Signing on with Deep Purple/Black Sabbath producer Martin Birch, Blue Oyster Cult made more of a guitar-heavy hard rock album in Cultosaurus Erectus after flirting with pop ever since the success of Agents of Fortune. (They also promoted this album by going out on a co-headlining tour with Sabbath.) Gone are the female backup singers, the pop hooks, the songs based on keyboard structures, and they are replaced by lots of guitar solos and a beefed-up rhythm section. But the band still were not generating strong enough material to compete with their concert repertoire, so they found themselves in the bind of being a strong touring act unable to translate that success into record sales.
Wednesday, November 30, 2011
Tuesday, November 29, 2011
Blue Oyster Cult tried a new producer on Mirrors, replacing longtime mentor Sandy Pearlman with Tom Werman, a CBS staffer who had worked with Cheap Trick and Ted Nugent. The result is an album that tries to straddle pop and hard rock just as those acts did, emphasizing choral vocals (plus female backup) and a sharp, trebly sound. But this approach appeared to displease longtime metal-oriented fans without attracting new ones: "In Thee" became a minor singles-chart entry, but the album broke BOC 's string of five gold or platinum albums in a row. The real reason simply may have been that the songs weren't distinctive enough. Much of this is generic hard rock that could have been made by any one of a dozen '70s arena bands.
Monday, November 28, 2011
Some Enchanted Evening is the mighty beast that is Blue Oyster Cult's best-selling record, with numbers signifying double platinum. Yeah, small potatoes by today's standards, but then the music industry is self-destructing anyway; these totals sum up not only the BOC faithful, but those who were initially turned onto the band through this wonder of a cut-up live record. And the reason? Because it kicks serious rock & roll ass, that's why. BOC had released its first live record, On Your Feet or on Your Knees in 1975, just three years earlier with only two studio offerings in between. Wondering why? There were two absolute smashes -- Agents of Fortune (1976) and Spectres (1977) -- in between. The grueling touring they took on in support of these albums dictated a rest, and thus Some Enchanted Evening was assembled and released.
Sunday, November 27, 2011
Blue Oyster Cult scored big with Agents of fortune and its now-classic rock hit, "(Don't Fear) The Reaper." It took the album into the stratosphere and the band's profile with it; it put them in the visible pop space they'd tried for years to get to. But upon arrival, they found that kind of success difficult to respond to. Not only did BOC want to respond, they wanted to cement their place. Spectres is not the masterpiece that Agents of Fortune is, but it didn't need to be. However, upon hearing Spectres again, the album offers proof that the commercial and creative bent of Agents of Fortune was still in place at certain moments, and the band laid out a major single in the opening cut, "Godzilla," a tune -- however silly it may be -- that is every bit as memorable as "(Don't Fear) The Reaper. BOC were the only band in their league, walking the line between AOR rock and metal, and offering such detailed narratives. Spectres also contains tunes that were ready-made for touring, which is what BOC did immediately after, resulting in the wildly successful live album Some Enchanted Evening. In sum, the only reason Spectres is not regarded as a classic is because it followed Agents of Fortune.
Saturday, November 26, 2011
If ever there were a manifesto for 1970s rock, one that prefigured both the decadence of the decade's burgeoning heavy metal and prog rock excesses and the rage of punk rock, "This Ain't the Summer of Love," the opening track from Agents of Forture, Blue Oyster Cult's fourth studio album, was it. The irony was that while the cut itself came down firmly on the hard rock side of the fence, most of the rest of the album didn't. The album yielded the band's biggest single with "(Don't Fear) The Reaper," a multi-textured, deeply melodic soft rock song with psychedelic overtones, written by guitarist Donald "Buck Dharma" Roeser. The rest of the album is ambitious in that it all but tosses aside BOC's proto-metal stance and instead recontextualizes their entire stance. It's still dark, mysterious, and creepy, and perhaps even more so, it's still rooted in rock posturing and excess, but gone is the nihilistic biker boogie in favor of a more tempered -- indeed, nearly pop arena rock. Agents of Fortune is a solid record, albeit a startling one for fans of the band's earlier sound. It also sounds like one of restless inspiration, which is, in fact, what it turned out to be given the recordings that came after. It turned out to be BOC's last consistent effort until they released Fires of Unknown Origin in 1981.
