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1211 reviews/ratings
THOUGHT INDUSTRY - Songs for Insects Technical Thrash Metal | review permalink
THOUGHT INDUSTRY - Mods Carve the Pig: Assassins, Toads and God's Flesh Technical Thrash Metal | review permalink
NOKTURNAL MORTUM - Lunar Poetry Symphonic Black Metal | review permalink
CARACH ANGREN - Where The Corpses Sink Forever Symphonic Black Metal | review permalink
KING CRIMSON - In The Court Of The Crimson King Proto-Metal | review permalink
MEGADETH - Rust in Peace Thrash Metal | review permalink
QUEENSRŸCHE - Operation: Mindcrime Progressive Metal | review permalink
INFECTIOUS GROOVES - The Plague That Makes Your Booty Move... It's the Infectious Grooves Funk Metal | review permalink
BEHEMOTH - Demigod Death Metal | review permalink
KYUSS - Welcome To Sky Valley Stoner Metal | review permalink
METALLICA - Master of Puppets Thrash Metal | review permalink
METALLICA - ...And Justice for All Thrash Metal | review permalink
SLAYER - Reign in Blood Thrash Metal | review permalink
DARKTHRONE - A Blaze in the Northern Sky Black Metal | review permalink
BROCAS HELM - Black Death US Power Metal | review permalink
BROCAS HELM - Defender of the Crown US Power Metal | review permalink
BUMBLEFOOT - Ron Thal / Hermit Progressive Metal | review permalink
BUMBLEFOOT - Ron Thal / The Adventures Of Bumblefoot Progressive Metal | review permalink
EDGE OF SANITY - Crimson Melodic Death Metal | review permalink
BUMBLEFOOT - Hands Progressive Metal | review permalink

See all reviews/ratings

Metal Genre Nb. Rated Avg. rating
1 Non-Metal 154 2.94
2 Alternative Metal 122 2.95
3 Progressive Metal 102 3.97
4 Avant-garde Metal 95 3.94
5 Hard Rock 90 3.50
6 Black Metal 68 3.67
7 Metal Related 62 3.45
8 Heavy Metal 57 3.78
9 Technical Death Metal 47 4.00
10 Proto-Metal 33 4.00
11 Thrash Metal 31 3.55
12 Death Metal 31 3.94
13 Atmospheric Black Metal 20 3.75
14 Folk Metal 16 3.91
15 Glam Metal 14 3.61
16 Power Metal 14 3.79
17 Technical Thrash Metal 14 3.79
18 NWoBHM 13 4.15
19 Industrial Metal 13 3.81
20 Funk Metal 12 4.17
21 Atmospheric Sludge Metal 12 4.17
22 Death-Doom Metal 12 3.75
23 Symphonic Black Metal 11 4.18
24 Sludge Metal 10 3.75
25 Brutal Death Metal 10 3.65
26 Hardcore Punk 10 3.55
27 Doom Metal 9 4.11
28 Metalcore 8 3.75
29 Neoclassical metal 8 3.69
30 US Power Metal 8 3.63
31 Stoner Metal 7 3.86
32 Groove Metal 7 3.50
33 Melodic Black Metal 7 4.07
34 Mathcore 6 3.92
35 Gothic Metal 6 3.67
36 Grindcore 6 3.42
37 Speed Metal 6 3.42
38 War Metal 5 3.90
39 Drone Metal 5 3.50
40 Depressive Black Metal 4 3.75
41 Deathcore 4 3.13
42 Heavy Alternative Rock 4 3.50
43 Melodic Death Metal 4 4.00
44 Symphonic Metal 4 4.13
45 Nu Metal 3 3.33
46 Traditional Doom Metal 3 3.33
47 Pagan Black Metal 2 4.50
48 Stoner Rock 2 4.25
49 Heavy Psych 2 4.50
50 Goregrind 2 2.50
51 Crossover Thrash 2 4.75
52 Funeral Doom Metal 2 4.25
53 Electronicore 1 2.00
54 Crust Punk 1 2.50
55 Cybergrind 1 3.50
56 Death 'n' Roll 1 3.50
57 Deathgrind 1 3.00
58 Melodic Metalcore 1 4.00
59 Nintendocore 1 3.50
60 Metal Related Genres 1 4.00
61 Pornogrind 1 0.50
62 Rap Metal 1 1.00
63 Trance Metal 1 1.00
64 Viking Metal 1 4.50

