Black Sabbath's fifth instalment is an excellent album.
Warthur
Whilst previous Black Sabbath albums included a few synthesisers and keyboards here on there, their use was mainly restricted to the occasional stab at more progressive rock-sounding tracks between the heavy songs that were their main focus. On Sabbath Bloody Sabbath, the group finally integrated the synthesisers into the main songs on the album, perhaps inspired by the influence of Rick Wakeman, who had befriended the band whilst they were recording the album whilst his own band, Yes, were recording Tales from Topographic Oceans, and even agreed to sit in as a guest musician on the uplifting Sabbra Cadabra.

Elsewhere on the album, the band integrate the doomy sound of their first two albums with the more mainstream approach of Volume Four on songs such as the title track and Killing Yourself to Live, whilst songs like Spiral Architect and A National Acrobat involve new heights of experimentation and complexity which suggest a fusion of progressive rock and proto-doom metal. Whilst modern-day prog metal acts don't revere this album to the same extent that today's doom metal artists and sludge merchants worship the first two or three Sabbath albums, Sabbath Bloody Sabbath still deserves to be acknowledged as one of the first albums to suggest that sort of blending of the styles. Arguably, it's the last Sabbath album to be quite so trailblazing and influential, at least in terms of the Ozzy era.
bonnek
On Sabbath Bloody Sabbath they tried to expand their style a bit by tying some progressive moog doodling from mr Wakeman, who puts in a fine performances here by the way (take it from a non-fan :) They also tried to diversify their song writing into something more polished and mature. This has certainly charmed the progressive rock audiences but even though it works quite well on some songs, the attempts to broaden the sound can not mask that things were going downhill for Sabbath.

Especially Ozzy has lost something for me, he’s sure singing very passionately and he looks fresh and crisp like a schoolboy on the back cover but he has this very winy tone in this voice here, it's not the human incarnation of the hoofed Prince Of Darkness anymore but rather resembling the sound of a goat that you stepped on the tail.

Anyway, the first two tracks together with Sabra Cadabra and Killing Yourself are brilliant, the rest of the album gets painful at times. Especially the vocals on Looking for Today and Spiral Architect are mediocre, not to say cringe-worthy. Too far fetched for Ozzy’s possibilities. Even Wakeman’s nice mellotron parts can’t mask that.

My conclusion is that Sabbath should be applauded for the ambition and the drive to go forward and explore other lands. But it doesn’t sound like they felt very good at easy there. The most effective songs on the album are the simplest ones.

Besides, some band pictures reveal that Iommi had cut his hair and his moustache during this period. That sounds like a serious identity crisis to me! 3.5 stars.
Time Signature
Metal bloody metal...

Genre: hard rock / heavy metal

"Sabbath Bloody Sabbath" is yet another great album by metal pioneers Black Sabbath. Given that this album was released in 1973, it's actually quite well produced, and musically, it's mostly a solid hard rocking effort.

The title track and "National Acrobat" are both heavy and melodic, and with a sense of melancholy to them, and they are among some of my favorite metal and hard rock tunes ever, and Ozzy's vocals are exceptionally good on "National Acrobat" I think. "Killing Yourself to Live" and "Who Are You" are also heavy and doomladen with riffs that only the likes of Iommi could come up with. The latter also makes use of rather spacy synths, which workd fine. The acoustic tracks on the album are also very captivating, but I must admit that I think that the hard rockers "Sabbra Cadabra" and "Spiral Architect" are a bit mediocre by Sabbath's standards (althouhg I do like the uplifting main riff od the latter).

"Sabbath Bloody Sabbath" is a nearly perfect metal/hardrock album which belongs in any metal and rock collection.
Pekka
By 1973 Black Sabbath had been shaping up a new heavier brand of rock with four excellent albums, and with that year's Sabbath Bloody Sabbath they were definitely not slowing down. The über-heavy riffing of the title track must have been as shocking for general public at the time as the devilish orgy depicted on the front cover, and while pushing for new extremes in heaviness they once again managed to produce a very diverse album of high quality songs.

One of the great underappreciated gems in the Sabbath discography is A National Acrobat, part of which Metallica had the sense to incorporate into their cover of another track of this album, Sabbra Cadabra. The former is a mostly mid-tempo multi-part song featuring some masterful riffs by Tony Iommi and a wild instrumental section, while Sabbra Cadabra is a surprisingly fast and happily rocking song about love, interestingly featuring the prog wizard Rick Wakeman on keyboards. They both sandwitch a lovely acoustic instrumental called Fluff, and next up is one of my absolute Sabbath favourites, Killing Yourself to Live. Great groove, melodies, and the chorus riff is absolutely crushingly fan-tas-tic. And did I mention Ozzy's vocal work which just keeps on getting better by the years? It does, and would still be even better on the next album.

This album is unfortunately held from complete greatness by two rather fillerish tracks. Who Are You with it's campy scifi synthesizers and the plain rocker Looking for Today just aren't nearly as impressive as the rest of the material, but luckily nothing I'd ever want to skip either. The album ends on a high note with Spiral Architect, a fitting rather calm closer with some nice string accompaniments.

Despite slight inconsistency one of the finest Black Sabbath albums ever and a classic heavy metal album worth everyone's time.

