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on February 14, 2006
Since it was a big departure in sound from their first four albums most consider Black Sabbath's fifth disc the one that most divides critics and fans. Some think that the newly discovered keyboards (by Rick Wakeman, a member of the band Yes) and orchestral arrangements made "Sabbath Bloody Sabbath" too artsy and soft. But others (like me) think that, while this album may be "more progressive" than usual, it is also their most creative effort to date. And, of course, like all Black Sabbath albums, the guitars are still very much involved. "Sabbath Bloody Sabbath" does not skimp on the type of sludgy, rumbling riffs that Tony Iommi made Black Sabbath famous for. The catchy, churning main riff of the first track (the title song) helped to break the band out of the creative "dry spell" they were in, following the recording of their last release, "Vol. 4" (after Iommi discovered this guitar lick, the rest of the songs came easily.) This song also has a couple of acoustic breakdowns. Next, "A National Acrobat" has shimmering, wah-wah guitars, and "Fluff" is an instrumental. It's an interlude-type song, with serene, twinkling, acoustic jangles and cool, pretty piano keys. The synthesizers are most clearly evident on tracks four and six, "Sabbra Cadabra" and "Who Are You?" (the latter track, which has a melodic string arrangement, is very spacey--it sounds like it's the soundtrack to a laser or light show.) But "Killing Yourself To Live" is heavier and more up-tempo, as is "Looking For Today," which features a catchy, rhythmic hand-clap pattern. Lastly, "Spiral Architect" is where the orchestra joins the scene. Its lively, almost uplifting violins contrast Iommi's guitar solos well. So, "Sabbath Bloody Sabbath" is a true gem which proves Black Sabbath were successfully able to expand on their sound and add creative touches to their music, while still remaining true to their roots. The sound quality can be a little dated at times, but this is yet another classic in Sabbath's catalogue.
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on January 16, 2006
If one were to ask what Black Sabbath's golden era was, most ivory-tower music historians and co-called "experts" would probably say it was the band's first four albums. If you were to ask anyone (critic, or fan) what was Sabbath's best offering, "Paranoid," (1970) or perhaps the self-titled debut, (1970) or even "Master of Reality" (1971) would be your answer. For this fan, however, I'm going to have to go with the band's fifth album "Sabbath Bloody Sabbath" (1974) as being my personal favorite album by the legendary British metal band.

In terms of creativity, musicianship, and songwriting, the iron was still hot by the time Sabbath recorded "Sabbath Bloody Sabbath." Key elements that so defined the band's first four albums are still in place; blues-based, sluggish riffs, a gloomy outlook, and gothic trappings abound, but this time the band try to expand their sound by introducing synthesizers and orchestration into their formula (courtesy of Rick Wakeman of YES). Like any of the band's first six albums, Sabbath is as focused and tight as ever.

In all honesty, the first six albums are all classics, all flawless; you could really argue any of the first six releases as being the band's best album. I tend to give the nod to "Sabbath Bloody Sabbath" because I think it showcases Iommi's best riffs and the added synths work really well encompassed into the band's bluesy/sluggish signature sound.

On "Sabbath Bloody Sabbath," like any classic Sabbath or early Ozzy solo work, we see Ozzy in his prime. Long before Ozzy Osbourne became a parody of himself, being known to most as an oafish buffoon on a reality show as opposed to an icon, he really was genuinely chilling. Geezer Butler (bass) and Bill Ward's (drums) bone-crunching rhythm section are as intimidating and intense as ever.