Latest Albums Reviews

BLACK SABBATH Sabotage

Album · 1975 · Heavy Metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
What sounds like just like a form of wordplay on the band name BLACK SABBATH, SABOTAGE, the final album of the classic mandatory six found the quartet of Ozzy Osbourne, Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler and Bill Ward culminating all the heavy metal thunder one last time before the band effectively lost all momentum and quickly fell from grace. SABOTAGE is also one of the most misunderstood and least appreciated of the big six but for us diehard fans the album ranks very well near the top of the mighty SABBATH’s canon for being one of the most intricately crafted and esoterically interesting of the bunch. Graced with epic proto-prog compositions that eschew conventional songwriting with a fiery passion reinvigorated that allowed more experimental touches to seep in, SABOTAGE allowed SABBATH one last moment of musical glory before the band hit a creative brick wall. The album while seemingly random in many ways actually makes a lot more sense once the story behind it is unmasked. The tale is somewhat hinted upon with the oddball album cover that shows the band’s reflection in the mirror behind being SABOTAGED.

SABBATH had a phenomenally successful run with the first five albums but like many rock bands of the era found themselves in the spoils of riches which led to hedonistic drug abuse rituals and incessant bouts of self-indulgence. Around the time of “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath” the band discovered that the management had been ripping them off all along and siphoning funds like a parasitic scourge. SABOTAGE was created during the time when the litigation against former manager Patrick Meehan and others was taking place. Many of the references on the album are derived from the experiences of this period of time and despite the stress that the never-ending legal battles generated, the incident seems to have reinvigorated the fiery passion of distrust, paranoia and rage against the machine that made the first two SABBATH albums so amazingly focused. Despite all odds, the band seemed to channel all of the angst into crafting one of the most sophisticated and fine-tuned albums of its career. While SABOTAGE usually ranks last of the classic period amongst the general fanbase, the album that requires more than the average spins before digesting is actually one of the band’s highest artistic statements.

SABOTAGE is a unique mix of stylistic approaches. Not only does it contain some of the band’s heaviest moments such as the crushing “Symptom Of The Universe” which some cite as one of the first blueprints of thrash metal (another would be Queen’s “Sheer Heart Attack” the prior year) but the album also contains the bizarre “Supertzar” which while based on Iommi’s guitar riffing, employed the English Chamber Choir to ululate wordless vocalizations which eerily accompanied the heavy metal thunder. The opening “Hole In The Sky” sets an important tone of blistering heaviness that evokes the zeitgeist of earlier albums like “Paranoid” and the short acoustic guitar snippet “Don’t Start (Too Late)” which i always assumed was about taking political action was actually an inside joke that referred to tape operator David Harris who was often frustrated because they band would start playing before he was ready to begin recording. The less than a minute echoed guitar sequence reminisces of the short instrumentals on “Master Of Reality” and provides the perfect fluffer between the heavy metal bombast of “Hole In The Sky” and the soul crushing uptempo heaviness of “Symptom Of The Universe, arguably one of the band’s finest moments.

Starting with “Megalomania” the album becomes much more experimental. While heavy metal guitar riffs remain aplenty, the track which approaches the 10-minute mark displays SABBATH’s most proto-prog leanings that begins with a sinister mid-tempo slice of echoey guitar fueled paranoia that slowly morphs into a heavy metal guitar riff based powerhouse. The track not only provides the perfect canvas for Ozzy Osbourne to vent his rage and discontent but also allows his much improved vocal style to hit a new level of sophistication by exploring a wider range of octaves as well as some of the most powerfully emotive deliveries of his career. The rest of the album only builds off of the momentum. “Thrill Of It All” follows suit with another dualistic one-two punch of melodic constructs. It begins with Iommi’s guitar parts, both rhythm and lead generating a fiery metal experience that shifts into a more keyboard dominated second half which displayed the band’s much improved integration of keyboards.