Friday, November 25, 2011
On Your Feet or on Your Knees, Blue Oyster Cult's first live album, was also their first to peak inside the Top 40 best-sellers, which is more of an indication of the audience the group was building up through extensive touring than of its quality. Songs that had a tight, concentrated impact on studio albums got elongated here, and that impact was dissipated. And the song selection left a great deal to be desired if this was to be a fitting summation of the band's career so far. The album did mark the first commercial release of a version of "Buck's Boogie" as well as covers of the Yardbirds' "I Ain't Got You" and Steppenwolf's "Born to Be Wild."
Thursday, November 24, 2011
While the speed-freak adrenaline heaviness and shrouded occult mystery of Tyranny and Mutation is the watermark for Blue Oyster Cult's creative invention, it is Secret Treaties that is widely and critically regarded as the band's classic. Issued in 1974, Secret Treaties is the purest distillation of all of BOC's strengths. Here the songs are expansive, and lush in their textures. The flamboyance is all here, and so are the overdriven guitar riffs provided by Buck Dharma and Eric Bloom. But there is something else, texturally, that moves these songs out from the blackness and into the shadows. It offers BOC a new depth and breadth. While elements of psychedelia have always been a part of the band's sound, it was always enfolded in proto-metal heaviness and biker boogie. Here, BOC created their own brand of heavy psychedelic noir to diversify their considerably aggressive attack. It's a breathless rock monolith that is all dark delight and sinister pleasure. While BOC went on to well-deserved commercial success with Agents of Fortune an album later, the freaky inspiration that was offered on their debut, and brought to shine like a black jewel on Tyranny and Mutation, was fully articulated as visionary on Secret Treaties.
Wednesday, November 23, 2011
On Tyranny and Mutation, Blue Oyster Cult achieved the seemingly impossible: they brightened their sound and deepened their mystique. The band picked up their tempos considerably on this sophomore effort. The split imagery of Side One's thematic, "The Red" and Side Two's "The Black," and the flip-to-wig-city, dark conspiracy of Gawlik's cover art, and an entire concept was not only born and executed, it was received. The Black side of Tyranny and Mutation is its reliance on speed, punched-up big guitars, and throbbing riffs such as in "The Red and the Black," "O.D'd on Life Itself," "Hot Rails to Hell," and "7 Screaming Diz-Busters," all of which showcased the biker boogie taken to a dizzyingly extreme boundary; one where everything flies by in a dark blur, and the articulations of that worldview are informed as much by atmosphere as idea. This is screaming, methamphetamine-fueled rock & roll that was all about attitude, mystery, and a sense of nihilistic humor that was deep in the cuff. On the Red Side, beginning with the syncopated striations of "Baby Ice Dog," in which Allen Lanier's piano was as important as Buck Dharma's guitar throb, elements of ambiguity and bluesy swagger enter into the mix. Eric Bloom was the perfect frontman: he twirled the words around in his mouth before spitting them out with requisite piss-and-vinegar, and a sense of decadent dandy that underscored the music's elegance, as well as its power. He was at ease whether the topic was necromancy, S&M, apocalyptic warfare, or cultural dissolution. While BOC's Secret Treaties is widely recognized as the Cult's classic album, one would do well to consider Tyranny and Mutation in the same light.
Tuesday, November 22, 2011
Two years before Kiss roared out of Long Island with its self-titled debut,Blue Oyster Cult, the latest incarnation of a band assembled by guitarist Donald "Buck Dharma" Roeser and drummer Albert Bouchard in 1967, issued its dark, eponymously-titled heavy rock monolith. Managed and produced by the astronomically minded and conspiratorially haunted SandyPearlman, BOC rode the hot, hellbound rails of blistering hard rock as pioneered by Steppenwolf, fierce mutated biker blues, and a kind of dark psychedelia that could have only come out New York. The band's debut relied heavily on the lyrics of Pearlman and rock critic Richard Meltzer, as well as Pearlman's pioneering production that layered guitars in staggered sheets of sound over a muddy mix that kept Eric Bloom's delivery in the middle of the mix and made it tough to decipher. This was on purpose -- to draw the listener into the songs cryptically and ambiguously.
