On September 25, 1972, "Black Sabbath" released their fourth studio album, "Vol. 4".
If there is one song on this album that clearly represents what we get here from "Black Sabbath", it is "Changes". Both the title of the song and its style, express the fundamental change that has taken place here. "I'm Going Through Changes" sings Ozzy Osbourne to the sounds of the mellotron of a song composed by Tony Iommi on piano that was in the studio, and the "changes" in this album scream from everywhere!
Let's start with the fact that this is the band's first album recorded outside of England. The band rented a mansion in Bel Air, Los Angeles, where the album was recorded.
More of that, this is the first time the album has not been produced by Rodger Bain, who produced the band's first three albums. Tony Iommi took on the role of the man behind the console, and although band director Patrick Meehan also received credit for the production, he hardly contributed to it.
Another change that can be found in this album has to do with the musical style. The band has experimented here with different genres some were not typical of the unique heavy metal style that the band has created on their previous albums. This change was not necessarily positive and it contributed to the imbalance in the level of the songs on the album and their style.
The change was also reflected in the expansion of the range of musical instruments on which the band played and especially the use of the mellotron, an instrument that is mainly identified with the progressive rock genre.
And if you will, the change was even reflected in the band's drug use preferences, which shifted from marijuana ("Sweet Leaf" from the previous album) to cocaine, on which the song "Snowblind" was written about. This album was recorded entirely under the "clouds" of "white powder", which was supplied to the studio regularly, hidden inside speaker boxes. The band even wanted the name of the album to be "Snowblind", but the record company objected to the idea. Anyone who listens to the song will even be able to hear Ozzy Osbourne at 0:40 whispering the explicit name, "Cocaine". And if that's not enough to understand how addicted the band was to the "white powder", during recordings of this album, then on the inside cover you can see the following sentence: "We wish to thank the great COKE-Cola Company of Los Angeles."
But the most significant change that took place here, in our opinion, was the one between the band members and themselves. On this album, the first cracks in the harmony and unity that prevailed among the band members began to appear. It can be said that this album ended the friendship of the four guys from Birmingham, when the "factory" called "Black Sabbath" was established on its ruins. One of the moments that expresses the cracks in harmony between the band members, was while recording the song "Cornucopia". Drummer Bill Ward struggled with the song and was unable to "deliver the goods" to the liking of the rest of the band. Exhaustion and drugs did not help Ward who hated the song and did not connect to its rhythms. This incident made Ward feel he was not good enough and that the rest of the band members were going to fire him.
But despite these fundamental changes, the imbalance, and the lack of harmony, this album is still one of the best "Black Sabbath" albums. "Wheels of Confusion" which opens with Tony Iommi's bluesy solo makes us wonder if it's really "Black Sabbath" until Geezer Butler's bass storms in and "reboots" everything, "Tomorrow's Dream" with the percussion-saturated drumming that is the only single released from the album, "Supernaut" with The sweeping riff which is the band's favorite song as for Frank Zappa and John Bonham, the complex track "Under The Sun" that seals the album and whose dynamic and style will be adopted by bands like "Maiden" and "Metallica", and even the instrumental track "Laguna Sunrise" that opens the other side of Vinyl and composed by Tony Iommi as he watches the sunrise on the lagoon beach, all of these and more prove how awesome this album is.
No wonder then, that this album was ranked by "Rolling Stone" magazine at number 14 on the list of the 100 greatest heavy metal albums of all time, and it also comes as no surprise to us that it was included in the book "1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die".