Black Sabbath - Technical Ecstasy
September 25th is probably a special day for "Black Sabbath", because another album - "Technical Ecstasy" was released just that day in 1976.
Two albums by the same band, the fourth and seventh, were released just 4 years apart, but the differences between them are simply abysmal.
If we told you that on the album "Vol. 4" the first cracks in harmony between the band members began to appear, then this time we are witnessing the great crisis point that marked the beginning of the end.
Don't get us wrong, this is still "Black Sabbath" in all its glory. Geezer Butler's bass is still shaking, Tony Iommi's riffs are still inspiring and his solos are still chilling. Ozzy Osbourne's voice still touches the sky and Bill Ward's drumming is smart and accurate. Take for example the amazing song "You Won't Change Me", the sweeping opening song "Back Street Kids" with the galloping bass a-la Steve Harris, or the amazing ending song "Dirty Women" and you will understand what we are talking about. But despite that, something in this album still did not work as in the previous albums and it is obvious that the band started its disintegration process here.
The only one who devoted himself to the process of writing and creating this album, was Tony Iommi. He had to deal not only with the shaky connections with his friends, but also with the Punk genre that began to rise its head in the music world and especially in the UK, and also with the desire to produce more receptive radio-friendly music. Iommi was determined to reinvent himself and his fevered mind tried to concoct something a little different that would manage to cope with the musical trends prevailing at the time. He worked on the album mainly with guest keyboardist Gerald "Jezz" Woodroffe, whose keyboards and especially his synthesizer adorn a significant portion of the album's songs.
Iommi and his friends' attempt to reinvent themselves, showed partial neglect of the heavy and gloomy metallic sound that was familiar from the band's previous and successful albums, in favor of experimenting with other styles like Progressive rock, Psychedelia, and even Pop. Do not believe? Listen to the song "It's Alright" written and sung for the first time by drummer Bill Ward and you will understand what we are talking about. At times you might even think it's an obscure outtake from a Paul McCartney album. The sweet melody wouldn't have embarrassed him, certainly not the classical guitar that accompanies the song. Rarely for those years, "Black Sabbath" even released a marketing clip for the song, which manages to open a window to how the band looked like in those years, see here:
It seems that as part of the attempt to reinvent, "Black Sabbath" has lost itself along the way. Take for example a song like "Rock 'N' Roll Doctor". It's definitely not a bad song, but it's no longer the same inspiring "Black Sabbath", but an attempt to sound like "Kiss."
Another change that indicates the band's new experience, emerges from the content of the lyrics. If in the past we were accustomed to dark and gloomy issues of Satanism, wars, death, etc., then this time Geezer Butler recalibrated himself and dealt with issues such as sex, prostitution, violence, politics, etc.
Even the album cover created by the British group of designers Hypnosis, indicates the change in writing and style, while presenting two robots that seemingly have sex on escalators - literally "technical ecstasy".
Surprisingly, the album was a relative success in sales and even reached number 13 on the UK charts. Music critics, on the other hand, did not like the album despite the band's attempt to change and keep up with the sound and style to remain relevant.