I’ve been a Sabbath fan from when I was in high school, in fact I wooed my first girlfriend with a Black Sabbath song from the Technical Ecstasy album.
There was something about Black Sabbath’s sound that really tickled my fancy and I became a heavy metal kid, among other things.
Sabbath Bloody Sabbath is one of my favourite Sabbath albums, mainly because I liked all the songs on it and because it was a break away from their usual style, adding stings and orchestral arrangements for the first time.
When you listen to the album you can hear they did a great job and I think surprised everyone with this release.
I can still remember trying to to teach myself the riff from the song “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath” on my electric Maton El Toro, much to the annoyance of everyone around me at the time.
There has always been this image of devil worship and satanism around the band which they themselves encouraged to market their albums but if you listen to the lyrics, you come to realise that they are the opposite to that and their music should be listened to for the unique sound they had.
They were after all the parents of heavy metal.
Rock on and rock out.
SABBATH BLOODY SABBATH – THE ALBUM
Sabbath Bloody Sabbath is the fifth studio album released in 1973, by the British heavy metal band Black Sabbath. With this album, the band expanded upon their slow, crunching style of music and included synthesizers, strings, keyboards and more complex, orchestral arrangements.
Following the 1972-1973 world tour in support of their Volume 4 album, Black Sabbath again returned to Los Angeles, California to begin work on its successor. Pleased with Volume 4, the band sought to recreate the recording atmosphere, and returned to the Record Plant Studios with new producer and engineer Tom Allom.
Although the album credits the band’s manager Patrick Meehan as producer, guitarist Tony Iommi said “Meehan’s ego got involved, and he stuck his name down as producer”.
With new musical innovations of the era, the band were surprised to find that the room they had used previously at the Record Plant was replaced by a “giant synthesizer”.
The band rented a house in Bel Air and began writing in the summer of 1973, but due in part to a lot of drug use and fatigue, were unable to complete any songs.
“Ideas weren’t coming out the way they were on Volume 4 and we really got discontent” Iommi said. “Everybody was sitting there waiting for me to come up with something. I just couldn’t think of anything. And if I didn’t come up with anything, nobody would do anything.”
After a month in Los Angeles with no results, the band opted to return to the UK, where they rented Clearwell Castle in The Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire, England.
“We rehearsed in the dungeons and it was really creepy but it had some atmosphere, it conjured up things, and stuff started coming out again”.
While working in the dungeon, Iommi stumbled onto the main riff of “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath”, which set the tone for the new material.
Yes keyboardist Rick Wakeman was brought in as a session player, appearing on “Sabbra Cadabra” and “Who Are You?”.
Building off the stylistic changes introduced on Volume 4, new songs incorporated synthesizers, strings, keyboards and more complex arrangements. “Who Are You?” incorporates a Moog, a common instrument in Progressive rock at the time.
Lyrics of some songs on the album were written about problems within the band at the time.
“Killing Yourself to Live” was written by bassist Geezer Butler while in hospital for kidney problems caused by heavy drinking. Drummer Bill Ward was also suffering from binge drinking, and the song reflects the problems caused by their “extreme” lifestyles.
Similarly, the lyrics of “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath” appear to be inspired by the band’s frustration with their former manager, and the sense of betrayal they had felt at times.
An earlier incarnation of the song can be heard on the records Live at Last and Past Lives.
Drew Struzan was the artist requested to do the cover painting.
It depicts a man on a bed, seemingly having a nightmare or a vision of being attacked by demons in human form. At the top of the bed is a large skull with long, outstretched arms and 666 (the Number of the Beast) written below it. The other side of the album features the opposite of the front cover.
Black Sabbath released Sabbath, Bloody Sabbath on 1 December 1973.
For the first time in their career, the band began to receive favourable reviews in the mainstream press, with Rolling Stone calling the album “an extraordinarily gripping affair”, and “nothing less than a complete success”.
Later reviewers such as All Music’s Eduardo Rivadavia cite the album as “a masterpiece, essential to any heavy metal collection”, while also displaying “a newfound sense of finesse and maturity”.
The band began a world tour in January 1974, which culminated at the California Jam festival in Ontario, California on 6 April 1974. Attracting over 200,000 fans, Black Sabbath appeared alongside such ’70s rock giants as Deep Purple, Earth, Wind & Fire and The Eagles. Portions of the show were telecast on ABC Television in the US, exposing the band to a wider American appeal
All songs by Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler, Ozzy Osbourne and Bill Ward.
1. “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath”
2. “A National Acrobat”
4. “Sabbra Cadabra”
5. “Killing Yourself to Live”
6. “Who Are You?”
7. “Looking for Today”
8. “Spiral Architect”
* Ozzy Osbourne – vocals, synthesizer
* Tony Iommi – all guitars, piano, synthesizer, organ, flute
* Geezer Butler – bass guitar, synthesizer, mellotron
* Bill Ward – drums, timpani, bongos in “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath”
* Rick Wakeman – keyboards, synthesizer, piano on “Sabbra Cadabra”
* Will Malone – conductor, arranger
(thanks again to Wikipedia for supplying the information for this article)