Sabotage was Brummie band Black Sabbath’s sixth studio album, released in 1975. This was written at a difficult time for the band, who were fighting a legal battle with their former management who were keeping their earnings from them. The album follows some of the technical developments and movements towards synthesizers as the album’s predecessor, Sabbath Bloody Sabbath. However, this iconic landmark album takes the band to new heights. Interestingly, Bill Ward forgot his trousers for the shoot for the album cover and had to borrow his wife’s red tights.

The album kick’s off with Hole in the Sky which picks up on the band’s earlier success in that it chooses a catchy riff and goes with it. The force of the track is stopped abruptly with the second track, Don’t Start (Too Late) which is an acoustic track. The juxtaposition is said to remind the listener that Sabbath is not to be confined to metal. The overarching theme of this album is insanity and loneliness. These are particularly covered in the epic Megalomania and Symptom of the Universe.

I’m not sure Google gets the picture

Symptom of the Universe is a six and a half minute epic. This is one of the two standout tracks of the album and contains some of its most striking lyrics:

Take my hand, my child of love come step inside my tears
Swim the magic ocean I’ve been crying all these years
With our love we’ll ride away into eternal skies
A symptom of the universe, a love that never dies

Listen to the drumming especially and Ozzy’s evocative vocals.

It is like being dragged, screaming, through Ozzy’s nightmare.

Paul Conboy, in the car with me as his captive audience.

Supertzar is an unexpected track, no lyrics, simply a choir harmonizing a harrowing eery tune. Ozzy said he could not think of any improvement to Tony Iommi’s riffs in the track so he added only harmonisation. The end result is somewhat apocalyptic.

A choir’s vocalizations dominated “Supertzar,”—no lyrics, just dark and fantastical vocal harmonies. In his memoir I Am Ozzy, Osbourne described the day it was recorded: “I walked into Morgan Studios and there was an entire forty-member choir in there along with an eighty-six-year-old harpist. They were making a noise like God conducting the soundtrack to the end of the world.” Classic Rock History

Megalomania is by far the most thrilling track on the album. It is an 10 minute epic which shows us the heights to which Sabbath could go. The word itself is a person who is obsessed with power. Osbourne captures the despairing loneliness with some choice lyrics throughout the track. The varying musical styles within the track’s passages are a testament to the diversity of talent within the band. Fortunately, a third of the way through Iommi interrupted the dread with an energetic riff on an unexpected piano. The listener was abruptly brought out of the dark and back to Earth, a transition mirrored by the lyrics, “Well I feel something’s taken me, I don’t know where. It’s like a trip inside a separate mind.” From there the song became a bold, hard-rocking tale of the narrator’s journey back from madness. (Classic Rock History)

I’m really digging schizophrenia the best of the earth
I’ll chase my soul in the fires of hell?
Peace of mind eluded me, but now it’s all mine
I simply try, but he wants me to fail
Feel it slipping away, slipping in tomorrow
Now I’ve found my happiness, providence of sorrow

More by accident than design, Sabotage ends Black Sabbath’s peerless first six-album run by being a bit of everything that got them there. Where the ambition and expansion of Vol. 4 had about it a glamorous sheen, the golden tint of perfect LA sunshine, here that same artistry is served by the grubbier fists and middle fingers of the four blokes from Aston that made their first three records.

The beginning of the end for the classic era? Almost certainly. But while they were on their hot streak, even as cracks started to show, Sabbath remained absolutely untouchable.


This album quite changed my perception of Sabbath. I knew Paranoid, of course, and some of Sabbath Bloody Sabbath but this was on a different level. It did mark the beginning of the end of the era but I quite agree with Kerrang, Sabbath were untouchable.