BLACK SABBATH — Sabotage

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4.20 | 98 ratings | 6 reviews
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Album · 1975

Filed under Heavy Metal
By BLACK SABBATH

Tracklist

1. Hole In The Sky (3:59)
2. Don't Start (Too Late) (0:49)
3. Symptom Of The Universe (6:28)
4. Megalomania (9:40)
5. The Thrill Of It All (5:54)
6. Supertzar (3:43)
7. Am I Going Insane (Radio) (4:15)
8. The Writ (8:10)

Total Time 43:03

Line-up/Musicians

- Ozzy Osbourne / lead vocals, synthesizer
- Tony Iommi / guitar, piano, synthesizer, organ, harp
- Geezer Butler / bass guitar, mellotron
- Bill Ward / drums, piano

About this release

28 July 1975
Nems, Vertigo, Warner

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

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BLACK SABBATH SABOTAGE reviews

Specialists/collaborators reviews

Conor Fynes
'Sabotage' - Black Sabbath (9/10)

Like most great bands, Black Sabbath have tweaked and changed their sound gradually, maintaining a distinctive core sound, but experimenting with the way they choose to approach it. Everything since "Master of Reality" witnessed Sabbath moving ever closer to a more mellowed, progressive sound. While I felt invigorated as a listener to hear the band transform their heavy riffs into something refined and sophisticated, I could not help but miss the grit and ugliness that made the band's first two releases so great. By the point of their fifth album "Sabbath Bloody Sabbath", I could have sworn that the godfathers of heavy metal had distanced themselves from metal permanently.

Of course, a masterpiece like "Sabotage" was enough to change my mind.

I had heard alot of great things about Sabbath's sixth album before finally giving it a listen. Many fans of the band would even go as far as to tell me it was their favourite Sabbath album. Although the winning streak of excellent albums would allegedly end after this, "Sabotage" is a glorious return to the heavy metal crunch, all the way keeping their more recent prog sensibilities in mind. Although the idea of a 'return to roots' intrinsically means to take steps back and regress, the progress Black Sabbath made with sophisticated rock arrangements has not been lost. Here, the synths are subdued in exchange for a rekindled devotion to Iommi's almighty riff.

Although Ozzy Osbourne and his vocal melodies still reach for the high notes (as was the case for "Sabbath Bloody Sabbath") his vocals feel more accustomed for it. I have never considered Ozzy to be the most technically proficient vocalist, but his dynamic performance on "Sabotage" demonstrates he is capable of much more than his solo career lets on. The incredible closer and highlight "The Writ" has his vocals fit whatever mold the music warrants. The song is first filled with some classic Iommi riffage, and Osbourne's performance matches it with an intense, belting voice. Keeping in line with their progressive side however, the song then breaks into a soft, unsettling moment where Ozzy sounds almost like some of Pink Floyd frontman Roger Waters' more psychotic moments on "The Wall".

"Hole In The Sky", "Symptom of the Universe" and "Thrill of it All" are all powerful, rock-oriented songs driven by Iommi's thick riff mastery. At ten minutes long, "Megalomania" is a step above most hard rock in terms of its sophistication, fitting in crunchy guitars with piano and eerie soft spots. Although less than a minute long, "Don't Start (Too Late)" is an ample demonstration of Tony Iommi's skill with acoustic guitars, a haunting piece that sounds like a rendition of something Igor Stravinsky would do. "Am I Going Insane" is the obvious choice for a radio single here, despite being led with prog-canon moogs. Ozzy's vocals are schizoid and quirky, making it one of the catchiest tracks in Sabbath's discography.

