Thursday, August 25, 2016

Black Sabbath - After Forever

Coming back home to my native environment in the Midwest during August is a toss up, however it's one that's worked pretty much to my favor two years in a row. But I ain't pushing it; back to October from here on out. I miss Autumn, a season we don't have where we live now. That said, I can't complain; for two years in a row I've gotten a minimum of the hot, muggy crap and instead had some really nice thunderstorms and a generally cooler atmosphere than I would have expected. In the midst of that kind of cooler temperature I've been able to hit the woods and explore some old haunts. I spent a lot of time in the forest preserves of the greater Chicagoland area during my formative years and one of the things that always accompanied them - other than a particular green and leafy vegetable consumed via smoke inhalation - is Black Sabbath. It is, in a word, in my blood.

I still listen to Sabbath on a somewhat regular basis, going through seemingly unprompted jags from time to time back home in my adopted Los Angeles, but it's not quite the same. And usually there's a whole host of new music that demands my making new Chicago memories with when I come home to visit. This year though, maybe because of the rain and the forest preserves, I'm stuck on an Endless Loop of Sabbath while I'm here. And "After Forever", a song I've always loved as part of the overall oeuvre of the band but never really focused too much on for its individual traits within that oeuvre, has become something of an obsession for me at the moment.

Master of Reality, the record upon which the track in question is found, has never been one of the go-to Sabbath records for me. Well, really the entire run of albums the band put out with John "Ozzy" Osbourne are go-to records, but within that run there are favorites I harbor. Mine have always been the Eponymous first record, Vol. 4 and the band's masterpiece, Sabotage. Surprisingly to many, even their often maligned second to last with John, Technical Ecstasy probably clocks more yearly spins that M.O.R. Which is interesting when you stop to consider that at least three of the tracks on M.O.R. are among my favorite Sabbath tracks. "Into the Void" was one of the first tracks I ever heard by the band and both that and "Lord of the World" have what might be my favorite riffs by Iommi. And the quiet "Solitude" has always captivated me with it's eerie, serene beauty. Despite all this, the record has always struck me as a bit abbreviated. "Embryo" and "Orchid", the two instrumentals that serve as introductions for longer, thicker tracks are both beautiful, but when you have a thirty second and a two minute instrumental that count as two of eight tracks that comprise a record, weeeellll... And yes, several of the other tracks are rather meaty, but I still always feel M.O.R. is over before it begins.

Anyway, because of this stigma I've created for my relationship with this record - still an amazing record - "After Forever" has spent the last fifteen years perpetually slipping below my radar. So I guess now, while the rain's flowing and the forest preserves of my hometown call to me, I'll give it its due.

Volume knob set firmly at 11.

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