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Black Sabbath - Never Say Die! CD (album) cover


Black Sabbath


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2.95 | 356 ratings

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Symphonic Team
4 stars Black Sabbath meets Colosseum II

After the uneven and slightly disappointing, but still good, Technical Ecstasy album, Black Sabbath once again changed direction (or progressed, if you like). This time the change is for the better! One thing to notice about this band's entire output is that they were never afraid of trying out new things and Never Say Die is no exception to this general rule as it contains some surprising, and surprisingly successful, new influences for the band. While this album hardly matches the band's masterpiece albums from the first half of the 70's, I nevertheless think that Never Say Die is a very underrated effort; especially so by Prog fans who ought to appreciate the interesting Jazz-Rock/Fusion influences on several of the album's songs. I strongly recommend not giving up on this album until you get to the second half since it is here that you will find the best songs. All the songs from Shock Wave to Swinging The Chain are great!

The album opens with the almost punky title track, being something of this album's version of Paranoid. The hard rocking Johnny Blade follows. The latter song features a keyboard introduction that sounds very similar to what Ozzy would go on to do on his Mr. Crowley on his first solo album just a couple years later (a great album too by the way!). Incidentally, the keyboard player is Don Airey on both albums (which probably isn't a coincidence, after all). Airey's presence here certainly adds to the overall mix and there is some really good keyboard work on many of the tracks. Junior's Eyes is a pretty good song with a strong melody and some slight surprises. Hard Road is the track that most resembles the traditional heavy Black Sabbath sound and it would not have been out of place on Paranoid or Volume Four.

Now on to the second half of the album, which I must emphasise again, is the by far more interesting half of the album. Here, there is a distinct jazzy feeling on several tracks. Air Dance in particular is a very surprising track on this album and the closest Black Sabbath ever came to Jazz-Rock/Fusion, and it is probably also the best track on Never Say Die. Don Airey had just come from working with Colosseum II and he does an excellent performance on the keyboards here. Air Dance sounds a bit like Colosseum II actually; interesting tempo changes, very good piano work and some very tasteful use of synthesizers. Over To You, again features piano and a strong vocal. The instrumental Breakout even features a brass section! The last track, Swinging The Chain is a bluesy Hard Rock song that features Bill Ward on vocals. It is very much better than his out-of-place contribution to the previous album. This song also features harmonica!

Never Say Die would be the last Black Sabbath album to feature Ozzy Osbourne on vocals and is a very unusual album in the band's discography. It is far more progressive and adventurous than anything the band would do with Ronnie James Dio or Ian Gillan.

Highly recommended and very underrated album!

SouthSideoftheSky | 4/5 |


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