Sabbath Bloody Sabbath – Black Sabbath

This is an incredible album that I’ve listened to for years. My favorite song Black Sabbath have ever put out is “Sabbra Cadabra”, Track 4, (I remember trying to transcribe the riff a couple years back and thinking it skipped a quarter-beat and was in like 23/16 or something, but I’m pretty sure it’s straight swing) which starts as an uptempo bop with archetypal bawdy lyrics and a tension-release cycle to take lessons from before transitioning into a section based on a slow descending keyboard riff (played by Rick Wakeman of Yes!) that just keeps on giving. The guitar on this album is great, with a really cool emphasis on the notes in the tonic minor 11th (what I mean is that it usually feels like the melody is moving around somewhere between the i chord and the VIIb chord but I don’t really know how to explain that) and just a really cool intensely tonal electric sound; what that means is you’re going to get catchy, nutritious riffs that you can instantly identify as coming from Black Sabbath. Of course, you’ve also got the orchestral sounds of “Fluff” and “Spiral Architect”, which each provide a bit of major-key joy in their own way (“Spiral Architect” does cool minor mode mixture, but it has some major strumming that sounds like it belongs in Miracle on Ice or a Rocky movie) and reference the musical motifs of the rest of the album. There are a lot of surprises on this album, like the acoustic guitar and woodwinds in the pre-chorus of “Looking for Today”, the guitar effects on “Killing Yourself to Live”, and the sudden (and perfect) major key riffing in “A National Acrobat” and “Looking For Today”; that’s not even mentioning the various well-executed tempo changes on the album. To sum it up quickly: the epic guitar in the first few seconds of the title track make clear that this is an album you want to hear, because you’re in for a display of classic metal excellence.

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