The opening title track "Sabbath Bloody Sabbath" stands as one of the band's greatest songs. From the second the needle hits the groove of the record, or you press play on your CD player, your senses are almost overwhelmed by a riff that is simultaneously intense, gripping and infectious. As the song grinds along, it goes from angry, lean and mean, to a melodic, almost bittersweet, to a full-throttle attack. After the overwhelming "Sabbath Bloody Sabbath," the listener is offered a reprieve with the laid-back yet fully captivating "A National Acrobat." The beautiful melancholy acoustic "Fluff" is perhaps Iommi's all-time greatest instrumental and serves as a sharp contrast to the rest of the album. The band's experimentation makes itself known with the hard-hitting "Sabbra Cadabra," as synthesizers and piano come out of left-field, throwing the listener a welcome curveball. One of the band's bleakest songs, "Killing Yourself" is kind of like a heavy-metal version of John Lennon's "Working Class Hero." The gloomy-as-could-be synth-heavy "Who are you" enters prog-rock country. The album offers another surprise with the pop-savvy "Looking for Today," and the epic closing "Spiral Architect," the latter adding orchestration. The orchestration works well in combination with Iommi's killer solos.

When a band tries to expand their sound with experimentation it doesn't always work. This isn't the case at all, however, with "Sabbath Bloody Sabbath." This album is the perfect example of a band experimenting, growing, and maturing, without loosing its teeth or letting its ambitions run wild. "Sabbath Bloody Sabbath" stands as not only one of the band's best albums (or best) but is also one of the best rock albums from the 1970s.
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on January 25, 2005
With its cover image, one would expect to be led into some dark, abysmal, terrifying journey. Flip to the back cover, and everything is serene and 'heavenly', yet all the same people are intact and present. ''What's going on here,'' you say? Are these people intrinsically evil or are they good? Is the hell image truly how things are, and the heaven is what it's supposed to be like? On the inside cover, which was gatefold, there was the image of the band (Iommi/Osbourne/Butler/Ward) guarding a bed, like on the front cover, like spirits, warding off some bad karma or energy. It was all very weird.

And you haven't even heard the songs yet!

And what you get lyrically is the Black Sabbath manifesto. There is so much on here about 'heaven' and what 'hell' is made of it, that I am so surprised that they get the tag 'Evil'. No, what they are is quite knowledgable and self-empowering. What they are is quite critical of people who fill your head all full of lies. There are some amazing lyrics on this album, that totally go against what someone would have you believe Black Sabbath stood for. Devils and Demons. As if.......

If you didn't tell someone it was Black Sabbath, and printed the lyrics out, you'd be surprised at what answers you would get as to what was being said. Put the Black Sabbath 'tag' back in, and a preconception enters the head. ''Don't believe the life you have will be the only one, You have to let your body sleep, to let your soul live on'' - yea thats evil alright. Sheesh - get out my beads and incense, I'm in danger of being 'possessed'. Woooo-oooo-oooooo-oooooo. The whole album lyrically is like this, in direct contradiction to Black Sabbath's perceived image as Satan's Minstrels.

So how best to approach it? Do you take Sabbath Bloody Sabbath as an indictment of everything Evil, or some sort of give up hope, all is lost tome? I don't think it can be summed up even remotely as easy as that, because there's so much on this album just in its music alone. The end section of Sabbath Bloody Sabbath (the title track) is one of the heaviest sounds of 1973. I mean it is just dark. The mid-section where the insistence is that no one here will help you, you're on your own even when you ask for help, is musically melancholy and so out of keeping with how this song ends. It actually ends angry, as if what came before it has totally frustrated it and it wants to get that out. The title track alone is worth admission, just for its many moods, and its kick*** ending. Ten times heavier than Zep or Purple. On any day.

''A National Acrobat'' has always been my favourite song on SBS. It's Sabbath 'Funk'. Heavy style. And Osbourne's vocal is literally quite amazing. ''Just remember love is life, and hate is living death'', o my God these guys are so evil! They reek of it. I'm not sure what a national acrobat is, but I just love how the title has nothing to do with the song, and if you heard it on the radio (as if) you'd be left wondering what the hell is that song called? It'd be one of those songs the DJ never said the name of after it was done, and you'd have to buy 18 Black Sabbath albums just to find the song that goes, ''dada da da, dadadadadda da da .. I am the world that hides the universal secret of time . . . '' Did I tell you how Evil these guys were?

