Saturday, 1 January 2011

CD Review: Mob Rules, by Black Sabbath (1981)

Vinnie Appice replaces Bill Ward on drums, and Black Sabbath gain a beefier, more modern foundation.  With an inspired Ronnie James Dio on his second and last Sabbath album, Mob Rules may well be considered the final great record from the founders of metal.

For their tenth studio album, Black Sabbath assemble an uneven set of songs for Mob Rules, but generally pick up on the momentum built on Heaven And Hell. Voodo and Slipping Away are among the weakest tracks in the band's catalogue. But they are the exception: Mob Rules is dominated by several gems. The Sign Of The Southern Cross, The Mob Rules, Country Girl, and Falling Off The Edge Of The World have the confidence to stand proudly alongside Sabbath's strongest compositions.

The Sign Of The Southern Cross is a traditional, slow, hypnotic, and dangerous Sabbath assault. The Mob Rules ups the tempo with a catchy groove but maintains the threat of societal disintegration. Country Girl is one of Sabbath's bouncier, soulful and more thoughtful melodies without sacrificing power, while Falling Off The Edge Of The World opens with two minutes of brooding calm before before three minutes of absolute carnage introduced by another monster Iommi riff.

The album is bookended by two more solid tracks, opener Turn Up The Night having a similar vibe to Neon Knights, and Over And Over closing things off with a slow, melancholy siren call.

The name Black Sabbath would continue after Mob Rules with a dizzying number of personnel changes. The product would quickly become more erratic, less cohesive, and less relevant.   Few bands can maintain a high level of inspiration and quality ten albums into their catalogue; Mob Rules stands as a testament to Black Sabbath's long-standing dominance and influence in the world of metal.


Tony Iommi - Guitar
Ronnie James Dio - Vocals
Terry "Geezer" Butler - Bass
Vinnie Appice - Drums

Keyboards - Geoff Nicholls

Songlist (ratings out of 10):

1. Turn Up The Night - 8
2. Voodoo - 6
3. The Sign Of The Southern Cross - 9
4. E5150 - n/a (sound effects)
5. The Mob Rules - 10
6. Country Girl - 9
7. Slipping Away - 5
8. Falling Off The Edge Of The World - 10
9. Over And Over - 8

Average:  8.13

Produced and Engineered by Martin Birch.

All Ace Black Heavy Metal CD Reviews are here.

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