Monday, November 21, 2011
After helping singer David Coverdale reinvent Whitesnake both sonically and aesthetically for the image-conscious American market, guitar hero John Sykes acrimoniously left the group when it became apparent that there was only room enough for one overblown ego in it: Coverdale's . John Sykes forms supergroup Blue Murder with with veteran bassist Tony Franklin of the Firm and nearly geriatric drummer Carmine Appice from Vanilla Fudge. Released in 1989, the power trio's eponymous debut was produced to pompous perfection by none other than Bob Rock, whose golden ears for bombastic yet consumer-friendly '80s metal were truly second to none at the time. But the album has also become rather dated over the years, because of its frequent indulgence in the same sort of unchecked, peroxide-fueled "Bad Zeppelin-isms" that were then being shamelessly appropriated by bands like Kingdom Come and Sykes' own former boss, David Coverdale, and the reborn Whitesnake. As such, prime offenders like the gratuitously preening "Sex Child," the impressively epic "Valley of the Kings," and the disappointingly tepid "Ptolemy" abused this ethically flawed (if unquestionably effective, from a sales standpoint) gimmick at its most grotesquely histrionic -- but no more so than any of the other groups cited above, really. And because Blue Murder's songwriting was relatively consistent and their musicianship beyond reproach throughout, it's easy to understand why this album has endured far better than most similarly styled heavy metal albums of the era.
Sunday, November 20, 2011
Released in 1986 on Rhino records, Louder Than God is an adequate "best of" collection for those interested in a brief but complete assortment of Blue Cheer's greatest proto-metal hits. Rhino wisely chose studio wiz Bill Inglot to remaster the 13 tracks on this offering, making it one of, if not the best, post-'70s repackaging of Blue Cheer material. The group's biggest hits, "Summertime Blues" and "Out of Focus," get spruced up nicely on Louder Than God, as does the remaining material from the especially small sounding Vincebus Eruptum. Obtaining this record might indeed be the best, or at least most cost-efficient way for casual fans to add essential music from the very influential Blue Cheer to their hard rock/heavy metal collection.
Saturday, November 19, 2011
Rock & roll had grown louder and wilder by leaps and bounds during the '60s, but when Blue Cheer emerged from San Francisco onto the national rock scene in 1968 with their debut album, Vincebus Eruptum, they crossed a line which most musicians and fans hadn't even thought to draw yet. Vincebus Eruptum sounds monolithically loud and primal today, but it must have seemed like some sort of frontal assault upon first release; Blue Cheer are often cited as the first genuine heavy metal band, but that in itself doesn't quite sum up the true impact of this music, which even at a low volume sounds crushingly forceful. Though Blue Cheer's songs were primarily rooted in the blues, what set them apart from blues-rock progenitors such as the Rolling Stones and the Yardsbirds was the massive physical force of their musical attack. Vincebus Eruptum is a glorious celebration of rock & roll primitivism run through enough Marshall amps to deafen an army; only a few of Blue Cheer's peers could come up with anything remotely this heavy and no one could summon so much thunder with just three people. If you want to wake the neighbors, this is still the album to get, and it was Blue Cheer's simplest and most forceful musical statement.
Friday, November 18, 2011
Most '90s rock bands who enjoyed massive breakthrough success with their debut album seemed to follow it up with an effort similarly styled to its predecessor, hence guaranteeing repeat success. This proved not to be the case with Blind Melon. It appeared as though the band rejected the jovial spirit of "No Rain" and focused on much darker material for their follow-up, Soup. While it did not match the commercial success of the debut, Soup proved to be a challenging, gripping record that is just as strong and perhaps even more rewarding. Shannon Hoon was in the throes of drug addiction (which would prove fatal only two months after the album's release), and his experience at a drug detox. Soup deserved to be another big hit, but due to MTV and radio's abrupt abandonment of the band, harsh reviews from close-minded critics, and worst of all, Hoon's untimely death mid-tour, all hopes of the album receiving the attention it deserved were extinguished. Soup is one of the most underrated and overlooked great rock albums of the '90s.
Thursday, November 17, 2011
Perhaps one of the most memorable moments in Woodstock history-an inebriated Shannon Hoon jumping around onstage wearing his girlfriend's dress. Sounds as if a recipe for a disaster. Surprisingly, Blind Melon steals the afternoon with extended jams and tight band interplay between guitarists Christopher Thorn and Rogers Stevens-almost perfect for Woodstock '94's '70s feel-good vibe. Hoon's onstage antics was more or less was a mere distraction and/or a sign of things to come for Blind Melon. Hoon was found dead a year later of a heart attack brought on by a cocaine overdose.