''Sabbra Cadabra's'' Ozzy vocal is another standout, and boasts the great Piano/synthesiser work of ex-Yes member (at this point) Rick Wakeman. A simple song about loving a lady a lot, it's the vocal that sends the song past that, one of Ozzy's best moments.

''Killing Yourself To Live'' became 'the song' from this album, or the one people immediately think of. Sorry if I've skipped ''Fluff'', and it is a pretty song, but we'll just deal with the non-instrumental tracks. Black Sabbath dared suggest that the world was not meant for pain, suffering or misery on 'Killing Yourself . . . '', and I'm hard-pressed not to believe them.

''Who Are You'' I just enjoy simply for the pleasure of hearing such a heavy track employing synthesisers to do the work. It's something quite different, but don't let anyone tell you Black Sabbath weren't experimental before this. They were a very experimental band beyond Iron Man. 'Planet Caravan' was an indication of this, as was everything off of Volume 4 (1972). In fact, Sabbath Bloody Sabbath just improves on Volume 4's direction, by adding more cohesion to the multiple songs in one format. And far more interesting than 'Band on the Run'. And Sabotage(1975) just nails it.

''Looking For Today'' is an in your face indictment of 'the music business', and the temporary nature of it all, and how futile it all is. Not only of the music business, but of popular culture in general. Sabbath aren't the first to cover this ground, and another great indictment is Ray Davies (The Kinks) 'Top of the Pops' from Lola Vs. Powerman & The Moneygoround(1970), but rarely does it get so summed up lyrically as well. Another great example is Andy Partridge's (XTC) ''Travels In Nihilon'', and Tool's ''Hooker With a P****'

And actually its funny now that I think of it. The same year this came out, was the same year as George Harrison's ''Living in the Material World'', and looking lyrically at both of them, they cover the same subject matter in the songs, but one gets labelled 'preachy' and one gets labelled 'Devil worship', that its no wonder that George Harrison and Black Sabbath were such an influence on me as a person, and how I looked at the world around me. They seem so at odds with eachother stylistically, personally, musically, but I see them saying quite the same things about Life on Earth as we know it. You may not see the 'link', but I see no difference really in what these people were saying about our time here.

''Spiral Architect'' could be just be a kazoo player, I wouldn't care, because i just love the title of the song alone.

