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4.6 out of 5 stars
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4.6 out of 5 stars
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on 1 December 2009
I found this album so confusing as a teenager - what the hell were piano lament Changes, boinging nonsense FX and cod-Flamenco Laguna Sunrise doing on it? How come I'd never heard them play monster track Wheels of Confusion live? Why could I not warm to Under the Sun or St Vitus Dance?

Years later, I appreciate Volume 4 for what it is - an essential bridge between the the dark Satanic thrills of the first three albums and the more ambitious and accomplished Sabbath Bloody Sabbath. Wheels of Confusion is a relentless medley of different riffs, each strong enough to support a separate song. Supernaut is a hugely underrated and joyful explosion of energy, complete with a Santana-esque voodoo carnival interlude. Tomorrows Dream and Snowblind are the album's poppier moments - catchy and chugging mid-tempo songs, propelled by Tony's inventive riffs and Bill Ward's distinctive tight-skinned drumming. The increased experimentation on the album - slow songs, sound effects, acoustic tracks, double-tracking and synthesizers all helped to lay the foundations for Sabbath's musical purple patch with Sabbath Bloody Sabbath.

The 2009 remaster appears to add some bottom-end punch whilst reducing some of the separation and treble - and thereby clarity - from previous releases. This works well on Snowblind and Supernaut, which sound more relentless and pounding than ever, however Cornucopia and Under the Sun just feel gloomier and muddier and Wheels of Confusion has lost some dynamic sparkle. The stereo mix has been swapped round from the 2004 Sanctuary releases, so lead guitars in Cornucopia and Laguna Sunrise now emerge from the right hand speaker - although I've no idea where they sat on the original LP.

A landmark album then, but not perhaps the definitive remastering I was expecting. My iPod will keep a copy of the 2004 Sanctuary release for a while longer.
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on 17 January 2001
It's fair to say that the first six Sabbath albums were defining classics of the heavy rock genre. With Vol 4 (or should I say Snowblind, its working , drug orientated original title) Sabbath began to put a bit of finesse into their music. From the epic eight minute "Wheels of Confusion", a true Sabs fan can see that whilst the band had not lost any of its pummelling brutallity, the band had actually began to write some rock classics, the best of which would probably be "Snowblind" and "Supernaut". However if your like me and pure heavy Iommi riffs and Banshee screams, check the downtuned "Cornucopia" and "Under the Sun" to see just where the Soundgardens andf Metallicas of this world came from. Add to these the beautifully subtle, Morriconesque "Laguna Sunrise" and I suppose you have the perfect album and a wonderful predecessor to "Sabbath Bloody Sabbath".
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on 10 November 2001
Black Sabbath's Volume 4 is an outstanding collection of mature songwriting and superb musicianship.The album doesn't have one weak track and stands beside Led Zeppelin's fourth album Deep Purple's Made in Japan and AC/Dc's Back in Black as an essential to any rock collection.Wheels of Confusion has an addictive infectious groove with a superb Ozzy vocal that leaves you singing "Long ago I wandered through my mind" long after the cd has finished.Supernaut with awesome Bill Ward drumming (check out the bass drum patterns) and Snowblind are killer tracks and Under the Sun and Cornucopia are noisy walks through the graveyard.Of course Tony Iommi and Geezer Butler are also on form too.It's a pure classic and you must have it.In my opinion it's Sabbath's finest moment.
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on 31 January 2007
To say that Vol 4 was the beginning of the end for Sabbath, the start of the long downward spiral into break ups and infighting, as some have commented is a bit of an overstatement.

The year was 1972. The band had only been going as a professional unit, with albums under it belt for 2 years ! If anything, Vol 4 consolidated everything that the band had put into previous efforts, tweaked the problems and brought the good stuff to the fore.

If you want to hear it start to go wrong, or at least go awry, buy `Sabotage'.

Vol 4 is in my opinion a monster of a record. From the opening distraught guitars of Wheels of Confusion, to the last notes of Under the Sun, this album shows Sabbath doing what they do best, experimenting with sound and pulling it off.

Sure the inclusion of tracks like `FX' and `Changes', are all a bit unnecessary, the former track being regarded by Tommy Iommi now as a complete waste of time.

Vol 4 has after all some of Sabbath's greatest live songs on it. Supernaught, not only a distinctly "Sabbath track" but one of rocks all time best tunes. Snowblind, again, shows off Sabbath's knack of going from pretty mid paced, melancholic ramblings, to all out vehement aggressive rock. And that's what makes them great.

Iommi's crushing guitar riffs, Butler's bass punching the music out of the speakers, bill Wards drumming, strangely furious in places, in others almost stoned. And of course Ozzy's strangled, some times sorrowful, sometimes violent vocals.

The riffs on tracks like Supernaught and St Vitus Dance just reaffirm why Sabbath are the true granddaddies of modern metal. With songs like the ones mentioned above, and Tommorows Dream as another great example, its very hard not to want to tap your foot or nod your head to the infectious "groove" and thick slab riffs.

