Label: NEMS - NEL 6005 • Format: Vinyl LP, Album, Reissue Gatefold • Country: France • Genre: Rock • Style: Hard Rock
Best viewed without Internet Explorer, in x resolution or higher. After nonstop touring and writing, delving into cocaine and other hard drugs, and even getting tired of one another, Black Sabbath took a short hiatus before coming back to record their aptly named fourth release Vol 4. I'm glad that the band decided to take a hiatus because they sound refreshed here, and they sound like they've allowed their music to mature and evolve at the same time. It's not as heavy or dark as the previous three outings, but Vol 4 instead finds a Black Sabbath that was merely flirting with stoner rock influences on Master of Reality and decidedly going full force with them here.
It's a very fitting statement to say that Master of Reality marked the end of an era for Black Sabbath. The stylistic change comes with a small price to pay though or a big one if you're considering album sales. Which is that Black Sabbath aren't going against the cultural norms like they were before. Vol 4 is still heavy mind you, but there are more moments where that's just not the focus.
I find that to be a good thing though because were left with an album that never once feels stale or forced. Instead the band have simply moved on to other things to inspire them.
Like cocaine for example. I wish I were joking, but truth be told Vol 4 was almost named after the song "Snowblind", a song totally focusing on cocaine addiction. By this point Sabbath were really struggling and there This Was Ours - Shipwrecked - The Last Pagans moments where each respective member just couldn't do their part, making Vol 4's writing and recording process much more drawn out than it should've been.
Despite that, Black Sabbath have managed to pump out yet another incredibly strong selling album, going gold in less than a month. I don't think Black Sabbath could have accomplished this without the hiatus they took, but I also don't think that they could have achieved this had they stuck with the same sound they'd already been doing.
Compare that to Master of Reality which took double the time to Let Me Go Girl - Jackie Edwards - Do It Sweet gold.
It might have a lot to do with the fact that for the early 's standards of music, this was more accessible material in general, Das Mit Dir Könnte Gehn - Bernd Clüver - Herz Ist Trumpf at times Vol 4 completely disregards heavy metal. It gets a lot of negative criticism to this day, but I find it to be one of the most melancholic moments for Black Sabbath.
Vitus Dance" probably wouldn't be classified as heavy metal by most people's standards either, but full blown stoner rock, and I find it to be a very overlooked song in Black Sabbath's catalog.
Maybe it's because it's derivative of "Paranoid" in that it sounds like it took five minutes to write it, but at the very least I'm just glad that Vol 4 isn't as short as Master of Reality. But who could blame anyone for overlooking this gem? Especially when every other song on the album is some of Black Sabbath's greatest material of the Ozzy Osbourne era featuring classics like "Snowblind", "Cornucopia", "Supernaut" and "Tomorrow's Dream".
Couple that with the fact that they were experimenting more by adding in piano Cornucopia - Black Sabbath - Black Sabbath Vol. 4 mellotron, Vol 4 would give everyone a small glimpse of the kind of band they'd CD 4 - Ludwig van Beethoven, Arturo Toscanini - Beethoven Complete Symphonies on their followup to this album, Sabbath, Bloody Sabbath.
The whopping eight minute opening track "Wheels of Confusion" is the most indicative that Black Sabbath are slowly drawing in a few more progressive influences that have been absent since Paranoidbut are more developed here with more complex structures, and parts that even Bill Ward himself will tell you were just downright hard to play, see "Cornucopia". We've got instrumentals once again. It was a trend that was set on Master of Reality where Iommi provides some kind of acoustic guitar track as in "Orchid".
Here we've got another pair of instrumentals, the acoustic track being "Laguna Sunrise". It serves the same kind of purpose to create a distinctively calming and soothing soundscape. Were greeted with a bizarre mix of uplifting yet sorrowful melodies.
It seems as if the world has come to an end, but we no longer have to fear fear itself, and peace is found through death. I know that I'm going overboard with Can I Get To Know You Better - ITS MY PARTY!
- Can I Get To Know You Better? analogy but I really want to convey what Laguna Sunrise has made me feel from a subjective experience because "FX" is the total opposite. An avant-garde track that on the flip side does absolutely nothing for 16 Кыз - Дос-Мукасан - Дос-Мукасан. Just a collection of miscellaneous noises presumably created by swiping at a muted guitar with an echo effect.
Did I mention the leanings towards stoner rock? Well this one goes full blown avant-garde psychedelic and minimalist in nature. Laguna Sunrise is beautiful, but I don't find that the instrumentals add to the collective whole of the album in the manner that "Embryo" and "Orchid" did on Master of Reality. Considering they're just short instrumentals, this is admittedly mere nitpicking, though. Vol 4 as much as it steps away from what made Black Sabbath the icon they were, doesn't abandon their roots by any means.
There's no Cornucopia - Black Sabbath - Black Sabbath Vol. 4 imagery conjured up here in the lyrics, but when Vol 4 gets heavy, it's the kind of stuff that has transcended upon the sounds of other bands to follow.
I mean, seriously, where do you think St. Vitus got their namesake from? The heaviness is dialed down, but "Cornucopia" and "Under the Sun" in particular bring back that evil, slow, brutal sound of Master of Reality that has become the inspiration for death metal bands two decades after its release! Vol 4 may not be Black Sabbath at their most iconic, but one could make a strong argument that I Cant Be A Slave - Various - The Prince Of Egypt Nashville Sabbath Cornucopia - Black Sabbath - Black Sabbath Vol.
