Wednesday, 29 December 2010

CD Review: Never Say Die!, by Black Sabbath (1978)

Never Say Die! is a complex album that finally combines well-earned maturity with the powerful essence of Black Sabbath.  Like a moribund patient receiving a final large shot of steroids, the original Sabbath line-up jolts to life for one final hurrah.  Compared to the disaster of Technical Ecstasy, the band delivers a much improved eighth and farewell studio album.

Never Say Die! proved to be true fighting words.  The title track, along with Johnny Blade, Junior's Eyes, and Shock Wave brought back a sharp edge that had been feared lost forever.  Never Say Die starts the album with defiant energy and a combination of beefy riffs and melancholy melodies that are admitting the end, but on the band's own terms.  Johnny Blade places Don Airey's keyboards front and center, and adds another incessant, high speed and teasing melody.  Junior's Eyes goes on a walk starting with a hypnotic jazzy beat before taking a dramatic turn and jumping onto a driving, classic riff.  Shock Wave combines the vitality of straight-ahead metal with some thoughtful acoustics and welcome melodic variations, Ozzy reminding us that we can't escape our fate. Breakout and Swinging The Chain provide good support and depth to the album.

If there had to be an end to the original edition of the band, Never Say Die! is a satisfying one.
Ozzy Osbourne would go on to launch a prolific solo career before becoming the resident heavy metal buffoon, thanks to reality TV.  Black Sabbath the band would find new life and continue with a revolving membership door, starting with Ronnie James Dio on vocals.

The eight studio albums that Tony Iommi, Ozzy Osbourne, Geezer Butler, and Bill Ward together released from 1970 to 1978 changed music forever, and created the rock solid foundation for all the metal that followed.


Tony Iommi - Lead Guitar
Ozzy Osbourne - Vocals
Terry "Geezer" Butler - Bass Guitar
Bill Ward - Drums

Keyboards - Don Airey

Songlist (ratings out of 10):

1. Never Say Die - 9
2. Johnny Blade - 9
3. Junior's Eyes - 9
4. A Hard Road - 6
5. Shock Wave - 9
6. Air Dance - 6
7. Over To You - 7
8. Breakout - 8
9. Swinging The Chain - 8

Average:  7.89

Produced by Black Sabbath.
Engineered by Dave Harris.

All Ace Black Heavy Metal CD Reviews are here.

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