There must have been a few Sabbath fans running scared when they heard that Birmingham’s finest doom merchants had released an album that included gentle acoustic guitars, synthesisers and - hell forbid - string arrangements! What the blazes were they thinking? Surely this departure from the tried and true was a signal of the imminent decline of their metal masters. It would have no doubt come as welcome relief to hear the familiar guttural grind of Tony Iommi opening the title track with one of his best riffs yet. The discovery of this classic phrase by Iommi apparently helped kick the band out of a songsmithing quagmire as well and set the band on course for the production of their fifth and most progressive album to date.
“Killing Yourself to Live” is churning heavy rock masterpiece, “Fluff” a gentle instrumental and “Looking for Today” is given the orchestral treatment. A diverse range indeed when compared with earlier ‘meat and spuds’ efforts but apart from the too heavily synth drenched “Who Are You?” it all pulls together and makes for an superbly uplifting experience. Sabbath Bloody Sabbath is not as ultimately arresting as the likes of Paranoid but its a great album in its own right, highlighting a creatively more mature band, and deserves to be given a jolly good thrashing on any self respecting stereo system. --Tim Cunningham
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