Not Sabbath's heaviest album featuring Ozzy, that accolade goes to `Master of Reality', and maybe not their most dynamic or spontaneous effort, (Their debut and Paranoid both pip it) but certainly an amazing collection of songs, certainly 100% Sabbath.
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on 7 September 2010
This album alone represents some of the most pivotal sounds that have spawned so many to follow. Black Sabbath are the true masters of metal. Having the original vinyl album I found that I could not be without this album on CD. From it's opening track Wheels Of Confusion to such great tunes as Cornucopia and St. Vitus Dance this album is a must for all Metal fans. For those who have only just found rock and metal as a music form then this album should be one of the first to invest in.
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on 21 August 2012
I've always loved this album. Got it for Christmas when it came out. But comparing it to remasters of the first three albums something is wrong. Either the original production was rubbish or the remastering is rubbish. This album would have been called 'Snowblind' if not for the wimpy recording company and could really have done with a decent cover like most Sabbath albums (excluding the excellent Sababth bloody Sabbath cover of course!). Maybe Ozzy, Tony, Geezer and Bill should think about remixing and redoing this album with good artwork as 'Snowblind' and truly do justice to the amazing music. It is such a shame it doesn't sound as good as the first three just due to a poor production / remastering. I had the Castle Communications remaster of Vol 4 before and that is also rubbish - if Geezer listened to it he must have wondered why he bothered playing at all. It may well have been the original recording that was at fault since most of the personell on that side changed:

Involved in one or other of the first three albums:

Rodger Bain - production
Tom Allom - engineering
Barry Sheffield - engineering
Brian Humphries - engineering

But for Vol 4 :

Colin Caldwell, Vic Smith - engineering
Patrick Meehan - production
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This fourth release from Black Sabbath's classic line up, Osbourne, Iommi, Ward and Butler, is a bit of a mixed bag and a little bit of a disappointment after the mighty Master of reality'.

It is well documented that at this time the substance abuse was starting to become a real problem for the band, and it is just starting to show in the work here. It would become more prominent in later releases.

Not as coherent or consistent as `Master of Reality', with attempts to expand the classic Black Sabbath sound with keyboards and orchestrations, this is a bit of a departure that sometimes works, sometimes doesn't. The pace is a bit different as well, with slower piano led tracks like `Changes' interspersing the classic Heavy Rock sound. There is some good songwriting on show here (Snowblind, classic...), but again it is inconsistent. And musically the band were coming apart a bit, the playing just isn't as tight or accurate as it was on earlier releases.

This is still a good album though, and certainly a lot better than some of their later recordings. Definitely worth three stars.
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on 18 October 2014
Heavy Metal history in the making - before it was called Heavy Metal! For any current, or former headbangers out there, I absolutely defy you to play 'Supernaut' on a decent system with the bass turned up - and prevent yourself from involuntarily shakin' that swede out of it's socket. Old as you may be, this is cathartic stuff!
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on 26 July 2003
An album of cataclysmic proportions. Its hard to escape the claustrophobic sense of doom and gloom which emminates from this recording. The opener 'Wheels of Confussion' is a Sabbath tour-de-force with slow, dark riffs follwed up by an quick/slow middle interlude, and concludes with one of the best endings to any song written. 'Tomorrows dream' is a loud 'Paranoid-esque' song with loud and melodic riffs and sum superb vocals from Ozzy. Short and sweet. 'Changes' represents a change in Black Sabbath in the form of a piano balled, which just goes to show that sabbath are not about huge riffs and devils. 'FX' is a bit of an oddity, its just feedback from Iommi's guitar for bout 2 mins! This is follwed by the awesome rifferama of 'Supernaut' with some excellent drumming rom Bill Ward. 'Cornicopia' is a dark brooding piecewith a double time speed burst reminisent of 'Into the Void' from the 'Master of Reality' album. 'Laguna Sunrise' is a break from the bleak in the form of a gentle acoustic instrumental. 'St Vitus Dance' sounds like exactly wot it is, a relentless groove of heavy melodic riffing and rock n rol style grooves. The album concludes with the dark and oppressive 'Under the Sun' which is one of Sabbaths heaviest moments. Ozzy's wails are as pained as ever, Iommi shows just why he known as the riffmaster, Geezer as usual never puts a foot wrong on the bass and Bill Wards drumming is a sure blend of his jazz/blues days and pure thumping. Overall this album is genuine class, a classic amongs heavy rock and metal.
SlipKnot, Linkin Park, Murder Dolls etc take note.
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on 28 June 2009
Volume 4 was my first Black Sabbath album - its predecessors followed in hot pursuit. But even after hearing the wonders of their first release - and my initiation into the dark new world of heavy metal - Volume 4 remains the all time sound of Black Sabbath at their very very best.

The precision of Tony Iommi's guitar and unusual stability of the Osbourne vocals are admirably supported by a bass and drum sound of immense strength - unique to Geezer Butler and Bill Ward. This is an album that reaches out to Sabbath fans - its captivating perfection paving the way for the inevitable decline which kicked in after their next release, Sabbath Bloody Sabbath.

For the uninitiated, Volume 4 is a metal collector's must-have, and a hard act to follow - trust me.
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