After the choral metal experience of “Supertzar,” the sole single of the album “Am I Going Insane (Radio)” also proved to be one of the most hated of the band’s career right up their with “Changes” from “Vol 4.” While the “(Radio)” annex to the title insinuated an edit of some sort and the cause of much confusion, the title actually was derived from the Cockney slang term “radio-rental” which means “mental” and if like me you’re not up on your English dialects especially in the slang department it is an understandable misunderstanding. The song itself is hardly a throwaway despite its commercial appeal. By far the most accessible of the SABOTAGE track listing, it was also one of the few tracks where Ozzy wrote the lyrics, a job mostly performed by bassist Geezer Butler. While Ozzy’s lyrics usurp the guitar playing of Iommi on this one as his playing becomes subordinate, the track is quite arty in in display of heavy and soft alternate passages and Ozzy’s emotive vocal delivery and lyrical content narrated the depression that the band was in the middle of.

The biggest mindfuck of the album has to be the fact that “Am I Going Insane (Radio)” was a title of the penultimate track however it was the final track “The Writ” that actually repeated the lyrics “Am I Going Insane.” The closer wasn’t really a bona fide song of sorts but rather a melodic declaration of frustration and paranoia not experienced since the band’s earliest albums of 1970. The pop melody is the most repetitive of the album and IMHO was the ultimate statement of a band truly losing its shit before the inevitable downturn which was prolonged for an agonizing two more albums which finally resulted in Ozzy leaving the band. The track is also rather symbolic. As Ozzy repeats the lyrics like a deranged declarative chant of sorts, the album ends by sinister laughing voices mocking him as if the lawyers had the last laugh. So many ways to interpret all of this but the ambiguity of it all plus the stellar instrumental performances of SABOTAGE are what has made this one of the hardcore fan favorites. While not as immediately accessible as the first three albums, SABOTAGE was in reality the peak of SABBATH’s Ozzy-era creative prowess and for true fans where the six year party officially ended. A more careful analysis and the proper time for its magic to sink in will reveal SABBATH’s most crowning achievements made all the more remarkable by the traumatic events that surrounded it.

TOOL Undertow

Album · 1993 · Alternative Metal
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While TOOL gets much of the credit for keeping the metal universe relevant during the early 90s at least in commercial terms, the truth is that the band was simply riding the wave of the harder edged alternative rock bands like Jane’s Addiction, Alice In Chains and Faith No More that were finding commercial success however as the glam metal world experienced a sudden upheaval and suddenly grunge was the dominate commercial force with Nirvana and Soundgarden suddenly becoming household names, TOOL was right there beside them. The band of Maynard James Keenan (vocals), Adam Jones (guitar, sitar), Pal D’Amour (bass) and Danny Carey (drums) gained momentum on the 1992 debut EP “Opiate” with a fiery aggressive brand of alternative metal that focused on lengthy progressive cyclical grooves but on the band’s full-length debut UNDERTOW the progressiveness had really blossomed into a totally unique sound that implemented crazy time signatures that once taken further on future albums like “Ænima” and “Lateralus” would make TOOL one of the hottest bands of the entire 90s.