4 stoner rock better than any other style they've ever done. Superchard gets super hard for: Snowblind Supernaut Tomorrow's Dream. Before I get to the rest of the album, let me state up front that Changes is a fucking abomination, an aural train wreck with absolutely no business being anywhere near a Black Sabbath album. I don't anybody mistaking me for a person that thinks this song has a redeeming feature, or is acceptable for human consumption in any way.
FX is almost as bad. Skip these two "songs" all together. The A side of Volume 4 is as powerful as the one in Paranoid. In some ways, and that is high praise.
The washed-out opening blues that introduce the album sounds like waking up in the middle of a siren-scored night in your own coke-ridden excess, and that's the vibe of the album. But in a cinematic sort of way. It's visceral. Tony Iommi's guitar is mixed way up, which means that you get to hear him at his fiercest. It also means you can barely hear Geezer Butler. Frankly, I'll take that sacrifice, because Iommi is just unbelievable here.
Wheels of Confusion and especially Supernaut are the essence of head-banging metal. His solo in Snowblind is not his best on the record but its as good as most of the solos on here. My opinion for best guitar solo on here belongs to Supernaut.
The driving riff in Under the Sun sounds like galloping down a dark forest trail to the battlefield, and Iommi throws some fun licks into St. Vitus Dance to turn the song into a relatively accessible party shaker. Its a decent song but not much else really and its too short.
I'm not actually sure why Ozzy gets to be on the cover though but it really is a moot point. The riffs on here gets a little much by side two; come to think of it, but not in a bad way and that is the brilliance of Iommi's riffs. The band used this formula on Master of Reality too, and that's a great album. The thing was, the riffs were even better!
Snowblind, competent as it is, is sort of a bad sign and by Cornucopia, the songwriting non-finesse is starting to just sound plainly a little worn-out, and not even Ozzy's 'ariiiight! And the Spanish guitar instrumental Laguna Sunrise, pleasant though it is, sounds Cornucopia - Black Sabbath - Black Sabbath Vol. 4 distant from the album, like it was recorded by different people in a different decade in a different part of the world.
It's more bizarre than interesting, at least in the context of this album. But overall you need this album. That is only if you haven't heard it yet but how can that be possible over forty years Danke Shoen - Brenda Lee - Funny How Time Slips Away. This album needs to be heard and enjoyed. Long live metal. Many folks seem to think that heavy music, particularly heavy metal Tainted Pages - Talisman - Humanimal, can only be successfully recorded under conditions of poverty, sorrow and misery to capture the "authentic" vibe of "real music.
Granted, it's not the most consistent of Black Sabbath's early works, and that is saying something considering this is the band who thought Fluff, Solitude, and that super long guitar jam on Warning were good ideas to record for posterity. The song that is practically universally despised is Changes, completely eschewing guitar for a piano approach to all things. My take: it's not my favorite Sabbath Cornucopia - Black Sabbath - Black Sabbath Vol.
4 or even my favorite Sabbath interlude song from this album that would be Laguna Sunrisebut it's really not that much of a betrayal of Black Sabbath's dismal spirit. Then there's FX, which is just goddamn awful.
The record executives who were concerned the album's working Cornucopia - Black Sabbath - Black Sabbath Vol. 4 was a reference to cocaine should have been more concerned that there was a two minute waste of time consisting of lousy guitar effects as the fourth track of the album.
Nonetheless, people come to Black Sabbath for the heavy, and the riffs; and sweet creamy Jesus raping both Satan and Prophet Muhammed does this album have both of those in spades! Some of these tracks are some of the greatest creations that Black Sabbath came up with. Do not just listen to Snowblind when you get this album. Don't get me wrong, Snowblind fucking owns, but I'm not entirely sure why that was the only live staple to come from this album.
Supernaut was hailed by Frank Zappa of all people as the greatest rock riff of all time. It's up there that's for damn sure, one of Tony Iommi's finest fretted feats.
Bill Ward is also praised for his drum soloing on this song, but I honestly don't hear it. I do hear a damn fine, even funky beat aroundbut no soloing. But the real highlights of Volume 4 are the first and last tracks.
These are doom metal epics of the highest, pure uncut Colombian caliber. I'm not really sure how this one got forgotten in the mists of time, but seminars could and should be run on this song alone. Wheels of Confusion starts off with a brief swinging blues shuffle before descending into a concrete brick factory at 20 seconds in. Specifically a factory that drops concrete bricks on the heads of those who believe in false metal. You can practically see Ozzy Osbourne, adorned in white frills, raising both his arms in peace Cornucopia - Black Sabbath - Black Sabbath Vol.
4 in time to the artillery fire rhythm, demanding the venue audience do the same, and will likely tell them to clap their hands not two seconds later. You better clap those hands dammit, it's good arm training to help you lift, brah.
The first sixth Black Sabbath albums are quintessential. As the title suggests, this is the fourth. Do the math. From the first note of 'Wheels of Confusion', one instantly knows that the groaning blast of 'Master of Reality' had been replaced by something very different, infinitely more sprawling and relaxed and optimistic, though distant and booming nonetheless.
The rest of that song at 8 minutes, it's Cornucopia - Black Sabbath - Black Sabbath Vol. 4 challenging choice for an opener does nothing to point back to the grim trudge that the band had already pioneered and, concrete-heavy guitar aside, sticks closer to the stereotypical spirit of the 70s than Sabbath ever would again.
Too Many Mornings - Glen Campbell - The Essential, Krept & Konan - The Long Way Home, The Sweet - Action (The Ultimate Story), Intolerant - Sleipnir - Das Demo & Bonus & Kriegsverbrechen, Over And Over Again - Tree63 - The Answer To The Question