Geezer Butler once said that "Sabotage" was so titled because the band felt that they as a band were being sabotaged by other people 'ripping them off'. Perhaps this concept may be seen as a heavy metal equivalent to Floyd's cynical dissection of the music industry in "Wish You Were Here". Although it's well-known that Black Sabbath weren't getting along too well at this point, "Sabotage" is among Sabbath's best work, perhaps rivaled only with "Paranoid" as their crowning statement. It's unfortunate that things would go downhill from here for the godfathers of metal, but I can't think of a better way for Black Sabbath to wrap up their classic era.
Warthur
An awkward, transitional album from Sabbath, with the prog-metal tendencies of Sabbath Bloody Sabbath competing with two conflicting visions of the band's future. Songs such as the pounding, energetic opener Hole In the Sky or the upbeat, almost funky The Thrill of It All showcase Sabbath as an accessible, down to earth heavy rock band. Conversely, compositions like Megalomania and the closing couplet of Am I Going Insane (Radio) and The Writ find the band becoming increasingly submerged in experimentalism and studio wizardry.

In particular, Am I Going Insane lacks lead guitar entirely and substitutes in keyboard riffs, an experiment unheard-of for Sabbath at the time, whilst The Writ alternates pounding, heavier sections with synthesiser-laden acoustic segments. All the ingredients which would come together in the critically-derided Technical Ecstasy are laid out here for all to see - the increasing abandonment of the doomy sound the band built its reputation on, the growing love affair with studio gimmicks, and internal discord within the band as to exactly what a Black Sabbath album should sound like.

It's a good, listenable album, but it isn't much better than "good". And when you have five Sabbath albums leading up to this one which each consistently knock the ball out of the park, just "good" isn't enough. Sabbath fans will doubtless sooner or later find this one in their collections, but I suspect most will find it gets much less rotation than the band's first five classic albums - or their celebrated early 1980s material with Dio.
bonnek
After the big ambitions of Sabbath Bloody Sabbath, Sabbath found a new balance between experimental tendencies and their capital strength, writing heavy metal material. This is a far more accomplished album then Sabbath Bloody Sabbath. It even sounds spectacular!

Really, Hole In The Sky and Symptom of the Universe are amazing metal songs. Ozzy has adapted a more hoarse delivery and puts in an amazing performance, lots better then his winy snarl on the two preceding albums. Megalomania must be one of Sabbath’s longest tracks and they accomplish the mission very well. Also The Thrill of it All is superb, driven by a great riff and Ozzy doing an actual vocal melody instead of just singing along with the riff. Even the chord change halfway through is successful and gives the song a very uplifting mood. Huh? Sabbath, uplifting?

Supertzar is a slightly experimental track and Am I going Insane a surprisingly psychedelic track, as if Syd Barrett dropped in during the recordings sessions. It’s an unusual track for Sabbath and I used to hate it fervently, but actually the happy bouncy music gives a nice twist to the morbid subject material. Sabbath? Humorous?

The closing track The Writ is another winner. Real dirty blues with Ozzy still in fine form. I also like the watery bass guitar effect on the quiet parts. Even the melodrama in the second half is most convincing.

I wouldn’t recommend this album as your Sabbath starting point, but if you're looking to complete your Ozzy-fronted Sabbath catalogue then this one is right behind the first 3 albums
Pekka
For some reason Sabotage is often omitted from the list of the classic Ozzy era Sabbath albums. Whatever that reason may be, I have no idea, since this album is very much up to and above the par set by the five previous albums.

Hole in the Sky has perhaps my favourite Ozzy vocal track ever, the power of his delivery surpassing most of everything I've ever heard him do. Along with the crushing Symptom of the Universe, preceded by a short instrumental in the vein of Embryo and Orchid, they start the album with a fabulous bang, Sabbath at their fiercest best, though the latter also includes a laid-back, almost flamenco-like section with lots of layering acoustic guitars and percussion. Megalomania further illustrated the band's versatility and the growing prog influences, with vocal effects, keyboards, epic form and tempo changes. Wonderful track as well.

As was the case with their previous near-masterpiece Sabbath Bloody Sabbath, the second side of the album is a bit of a let down after the brilliant first. In the Sabbath Bloody Sabbath biography book by Joel McIver one of the bandmembers, the indentity of whom I've forgotten, confessed that he had lost all recollections of a track called The Thrill of It All, but I say he should give it a listen again, as it's a very good, if a tad shapeless piece combining some slow power chord rocking, a rather gorgeous piano-flavored midsection and an uptempo finale with synth melodies. The dark instrumental Supertzar continues the experimentalism with heavy choirs, pizzicato strings and, if I'm not mistaken, a glockenspiel accompanying the riffing Tony Iommi. Am I Going Insane (Radio) is the least effective track of the album, even though it does convey well the feeling expressed in the title. Not least in the disturbing laughter outro. Ozzy returns to his angry self on The Writ, another album highlight, apparently addressing the band's management problems.

