[Meeting Metal, Part 1] Black Sabbath — Sabotage

My pal and fellow poet Dave Bonta noticed some of the music I’ve been listening to and referred to it as “metal-adjacent.” I asked him to send along some recommendations for metal albums I should listen to and he did. You can see the whole playlist here. Each of these reviews is based on me listening to the album once with a notebook open on my lap, knowing nothing about it beforehand. At the bottom I’ll add any further thoughts generated by reading the album’s Wikipedia entry. You can find all the posts in this series here.

Black Sabbath — Sabotage

Summary
This wasn’t at all what I expected. This is one of just two bands on Dave’s list I’d heard before, though I haven’t heard much Sabbath at all and I’d never heard this record before. It’s much closer to hard rock and even prog rock than I thought it would be, and pretty far from my idea of what metal sounds like. (Remember throughout this series that I know next to nothing about metal.) For me, the final 20 seconds of the album, on which someone is playing an out-of-tune saloon piano while someone sings “blow on a jug” (I think) sums it all up: This record is funny, and I can’t tell when it intends to be and when it’s just the tropes of the world of metal that make me hear humor when none exists. I liked the record, and would definitely return to it.

Song Notes (written while listening)

  • “Hole In The Sky”
    • Sounds like mid-70s King Crimson at the beginning
    • Love the guitar (guitars?)
    • “I’m living free because the rent is never due”
  • “Don’t Start (Too Late)”
    • Whoa! what the hell happened?
    • I like this as a surprise palate cleanser
  • “Symptom of the Universe”
    • I mean, this is about a foot and a half over from prog rock
    • Very cool instrumental sections
    • Don’t know what year this album came out but I think it’s late 60s or early 70s? If so, you can really hear how Sabbath paved the way for what came after
    • GREAT song!
  • “Megalomania”
    • Led Zep vibes
    • this song, like this record, feels more hard rock/prog rock than my conception of metal
  • “The Thrill of it All”
    • “Won’t you help me, Mr. Jesus?”
    • Sabbath’s “Band On The Run”
  • “Supertzar”
    • Wait, when did the ELO album start?
    • Jethro Tull vibes, too
  • “Am I Going Insane?”
    • Sounds like the single for this album. I dig it.
  • “The Writ”
    • Love the low opening
    • Relentless
    • Oh wow this took a turn midway through
    • Last 20 seconds says it all — funny!

Wikipedia Post-Mortem (entry)
Sixth album, came out in 1975. Recorded with lawyers literally in the studio (!) because of legal trouble with management. Exact timing is disputed, but Sabbath did jam with Zeppelin at one point. Lyrics of “The Writ” were penned by Ozzy as a direct attack on their former manager. Wow, just one guitarist. I do know of Tony Iommi, but didn’t realize it was just him. Monstrous.

4 Replies to “[Meeting Metal, Part 1] Black Sabbath — Sabotage”

  1. NICE!!!

    As a metalhead myself, I’d like to offer my own recs. I love the Gorguts and Gojira here, but my tastes run a bit different.

    – Gorjira, “Magma” – some clean singing, a very emotional album, less aggressive than their earlier music.
    – Deftones, “Koi No Nakan” – they’re often lumped in with the unfortunate nu-metal movement (Slipknot, Limp Bizkit, etc). But this album is full of nice textures, and again, emotion.
    – Tool – “Fear Inoculum” – some wouldn’t even call this metal, but it’s certainly got heavy guitars. It’s brand-new, but my favorite from this band’s catalog.
    – Opeth, “Ghost Reveries” – their last four albums are straight-up heavy prog, but this album from 2003 is a classic of anthemic, progressive death metal. Wonderfully epic and varied.
    – Sleep, “The Sciences 2” – the definition of stoner metal. Lose yourself.
    – Devin Townsend Project, “Ocean Machine” – again, not what a lot of people would call metal. But I think a good introduction to this weird Canadian. Extremely varied.
    – Death, “Individual Thought Patterns” – the originators of death metal. Very intelligent lyrics – almost punk rock – and musically interesting.
    – Mastodon, “Crack the Skye” – epic, monstrous, intense, and a drummer that rivals Keith Moon. Very popular, with good reason.

    These are my personal favorites. But I have many others ;).

    enjoy!

    Daryl Shawn

  2. Oh – and the album “Paranoid” is the pinnacle of Sabbath’s work, in my opinion. You’ll have heard at least three of the songs before.

  3. Thanks! I do know Paranoid. That’s the one Sabbath album I’ve listened to several times. Thanks for the other recommendations, too. This project might take me a while. 🙂

  4. Excellent recommendations from Daryl! Yes, this album is often considered one of the staring points for the sub-genre of progressive metal. I have a rock musician/record producer friend here in London who assures me that all the members of Black Sabbath are good guys, totally supportive of each other and of other musicians. Geezer Butler wrote most of the lyrics, influenced by his Catholic upbringing. (His original life goal had been to become a priest.)

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