By the time Black Sabbath released their 1975 opus Sabotage, the band were in full swing of their experimental stage, taking the adventurous steps of Vol. 4 and Sabbath Bloody Sabbath one step further. With songs that hinted at the brutal doom metal assault of their earlier material as well as journeys into prog, classical, avant-garde, and jazz, Sabotage was probably the last great album from the original line-up, and preceded what would ultimately be the end of Ozzy's first tenure with the band. Warner Brothers & Rhino have splendidly remastered Sabotage with the help of Andy Pearce and Matt Wortham, with the CD coming in a charming digipack complete with original artwork, photos, an essay on the album with interview snippets from the band and extra commentary especially from drummer Bill Ward.
What's interesting is to read Tony Iommi's comments that Sabotage took a step back from the more technical aspects of its two predecessors and was more of a straightforward 'rock' album, which conflicts with both Ward & Ozzy's opinions, as well I'm sure most of the fans. Sabotage is a wildly diverse album, containing classic hard rock/metal classics such as "Hole in the Sky" and "Symptom of the Universe" (among the best in the bands discography) but also some tracks that incorporate much more than bruising Iommi power chord riffing. "Megalomania" is a richly textured piece, filled with piano, atmosphere, effects laden lead guitar, hard rock crunch, and Ozzy's mysterious vocal delivery. It's as close to psyche as Sabbath have ever gotten. "Thrill of it All" is another dark diversion, containing both the hard rock elements but also plenty of prog, while the haunting "Supertzar" might be the creepiest yet also majestic track the band ever recorded. Pop, prog, and psychedelia collide on "Am I Going Insane (Radio)", a catchy little number that once again shows the albums diversity, complete with a great Ozzy vocal, which segues into the nightmarish "The Writ", another blending of doom and prog, featuring plenty of guitar layers from Iommi and Geezer Butler's always acrobatic bass work. Throw in the short Iommi acoustic guitar ditty "Don't Start (Too Late)" and you have easily one of the most eclectic albums in the Black Sabbath repertoire.
With the continued substance abuse of the band, Ozzy's unpredictable behavior, and burnout from the never ending time on the road, the well was nearly dry for the mighty Black Sabbath. The following albums Technical Ecstasy and Never Say Die were both uneven affairs and a big step back for the band, but those are stories for another day. This remaster has fantastic sound and comes in a great little package, so if you are looking to upgrade from your early '90s CD version, now's the time.
See more about this release on our recent YouTube show!
1) Hole in the Sky
2) Don't Start (Too Late)
3) Symptom of the Universe
5) Thrill of it All
7) Im I Going Insane (Radio)
8) The Writ