Wednesday, November 16, 2011
Managing to be equally mellow and introspective as well as rough and rocking, Blind Melon's 1992 self-titled debut remains one of the purest sounding rock albums of recent time, completely devoid of '90s production tricks. While the group was never the toast of the critics, their self-titled 1992 debut has held up incredibly well over time, resembling a true rock classic. For reasons unknown, the late Shannon Hoon was, unfairly, usually the brunt of reviewer's criticisms, yet his angelic voice and talent for penning lyrics that examined the ups and downs of everyday life were an integral part of Blind Melon's sound, as well as the band's supreme jamming interplay.
Tuesday, November 15, 2011
Blind Faith's very name arguably proved that their members did not know what to expect from the union. The band made its debut at a free concert in front of more than 100,000 fans at Hyde Park in London on June 7, 1969. This pivotal event in rock history is preserved in its entirety on the excellent 2006 DVD London Hyde Park 1969.Winwood, Clapton, Baker, and Grech are crowded together on a small stage with little room to move. At times they seem hesitant, while at other times their confidence and heroic technical skills shatter any reservations. All six songs that ended up on Blind Faith are performed. Many other bands suffered the same fate as Blind Faith: a promising start that gave way to the disappointment of unfulfilled potential and thoughts of what might have been. Fortunately, London Hyde Park 1969 chronicles the birth of the shooting star that was Blind Faith.
Monday, November 14, 2011
Blind Faith's first and last album, more than 30 years old and counting, remains one of the jewels of the Eric Clapton, Steve Winwood, and Ginger Baker catalogs, despite the crash-and-burn history of the band itself, which scarcely lasted six months. As much a follow-up to Traffic's self-titled second album as it is to Cream's final output, it merges the soulful blues of the former with the heavy riffing and outsized song lengths of the latter for a very compelling sound unique to this band. The virtuoso electric blues of "Had to Cry Today," the acoustic-textured "Can't Find My Way Home," the soaring "Presence of the Lord" (Eric Clapton's one contribution here as a songwriter, and the first great song he ever authored) and "Sea of Joy" are pure euphoria. Unfortunately, the group was never that together as a band and evidently had just the 42 minutes of new music here ready to tour behind.
Sunday, November 13, 2011
Though it was conceived as a mere cash-in for the long-awaited return of the original Black Sabbath, 1998's Reunion is as close to an official live album as the band has had in their historic 30-year career. 1980's Live at Last was released without their permission, and 1982's Live Evil featured then-singer Ronnie James Dio. With this in mind, the band must be commended on the excellent quality of the recordings, which include their most enduring classics ("War Pigs," "Paranoid," "Iron Man"), as well as a few surprises ("Dirty Women," "Behind the Wall of Sleep"), and were culled from a series of concerts in their native Birmingham in December 1997. The real key to this album, however, is the band's ability to avoid the most common pitfall of live recordings: speeding up the songs. This patience is crucial, since such Sabbath staples as "Sweet Leaf," "Black Sabbath," and "Snowblind" owe much of their unique personality and somber atmospherics to the band's trademark "snail's pace." "Children of the Grave" proves itself once again as one of the band's most dependable live favorites, and the massive riffs of "Into the Void" are simply timeless. The two brand new studio tracks are another treat for longtime fans, and while "Selling My Soul" is rather mundane, "Psycho Man" is absolutely incredible thanks to its slow intro and raging final riff.
Saturday, November 12, 2011
Sabbath and Dio were dealing with a dwindling fan base, unsuccessful albums, and a longstanding creative rut when they decided to reunite the Mob Rules lineup. In a perfect world, they would have created a monster of an album and shot back into the limelight with a vengeance. But with ten-year-old internal tensions still gnawing away at the band, they hastily created Dehumanizer, a weird side note in their long history. Ronnie James Dio delivers his strongest performance since the early '80s, and hearing Geezer Butler and Tony Iommi play together after nine years is inspiring. But they cannot seem to overcome the challenge of crafting classic Sabbath material, and it is this issue that haunts the recording . Dehumanizer isn't terrible, but it should have been the sign for the band to call it a career. Instead, Dio split when he refused to open shows for Ozzy Osbourne's retirement tour; they used Judas Priest singer Rob Halford for a few shows, and then everyone left but Iommi and Butler, who stayed on to paste a new lineup back together for two more albums.
