Black Sabbath, Vol.4
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The band experimented with their sound on this 1972 album with textured tunes like Wheels of Confusion; Tomorrow's Dream , and Changes , but still managed to stay true to the Sabbath sound with one of their heaviest tracks ever Supernaut . 10 tracks in all.
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Black Sabbath 'Vol.4' is a bit of a departure for the band. Lyrically, they are getting into deeper waters on this album, and I'm sure the excessive consumption of various chemicals had a big hand in that. The gothic themes of the first three albums are fading somewhat here, and are gradually being replaced by the real life horrors of fame and addiction. Internally, they were beginning to unravel a bit, and the songs seem to reveal an emotional ebb and flow that ranges from mournful ('Changes') to manic ('Supernaut') and back again ('Snowblind'), creating a kind of Bipolar experience from start to finish. Like the Beatles 'White Album', 'Vol.4' is the sound of four friends who are lost in their own minds and starting to drift apart from each other. There is no denying that there are the earmarks of brilliance all over this album, however, mixed in with the occasional, "What were they thinking?" moments ('FX' and 'St. Vitus' Dance', I'm talking to you!). As a whole, there is a strange cohesiveness to it all that stays glued together remarkably well, despite it's eclectic nature- making 'Vol.4' one of Black Sabbath's most varied and endearing works, if not one of their most immediately accessible.
I was initially a little disappointed with the Sanctuary release for a couple of reasons. Number one- no bonus tracks. After being spoiled with all the great bonus material on the first three Sanctuary releases, I was frustrated that no outtakes were included for an album with such a fascinating history. Number two- the remastering. Although this album was remastered by Andy Pearce, who I regard highly and who did a fantastic job with the first three albums in this series, the audio on 'Vol.4' feels somewhat uneven to me. I can't tell you how much of this has to do with the dynamics and tone of the original release, having never heard a first issue on vinyl, but I'm willing to bet that trying to preserve a disjointed master is partly to blame here. The songs seem to range from murky to bright and the amplitude varies (sometimes wildly) from track-to-track. Also, the overall volume is comparatively lower than the first three Sanctuary releases as well, which seems strange considering these CD's were released as part of a series. That being said, the quality of the transfer here (as with the other Sanctuary discs) is top-notch. Nice and warm, with a lot of detail.
I'm happy with my purchase, if just a little let down by the single disc format and the mastering. There's a wealth of great music here, and despite some minor criticisms, I would still wager there isn't a better version on the market right now. In many ways I feel that this album was their most personal, and if you're already a fan of their music, 'Vol.4' is definitely an essential part of their history. Very much recommended!
SOUND: Production was handled by Patrick Meehan in conjunction with Black Sabbath, and the difference is instantly apparent. Geezer's bass isn't as dominating, and Tony's guitar sound has become FULLER, heavier and more aggressive. The drums are mixed nicely, with just a little more hihat presence than before. Ozzy's voice is also slightly lower in the mix as well.
1-Wheels Of Confusion :This track feels like 3 different TRACKS pieced together as one. It starts out with a really bluesy section built upon an arpeggiated riff, before going into a powerchord riff, and finally a stomping uptempo section featuring some nice chord-melody work
2-Tomorrow`s Dream: Great tune, heavy riffs with a beautiful mid song break down.
3-Changes: Being entirely piano-driven, in stark contrast to the guitar-driven nature of the rest of the album.
4-FX : Is a collection of digital delay steeped sounds made on a guitar that are devoid of anything musical
5-Supernaut - Quite simply one of the most aggressive tracks they'd done up until this point. That verse riff is crushingly HEAVY, and is accented by Geezer's bass and Bill's drumming.
6-Snowblind; A KILLER track with great melody. It opens in a very melodic tone, sending chills down your spine.The main riff is just godly, and Ozzy's vocals are just plain outstanding here.
7-Cornucopia:The beginning of this song is one of the heaviest moments on this album, you'd have to lock your head in a vice to prevent yourself from headbanging to it.
8-Laguna Sunrise: This instrumental non-metal piece "adds to this albums variety and has some great playing by Iommi.
9-Saint Vitus Dance: A short sweet hippie song, whit a bluesy feel
10-Under the sun:This song is extremely heavy, especially for it's time and has one of my favorite Sabbath riffs and a real bitch to play up to speed.