Love em or hate em, one thing is is for sure. When TOOL debuted with UNDERTOW there was nothing that sounded like the dark, angry and lengthy complex sprawling soundscapes that TOOL had crafted. While bands like Alice in Chains and Soundgarden were still reliant on blues rock constructs for the compositions, TOOL completely eschewed the familiarities of what came before and crafted a mysterious mix of metal, grunge and even post-rock however the music itself sounds like none of those genres but usually gets lumped into progressive metal or in the case of UNDERTOW simply alternative metal. Having settled on Zoo Records, where both Keenan and Carey experienced a surprise gold album as a part of the comedy metal act Green Jellÿ, the album struck a nerve with the public with the creepy stop-animated videos for “Sober” and “Prison Sex” and shot up to the top 20 albums in no time. As of 2010, the album has been certified double platinum which shows TOOL’s

Unlike “Opiate,” a hard hitting more straight forward slice of alternative metal, UNDERTOW displayed a more focused sprawled out series of guitar and bass riffs augmented by Carey’s percussive delineations that often took on the characteristics of an African drum circle or an Indian tabla session. Eastern elements occasionally creep in as heard with the sitar addition on “Bottom” (Henry Rollins also appeared as a guest vocalist on this one).There is a resolute industrial grittiness to the music as well coming to full roost on the album’s closer “Disgustipated” which included Henry Rollins’ guitarist Chris Haskett playing sledge hammers. The final track “Disgustipated” displayed another factor that would make TOOL standout from the pack namely social commentary in the form of spoken narration, extended noise effects, darkened whispered singing styles and a propensity to end an album with a series of noises and silence before a final musical statement which nixed the main guitar and bass sounds. In this case at 6:45 the sounds of crickets are heard for just over seven minutes. This was actually a popular but annoying trend of 90s alternative music.

While UNDERTOW was somewhat of a rough draft for the more artistic statements that followed, the band’s basic stylistic approach had been laid out here. The rhythm section had already developed the crazy polyrhythms, Carey’s drumming style had already adopted the tabla percussive style at certain points and although the musical flow is a more nonchalant shuffle, the time signatures offbeats have awoken to realize the far reaching potentials. Another proclivity of TOOL’s albums is that they insist on lengthy albums that take up as much playing time as possible. UNDERTOW clocks in at 69:13 and even subtracting the final several minutes of cricket chirping time is still over an hour’s run. While steeped in the experimental elements that would continue to expand their horizons into the stratosphere, UNDERTOW is still firmly planted in the world of alternative metal without all the crazy artsy extras that decorate “Ænima,” therefore the album becomes a bit tedious to experience in a single listening session. Overall not a bad debut at all but in the end UNDERTOW lacks the excitement of what was to come and i didn’t discover this debut until after the rest so i’ve never been blown away by it.

BLUE ÖYSTER CULT Blue Öyster Cult

Album · 1972 · Hard Rock
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BLUE OYSTER CULT has its roots originating all the way back to 1967 when founder and guitarist Donald Roeser who would become better known as Buck Dharma started the first version of what would become BOC in the form of the psych-tinged jam band Soft White Underbelly which was centered around Dharma’s guitar playing and would provide a BLUEprint for the mystical CULT to come. The band went through a few changes before finding its own voice. It would take singer Eric Bloom to replace the original frontman before the band started to cohesively gel around the more boogie rock blues based hard rock sounds they have become known for. At this stage the band took the moniker Stalk-Forrest Group and was discovered by rock theorist Sandy Pearlman who was always on the look out for sharp new talent for Elektra Records. After a brief stint in California and a short trip down a dead end street, the band that would become the BLUE OYSTER CULT came to fruition when keyboardist and rhythm guitarist Allen Lanier joined the team. It was he who contributed the band’s more famous moniker that simulated the mystical occult demeanor that they were striving for.

