Sabotage is the sound of a band damaged, perhaps beyond repair, by success, substance abuse and internal conflict. The album is a self-aware examination of an unhappy condition, resulting in mostly dark, depressed music, with only flashes of the brilliance that Black Sabbath had effortlessly delivered on past albums.
Hole In The Sky and Symptom Of The Universe are the only links to the past; both contain ample power and energy, and compare favorably with the material on Sabbath Bloody Sabbath. Hole In The Sky opens the album mid-groove, similar to Sweet Leaf on Master Of Reality, and maintains a beefy presence pregnant with significant promise. Symptom Of The Universe is sometimes called the first thrash metal track, and the intent of this title is well-earned. A fast, incessant riff with epic solo work by Tony Iommi and some of Bill Ward's most prominent and energetic drumming grace the first half of the track, which gives way to a thoughtful acoustic second half.
Unfortunately, the rest of Sabotage provides the pleasure of a dull, familiar but persistent headache. The second half of Megalomania saves the track, but then the entire back-end of the album is beyond salvation: devoid of any fun, punch or vitality, it slows down to a crawl of relatively tame ideas. It is still Sabbath, so outright disasters are avoided, but so are any moments of truly worthwhile music.
Sabotage is the sad beginning of the creative end for one of the greatest line-ups in heavy metal music history.
Tony Iommi - Lead Guitar
Ozzy Osbourne - Vocals
Terry "Geezer" Butler - Bass Guitar
Bill Ward - Drums
Songlist (ratings out of 10):
1. Hole In The Sky - 9
2. Don't Start (Too Late) - n/a (short instrumental)
3. Symptom Of The Universe - 10
4. Megalomania - 8
5. The Thrill Of It All - 7
6. Supertzar - 7
7. Am I Going Insane (Radio) - 7
8. The Writ - 7
Produced by Black Sabbath with Mike Butcher.
Engineered by Mike Butcher and Robin Black.
All Ace Black Heavy Metal CD Reviews are here.