Members reviews

ProgMetaller2112
Ah, we have come to "the album" of Sabbath for me.If you were to ask me or talk to me about Black Sabbath and my favorite from theirs I would instantly tell you "Sabbath Bloody Sabbath" without hesitation.There is just something about this one that I love and I don't know what it is,ha.In my opinion, when it comes to Black Sabbath it does not get much better than Sabbath Bloody Sabbath and what an album it is.Released in 1973, Sabbath Bloody Sabbath contained some of the most daring experiments from Sabbath(like adding synthesizers and making a really peaceful and soothing instrumental in Fluff) yet as well as some of the heaviest sh%% that they have done(of course).They even had a guest appearance from Prog Rock legend Rick Wakeman(of Yes fame) on the album.Now for the goodies(the music)"Why do I love it?" Let me illustrate it for you as best as I can.First, the music on here is probably their most progressive in nature(aside from probably Sabotage)and I love Prog and experimentation and Sabbath hits it really good on here in my opinion.There is also a good share of melody on here too(Ozzy does a fantastic job on vocals as well).Second, the lyrics are just some of the best that Sabbath has done(I love the phrasing on Spiral Architect as it truly gives me chills)tackling deep subject matter such as questioning religion and God(Who Are You?) and other overall dark matters.I have made this review longer than others(not on purpose though I just had to get this one off my chest).Yet again, Sabbath comes up with another classic!!
SouthSideoftheSky
No "fluff" here!

After the somewhat directionless Volume Four, Black Sabbath once again got back on track with Sabbath Bloody Sabbath. With this album, Black Sabbath really started to take their progressive ambitions seriously. The progressive aspects had, of course, been there all along in their music, and albums like the groundbreaking debut or the masterpiece Master Of Reality were particularly strong in progressive tendencies. With the exception of Master Of Reality however, Sabbath Bloody Sabbath was Black Sabbath's most progressive album up to that point and also one of their best very best ones. I guess that Master Of Reality and Sabotage will always be my favourites, but Sabbath Bloody Sabbath is really great too. There are no weak moments as such on this album, but I feel that there is less urgency and flow here than on Master Of Reality and Sabotage. Still, nearly every track here is a true classic!

The excellent closer Spiral Architect features a very symphonic introduction and Sabbra Caddabra, which has a more Rock 'N' Roll feeling at times, features a guest spot by none other than Rick Wakeman on keyboards! It is a common mistake to think that Rick played keyboards on the whole album but it is clear to my ears that the rest of the album's keyboards were not played by Rick. Fluff is Toni Iommi's traditional acoustic piece and it is again a very good one, perhaps it is a bit too long for its own good, though.

For me this is one of Black Sabbath's best albums and a near-perfect album in its own right. A must for all fans of the heavier side of Prog or the proggier side of Heavy Metal.

Very highly recommended!
Raff
By 1973, the Birmingham quartet had already taken the rock world by storm, and were ready to explore new musical pastures. For a band whom many consider to be the antithesis of progressive rock, they had worn those influences rather visibly on their first, legendary album, and occasionally on the three that followed. However, for their fifth release, Black Sabbath decided to pull out all the stops, and record an album that bears more than a simple relation to prog, all the while keeping true to their metal roots.

The first clearly noticeable thing about "Sabbath Bloody Sabbath" (besides the elaborately, stylishly disturbing cover artwork) are the vastly improved production values, which emphasize the complex song structures and confer a definitely more melodic quality to the band's music - instead of pushing for a raw, 'wall-of-sound' effect like on their previous releases. Clarity is the key word here - Tony Iommi's monstrous, hypnotic riffs shine like rough diamonds, enriched by the constant presence of keyboards (courtesy of prog legend Rick Wakeman) and other assorted instruments which in the past one would have hardly associated with BS. The rhythm section of Butler and Ward is also more distinctly audible, and not reduced to a murky background roar. Moreover, it is quite evident that the individual members' technical proficiency has improved, as well as their compositional skills. All of this makes SBS the band's most musically accomplished album so far.

While the title-track opens the album by closely following the style of Sabbath's earlier albums, with Ozzy's voice at its whiniest over Iommi's crunching, relentless riffing - a real, heavy metal behemoth of a song - "A National Acrobat" (at over 6 minutes, the longest song on the album) suddenly steers things into a different territory. In spite of the band's trademark riff galore, there is also an air of melody and sophistication which is further developed throughout the album. Gentle, wistful instrumental "Fluff" offers a moment of respite before "Sabbra Cadabra", the only track in which Wakeman is explicitly credited, contributing his brilliant piano lines to this driving, energetic heavy rocker.

The second part of the album is also the most progressive, with keyboards taking centre stage, and song structures becoming increasingly more elaborate. The sneaky, obsessive synthesizer riff of "Who Are You?", mimicked by Ozzy's eerie vocal tones, relaxes into a beautiful piano interlude. "Killing Yourself to Live", one of the most complex songs on the album, contains a bitter, sarcastic indictment of the music industry, driven by Iommi's corrosive riffing and Ozzy's sneering vocals. While "Looking for Today" is a more upbeat piece, featuring assorted keyboards and even flute, "Spiral Architect", one of the album's highlights, alternates slow, melancholy, orchestra-backed parts with more dynamic, riff-driven ones. Incidentally, the sci-fi-inspired lyrics are somewhat reminiscent of what their American 'counterpart', Blue Oyster Cult, were doing in the same period.

One of the earliest examples of crossover between progressive rock and heavy metal, "Sabbath Bloody Sabbath" has a lot to offer to the discerning listener. Even if lacking the shock value and groundbreaking power of their self-titled debut, this is an awesome slice of heavy yet intelligent music, and (together with that big favourite of mine, 1980's "Heaven and Hell") their most mature offering.

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