Six great albums in just as many years, while keeping a tight touring and drug taking schedule. It would start taking its toll soon, but up to this point the band was untouchable. Another classic from the original Sabbath.
Time Signature
Metallomania...

Genre: hard rock / heavy metal

Ignoring the dates and silly cover, "Sabotage" is another great Black Sabbath classic, containing a number of classics. And, as with virtually all other early Sabbath albums, there are inklings of things to come in the world of metal on this one.

For instance, "Hole in the Sky" with its groovy blues scale based riff is a sort of precursor of the type of groove metal, and later sludge metal, that was popularized in the 90s by many thrash metal bands who tried to update their sound - "Force of Habit"-era Exodus, "I Hear Black"-era Overkill, and "Independent"-era Sacred Reich, for instance, that latter of which contains a song called "Crawling" that is very close to "Hole in the Sky".

Likewise, "Symptom of the Universe" (ignoring the nice acoustic bridge) is a type of precursor of thrash metal with its dark chucking main riff.

Other notable tracks are the dark, yet cinematically epic, "Supertzar" whose choir arrangement has a certain power metal sensibility to it, the heavier "Megalomania", and "Thrill of it All" with its catchy pre-80s metal main riff.

"Sabotage" belongs in any metal collection.

Members reviews

SouthSideoftheSky
Megalomania

I have been a major fan of Black Sabbath for a major part of my life. Sabotage is in my opinion one of Black Sabbath's very best albums. Indeed, together with Master Of Reality and Sabbath Bloody Sabbath, it ranks as one of my favourite albums of all time by any band. Sabotage represents for me the very peak of Black Sabbath's progressive Heavy Metal era. It is a million miles more elaborated and adventurous than Paranoid or Vol. 4. You can really tell that they worked on this album longer than any of the other albums they did in the 70's. This is easily the most progressive Black Sabbath album.

The album opens with Hole In The Sky with a typical Iommi guitar riff, this song is then interrupted by the hyperactive acoustic guitar piece Don't Start (Too Late) and this, in turn, leads directly into Symptom Of The Universe. This song features one of Iommi's best and most memorable riffs and the drumming is frenzied here. Towards the end of this song it changes radically and a funky, acoustic part is introduced with something of a 'hippie' feel to it. I don't understand why they don't play that part of the song live, it is brilliant!

Megalomania is another great piece of music with many great tempo, and mood changes throughout its almost ten minutes running time. When you hear the beginning of this track you couldn't really imagine were it is going to end up! Sabbath once again offers great surprises.

The Thrill Of It All starts in typical Black Sabbath fashion and the beginning sounds like something from Vol. 4, a bit bluesy and not very fast paced. Then it suddenly changes into a heavy riff and the vocal melody enters. A bit further into the track it changes again, it slows down, piano and discrete synthesisers enter and the vocal melody becomes more bluesy and funky until the first part comes back. Brilliant stuff!

Supertzar is a symphonic Metal instrumental with a choir and heavy riffing to marching drums. Amazing!

Am I Going Insane (Radio) is a very good song dominated by vocals and driven by synthesizers and guitar chords, no heavy riffs in this one. This song ends with insane laughs that segue into the last track, The Writ. This is another fantastic piece of over eight minutes similar to Megalomania. There are several different riffs and melodies in this one, with slower parts among the heavier parts. Overall, the tempo is a bit slower than in the other tracks. At the very end of this track there is a very short song called Blow On A Jug which was recorded at a very low volume. If you turn the volume up loud enough you can hear it, but you really shouldn't because it adds nothing to the album.

If you don't own this classic album you should get it now. I'm in awe every time I hear this gem. It is essential listening for anyone with an interest in Heavy and/or progressive music.

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