After the failed California adventure, the BOC headed back to its native New York City where they spent 1971 fine-tuning a more heavy handed rock approach that kept a tad of the 60s psychedelia but according to Dharma the band was trying to become America’s answer to Black Sabbath and while BOC could never even remotely be accused of ripping off the classic English band’s style or sound in any possible way, BOC did however evoke a sense of awe with an interesting mix of occult philosophies, surrealism and heaviness that was rooted in a twin guitar dominated bluesy hard rock with some progressive touches along with an occasional slice of avant-garde. The band’s self-titled debut album appeared early in January 1972 after being discovered by Columbia Records and while not exactly lighting the world on fire quite yet found enough support that many tours arose albeit with the unlikely parings of The Byrds and Mahavishnu Orchestra. Only the tour with Alice Cooper actually seemed like a legit fit but nevertheless with a strong batch of catchy tunes amplified and soaked in acid baths, BLUE OYSTER CULT hit hard from the getgo and continued to expand its new stylistic approach.

Having latched onto a unique sound fairly early, BLUE OYSTER CULT found the perfect balance between a more demented form of bluesy boogie rock as if a parallel universe version of a more psych-tinged Allman Brothers had seeped into our reality during the Montauk Project. Equally laced with a trippy guitar twang and the Godzilla power stomps that would define the BOC’s rhythmic delivery, this eponymous debut cemented the band’s later success in its nascent BLUEprints for future hits. “Cities On Flame With Rock And Roll” provided the first glimpse of the monster stomp guitar and drum rhythmic prowess that would later spawn such hits as “Godzilla” whereas “Screams” provided that haunting occult feel that took the twangy guitar sounds, a bit of psychedelic keyboard charm and super catchy vocal melodies that would pave the way for tracks like “Burning For You” and “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper.” Likewise Dharma showcased a rather eccentric psych-fueled blues guitar soloing style that is as distinctive as anything Jimmy Page, Brian May or Tony Iommi were cranking out on the other side of the pond.

BLUE OYSTER CULT’s debut is a masterful mix of diverse sounds that the band made all their own. The heavy hitters of the bunch such as the two openers “Transmaniacon MC” and “I’m On The Lambe But I Ain’t No Sheep” displayed the knack for capturing a traditional style of hard rock but adding heavy doses of surreality to the lyrics as well as the changes that took place within the individual tracks. Perhaps the most diverse is the rowdy heavy rock “Before The Kiss, A Redcap” which starts out somewhat like something the Edgar Winter Band were famous for in the early 70s but the track shifts into a series of melodic deliveries including a ska-fueled toe-tapping section with early rapped vocals which adds some serious skank and alternates with heavy guitar heft outbursts. The so-called thinking man’s heavy metal band also graced the album with a few drug fueled slower trippy tracks. “Then Came The Last Days Of May,” “Screams” and the most oddly titled song of all time “She’s As Beautiful As A Foot” all showed a slowed down version of the band that focused as much on atmospheric as guitar based magic.

While “Cities On Flame With Rock And Roll” remains the album’s most famous track for its Zeppelin meets Sabbath guitar stomps that gave the band its signature sound, there are several heavy unsung classics on this album including “Stairway To The Stars” and “Workshop Of The Telescopes” along with the two openers. Really the only track that doesn’t sound like it fits in is the closing “Redeemed” which exhibits a rather odd sounding Grateful Dead style of country rock which as far as i’m concerned should’ve been nixed from the final mix as it sounds woefully out of place and could easily be inserted on Dead album’s like “American Beauty” and nobody would even notice. All in all, BOC cranked out a smokin’ hot slice of early hard rock of the early 70s. All the musicians perfectly played their parts and crafted their idiosyncrasies perfectly. The unique drumming style of Albert Bouchard perfectly suited the twin guitar wilderness provided by Buck Dharma and Eric Bloom while Bloom’s vocals suited this hybrid of psychedelic rock and hard blues based rock perfectly. Not even their best album but this debut is without a doubt one of the essential classic BOC albums to acquire and savor. While the album didn’t make BOC a household name at this point the album sold fairly well and allowed the band to delve further into the heavier side of their sound and would slowly jettison the more psychedelic touches or to be more precise diminish them.

