Black Sabbath - Sabbath Bloody Sabbath
On December 1, 1973, "Black Sabbath" released their fifth album "Sabbath Bloody Sabbath".
This album is a high point in the band's catalog and is without a doubt considered one of its best. But the birth of the album was not easy and even threatened the future of "Black Sabbath".
After a tour of the fourth record "Vol. 4", the band returned to Los Angeles to work on their next album. The band members who were very pleased with the result of "Vol. 4" sought to recreate the same atmosphere. They rented the "Record Plant" studios and settled in a vacation home in the Bel Air neighborhood, where they thought they could write the material for the album.
But the heavy use of alcohol and drugs, the fatigue and exhaustion from the intense work (fifth album in 3 years including tous), gave their signals. The band and especially Tony Iommi have entered a creative dryness, a severe writer's block, which even made Iommi and his friends think that was it, the band's end has come and they have nothing more to contribute.
After a whole month in Bel Air where not a single note was written for the album, the band returned to England and rented "Clearwell" Castle, a huge Gothic-style castle, in "Dean" Forest of Gloucestershire, which the stories was haunted with ghosts. In this castle, "Led Zeppelin", "Deep Purple" and "Mott the Hoople" recorded their albums.
The change of place turned out to be good for the band. Apparently the gothic atmosphere and scary castle did its thing, ideas began to emerge and the writer's block began to crack slowly. What eventually broke the dam was the moment Iommi wrote the amazing riff for the theme song "Sabbath Bloody Sabbath." It was in the dungeon of that castle where Iommi decided to rehearse. When he played the riff to his friends everyone understood that they were back to business and from there everything was already flowing smoothly.
The recordings were made at Morgan Studios in north London. "Yes" were recording the album "Tales from "Topographic Oceans" in the nearby studio and keyboardist Rick Wakeman was brought in at the request of the band members to play keyboards in the song "Sabbra Cadabra". "Led Zeppelin" members, , were also present. Drummer John Bonham even asked to play in "Sabbra Cadabra", but both bands wanted to play other material and their jam session was recorded but were never released.
The good atmosphere in the recording studios found its way into the songs and the result was accordingly. This is an amazing album that is definitely one of the beautiful moments of "Black Sabbath". Ozzy Osbourne later noted that this album was the "beginning of the end" of the original lineup of "Black Sabbath" and there is some truth in his words, because accept maybe "Sabotage", after this album the band had a hard time producing a high level album like this one. It's not that there were no great albums and songs afterwards, but they did not equal in level to what the band had achieved so far.
The album opens with the theme song "Sabbath Bloody Sabbath" and the immortal riff that Iommi wrote in the dungeons of the castle. This riff totally deserves the title "the riff that saved the band". And what a crazy riff it is. After one bar of Iommi's riff suddenly Geezer Butler's bass explodes like a rolling rock that threatens to run us down the mountain. This is without a shadow of a doubt one of the band's greatest songs on its various lineups. A rocking journey between a heavy and dark electric riff to melodic and delicate acoustic chords, between Osborne's broken cries and his soft caressing voice. An amazing composition that perfectly matches the words written by Geezer Butler about the ups and downs of the band, the beautiful moments of creating the music and the attempts of all people srounding them to get rich at their expense. And then, when you're sure you already understand the course of the song, the ups and downs, the heavy and the soft, Iommi's solo begins at 2:25 and drags you down to the dark and heavy c-part, forged by the fire of hell, that begins at 3:20, then you realize you should expect the unexpected, because this song never ceases to amaze, as indeed happens from 4:50 minute where the song rhythm is doubled and leads us to the end of the song.
The second track "A National Acrobat" opens like its predecessor with a heavy and powerful riff that repeats itself. But then, until you are sure you have cached the formula, "Sabbath" are surprising us with a long bridge section starting at 2:15 and with a faster rhythm that accompanies us starting From 4:50 with an instrumental part to the end of the song. Some believe that the lyrics of the song speak of Demiurge - a semigod created during self-fertilization known from the theory of Gnostics but Geezer Butler noted that the song speaks of the miracle of creation and birth.
"Fluff" is a quiet and magical instrumental piece led by Iommi's acoustic. The track is dedicated to British radio broadcaster Alan "Fluff" Freeman, who at the time was one of the few who dared to play songs by the band on the radio.
The song that seals the first side of the album "is Sabbra Cadabra". It is one of the band's specials and another highlight of the album. The song includes the use of a Minimoog synthesizer and piano courtesy of Rick Wakeman, "Yes" keyboardist. Wakeman who did an amazing job, refused Sabbath's payment offer for his work, and was eventually compensated in the capital. A small anecdote, towards the end of the song Ozzy uses inappropriate language and the recording technician blurs the words into effects.
The other side of the vinyl opens up with "Killing Yourself to Live" a song Butler wrote while hospitalized due to kidney problems caused as a result of excessive alcohol consumption and drug use. This song is one of Kirk Hammett's favorites and an early version of it from March 1973 can be found on live albums "Live at Last" and "Past Lives".
The second track on the other side of the album "Who Are You" opens with "robotic" and hallucinatory Moog synthesizer sounds played by Ozzy. This is the first song Ozzy wrote alone. He bought the instrument but did not know exactly how to use it. Still Ozzy managed to play and it sounded like one of Sabbath's weird and special songs. Similar to the song "The Writ" from the album "Sabotage" this song also refers to the band manager they hated o much.
The third track on the other side "Looking for Today" is one of the melodic and airy tracks on the album, which like the theme song includes a transition between the main riff and a more melodic and acoustic part, only this time we also enjoy the addition of flute and organ played by Iommi.
The album is sealed by "Spiral Architect" which uses string arrangements. The song corresponds with "A National Acrobat" in terms of lyrics and also deals with the process of creation, this time from a different angle, of life experience that together with man's DNA create his own unique personality.
Unlike previous "Sabbath" albums which were only appreciated in retrospect, "Sabbath Bloody Sabbath" enjoyed positive reviews from critics already at the time of its release, and rightly so. The album was also a commercial success and reached number four on the UK charts and number seven on the US charts.