Sabotage, by Black Sabbath
Suggested by Bryan Connolly
I enjoy boardgames. No, not like Monopoly.
Chez Stevenson has a room dedicated to boardgames. Shelf upon shelf of modern games with a variety of mechanics and themes, from throwaway deduction games that have sixteen cards and a lpay-length of ten minutes to sprawling epic dungeon-crawling year-long behemoths that require maps, apps, spreadsheets and administration. If it’s got a dice, a card or a meeple in it, I’m happy to give it a go.
But invariably, when discussing my hobby with the uninitiated, their response to the comment “I enjoy boardgames” is always “Oh, like Monopoly?”
Monopoly was conceived in 1903, patented in 1904, and was originally called The Landlord’s Game. It was an educational tool by an anti-monopolist Lizzie Magie, created to satirise the negative aspects of creating private monopolies. It was refined, and eventually hit mass market as Monopoly in 1935.
I could waxy lyrical for hours on why Monopoly is a bad game, but my point today is that it’s an old game. If your hobby is, say, cycling, no one responds to that declaration with “Oh, like Penny Farthings?” Or movies… “Oh, like Buster Keaton?” Hell, even video games… “Oh, like Pong?”
In a sense, the same could be said for Black Sabbath and their relationship to Heavy Metal. In certain circles, there’s an expectation that if you’re a Metal fan you’re immediately a lover of the classic sound, the pioneers, the full-on rocking of Black Sabbath and their ilk. And anecdotally in my experience at least, when you’re a budding ‘banger there’s a certain pressure to check out the musical roots of the artform that you’re coming to adore.
But to me, Black Sabbath are largely irrelevant.
It’s not that I don’t appreciate their burgeoning sound. I do. I’ve even a lot of time for their standout career songs, such as War Pigs, Paranoid and Iron Man, all three of which appear on one album. I’m sure if I were reviewing that today, I’d be far more generous. But Sabotage, their sixth studio album from 1975? There’s very little memorable about it.
The band themselves are a Trigger’s Broom outfit, who’ve constantly shifted and spun through numerous line ups with very little cohesion or consistency. Nevertheless, the lineup for Sabotage was Classic Sabbath, with Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler, Bill Ward, and Ozzy Osbourne. Their sound throughout is pure rock with Metal leanings, and Ozzy is his usual overbearing and ridiculous self. I love Ozzy’s voice, but it’s not one for bringing a sound together into a musical whole. It’s more like a blatant two-fingered salute to the other musicians, a declaration of war and an attempt to somehow “win” the song.
The songs themselves are largely unforgettable, with perhaps the thrashing Symptom of the Universe getting plaudists from me, or maybe the chop-changing The Writ that closes out the piece. Actually, my standout is Am I Going Insane (Radio), with its almost pop-rock aesthetic, modulating bass, and restrained Ozzy wail. It sounds like an Ozzy solo track, which is not a bad thing.
Sabotage gets 5/10. It’s okay, but there are far more modern sounds to enjoy today.