SECRET CHIEFS 3 Book M

Album · 2001 · Avant-garde Metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
When the debut album by SECRET CHIEFS 3 came to light in 1996, the project which was an extension of creative mastermind Trey Spruance's fertile imagination seemed like a one-off project where the cross-pollinating effects of Western and Middle Eastern musical styles could duke it out under the banner of mutilated surf rock and drum and bass techno. The album pretty much successfully covered as much ground as possible within the somewhat less overarching reach of the Mr. Bungle projects. Making it clear that tracks like "Techno Allah" on the "Disco Volante" album were spawned in the deep recesses of Spruance's psyche, the album pretty much nurtured every possible variation of that track and then some. However, the project was not quite finished as a second "Grand Constitution" in the form of "Hurqalya" was forged in the same molten cauldron of surf rock, breakcore, Arab folk music, progressive rock and psychedelia which abandoned the free-for-all head scratching moments of the debut and steered the project into a somewhat more focused stylistic approach however Bungle was still going strong and nobody could have guessed that SC3 would generate more life.

The new millenium arrived and Mr. Bungle released its final album "California" and then promptly called it quits which left Spruance with the freedom to indulge his wildest fantasies in his many side projects. While Faxed Head had reached its logical conclusion rather quickly the SECRET CHIEFS 3 project however conjured up a wealth of new stylistic cross-pollinating elements to be explored and in the process of searching through the misty brumes of the musical sounds of the Silk Road, Spruance continued the project and declared it his main gig as the ashes of Bungle were finally laid to rest. BOOK M emerged three years after "Hurqalya" and took all the disparate elements of that album and executed them into even more demanding instrumental gymnastics with unthinkably precise and wickedly cool production techniques. The fusion techniques of the previous albums had been flawlessly woven together like the highest quality Persian rug and the results were the next chapter of the mystical thematic world that simulates a long lost culture secretly ruled by the invisible mystics vibrating in a dimension just outside of our perceivable frequencies. These sounds culminated into one of the SC3's most magical albums that continued the Ennio Morricone film score feel in Spaghetti Middle Eastern form teased out with subtler hints of surf rock, chamber pop, avant-prog and modern Western classical majesty.

Thematically BOOK M can be thought of as the soundtrack to three volumes of mystical texts: "Observance Of The World," "Engagement Of The Sword" and "Ritual Of The Cup." While the Middle Eastern sounds that range from traditional Arabic folk and Persian scales to even touches of Indonesian, Indian, Celtic folk and gypsy swing, the tracks meander through various layers of tones and timbres with off-kilter time signatures, drum and bass electronic outbursts, surf rock undercurrents and bouts of renegade violin solos (courtesy of Eyvind King), heavy metal guitar heft, funk grooviness, psytrance electronica hyperactivity and appearances by fellow ex-Bunglers Danny Heifetz on drums and various ethnic percussive instruments and Bär McKinnon on saxophone. The entire run of the album's near 55 minute run is like a well executed journey through the mystical lands that evoke sonic representations of the magical beings encountered through the various ritualistic practices that evoke the timelessness of the folk aspects of the music. It's almost as if the timelines have merged and the relaxed acoustic ancient world has united with the electronic frenzied quickening of the modern 21st century where it is impossible to distinguish the origins of any particular element of the music.

Less anarchic than the previous two albums, BOOK M seamlessly exudes a true sense of multi-genre fusion rarely achieved in such a perfected manner by recycling past themes and advancing them into new epic arenas. The album truly comes off as the soundtrack to a film that has never existed yet evokes the mystic avenues of the mind where the crossroads are populated by the entire lexicon of the musical histories of planet Earth. Spruance proved on BOOK M that not only did SECRET CHIEFS 3 still have life in the project but that it could be elevated to extremely advanced levels carried out through the rigorousness of perfecting the production techniques and the meandering march of modulating magnificence. The brilliance of this album results from the fact that every detail is perfectly carried out but by how easy it is to sit for the entirety of this album time after time and never once find the slightest flaw or trace of boredom. SECRET CHIEFS 3 is truly a niche sort of band that is music for nerds who have heard it all before and crave something totally inventive and completely existing outside the box of the established orthodoxies of the music industry. Not only did Spruance demonstrate that he was one of the masterminds of the entire Bungle experience but made it clear once and for all that out of the ensemble of genii that made up Bungle that he was one of the top dogs in the creative madness that took the world by storm and still resonates high on the freak-o-meter even by today's standards. Another masterpiece by SC3 here!

