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4.23 | 196 ratings | 20 reviews
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Album · 1970

Filed under Heavy Metal


1. Black Sabbath (6:20)
2. The Wizard (4:24)
3. Behind The Wall Of Sleep (3:37)
4. N.I.B. (6:08)
5. Evil Woman (3:25)
6. Sleeping Village (3:46)
7. Warning (10:28)

Total Time 38:08


- Ozzy Osbourne / vocals, harmonica
- Tony Iommi / guitars, keyboards
- Geezer Butler / bass
- Bill Ward / drums

About this release

13 February 1970
Vertigo, Warner Bros

North American Edition has the following tracklist:

1. Black Sabbath (6:20)
2. The Wizard (4:22)
3. Wasp / Behind The Wall Of Sleep / Bassically / N.I.B. (9:44)
4. Wicked World (4:47)
5. A Bit Of Finger / Sleeping Village / Warning (14:15)

Total Time 39:28

Reissued in 1996 with the following tracklist:

1. Black Sabbath (6:20)
2. The Wizard (4:24)
3. Behind The Wall Of Sleep (3:37)
4. N.I.B. (6:08)
5. Evil Woman (3:25)
6. Sleeping Village (3:46)
7. Warning (10:28)
8. Wicked World (4:47)

Total Time 42:55

Reissued as Deluxe Edition in 2009 with a bonus disc with the following tracklist:

1. Wicked World (single b-side) (4:44)
2. Black Sabbath (studio out-take) (6:22)
3. Black Sabbath (instrumental) (6:13)
4. The Wizard (studio out-take) (4:46)
5. Behind the Wall of Sleep (studio out-take) (3:41)
6. N.I.B. (instrumental) (6:08)
7. Evil Woman (alternative version) (3:47)
8. Sleeping Village (intro) (3:45)
9. The Warning (part 1) (6:58)

Total Time 46:24

Thanks to Pekka, Time Signature, Stooge, progshine, cannon, Lynx33, adg211288 for the updates


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Specialists/collaborators reviews

"Black Sabbath" is the eponymously tited debut full-length studio album by UK, Birmingham based heavy metal act Black Sabbath. The album was released in Europe through Vertigo Records in February 1970. It saw a US release through Warner Bros. Records in June 1970. The US version features an alternative tracklist to the original European version, replacing the Crow cover track "Evil Woman" with an additional Black Sabbath original titled "Wicked World". The tracklist change makes sense as the band were never that happy with the inclusion of "Evil Woman", but they were pushed by their then manager to include the track, as he felt the album otherwise lacked a song with commercial appeal (and if he was shooting for a radio hit single, he was probably right).

The album was recorded in one 10-hours long session in October 1969, and it was predominantly recorded live in the studio, with lead vocalist Ozzy Osbourne recording his vocal tracks simoultaniously with the recording of the instrumental tracks. The band then spend a few hours doing some overdubs (a few vocal overdubs, the bells, thunder and rain sound effects opening the title track, and the double-tracked guitar solos on "N.I.B." and "Sleeping Village"), and then the album was more or less done. Although the contemporary music press was largely unenthusiastic about the album, it was a commercial success for Black Sabbath and after its US release, sold more than a million copies.

"Black Sabbath" is in retrospect THE seminal release which started the heavy metal movement. Although at it´s core it´s pretty much a really heavy blues rock album, there is a dark occult atmosphere to the album (which is further enhanced by the creepy cover artwork and lyrics about Lucifer and other dark themes) and some very heavy distorted riffs and rhythms, which were more extreme than similar features on the output by other contemporary heavy rockers like Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, and Uriah Heep. The most heavy and dark moments on this album simply transcend the term rock and belong to the then new born genre heavy metal (which it probably wasn´t labelled back then).

