Black Sabbath - Vol. 4 (Super Deluxe) Music Album Reviews

Black Sabbath - Vol. 4 (Super Deluxe) Music Album Reviews
Made in L.A. under the influence of colossal amounts of cocaine, the heavy metal legends’ fourth album, recently reissued, made room for both light and shade and featured several of their signature songs.

It would be misleading to argue that Vol. 4 is the work of Black Sabbath at the peak of their powers. When you’re the band that recorded “Iron Man,” “War Pigs,” and “Paranoid,” and you put them all on the same album, congratulations, that’s the peak of your powers. But *Vol. 4—*recently reissued with a full haul of outtakes, false starts, and live versions—is a close second. The sense of scale, the lyrical directness, and the sheer riff-crunching power that mark the band at their best are all here, along with several signature Sabbath tunes. Paranoid might top the list, but Vol. 4 is indispensable metal in its own right.

Having previously recorded exclusively in England with producer Rodger Bain, Sabbath opted to self-produce their fourth outing, recording it in sunny Los Angeles. If you’re guessing that their new locale exposed these four suddenly rich blue-collar kids from Birmingham to heretofore unprecedented Hollywood excess, you guessed right: By all accounts, the band consumed absolutely Olympian quantities of cocaine during Vol. 4’s recording, with guitarist Tony Iommi claiming to have had the stuff flown in on a private plane and bassist Geezer Butler recently joking (or is he?!?) that the coke bill exceeded the cost of actually, you know, recording the album.

You can glean all that information from interviews and behind-the-scenes accounts, or you can simply listen to “Snowblind,” the album’s centerpiece. (In fact, its riff is similar enough to album opener “Wheels of Confusion/The Straightener” that it almost serves as a reprise.) As Ozzy Osbourne lays down a blizzard of snowy metaphors for his drug of choice—at one point he whispers “cocaine,” in case the subject matter isn’t clear—Iommi and Butler serve up a riff that feels four feet deep, while Bill Ward’s drums skitter and thud in equal measure. (Ward’s unpredictability behind the kit has always been one aspect of Sabbath that their many heirs and imitators have failed to reproduce.) At times, the lyrics are so evocative (“Let the winter sun shine on/Let me feel the frost of dawn”) that they seem to anticipate the snowbound Viking saga of Led Zeppelin’s “No Quarter,” released a year later. At others, they depict the welcoming embrace of drug dependence with unexpected pathos: “This is where I feel I belong,” Ozzy sings in the song’s breakdown—a rough but relatable sentence for anyone who’s struggled with addiction, or loved someone who has.

Rejection of square society is the order of the day across several of the set’s songs. “Tomorrow’s Dream” is about leaving your problems behind by any available means, with the contrast between the grim present and glorious future encapsulated by the break between the verses’ steamrolling riff and the soaring guitars of the chorus. “Cornucopia” condescends to the normies, with their “matchbox cars and mortgaged joys…frozen food in a concrete maze.” For a band that has a bad rap for Satanic worship—you’ll find the devil all over the place in their body of work, but he’s invariably the bad guy—“Under the Sun/Every Day Comes and Goes” sure is a blistering kiss-off to “Jesus freaks” and “preacher[s] telling me about the god in the sky.”

Two of Vol. 4’s ten tracks have found enduring second lives as storied covers by other acts. The rollicking, science-fictional “Supernaut”—like an inverse “Iron Man,” it’s about a voyager through space and time who’s actually enjoying the trip—received a thrashing industrial makeover at the hands of a dubiously named Ministry side project dubbed 1,000 Homo DJs by Jim Nash, the (gay) head of their record label WaxTrax!. (Hold out for the version with vocals by Trent Reznor, which wound up suppressed by his old record label for years.) On the other end of the sonic spectrum, the moving piano ballad “Changes” was converted into a gut-wrenching soul scorcher by singer Charles Bradley, who transmuted its lyrics about a dissolved romantic relationship into a lament for his late mother. Blessed with one of Iommi’s wickedest riffs and Osbourne’s most vulnerable vocal performances, respectively, the original versions of both songs can stand next to these excellent reinterpretations without being eclipsed; Ward’s carnival-like percussion breakdown in “Supernaut” in particular feels like finding a prize in the song’s otherwise thunderous Cracker Jack box.

And no, Sabbath isn’t afraid to show off their softer side. In addition to the untouchable “Changes,” there’s a perfectly lovely guitar instrumental inspired by the California coast in the form of Iommi’s “Laguna Sunrise” (admittedly a bit hard to take seriously once you’ve heard the poetic piss-take the Who’s Keith Moon recorded over it), while “St. Vitus Dance,” a race of a song that clocks in at under two minutes and thirty seconds, encourages a buddy to patch things up with his girl à la the Beatles’ “She Loves You,” an Osbourne favorite. The Sabbath may be Black indeed, but there’s room for both light and shade, and Vol. 4 is a masterful evocation of both by the band that did it better than anyone.
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About Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera

Hey, I'm Perera! I will try to give you technology reviews(mobile,gadgets,smart watch & other technology things), Automobiles, News and entertainment for built up your knowledge.
Black Sabbath - Vol. 4 (Super Deluxe) Music Album Reviews Black Sabbath - Vol. 4 (Super Deluxe) Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on Thursday, March 11, 2021 Rating: 5

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