BLACK SABBATH Sabbath Bloody Sabbath

Album · 1973 · Heavy Metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
When the four members of BLACK SABBATH reflect upon the time period when “Vol 4” was released they can only recall upon how the seeds were sown for the ultimate demise of the so-called pioneers of the heavy metal genre of rock music. All the members were suffering from one form or another of substance abuse and the phenomenal success of their albums gave them the financial freedom to indulge in their wildest fantasies in order to achieve the ultimate party like it’s1999 scenario. Unfortunately these endless days and nights of hedonistic highs and living in the sin city of 1970s Los Angeles essentially killed the creative process and no matter how hard the band tried to muster up even the simplest of ideas, ended up in dismal failure every time. The team members that consisted of Ozzy Osbourne, Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler and Bill Ward were starting to think that the band’s expiration date had arrived and were seriously considering throwing in the towel.

Luckily the band decided to return to the UK and immerse itself into the mysterious and spooky surroundings of The Forest of Dean where they rented Clearwell Castle in Gloucestershire, England where they once again were able to grasp onto the musical mojo that made their earlier albums so sinister and sensational. The haunting environs suited the band well as they recaptured the occult darkness once again. SABBATH BLOODY SABBATH was literally launched when Tony Iommi stumbled upon the main riffs while playing in one of the dungeons in the castle and the evil heaviness is what set the tone for the rest of the album to follow. Once the SABBATH dudes were acclimated to the new surroundings, the ideas started pouring in once again. Scaring the crap out of each in the spooky medieval fortress aside, the band continued the heaviness of the four previous albums and continued the experimental and progressive elements that started on “Vol 4.”

SABBATH BLOODY SABBATH introduced even more complex compositional arrangements that included more keyboard styles and also some strings and other touches. While a sitar and bagpipes were attempted to be included, they were nixed from the final editing which was probably a good thing! With the heavy introductory riffs of the title track and the nightmare visions of the album cover art by Drew Struzan, SABBATH recaptured the dark imagery and darkened vibes of the debut album and “Paranoid” but also displayed a more mature musical approach that found the standard heavy metal riffing styles fortified by deviations into more sophisticated flirtations into the world of progressive rock that found the band members taming their demons and taking on the challenges in order to up their game and remain relevant in a quickly evolving music business. Despite almost breaking up earlier in the year of 1973, the band composed some of the best material of its career and once back in the London for the final recording sessions also happened to be in the studio next to where Yes was recording “Tales From Topographic Oceans” which led to Rick Wakeman playing keyboards and piano on “Sabra Cadabra.”

Except for a few speed bumps, SABBATH BLOODY SABBATH gracefully returned to the Lords of Darkness’ former glory with crushing heavy riffing, evil sounds and imagery and most importantly an album that holds together cohesively unlike the wobbly “Vol 4” that was bogged down by the insipid ballad “Changes” and the pointless electronic experiment of “FM.” With the heavy duty bombast of the title track, the album follows with one of the band’s most interesting tracks ever, the fiery “A National Acrobat” which holds its own in the heaviness department but also engages in an interesting mixing it up of stylistic changes that includes some funk driven grooves and sensational atmospheric freakery to add the proper spell casting haunting sounds. It also displays Ozzy’s vocal style in full fire as he seemed to hit his stride on this album. The track takes many hairpin turns and cranks it out for over six minutes.

