BLACK SABBATH — Vol 4 (review)

BLACK SABBATH — Vol 4 album cover Album · 1972 · Heavy Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
3.5/5 ·
The Angry Scotsman
After releasing 3 albums in a year and half, as well as extensive touring and drug use, Black Sabbath was starting to break down and this was manifested in the music.

Don't get me wrong, it's a fine album (and could've been better as I'll explain) but it sounds unfocused and just simply isn't as strong as their previous 3 albums.

The classic Sabbath sound is still present: sludgy, stoned out guitars, playing at mid tempo, but there are also some departures. The song "Changes" is an entirely piano and mellotron ballad. It's not really a bad song, but it doesn't do anything for me either. The is followed by "FX" some weird, space rock type noisy segue. I actually don't mind it, but again really doesn't do much for the album.

"Laguna Sunrise" is a warm, acoustic instrumental that is actually quite nice and does make for a good segue. I always give a band kudos for at least experimenting, even if some don't work out, but there is a larger problem with this album: the production.

It just sounds weak. The guitars are thin, the bass lacks that Sabbath punch, the drums have no power. Even Ozzy's wail is lackluster. You hear the music and that's just it...where's the bludgeoning!? This album lacks power, and the sound does detract a bit from the music. Most likely due to the fact Sabbath spent half the budget on drugs.

On top of that, the band sounds a bit uninspired. Songs like "Tomorrows Dream" and "Snowblind" are largely boring and some of the songwriting is just bland. It's not all bad though.

The opener "Wheels of Confusion" is awesome, starts with a crying bluesy guitar intro, followed by great riffing and a bit of a progressive song structure. Mellotron in the background adds some extra texture. Great song, with a really great second half complete with wild solos.

"Supernaut" is packed with more sweet riffs and solos, and a pretty cool percussion break in the middle. "Cornucopia" is a pretty good song with some nice sections but also drifts a bit at times, while "St. Vitus Dance" is a short but sweet song with a more upbeat guitar melody and feel.

This is contrasted with the finale "Under the Sun" a true doom metal dirge that does pick up at times, and with an interesting song structure, awesome song.

Volume 4 is a good album that suffers from poor production and some mundane songwriting. A more powerful sound quality really would help tons, the thin guitars especially kill. Decent album nonetheless.

Three and a Half Stars
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