Maybe that’s a little heavy handed. You see, this album is as heavy as the cover art is preposterous. Which is to say - very. Heavy riffs. Heavy themes. And heavy on the last dollop of classic Black Sabbath. Which brings me to this. Sabotage makes me mad. Mad because it’s the last great album by The Sabs. They lost their way after this record.
Sabotage came out in 1975 after a steady stream of records selling over a million apiece. Not bad for a group of working class stiffs from Birmingham, England. The next two records - 1976’s Technical Ecstasy and 1978’s Never Say Die! - are just not that good. Ironically, the classic line-up did in fact die after Ozzy Osbourne left (or was fired) upon the release of Never Say Die! History tells us that Ozzy was replaced by former Elf and Rainbow singer Ronnie James Dio (R.I.P.). He re-energized the band with his castle-rock themes of futuristic chivalry and spandex-enhanced elfin wailing. I like those albums. But it’s not the Dio-infused Sabs we’re discussing here is it?
Sabotage saw the band playing around with more synthesizers and keyboards - often a disaster for heavy rockers. Not so in this case. The synths work on this record. The album should be breathed in deeply to be fully understood. I know that may seem like a bit of a heady statement for a hairy unitard rock album review. But, listen all the way through and you’ll see what I mean. No, it’s not a think-piece. But this record asks a bit more than the records that came before it.
Classics lurk within these vinyl grooves. Classics like Hole In The Sky, Symptom Of The Universe, the epic Megalomania, my favorite - The Thrill Of It All, and the album closer, The Writ. Sure, there’s an Ozzy slow rocker called Am I Going Insane (Radio). That parenthetical Radio always stumped me. Still does. OK song. Not great. Thanks for the workout Ozzy.
This is album six of six fantastic records. Get it today. Tomorrow’s too late!
And don’t ask William Shatner to pronounce the album’s name.
For weirdos only: Keyboards? Sabbath? How could they? Sabotage isn’t the first time The Sabs played around with keyboards. They enlisted services (and flowing robes) of keyboardist extraordinaire Rick Wakeman of Yes for their previous album - Sabbath Bloody Sabbath. Can you believe that stuff? I wonder what those sessions were like?
For weirdos only (bonus): Slice of Sabotage anyone? Mockers and detractors will notice a familiar theme playing on many of my LPs. You’ll note the hideously long slice taken out of the album cover just below Geezer’s right foot. Yes friends, this is the mark of an overzealous record label flunkie who doomed this heavy LP to the cut-out bin at the local Rose Records store.