Artists | Issues | CD Reviews | Interviews | Concert Reviews | DVD/Video Reviews | Book Reviews | Who We Are | Staff | Home

Black Sabbath


Review by Gary Hill

I know many regard this as kind of a throw away Black Sabbath album. Certainly the lackluster cover didn’t help. The truth is, there’s some great music here. For my money “Megalomania” is one of the best tracks the band ever did – and well worth the ticket price here. That said, there are some other Sab classics like “Hole in the Sky” and “Symptom of the Universe.” This might not be the best Black Sabbath disc, or a first choice on the “must have” list, but really it’s right up there with Sabbath Bloody Sabbath and not a disc to be dismissed or ignored.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2009  Volume 1 at

Track by Track Review
Hole in the Sky
There’s a killer riff driving this and it has an almost grungy sound to it. There are definite elements of Sabbath Bloody Sabbath and Volume IV in this. I’ve always liked this track a lot and I think it’s a great opener. This ends abruptly.
Don't Start (Too Late)
The track enters with echoey harmonic sounds, feeling like it comes straight out of the aborted “Hole in the Sky.” This really makes me think of something you might hear from California Guitar Trio – very classical in nature – seriously. It’s just a short little interlude.
Symptom of the Universe
This fires out with a classic Iommi guitar sound. This is Black Sabbath at its best and feels like it would have fit perfectly on Volume IV. Bill Ward’s drumming here is some of the best we’ve ever heard from him. There’s a killer instrumental segment later in the track with some awesome guitar work from Mr. Iommi. This then gives way to a cool space rock transition and then a rather jazzy jam comes out of that. It resolves out into a cool acoustic guitar solo.
Odd as this might seem to many of you, this is one of my all time favorite Black Sabbath songs. It’s moody and fairly sedate through much of its length. I love the melancholy tone, reverse echoed vocals and the way it keeps building up from mellow to harder rocking and then dropping back down to do it all over again. Some parts of this get nearly progressive rock oriented with all the multiple layers. This is just incredible and worth the price of admission here all by itself.
Thrill of It All
This is pretty typical but still quite tasty. There are no molds broken here or any real stretches, but when it’s this good, who cares. Much of this feels like it could fit on Sabbath Bloody Sabbath pretty well. There is a bluesy sort of prog rock styled piano based jam in the midst of this and a soaring jam with prog tendencies after, though. 
There are vocals here, but they are non-lyrical ones – and more choral than anything else. I don’t believe Mr. Osborne is present on this track at all. Essentially it feels to me like Tony Iommi leads Electric Light Orchestra on an instrumental journey. As odd as that might sound, it works.
Am I Going Insane (Radio)
If there’s a misstep on the disc, this would be it. Musically it’s just kind of average and the vocal performance (especially the weird voices in the background and at the end) seem tongue in cheek and a bit over the top. It’s OK, but not up to the level of the rest of the disc.
The Writ
Another that’s just sort of stereotypical in format, this one works really well. It’s a hard edged, but slow paced jam that’s very definite Black Sabbath – but also very tasty. I’ve always liked this one a lot, even with the weird spacey jam in the middle. This is another that really feels like it would have been quite at home on Sabbath Bloody Sabbath.
Return to the
Black Sabbath Artist Page
Return to the
GZR Artist Page
Artists Directory

   Creative Commons License
   This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 United States License.

    © 2024 Music Street Journal                                                                           Site design and programming by Studio Fyra, Inc./