Friday, November 11, 2011
Gothic in approach, but crushing guitar riffs galore, TYR followed Black Sabbath's previous return to the spotlight by less than a year. Again leaning heavily on the darker side of life, or perhaps, death, TYR is a set of tunes loosely based around the Norse tales of Odin and the gods of war. "Valhalla" is unlike anything the old Sabbath tried, yet still sounds familiar. "The Sabbath Stones" mix myth with metal in a crushing display of musical synthesis. With TYR, Black Sabbath sound as serious as they can be.
Thursday, November 10, 2011
By the late '80s everyone had pretty much given up on Black Sabbath...and why not? After all, guitarist Tony Iommi was the only remaining original member, and the band had seen an outrageous number of musicians -- particularly lead singers -- crash through its battered ranks since Ozzy Osbourne's late-'70s sacking. So it was actually quite a shock to anyone still paying attention when no-name vocalist outperformed a string of higher-profile predecessors with his contributions to Sabbath's unexpected 1987 return to form, The Eternal Idol, then pulled off the even more remarkable feat of being invited back for a second go-round via 1989's equally satisfying Headless Cross. Arguably the finest Sabbath album sans Ozzy or Dio, Headless Cross also featured one of Black Sabbath's most formidable lineups ever: matching the two Tonys with veteran bassist Neil Murrey (Whitesnake, Gary Moore, etc.) and experienced journeyman Cozy Powell (too many associations to list) -- one of the few drummers in possession of an instantly recognizable sound. for those wise enough to appreciate Black Sabbath's discography beyond the Osbourne and Dio essentials, there can be no better place to start than Headless Cross or its worthy predecessor, The Eternal Idol.
Wednesday, November 9, 2011
After years of playing a dispiriting game of musical chairs with various lead singers during the early '80s, Black Sabbath guitarist Tony Iommi, finally stumbled upon a dependable frontman when he admitted relative unknown Tony Martin into the fold, thereby initiating the original heavy metal band's long awaited return to respectability -- if not chart-topping success. Martin joined the oft-interrupted sessions for what would become 1987's The Eternal Idol album already in progress, stepping in for an unreliable Ray Gillien when the latter moved on to Jake E. Lee's Badlands, and helping Iommi rescue an astonishingly solid long-player from the jaws of complete and utter chaos. As it turned out, Martin's powerful, muscular voice -- though bearing more than a passing resemblance to former singer Ronnie James Dio -- was ultimately the perfect foil for full-bodied heavy metal anthems like "Hard Life to Love," "Glory Ride," and "Born to Lose".
Tuesday, November 8, 2011
An often misunderstood and underrated album, 1986's Seventh Star was never intended to be a Black Sabbath release, as the band had effectively broken up following its disastrous 1984 tour in support of career low point Born Again. Instead, Seventh Star was conceived as guitarist Tony Iommi's first solo project, and it was only record company pressure that forced him to resurrect his longtime band's moniker at the last moment. With this in mind, one can better appreciate both the record's more blues-based, often un-Sabbath-like songwriting and the contributions made by journeyman singer Glenn Hughes.
Monday, November 7, 2011
The idea sure looked good on paper, but when former Deep Purple frontman Ian Gillian joined Black Sabbath for 1983's dreadful Born Again album, the grim reality was that Gillian's bluesy vocal style and oftentimes humorous lyrics were completely incompatible with the lords of doom and gloom. Widely deemed the band's creative nadir, Born Again's atrocious "production" leaves one with the distinct impression that, in a misguided attempt to record the heaviest album ever, Black Sabbath came away with the muddiest instead. Among the smoking ruins that pass for its songs, one might find it possible to appreciate Gillian's trademarked double entendres on "Disturbing the Priest," pick out a decent melody within the messy title track, and get down to some mercifully straightforward headbanging with "Digital Bitch" and the album's lone classic, "Trashed." Black Sabbath's greatly anticipated association with Ian Gillian had gone down as one of heavy metal's all-time greatest disappointments, and nearly killed the genre's founding fathers in the process.