The album opens with the dark and doomy title track, which for contemporary ears must have been an extremely heavy track. But "The Wizard", "Behind The Wall Of Sleep", "N.I.B.", and "Sleeping Willage/Warning", are also quite dark and heavy tracks. Listening to "Evil Woman" it´s understandable the band didn´t feel it fit with the rest of the material, as it features a less heavy and lighter mood. "Wicked World" is arguably a better choice, featuring a similar heavy impact and dark atmosphere to the other tracks on the album. The album is packed in a dark, heavy, and organic sounding production, which suits the music perfectly. This one is not only a classic, it´s a great album featuring high level musical performances (real persons playing/singing, warts and all), a well sounding production, and powerful and creative songwriting. A 5 star (100%) rating is deserved.
The Crow
This Black Sabbath's debut album is also one of their finest.

A milestone, which sounded really hard, scary and original back in 1970. The creepy lyrics, together with the strong guitar riffs and the powerful Geezer Butler's bass, are the basis of this influential album. Before Black Sabbath made their appearance, any band brought so many obscurity and darkness into a simple record.

This scary lyrics are maybe a bit laughable today, and the music is not really dark, compared with other actual bands but the fact is that these bands are here today in part because the Black Sabbath's legacy. It's impossible to find a single band, from which so many genres were developed: Stoner Rock, Doom Metal, Heavy Metal, Black Metal... The influence of Black Sabbath is just too big. Only bands like Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple and the usually forgotten Uriah Heep are comparable... But not really!

The album itself is not so hard as later albums, and like the first Led Zeppelin's work, it has a lot of blues influences (Behind the Wall of Sleep, Sleeping Village...) and some psychedelic elements too (N.I.B., The Warning...), while the true Black Sabbath's style was still to be developed.

But it has also the deep and hard Iomi's riffs, which together with the odd Osbourne's voice, are the Black Sabbath's trademark. So the style is not so well developed as the classic Paranoid, and not so well orientated as the stoner-milestone Master of Reality, a fact which makes this album a diverse piece of rock, where Black Sabbath shows all their influences, and where they started to make their own very important legacy. However, it's not their most representative album in my opinion.

Best songs: Black Sabbath (the main riff is the born of Doom Metal... I like the accelerated final part), N.I.B. (another album's classic... The bass intro is great, and so is the chorus) and Sleeping Village (this dynamic riff, is the root of stoner metal...)

Conclusion: this album is excellent, and its influence has been very big in the past four decades. Maybe Black Sabbath is not a blind recommendation for young and unexperienced listeners, but if you are curious to discover the origin of modern heavy metal you must hear this record.

My rating: ****

This review was originally written for, and rewritten to be included here.
Music fads come and go so quickly that it's hard to keep up with a lot of them. That's why when Black Sabbath firmly established the genre of heavy metal (whether they solely created it or not is a different debate for another time) back in 1970, it's amazing that's it's stood the test of time and is still going strong today as one of the most popular genres of music in the world.

With that said, I'm not a massive Black Sabbath fan. I respect their achievements, and rightfully so, as the genre I hold so dear wouldn't exist without them, but that doesn't change the fact that their music just doesn't quite "do it" for me.

I can appreciate how revolutionary this was back in the day, nothing as heavy, dark or doom-laden had come before. However, by the time I came around to owning this CD, it sounded rather dated and didn't quite measure up to a lot of the stuff I was listening to at the time (I was born in 1987 to put that in context). Ozzy Osbourne's vocals are very primitive and somewhat annoying to listen to (story goes that he was only invited to join the band as he owned a PA), and Tony Iommi's guitars were never quite heavy or interesting enough for me.

That being said, there are one or two decent tracks, most notably 'N.I.B.' and the title track, but in all honesty I could think of thousands of other songs I'd rather listen to.

