sablespecter's Album of the Year for 1973 (RDF: 87.5%)
Sabbath grow into a tight, unified force with this album, which serves up far better production than Vol. 4. They're moving away from slugdy sounds now, evolving from doom metal toward heavy metal, if I can say such a thing. It certainly wasn't thought about in those terms by them, of course.
The most interesting twist to this album is the appearance of Rick Wakeman. When does Rick Wakeman do keyboards in a style different that his usual style that annoys me? When he dials it down and adds complexity to a Sabbath album! Sabbath, especially Ozzy and Bill Ward, befriended Wakeman when Sabbath was supporting Yes here in the States in 1972. Though he's only credited with the keys for "Sabbra Cadabra" he apparently contributed to "Who Are You?" as well. And Paul Wilkinson also makes the case that he likely contributed elsewhere.