BLACK SABBATH — Vol 4 (review)

BLACK SABBATH — Vol 4 album cover Album · 1972 · Heavy Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
2.5/5 ·
An album somewhat lost under the wheels of confusion!

While the previous three albums had taken Black Sabbath further and further away from their Blues roots, they reverted somewhat to their earlier, more Blues-based sound with this album and injected more straightforward Hard Rock in the process. While I consider the previous Master Of Reality album a complete masterpiece, Volume Four is not more than a merely good album to my ears. Like on Paranoid the band here feel as if they do not quite know in what direction they are heading, making the end result uneven and somewhat lost under the wheels of confusion.

Too much of Wheels Of Confusion are filled up with Psychedelic style jamming instead of having a real structured arrangement. Unlike the excellent and very innovative material on Master Of Reality, Volume Four didn't really push any musical boundaries. Master Of Reality perfected the style the band had originated and was more of a pure Heavy Metal album with many progressive aspects, Volume Four is more of bluesy Hard Rock album with no real direction. Tomorrow's Dream, Supernaut, Snowblind and Corncopia are all good, but it sounds like they are going through the motions on these tracks. The only slightly interesting thing here is the percussion solo on Supernaut, but even this pales in comparison with the interesting an atmospheric percussion on Children Of the Grave. Snowblind is a bit better with a few more tempo changes and more riffs, but again it is not up to par with anything from Master Of Reality or the first two albums for that matter.

Changes is a nice piano and vocal based ballad with lots of Mellotron! This is actually one of the better tracks here, in my opinion. Partly because it was different from anything they had done before. FX is a pretty pointless experimentation with sound that would fit better on a Pink Floyd album. Laguna Sunrise is an acoustic guitar piece whose very presence offers a breath of freshness. However, it is perhaps too long repetitive to be really great. The brilliance of the guitar instrumentals on Master Of Reality consisted partly in that they were so short, creating a strong sense of urgency.

St. Vitus Dance is more of a Rock 'N' Roll song. Under The Sun features really inspired tempo changes and an ultra heavy riff. Easily my favourite track on this album.

This album is not the best place to start with Black Sabbath. Thankfully, the band would once again get back on track and create a couple of masterpieces in Sabbath Bloody Sabbath and Sabotage.

Volume Four is good, but not really essential for all Metal collections.
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