Has anyone noticed ''Fluff' is just that? Fluff? I thought these guys were evil!
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on March 24, 2004
For a very long time, 1974's _Sabbath, Bloody Sabbath_ was my absolute favorite Black Sabbath album. However, the previous effort _Volume 4_ has grown on me so deeply over the years, that it's now become sort of a tugowar between these two.
From the beginning, Sabbath always seemed to counterbalance hard-hitting, sludgy numbers with mellow, sedate pieces. So, it's probably not as big of a stretch to find that Sabbath did this with subsequent albums: (in Sabbath's case at least) it was probably not so much a change, as much as it was an evolution - if there's any distinction between the two. _Sabbath, Bloody Sabbath_ is probably Black Sabbath's pinnacle - either this or _Volume 4_, I'd say. It displays a combination of sludgy hard rock, orchestrated rockers and even some jazzy aesthetics can be spotted in certain tracks. It's a very diverse album.
Some of the songs. The title track is probably my all-time favorite Sabbath track. The slow, surging, acidic (and equally beautiful and melodic) wall-of-noise that spurts from Tony Iommi's guitar blends perfectly with Ozzy Osbourne's beautiful, utterly multi-faceted wail -- and vice versa. I always thought that Ozzy Osbourne's voice was a powerful instrument amongst itself. Not too many people seem to like his voice, which is understandable, but I've always saw beauty in it. "Fluff" is probably my favorite Tony Iommi instrumental. A sedate, peaceful, earthy, wispy piece in some multiple of three, with gentle arpeggios, beautiful, wispy, soothing chords (e.g. D, Gmaj7, Gmaj7/E etc.), and later, an atmospheric pillow of sound comprised of overdubbed guitar parts and keys decorate the song in quite a lovely fashion. "Sabbra Cadabra" gives the title track a run for it's money in terms of my all-time favorite Sabbath song. This is a tasty monster. Iommi's bluesy electric lines are as tasty as ever, and so is Bill Ward's drumming. This track features something that may be a bit peculiar - some strange rhythmic ideas. The verses could well be in 4/4, but a tricky thing seems to be happening: the motifs would appear to be in 6/4 (12/8) due to the placement of the crash cymbal, along with the repeat (and placement) of the motif's beginning. After the first four beats, a strange, snaky, ascending-descending-ascending melodic line appears over the next two beats, while Ward is doing the kind of creative bass-and-snare drum fill that most drummers would do to close out a time signature. After that little fill, the crash cymbal appears, and the beginning of the main motif is repeated. Thus, making one believe that this (four fourths, plus two fourths) is in 6/4. However, closer inspection will reveal that after this, two more fourth-beats appear before the motif is actually fully completed. Then, this whole motivic pattern (4 + 4[4+2=6+2] = 8 quarter notes) appears again before Ozzy's vocals come in: only this time, during his vocals, there are no tricky rhythmic and/or accent placements -- at least not from Bill Ward during the second repeat of Ozzy's vocals. I'm not sure how it's all set up in exact terms, but I find it pretty darn nifty. But, even with all that stuff aside, this track smokes. Later, Yes' Rick Wakeman gives us some synthesizer sweeps, along with some jazzy keyboard licks, which give this track a bit of an extra kick - an added dosage of flavor. "Who Are You" is a trippy, almost psychedelic-like track drenched in synths, and Ozzy's tripped-out vocals. I love this track: it's very trance-inducing. "Spiral Architect" is the orchestral-rock track of the album. It's almost tear-inducing in it's beauty, melody, and the way Ozzy delivers his vocal.
This is a classic in Sabbath's catalog -- right up there with _Paranoid_, _Master of Reality_ and _Volume 4_. Metal purists may react to it in lukewarm fashion (or worse), but give it time to grow on you. It had to grow on me, and it's possibly my favorite from them (as mentioned in the opening paragraph.) In a word: classic.
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on May 27, 2000
Sabbath Bloody Sabbath is what happens when you have four masters of noise trying out a whisper. "Louder and louder" has been Sabbath's approach up to now, but on this album the band, by experimenting with song structures, arrangements, a quieter mix, and more lyrical subtlety, achieves one of its strongest mixtures of violence and introspection ever. Though Sabotage is the better album, without Sabbath Bloody Sabbath, it would not exist.
The songs are among the best in this band's catalogue: The title track, which aside from Tony Iommi's trademark, monumental riffing also has splashes of ringing acoustic guitars and one of Ozzy Osbourne's most effective vocal performances; "Killing Yourself to Live", a thematically and musically weighted recording; a marauding riff monster in "Sabbra Cadabra" (covered by Metallica on Garage, Inc.); "A National Acrobat" -- many of these songs have become staples in both Sabbath's catalogue and metal history, and along with Sabotage, Sabbath Bloody Sabbath is one of the few Black Sabbath albums that doesn't sound dated in any way whatsoever. Starting with this album, a trace of melodicism has snuck into the volume cranker that is Black Sabbath, and its music is the better for it.
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on September 10, 2003
Sabbath Bloody Sabbath has been a point of contention for fans of the heavy metal veterans. The production is rich and polished, while the songs are, God forbid, precariously close to commercial. It also ushers in a greater reliance on keyboards and minor notes, the latter often lending a Far East flavor to the material. Even the cover caused an uproar with critics, who claimed it was an idea taken to excess. Other than Paranoid, which has found acceptance with those who buy only what they hear on the radio, this is the most palatable CD for the uninitiated.
The song Sabbath Bloody Sabbath opens the disc. Many will wonder what all the fuss is about, for it is loud and nasty. Osbourne strains on the high notes, while Iommi somehow makes simple, repetitive chord progressions a work of art. The song borrows a bit from King Crimson's 21st Century Schizoid Man for its conclusion.
A National Acrobat is lush, dark and most true to the established Sabbath sound. Notice, though, how a seasoned Osbourne will at times break the melody away from the guitar riff rather than shadowing it as he had done on early albums. Iommi has a little fun as he closes the song with a melodic, almost bouncy series of runs.
