|Review: Black Sabbath - Vol.4|
Label: Warner Bros. Records
Year released: 1972
Genre: Doom Metal
Review online: July 28, 2011
Reviewed by: MetalMike
Vol. 4 is, naturally, the fourth album of the Ozzy Osbourne era of Black Sabbath. Released just over a year after Master of Reality, Vol. 4 makes it four albums in less than three years for the band, and some new ideas started to show up in to their tried and true songwriting formula. There are some classic Sabbath tracks on Vol. 4 ("Snowblind," "Tomorrow's Dream") but there are also some hints of "Heavy Rock" creeping in around the edges.
Vol. 4 showcases the slow, heavy down tuned and insanely fuzzy guitar riffs that Black Sabbath made famous. Songs like the similar sounding "Snowblind" and "Tomorrow's Dream" should be well known from numerous compilations, but it's tracks like the underappreciated "Cornucopia," "Supernaut" and "Under the Sun/Everyday Comes & Goes" that highlight Vol. 4. These all start with classic Doom riffs then pick up the tempo while maintaining that Doom feel. The band sounds tight and Ozzy's voice still has the emotional punch of the debut. These five songs make the album worthwhile all by themselves.
The album does have some other musical ideas that are different from what the band has done in the past. "Lost in Confusion/The Straightener" hammers away at the same riff, which is initially pretty cool, to the point where you can't wait for the bridge (which then wanders around aimlessly) while "St. Vitus' Dance" has a surprisingly upbeat riff. Both songs exhibit similarities with "Space Rock" bands like Pink Floyd and Hawkwind. The ballad "Changes," another well known song, is actually rather boring, simply repeating the same piano chords over and over. The instrumental "Laguna Sunrise," an acoustic guitar only track, is more of a speed bump between "Cornucopia" and "St. Vitus' Dance" than anything else. Finally, there's the pointless "FX," which as the title suggests is someone making weird sounds with a guitar in the studio.
Vol. 4 isn't a consistently amazing album like Paranoid or Master of Reality, but it is still a very strong album that shows Black Sabbath trying to avoid rehashing the things they'd done in the past. Kudos for the band for trying new things, and, even though some of those things didn't work out, there is still enough classic Black Sabbath Doom to make this a worthwhile addition to your collection.
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