When I was asked to review a classic album for this site about 4 albums immediately came to mind – one in particular which I could probably write page after page about. But then I got thinking and it occurred to me that maybe this should be more than a few paragraphs about an album that I deem to be a classic simply because I love it. The album doesn’t necessarily have to be my favourite album, because a classic album is more than that. A classic album needs to be iconic. It needs to have stood the test of time. You need to be able to hear it’s influence on other bands material. And it needs to be peerless.
I feel that Black Sabbath’s 1972 album Vol.4 meets all the criteria and more. – and yet it does it without having to steal the limelight. What I mean by that is that this album will never hog a top 10 spot in Q Magazine’s greatest ever albums, and you’ll never walk into a high street shop and hear it playing over the stereo, but if you ask any metal fan, or indeed any metal band, you can be sure that this album will crop up among their ‘must have’s’.
The album showcases all of Sabbaths strong points. It’s full to the brim of riffs which still wipe the floor with most of the riffs that bands of today conjure up, namely Wheels Of Confusion, Snowblind, Tomorrow’s Dream and the mighty Supernaut. The album also demonstrates that Sabbath weren’t a one trick pony with the fantastic composition of Laguna Sunrise, and the softly softly approach taken on Changes (don’t worry, it’s a million times better than the Ozzy/Kelly Osbourne rehash!). The lyrics are sincere and frank giving a brutally honest outlook on a physically and mentally drained band caught in the grip of substance abuse – a factor which seriously jeopardised the mere existence of this album.
Since it’s release the album has arguably become regarded as Sabbath’s finest hour. The album cover alone is as recognisable as any of their songs and artists from Eminem to System Of A Down have covered tracks from this album.
I remember rushing out 20 years ago to get hold of Nirvana’s ‘Nevermind’ and doing the same for Radioheads ‘OK Computer’. I remember the first time my dad played The Who’s ‘Quadrophenia’ to me. But while I can’t even recall the first time I heard this masterpiece, it now sits proudly among my favourite albums and I can’t even begin to imagine where the world of metal music would be without this album, such is it’s importance.
Black Sabbath, Vol.4. A CLASSIC album.