Sunday, November 6, 2011
Black Sabbath's first attempt at an official live album, 1982's Live Evil was also the straw that broke the camel's back -- or rather, split the legendary group's second lineup right down the middle. Band tensions were already at an all-time high leading into the album's mixing sessions, but when founding members Tony Iommi and Geezer Butler accused singer Ronnie James Dio of sneaking into the studio to raise the volume on his vocal tracks, the pint-sized warbler decided he'd had enough and, guilty or not, departed to pursue a solo career, taking drummer Vinnie Appice with him. Fateful accusations aside, Live Evil does benefit from a crystal clear, in-your-face sound, and by showcasing even amounts of both Ozzy and Dio material, effectively documents Black Sabbath's renascent tours of the early '80s. Dio certainly has the vocal chops, if not the same everyman charm, to handle the Osbourne classics, but his incessant banter between (and during!) songs sometimes verges on the unbearable.
Saturday, November 5, 2011
1981's Mob Rules was the second Black Sabbath album to feature vertically challenged singer , Ronnie James Dio whose powerful pipes and Dungeons and Dragons lyrics initially seemed like the perfect replacement for the recently departed and wildly popular Ozzy Osbourne. In fact, all the ingredients which had made their first outing, Heaven and Hell, so successful are re-utilized on this album, including legendary metal producer Martin Birch and supporting keyboard player Geoff Nichols. And while it lacks some of its predecessor's inspired songwriting, Mob Rules was given a much punchier, in-your-face mix by Birch. Over the next year, the shit would hit the fan for Black Sabbath, and Dio's exit would mark Mob Rules as the last widely respected studio release of the band's storied career.
Friday, November 4, 2011
Many had left Black Sabbath for dead at the dawn of the '80s, and with good reason -- the band's last couple of albums albums were not even close to their early classics, and original singer Ozzy Osbourne had just split from the band. But Sabbath had found a worthy replacement in former Elf and Rainbow singer Ronnie James Dio, and bounced back to issue their finest album since the early '70s, 1980's Heaven and Hell. The band sounds reborn and re-energized throughout. Several tracks easily rank among Sabbath's all-time best, such as the vicious album opener, "Neon Knights," the moody, mid-paced epic "Children of the Sea," and the title track, which features one of Tony Iommi's best guitar riffs. With Heaven and Hell, Black Sabbath was obviously back in business. Unfortunately, the Dio-led version of the band would only record one more studio album before splitting up (although Dio would return briefly in the early '90s). One of Sabbath's finest records.
Thursday, November 3, 2011
Black Sabbath's best-of discs continue to proliferate at alarming speed, and Castle's particular version is hopelessly outdated. The track listing is decent enough, but falls well short of a full CD's running time (it was assembled in the vinyl era) and is transferred straight from the master tapes, without any attention to mastering them for CD-quality sound. Hence, it's utterly avoidable. If you really only need to glimpse Sabbath, We Sold Our Soul for Rock'n'Roll is still the place to go.
Wednesday, November 2, 2011
Surprisingly, Warner Brothers never released a live Black Sabbath album in the U.S. during Ozzy Osbourne's years with the band. It wasn't until 1982's double-LP Live Evil (which featured Ronnie James instead of the Oz) that Warner finally put out a live Sabbath album in the U.S. Released in England in 1980, Live at Last is a single LP that was recorded before Osbourne's departure but didn't come out until after he had left. Unfortunately, this LP's liner notes are problematic. Nems lets you know that Live at Last was recorded in Manchester, England, and at the Rainbow in London, but no recording dates are given. And Osbourne's first name is misspelled "Ossie." As for the performances, the Osbourne/Geezer Butler/Tony Iommi/Bill Ward lineup of Sabbath is in decent form on such menacing favorites as "War Pigs," "Paranoid," "Sweet Leaf," and "Children of the Grave." Live at Last, which made it to American stores as an import, is by no means definitive -- how could it be without "Iron Man"? But even so, fans were glad to finally have a live recording of Osbourne-era Sabbath that wasn't a bootleg.
Tuesday, November 1, 2011
After going their separate ways for a brief period following the emotionally taxing and drug-infested Technical Ecstasy tour, Black Sabbath and singer Ozzy Osbourne reconciled long enough to record 1978's Never Say Die! -- an album whose varied but often unfocused songs perfectly reflected the band's uneasy state of affairs at the time. Even the surprisingly energetic title track, which seemed to kick things off with a promising bang, couldn't entirely mask the group's fading enthusiasm just beneath the surface after a few repeated listens. Never Say Die!'s incoherent musical aggregate in fact betrayed the harsh reality that it was indeed too late. So even though those same die-hard Sabbath fans and completists will likely find some redeeming value in Never Say Die! after all these years, the original lineup's final gasp will hold little interest to the average heavy metal fan.