When it all comes down to it, it's just a matter of taste. While this is arguably one of the most influential albums of all time, I respect it for that, it's just not something I enjoy listening to. The record's status as a classic is certainly not in any danger due to my opinion, and hell, if you think this is blasphemous, you should check out my review for 'Paranoid'...
siLLy puPPy
The band, debut album and first track are all called BLACK SABBATH and it all begins with the pitter-patter of raindrops like fallen angels from the heavens above in tandem with the peal of church bells before the doom and dread inspired snail-paced guitar riffs introduce the world to a totally new player in the musical arena. Clearly the hippie flower power days and utopian idealism that dominated the latter half of the 60s had imploded and in its wake a new musical cynicism that BLACK SABBATH pioneered and offered the world, was dropped onto unsuspecting ears with a nice little slice of the occult complete with the blasphemous and utterly profane for the day and age.

After the initial unhurried guitar riffs run their course, the music kicks into some of the very first music ever recorded that i would call true metal. Sure there were plenty of other bands that developed aspects of metal such as the The Kinks developing the distortion, Blue Cheer upping the ante, Hendrix for adding some adrenaline and creative mojo to the whole thing, but it was BLACK SABBATH who practiced some musical magical alchemy and made metal out of lesser pseudo- and non-metal elements.

The whole enchilada that is! You know of what i speak! The kinda music that is loud, distorted, in-in-yer-face and drenched with attitude, despair and accompanied by brutal riffs (well, by the standards of the day!) and a true rockin' rhythm section. This must have been quite the album to shock the parents of the day. Oh the horror of good Christian parents who felt they went wrong with Timmy! Just look at that scary, nightmare inducing album cover! 45 years after its release, this is still some dark and ominous visuals and the music? Perhaps not as wicked as it sounded then but still has a mysterious aura to it.

Although this sound has been refined and branched out into a million different directions, nothing compares to the debut album by BLACK SABBATH as far as conjuring demonic filled atmospheres that tread heavily on the listener’s psyche and sense of well-being in the world. This is true horror music of the first degree and one that Rosemary’s baby would surely enjoy as demonic lullabies.

The sound that BLACK SABBATH created wasn’t really some brilliant mastermind plan in the making. Like many things in music and history in general, it was a by-product of one fateful day in Tony Iommi’s life when at the tender age of 17, he lost the tips of his middle and ring fingers in an accident on his very last day working at a sheet metal factory. Having been utterly devastated and ready to write off his guitar playing career altogether, he was reminded by a co-worker of a similar situation in the jazz world which after an even worse tragedy, Django Reinhardt took his disability as an opportunity to reinvent a musical genre.

The rest is history. This single day would transpire in the form of Tony Iommi putting a heavy emphasis on down-tuned fifth root power chords and riffing over more traditional classical interpretations of rock music. Years of honing these new musical innovations led directly to the SABBATH sound and unintentionally created a whole new rock genre that has only mushroomed into the vast universe that made its way into the 21st century.

Of course, SABBATH started out like many other bands in the world of the heavy psych and blues rock and even had the less wicked band name Earth in the beginning, but that name was already taken and the band opted for a more sinister name came from the title from a 1963 movie, an idea i hear was actually from the Vertigo record label. The inspiration from the movie and the newly adopted title led the band in the direction of horror music as they saw an opportunity to create a huge contrast from the dominate styles of the era.

On this first release they still have many ties to their bluesy past as heard, for example, on the second track “The Wizard” with the harmonica intro and bluesy guitar riff but even on these early tracks that are clearly connected to the earlier years, SABBATH manages to steer it into a sinister power chord frenzy punctuated by Ozzy Osbourne’s efficacious poetic lyricism that despite relentless accusations isn’t about practicing Satanism, witchcraft or evil-doings. It is on the other hand all about observing and reporting those Earthly horrors done by others in the form of musical story telling. Oh yeah, they definitely took a cue from the progressive rock world too while not clearly falling into that particular arena of music and developed a style that had progressive elements albeit used sparingly such as the multi themed tracks (like “A Bit Of Finger / Sleeping Village / Warning”) that are in reality several tracks sewed together.

