Son of Nothing
If you want a soundtrack to torture and damage the mind with just the guitar, you've come to the right place. This one (and Master of Reality) singlehandedly elevated Iommi to GOD status to the countless stoner rock/doom bands who'd emerge later. For example, Kyuss's Blues for the Red Sun and Sky Valley were completely based on the guitar sound of MOR and Vol. 4. And Sabbath predated them by 20 years. And to a huge extent, the galloping bass lines, gloom and doom defined metal in every way possible. That's how influential this album is. Also this is the album where the song structures got increasingly complex.
"Wheels of Confusion" is a lengthy and proggy composition straight out of Lovecraft's imagination that reassures the faithful that all is as twisted as ever in the Sabs camp. The demon cry guitar sound is aided by a hellish riff. The latter instrumental jam part is called "The Straightener" and it straightens things nicely till the hit single, "Tomorrow's Dream", strikes.
The best thing about Sabbath was though they weren't exactly great at lyrics and were always there to offend, they never were pretentious and always dealt with what they were going through in those moments. Pseudo-intellectual stuff like a concept album based on philosopher XYZ, a triple album based on the poetry of Walt Whitman, the meditations of Descartes, the movie ABC blah blah... wasn't their modus operandi. Everything was straight from their blackest hearts. There's even a sound effects feature titled "FX" that could be attributed more to the effects of the drugs they were on at that time.
"Supernaut" has a mighty guitar sound that could flatten the mountains of madness and is a declaration of independence. There is an insane drum part in the middle that is really cool. "Snowblind" is a trademark classic with superb riffs about cocaine use and that was probably what they were on while recording this album. The guitar cry in the end fits the theme like a perfect key for a lock. "Cornucopia" is a doomy, heavy as hell tune and "St. Vitus Dance" is an upbeat (only slightly) rocker that is surprisingly positive.
Nothing could prepare you for the final madness that is "Under the Sun/Every day comes and goes". The peak of the album. Doomiest, thickest sound and a plodding riff that's so heavy that they ought to name the next element they discover after the Sabs (Bs - there...a clue for you?). A contender for the coolest intro along with Master of Reality's "Into the Void". The vocals start with:
"Well I don't want no Jesus freak to tell me what it's all about
No black magician telling me to get my soul out
Don't believe in violence, I don't even believe in peace
I've opened the door and my mind has been released"
The outro riff is the coolest one I've heard. And parts of the mid-section sound like the intro to After Forever that in turn sounded like the intro of Purple's "Flight of the Rat". Breathtaking stuff. The only damping factor is the piano ballad "Changes". It's so cheesy and wimpy that I wouldn't mind it being erased forever from the Sabbath's repertoire. And "Laguna Sunrise" sounds beautiful on the first listen but lacks staying power. This could've very well been the best Sabbath album but these two bring the ratings down in my book.
All said and done, Vol. 4 has everything you could ask for from an album (if you are from the dark side). If you go to hell for listening to it, remember you can have dinner with your host, Satan, and guess what? I heard they're making Rat Salad up there!!!
(All Album Reviews by Chuck AzEee!)
All things cannot stay perfect, and on Black Sabbath's fourth release, Black Sabbath's Vol.4, the band's typical, slow creeping death style on this album became a bit fast and heavier as drummer Billy Ward's drum kit would expand, and Iommni and Butler would boogie like they never had, creating some of the most enduring music of their careers.
Vol. 4 follows in the same suit of power songs suites giving way to soft instrumental passages before going for the throats with the side closers, but unlike the previous three albums, which had plenty for fans to pick from, the great songs outweigh the lesser material, and let truth be told there aren't really any week songs on Vol. 4, but the major songs on the album are the blistering "Wheel Of Confusion", Ozzy's lovely sung "Changes" and the phenomenal opus "Supernaut", which on this album just dust the other material represented here.
Black Sabbath, Vol. 4, despite just three classic songs, is still just as great as anything the band has ever done, except now the band is now starting to expand their sound and on this set, might have been feeling their way around, the new sounds and looser budgets.