Sunday, 18 April 2010

CD Review: Black Sabbath Vol. 4., by Black Sabbath (1972)

It's the fourth album from the founders of heavy metal, and already there are signs of drift, complacency, and negative chemical influences.

"We wish to thank the great COKE-Cola Company of Los Angeles", the band writes in the album sleeve, but this was probably mis-placed gratitude. With an obvious abundance of drugs, the music drifts into dreamy territory, the edge and the danger are lost, and the power and anger that defined and helped create the Black Sabbath sound are pushed to the background.

On Black Sabbath Vol. 4, only Supernaut captures the spirit and energy that is the foundation of the Sabbath sound. Supernaut provides a terrific Iommi riff combined with high energy drums and an engaged vocal performance from Osbourne, and it stands proudly with the best Sabbath tracks from their other records.

The album opener and closer, Wheels of Confusion / The Straightener and Under The Sun / Everyday Comes And Goes (both hybrid 2-in-1 songs), are solid enough and offer well-constructed melodies, but with some meandering away from the core.

Otherwise, F/X is a collection of weird sounds; Changes is tedious and ultra-slow; Laguna Sunrise is a nice-enough instrumental but has nothing to do with the rest of the Sabbath catalogue. The other tracks are either average or just bland.

In the early seventies, bands that achieved commercial success were under pressure from their labels to produce one studio album a year. Vol. 4 (released in September 1972) was actually the fourth album that Sabbath released in 31 months, dating back to their ground-breaking debut Black Sabbath (February 1970). The pressure to hurriedly push product out the door is certainly reflected in the relatively lame content.


Tony Iommi - Guitars
Ozzy Osbourne - Vocals
Geezer Butler - Bass
Bill Ward - Drums

Songlist (ratings out of 10):

1. Wheels Of Confusion / The Straightener - 8
2. Tomorrow's Dream - 7
3. Changes - 7
4. FX - n/a (short instrumental)
5. Supernaut - 10
6. Snowblind - 7
7. Cornucopia - 7
8. Laguna Sunrise - 7
9. St. Vitus' Dance - 6
10. Under The Sun / Every Day Comes And Goes - 8

Average: 7.44

Produced by Black Sabbath and Patrick Meehan.
Engineered by Colin Caldwell and Vic Smith.

All Ace Black Blog Heavy Metal CD Reviews are here.

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