This was the very beginning for SABBATH and although not far from success and all the financial benefits that ensue, at this point the band were on a budget and as a result this album was recorded in a single day lasting only 12 hours and only another day for mixing. After all was said and done, the band relied on their sheer ingenuity and intuition to make this album come to fruition and i have to say that even though i wasn’t experiencing this album at the time it was released, almost 50 years later i find this to be worthy of all the fuss and rage that has been heaped upon it.

It is ground zero for the explosion of the dark side of music that would waste no time diversifying and expanding a millionfold into everything from the obvious heavy metal and punk genres to even the world of dark cabaret and beyond. I never rate albums according to influence alone. They deserve recognition of course but don’t necessarily make great listening experiences for yours truly. When it comes to the debut by BLACK SABBATH everything works for me. It is an excellent listening experience all the while making you feel like you are dipping your feet into the primeval pools of sonic torture that was essential in the big bang of the whole heavy metal experience and beyond. SABBATH!!!!!!!
Without question BLACK SABBATH have been the most influencial band when we're talking about the style of music that this site celebrates. It's a huge accomplishment to create a style music that didn't really exist before. The taboo lyrics about hell, Satan, Wizards, the occult and the like made the music on this debut sound like a soundtrack for a horror movie. These guys were trailblazers and while i feel the two albums that follow are much better than this one, i also could never go below 4 stars for such a defining moment in Metal history. The cover art is creepy just like the music. I remember as a teenager seeing this album cover in the record stores many times but never having the nerve to buy it until many years later. Of course the opening title track sets the tone for the record in such a dramatic way that i'm sure it's given many a listener goose bumps.That dark figure pointing at him as he turns away to run scared out of his mind. My favourite is "The Wizard". The harmonica works so well in this song. I don't think the rest of the album is on par with the first two tracks but it's all very solid.
Conor Fynes
'Black Sabbath' - Black Sabbath (7/10)

Although I would likely point the finger at King Crimson's "21st Century Schizoid Man" as the harbinger of 'heavy' in heavy metal, there's absolutely no denying what a massive impact Black Sabbath's self-titled debut had on the formation of the genre. With that context in mind, there's no wonder why it's still considered a classic by many, forty-odd years after its release. It is a lumbering, ugly hard rock record with strong ties to the blues and the occult, and though Black Sabbath do not impress near as much here as they would with the essential "Paranoid", its historical significance alone warrants a listen.

"Paranoid" would solidify the band's take on heavy metal, but the rich distortion and 'evil' tone have been nailed from square one. At this point, I might liken Black Sabbath to Led Zeppelin's first two albums. Though rooted in the American blues style that swept through the British hard rock scene at this time, the aggression has toned up several notches. In the case of Sabbath- and arguably what most sets them apart- is their devotion to a dark atmosphere. The infamous 'tritone' is upheld from the very start; the title track "Black Sabbath" opens with an unforgettably doomy riff, and vocals to foreshadow impending damnation. The title track sets a standard for doom metal that many bands still compete with.

The distorted riffs are a constant throughout "Black Sabbath", but the songwriting feels more at home with its time period after the title track. "The Wizard" through "Sleeping Village" are all rocking tracks that make no effort to hide the heavy blues influence. Of these, "The Wizard" and "N.I.B" stand out, the former for its deep harmonica work and fantastic riffs, and the latter for its superb bass work, courtesy of Geezer Butler. "The Warning" brings Sabbath back to a more epic format, relying heavily still on bluesy riffs, but taking the structure a step further, and giving Iommi plenty of time for fiery solos that draw a parallel to Jimmy Page's lead style.

Although I loved his vocals on "Paranoid" and have been impressed by some of his performances thereafter, Ozzy Osbourne feels like the weak link on the debut. His nasal vocal tone fits the eerie atmosphere, but his voice feels unrefined and unkempt. Of course, this fits the description of the rest of Black Sabbath, but in the case of Ozzy's voice, it doesn't bode well. With the exception of the first two tracks and the catchy "Evil Woman", the vocal melodies feel tacked on without too much thought.

