There are very few records that have the power to blow you away on the first listen and repeatedly on every single subsequent listen. (And I've listened to it many hundreds of times since its release.) Without fail. Without exception. I used to feel the same about ...And Justice For All. But, I have to accept, that whereas Metallica's classic does have its longeurs in amidst the brilliance, Sabbat's Dreamweaver: Reflections of our Yesterdays does not. [Erm... not sure why Amazon seems to have rechristened the disc 'Dreamweavers'. I'm sure they have their reasons!]
This is the consummate metal album. Unsurpassed. Ever. So there. All other concept albums (that I have come across, at any rate) should never have been conceived! Sabbat's masterpiece is flawless from start to finish. Sure, it helps that the original source material (Brian Bates's The Way of Wyrd) is so astounding. But the true genius lies in Martin Walkyier's exquisite lyrics - which even he has struggled in later works to equal - and the incredible vocals/musicianship/licks/riffs/solos/sonic sorcery on display. Unlike too much music out there, in Dreamweaver, every single note played counts. Yes, there are plenty of `widdly-widdly' guitar runs. Usually such indulgences can mar an otherwise fine song (Eddie Van Halen - what DID you create?!) But here... every single `widdle', every single cymbal crash, every single bass pluck, every single lyric is pertinent, perfect, essential.
The story of earnest early Christian missionary Wat Brand (who goes native in a big way during his mission to convert pagans in the south of England) and the telling of it is utterly engrossing. The characters encountered on the way are compelling, the action swift and breathless, the denouement totally satisfying and totally magical. The album as a whole is a searingly intelligent critique of the doctrines and practices (especially the proselytizing abuses) of Christianity. Yet this is no unthinking, knee-jerk, devil-worshipping, black metal nonsense. Themes of love, tolerance, spiritual freedom and self-empowerment predominate in this quirky, original, often humorous and deadly serious narrative.
Personal favourites include: The Clerical Conspiracy, Advent of Insanity, The Best of Enemies (Wulf's Tale) and Mythistory. These are apotheoses in an album which is, itself, one monumental apotheosis.