While the heaviness is in tact, SABBATH BLOODY SABBATH is a much more daring album as each track takes a different approach. The third track “Fluff” is perhaps the only one that fails to engage. As an acoustic guitar instrumental, it serves well as an intermission of sorts but with a running time of over four minutes woefully wears out its welcome. While similar tracks on previous albums were effective (such as “Orchid” on “Masters Of Reality”) they only lasted a short time whereas “Fluff” just goes on and on with a beautiful piano run which would admittedly sound great on a Yes album but derails the tone of what the first two tracks so confidently constructed. Luckily the following “Sabra Cadabra” makes up for its lackadaisical fluffiness and returns the musical flow to sizzling. With the highly fueled octane of Iommi’s instantly addictive guitar riffs and Ozzy’s controlled manic vocal style, the track delivers some serious chops before Rick Wakeman’s Minimoog and piano contributions take the track into the stratosphere. This still remains one of my most cherished SABBATH tunes. The arrangements and compositional flow are just flawless.

Side Two continues the musical mojo with the crushing riffs of “Killing Yourself To Live” which also displays creative compositional deviations from the expected SABBATH grab bag. Ozzy handled the synthesizer duties on all but “Sabra Cadabra” despite not knowing how to play it but still mustered up the engaging track “Who Are You?” which displays a sinister keyboard riff that sounds like the prototype of what would eventually evolve into the intro of “Mr. Crowley” in his future solo career. While simple in design, the creepy scale utilized works perfectly and continues the eerie mood of the album. “Looking For Today” is another guitar riff based track but with a more complex melodic development and while not the best track on the album isn’t that bad at all. The album ends with “Spiral Architect” which includes the strings of The Phantom Fiddlers. The track is laced with many changes in tempo, timbre and dynamics and the most diverse of the album. While it contains a huge guitar riffs, the problem with this one is that the delivery style is too reminiscent of Pete Townsend and The Who in certain sections when Ozzy isn’t singing. Once again not a horrible track at all but The Who segments bug me. A minor quip. The string section is actually used tastefully and works quite well.

Although the band was staggering along and pulling miracles out of their arses to keep the musical compositions flowing, things were still continuing to unravel as the members were starting to suffer from infighting and the continued drug related incidents. Despite it all the critics had finally caught up to the band’s vision and SABBATH BLOODY SABBATH actually received praise from both critics and fans alike. As well as being a bloody excellent album that still keeps me enthralled, this was my first experience with SABBATH so this is an album that has a personal significance as well as just being a great album. While not as perfectly sinister as the band’s first three albums, this one holds together quite well despite the many elements thrown in the blender and forced to perform unthinkable things together. Only the lackluster “Fluff” and the overuse of the Townsend guitar style on “Spiral Architect” keep me from giving this a perfect score but because this album was my gateway into the world of the BLOODY SABBATH crowd, i’ll round it up every time and for my tastes a clear step up from “Vol 4.”

Latest Forum Topic Posts

  • Posted 3 days ago in Now -- what are you listening to? V2
    ^ i just went through a TOOL marathon myself.Listened to Opiate all the way through Lateralus.
  • Posted 6 days ago in Jazz-Rock Fusion Anyone?
    Never saw this post before. Since i'm on the Jazz-fusion team on PA i'd have to admit i'm quite a fan!Mahavishnu Orchestra for me. They went above the call of duty. They were not only jazz-fusion but also ahd the intensity of metal and included ethnic fusion as well. Love all the other bands mentioned as [email protected] = Atheist adopted jazz into their compositions but are really considered a technical death metal band which isn't really jazz-fusion as has been defined. One of my faves so don't get me wrong!
  • Posted 8 days ago in Do metal fans have a political leaning?
    I've become more of an anarchist in recent years. Deep study of metaphysics and the occult has revealed how governmental systems have constructed sophisticated systems of enslavement.Anarchy is not chaos, it means no masters, no slaves.Cosmic natural laws if obeyed are the only governence we need. All other hierarchical structures are built purely on voluntarism NOT by forceYes, i still vote but realize it's pretty much all rigged for the most part. siLLy puPPy2019-09-06 21:20:28

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