It's not the masterpiece that Black Sabbath would craft later the same year, but for the fact alone that they were able to revolutionize hard rock music within a single album, the debut deserves to be heard. Tony Iommi takes centerstage in everything the band does here, and though the songwriting does not feel as consistent or focused as they would for the two following records, the band's gritty sound and influence cannot be underestimated.
As I contemplated how to review this album, I began listening to it to refresh the songs in my mind. I had to do this one justice as it is very probably the most historically significant album of all times for the history of Metal. So I'm listening to the opening track, and my wife says, from the kitchen "what's that wailing...noise?!" I laughed, and said "it's Ozzy! *pause* You know, Ozzy Osbourne?" I told her this was the debut album from Black Sabbath, and began telling her how it was legendary as the first Metal album ever. I told her the story of Tony Iommi, how he had suffered a machinist accident while working in a sheet metal factory, losing the tips of two fingers on his right hand. Being a left-handed guitarist, this was a crippling injury for him. But the story doesn't end there - inspired by the story of Jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt, who also lost the use of two fingers, Tony came up with two very innovative ideas. First, he crafted custom thimble like devices out of metal with leather coverings - fake fingers. He also down-tuned his guitar to ease the tension on his fingers. The down-tuning gave his playing a very distinct, dark tone, and the "thimble" finger tips gave his playing a sharper, heavier feel, and metal was born. I told my wife, in conclusion, that Tony Iommi was often credited as the father of all Metal music! My wife said, in a subtly sarcastic way, "oh, lucky for us!" And I laughed to myself quietly, reveling in this wonderful piece of history.
Previously a blues-rock band by the name of Earth chugging away in an era where blues-rock bands were hardly thin on the ground, and not really distinguishing themselves from their sound (heck, Iommi jumped ship briefly to play in Jethro Tull before departing to make way for Martin Barre to take that post), Black Sabbath took on a new musical direction inspired by horror fiction, tapped into the spirit of the end of the hippy era, and within a few months let loose this monster of an album, inspiring both traditional heavy metal and several other subgenres with it - doom metal and stoner metal in particular. Led Zeppelin had been active before them, and the Stooges had a raw and nasty guitar sound, but it took Iommi to teach the world what metal truly meant from the very first devastating, Earth-shattering, portentious riff on the title track. Coupled with a competent rhythm section and Osbourne's soul-in-torment wails and a new genre was born.

The Black Sabbath debut is a territory often revisited, and very occasionally equalled, but surely never beaten in terms of sheer inspirational glory. The pace might be a bit slow for fans of speed metal and styles influenced by it, but if you can take a slow riff or two, then you need to hear this album. If you don't like this one, then you're probably not going to enjoy half the metal out there either.
It is 1970 and Black Sabbath have released their debut album. One big trip in the world of heavy metal music is about to begin. I don't know whether heavy metal starts here, but if it's so, obviously this genre doesn't start very properly. An album extremely influenced by blues, it is important album for the development of heavy metal. All I can say is that I'm not big fan of blues and all blues songs sound me like one exactly the same. There are some really good ideas here, but they are developed in amateur way. The sound is deadfully slow and all the songs are very boring. The vocals by Ozzy Osbourne are almost awful. If I have to listen to one or two songs it's OK, but when I have to listen to the whole album it become more and more harder for me. The production of the sound is weak, too. The musicianship is ok. There is one really good song and this is N.I.B.! The thing I dislike very much in music is the static feeling - without harmony and moving forward and I can find all of these elements here on this album. The beginning is hard for very much bands, including Black Sabbath!!! 2 stars
The Angry Scotsman
Where to begin? Well, this is one of the most influential albums. Ever. This album is the birth of metal. Sure, its roots lay in the late 60's hard rock and psychedelic bands of England, but this album is what cemented it, and was the first true metal album. Given the numerous sub-genres it has spawned and the thousands upon thousands of metal bands there have been from all across the spectrum, the impact can not be under estimated.