Fluff may have don irreparable damage to the band's reputation. It is an acoustic piece that could have been penned for a child's music box. Most listeners seem to miss the sardonic message of the ditty that clearly was poking fun at the band's image and their aged, lost-in-the-sixties, bubble gum-loving critics. THE SONG IS CALLED FLUFF! That alone should have given the joke away. But the harder and faster crowd, who had pigeonholed the band, took it as an insult to their loyalty and saw it as the beginning of the end.
Sabbra Cadabra is another departure. The upbeat roller features tremelo guitar, ala Ritchie Blackmore, and even piano filler. While structurally the song resembles a Deep Purple composition, it is the sinister quality of Tony's guitar and distinctive vocals of Ozzy that distinguish the song from comparable pieces. The final moment of the tune has Ward dropping his sticks on the drums, possibly a comment on the casual attitude they had toward creating the main stream rocker -- as if to say
"Do you see how easy this is for us?"
Killing Yourself To Live, too, leans toward more traditional rock and roll, though Sabbath never did anything that was just rock and roll -- at least not yet.
On Who Are You, the guitar is replaced by a synthesizer, one more first for the band. Though I am often too impatient to sit through the plodding electrical drone, the song has an enigmatic quality that can be hypnotic if in the right mood. It's a stoner's delight.
Looking For Today is a great riff-driven pop tune that had a short stint on FM radio. This is a lost jewel. I'd like to grab the collective collar of hard core fans who dismiss it as whimsical and shake some sense into them. The band seems capable of doing anything at this point, but Sabbath pioneers want more of the same, while the hit parade bunch fear that buying a Sabbath album just might be a sin.
Spiral Arhictect is light and more sophisticated than anything Sabbath had done previously -- considered sacrilege by many as orchestral strings are evident. It has a more complex melody than you will normally hear coming out of a metal band. Iommi and Osbourne prove to be very underrated songwriters. Ward and Butler have risen from a serviceable rhythm section to one of the most interesting and innovative.
On to Sabotage, the last of the near-perfect six...
The fact that this album has not received mass radio airplay speaks volumes about the sad state of that medium. One of the most influential and enduring bands in rock and roll is virtually nonexistent in the stale, repetitive environment of classic rock radio. How 'bout another helping of Baba O'Riley? Yeah, another deep cut!...or is it a lost track?
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on November 20, 2000
If any album is going to come across to you who Black Sabbath is then this album wold have to be it. While it was a tad more keyboard thanks to Rick Wakeman it has it's heavy monments. This by the way was my first Black Sabbath album I bought. It was enough for me to go buy the next 2 or 3. This is the album for a beginner of Black Sabbah and thats why I give it 5 stars. Now lets review each track:1. Sabbath, Bloody Sabbath -Is the most heavy song on here. 90%2. A National Acrobat -Very different and powerful stuff. 95%3. Fluff -a soft instrumental. 70%4. Sabbra Cadabra -A love song. Tho Sabbath isn't really a hippy band as many fans of Black Sabbath would say this song will prov that Ozzy probly could have been in a hippy band if it wasn't for the GEEZER! 85%5. Killing Yourself To Live- Heavy song. Not easy to forget! 90%6. Who Are You?- MY fav. song on this album. Nothing like the normal Black Sabbath song! Very evil sounding track that sort of sounds like a techno meets heavy metal. It's really a good track even tho many reviewing this album said different. 100% 7. Looking For Today -My copy had this song last cause it was the (...) version of the album. (Theres 3 versions of this album including a remastered on by Castle, a Warner brothers version, and a (...) version made by "Dorchester Holding?") Do not by the (...) one cause sound wise it's off. and it has no art or nothing except a front cover. The song here is a ok song thats good morning music. 75%8. Spiral Architect- A super track! Sad and powerful. Ver much a Sabbath song! 95% If you like this album please try the following albums: Paranoid (Black Sabbath), Sabatage (Black Sabbath), Never Say Die(Black Sabbath),and Blizzard of Ozz(Ozzy Osbourne).
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on August 30, 2000
Some have argued that the songs are not as heavy on this album as on the previous four albums, be it because the riffs were not as sludgy or as demonic, or because they added synthesizers and strings. Who cares about that? Synthesizers can rock out too if you know how to use them, and Black Sabbath found people who knew how to use them. Rick Wakeman (Yes) compliments Tony Iommi's still powerful riffs, Bill Ward's thunderous drumming, Geezer Butler's pounding bass, and Ozzy's howls brilliantly, and the songs are excellent. The title track is a heavy metal masterpiece. That guitar riff is brutal, and Ozzy's screams have never sounded better (he can't even reach those high notes anymore, i.e. the live "Reunion" album). "A Spiral Architect," "A National Acrobat," and "Killing Yourself to Live" are great examples of Sabbath's progression into new territory without sacrificing their signature sound. The classic "Sabbra Caddabra" is also another excellent example of Sabbath's blues roots coming out in their music. The opening riff has been repeated by numerous musicians, not just the ones who covered this song (hell it might be a standard blues riff that Iommi copied himself, who knows). Either way, this album is every bit as heavy as the first four. Perhaps not in terms of the sonic folly of bludgeoning riffs, but certainly in Sabbath's underappreciated musicianship. Their songs might seem simple to a common layman, but there is some subtle genius to what they were doing. Listen to this album, and hopefully you'll see what I mean.
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on February 10, 2010
Get this version. It is the best, and is better than the Castle remaster. I have both, and I know.
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VINE VOICEon August 24, 2013
By 1973, Black Sabbath had started to mature their sound. Sabbath Bloody Sabbath (1973) also reflects the increasing interest of Tony Iommi in incorporating aspects of progressive rock into the overall sound. Although I prefer the rawness and unbridled power of albums like Black Sabbath (1970) and Paranoid (1970), Sabbath Bloody Sabbath is truly an excellent album that shows the increasing attention to detail and arrangement that the group was putting into their albums. It also demonstrates that they wanted to move beyond the first two albums - in fact, this was a source of tension between lead singer Ozzy Osbourne and guitarist Tony Iommi that culminated in Ozzy being dismissed in 1979.

