Vol. 4 is the fourth studio album by English heavy metal band Black Sabbath, released in September 1972. It was the first album by Black Sabbath not produced by Rodger Bain; guitarist Tony Iommi assumed production duties. Patrick Meehan, the band’s then-manager, was listed as co-producer, though his actual involvement in the album’s production was minimal at best.
Wheels Of Confusion—-Seemingly to begin at a mid jam point, the song takes shape as it progresses. The effects of drug experimentation and use are in full effect from the lyrics and the heavier feel of the music. This is layered with sound on top of sound…I rather like the jam feel of the song…like they stepped into a room and just came up with something. The vocal sounds a bit pushed to the back….and a little empty….but the drums and the bass more than make up for it. Stellar. Many moods and tempos….Love it.
Tomorrow’s Dream—-With a nice almost galloping bass line introducing the track, this is stellar. Ozzy sounds rather maniacal…..delivering line after line of lyrics that make you dig into your psyche and try to figure it all out…probably just good drugs though! The rhythm section sounds so tight to me on this track….the vocal overlays and the slight fuzz…all add up to an incredible track. Shame on me for not paying closer attention to this release.
Changes—-Perhaps…it is not just me, that was incredibly surprised and enthralled with this surprise sound departure for the band. Perhaps setting the standard for the requisite ballad on an album, Sabbath constructed a beautiful song that is much an ode to love as it is to the love of drugs. This is a spectacular moment caught in time. Ozzy never sounded more real or sincere. A true showcase of talent.
FX—-The intro of the song….like a bright star shining in the blackest of night…..ushers in a slow and odd track that is fueled by reverb and drug addled experimentation.
Supernaut—-Although I will always prefer the version from 1000 Homo DJ’S, this comes pretty damn close to being on a classics list. The feel and the energy are very intact…Ozzy…sounding way back in the mix, conjures up a vision of head bobbing that is the best of that time. The feel of the music is much more energetic and METAL…rather than dark and sludge filled. This has a crisp feel to it that I love.
Snowblind—-A nice ode to drug abuse that was not nice or subtle, this catches the band at that point where o many things started to go wrong. Ozzy sounds like he is screaming rather than delivering the classic sound he is associated with. The music is dark and heavy….but the drums…and the bass stand out as always…leading the band on a journey only they were experiencing…..yea…..right.
Cornucopia—-For me, this track reverts back to the earliest days of Sabbath…..delivering that deeper and slower death march towards glory. The track does open up mind you….I like the energetic feel of the guitars when Ozzy sings and the sharpness of the Iommi lead. This is nice….but something I tend to jump over.
Laguna Sunrise—-Another bit of a surprise, the melodic beauty of this track is incredible. The feel of the song….at the onset…allows me to just drift off into a literal sunrise….dreaming and forgetting myself. What a talented bit of musicians here. I love this interlude. Melodic and filled with a soaring beauty.
St. Vitus Dance—-An odd follow up to the previous track, this almost has a rock-a-billy feel at the onset. The sound is so under produced…allowing all the high hats and cymbals to crash with way to much clarity. I like the delivery….Ozzy sounds literally driven to deliver the lyrics…perhaps spawned by the music. This is classic…..because it foreshadows the Ozzy sound for me. I like this!
Under The Sun—-Rounding out the release with a nod back to the earliest days, this track begins with a slow and trudging bass line…..you are surprised when the clarity of the guitar breaks through though. The melody that leads the track is actually damn catchy and has a tendency to stick in your brain. This is a fantastic closer…leaving you with a good feeling about the band and where they were at.
***** out of 5