As mentioned above this genre grew out of psychedelic and hard rock, but drew heavily from blues. This would make sense, being that rock also grew from the blues. This album, is HEAVILY blues influenced. It can be heard the in the groovy bass, as well as the riffs and solos. You can also hear the hard rock, in the heaviness and loudness of the guitars and the psychedelic rock in the overall feel, and the solos.

So given all that, what makes this the first metal album?

The heaviness. At the time it was unparalleled. Not to mention the slow, grim feeling. The darkness of it. Believe me it is...listen to the song Black Sabbath as Ozzy moans "OH NO NO PLEASE GOD HELP ME" over that slow, ominous riff, and his singing about Satan and watching the flames grow higher.

Black Sabbath features some great musicians. There is of course Ozzy, who belts out some great vocals, and really contributes to the dark, bleak feeling. Tony's guitar playing is great and for the time truly heavy. Geezer lays down some of the best bass you will hear, not to mention one of the first uses of the wah pedal on bass. Also, he wrote most of the lyrics. Then of course there is Bill Ward. He just throws down some great sounding beats and is powerful, and lays down perfect fills. Just has a real knack for "feeling" the groove.

Black Sabbath. Perfect intro for the album. It sets up wonderfully for the riff, which is slow, heavy, and gloomy. The bass is funky, the drums complement perfectly and Ozzy's voice is the right fit. It picks up after a few minutes and then throws us into some pretty trippy soloing.

The Wizard. Starts out with some harmonica. (How's that's for some blues?) Well it continues. The whole song has a very bluesy feel. A great song and one of the best showcases of Ward's drumming.

Behind the Wall of Sleep. Another bluesy song, this is more of the same, which is a good thing! Another superb song with some of the best bass on the album, and great drumming. The riffs are just so cool sounding and the lyrics are dark and inspired by Lovecraft.

N.I.B. A song told from the point of view of Lucifer, (though it may not be quite what one might expect!) Begins with a wah-wah bass solo. I fell in love instantly. Another amazing song with some good solos. My personal favorite from the album.

Evil Woman. This may be the most blues inspired song on the album. You can hear it in the riffs, the solos, the bass, and the overall song structure and feel of it. Not to mention the lyrics about the "evil woman" and Ozzy asking her to "don't you play your games with me".

Sleeping Village. A slow song, actually quite progressive this one has it all. Slow and bleak. Heavyness. Blues inspiration. Wild, dual solos, amazing bass playing, and perhaps the best drumming on the whole album.

Warning. A ten and a half minute song, this one is also very progressive, (the most on the album). This song spans all the genres I have mentioned above. Some of the solos just blow my mind.

One of the most important albums of all time, you must hear this one. Heavy, dark, bleak and raw, yet still tinged with blues and psychedelic rock. Awesome album, there is no bad song and no slow points. Brilliantly composed songs. A true masterpiece

Five Stars

(And 666 words) \m/ \m/

Members reviews

The other reviewers have already stated it - this is as essential as a heavy metal record gets. I may listen to Master of Reality or Volume 4 more often; I think they show more variety. However, there's no denying the significance and basic entertainment value of this debut. I'll only add a couple of points.

First, many bands need an album or two to hit their stride. It's amazing to me how BLACK SABBATH was changing rock music from the start. Every major innovation in metal, until early death/black metal at least, was foreshadowed in Sabbath's first few albums. Second, Ozzy's public image has possibly prevented him from getting his deserved recognition as a effective, distinctive singer.
What to say about Sabbath's debut?There is not much to say about it except that it is probably the most influential record in Metal history.Before this album happened and before Sabbath changed their name, they were a little known hard rock blues band that had gone under a few different names for a few years.Then out of nowhere, Geezer had an encounter with an unknown figure and saw a horror movie by the name of Black Sabbath as they would soon change their name to that which they would soon name a song by that as well. The rest as they say is history. Black Sabbath's first album started a revolution in music in particular Heavy Metal music and you can feel that it did. Let's get to the music on the album