The arrangements on Sabbath Bloody Sabbath range from a simple acoustic guitar piece (accompanied by none other than Rick Wakeman [of Yes] on acoustic piano) to more sophisticated tracks like Spiral Architect that feature strings. Other tracks feature synthesizers (mostly mini-moog) - the use of different tone colors is what really separates the mid-late 1970s recordings from the earlier music. Of course, the album is dominated by the "classic" Black Sabbath sound including Ozzy's distinctive vocal style, heavily distorted guitars played at a crushing volume that are, at times, de-tuned a bit below a normal tuning. There is also the bulldozer-like rhythm section of drummer Bill Ward and Geezer Butler; Geezer is a fantastic bass player and his approach on this album is more of an ensemble player. This stands in contrast with his wild, virtuoso playing on the first two albums.

The sound quality of this CD reissue is just OK - I would love to see this properly remastered though. The album cover art is pretty cool - it shows somebody being alternately tormented by demons and consoled by angels on his death bed -trust me, the effect of the record cover was a lot more pronounced. The CD liner notes are pretty skimpy and include the track listing, some of the personnel involved in the recording process, and a little blurb on the history of Black Sabbath.

All in all, this is a fantastic album by one of the most creative heavy metal groups that shows them developing their sound further. The sound of Sabbath Bloody Sabbath would receive further treatment and refinement on the excellent follow-up album Sabotage (1975), which is also highly recommended.
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