1. Black Sabbath: What else can be said about this classic of a song.Try to listen to it in the dark I guarantee that it will creep you out.This song has all you want in a metal song as it is brooding, creepy and very, very heavy. The way Ozzy screams out "Oh No!!" just sends shivers down my spine. A classic Sabbath tune. 10/10

2. The Wizard:This song is yet another moody piece of music. I especially love how Ozzy works in that evil sounding harmonica.The lyrics paint a picture of a Wizard with magic powers and he is able to put people in a trance.Another classic off this debut. 10/10

3. Behind The Wall Of Sleep:This one is very blues based but also very,very heavy for its time.The lyrics again are very dark. Short tune but a brutal one. 10/10

4. N.I.B.: This one will always be one of my favorites from Sabbath as it immediately has that Classic Sabbath sound.It is yet another wicked piece of music.A highly recommended Sabbath tune to listen to. 10/10

5. Evil Woman:A good old fashioned blues song turned into some heavy sh## about a woman who does harm to others and their emotions."Evil woman, don't you play your games with me" is such a catchy phrase and chorus that you can't help but sing along to it. It is not as good as the first few songs but still an enjoyable song. 8/10

6. Sleeping Village:A good piece of music but nothing too special in my honest opinion. 7/10

7. Warning:This song even though it is a cover, it has power that you can't help but feel what Ozzy is singing and feeling.In the middle section of the song Tony Iommi plays and shreds for a few minutes as it is a pleasure to my ears hearing what he is playing. 8/10

8. Wicked World:This song is yet another very good piece of music as again it hits you like the first 5 tracks.The riffs and lyrics just fit the dark and moody feel of the album.In the middle Tony shreds yet again. Great stuff. 9/10

If you have not gotten into Heavy Metal in the past and would like to I suggest this album to be your starter as there is no better place to start than where it all began with Black Sabbath by Black Sabbath

4.5 stars!! Highly recommended
Hagbard Celine
Sometimes I wonder what it must have been like to have been a British hippie in the waning months of 1969 or the dawn of 1970, perhaps already fond of the heavy distorted psychedelic blues rock of the last couple of years, wandering into some dingy British club tripping my balls off and hearing the first chords of "Black Sabbath" crash into my ears. Follow them with Tony Iommi's quiet, ominous single notes based on those chords, and the dark rumble of Geezer Butler's bass and Bill Ward's drums beneath the melody, and my fear might start to rise. Hear Ozzy Osbourne sneer "what is this that stands before me?" and the bad trip would be in full swing.

While the band's vision would be more fully realized on that fall's "Paranoid" album, Black Sabbath's debut was a key part of the creation of metal in 1970. Songs like "Black Sabbath," "The Wizard," and "NIB" became cornerstones of what would soon be recognized as a new style of music, albeit one loathed by the mainstream rock press. Elsewhere, "Behind the Wall of Sleep" and "Wicked World" rock in the loose, jammy way prevalent at the time. "Warning," however, drags out a little too long, clocking in at over 10 minutes and meandering through various aimless blues jams that cause me to usually skip it when I listen to this album.

Due in part to a freak accident that cost Iommi the tips of a couple of fingers, leading him to downtune a half step, right from the beginning Sabbath's sound was darker than their peers. Heavy, blues-based psychedelic rock was all the rage in the late '60s and the Stones had brought the devil into the devil's music with "Sympathy for the Devil," but Black Sabbath took things to a new level that unwittingly became a new kind of music. A strange, unintentionally brilliant album, especially in the context of its time.
The first Heavy Metal album of all time

This self-titled debut album by Black Sabbath is a truly groundbreaking and absolutely essential album not just for Metal fans but for any fan of Rock music. Mixing electric Blues, Jazz and Rock, creating a totally unique sound. In addition, the lyrical themes are also quite groundbreaking with references to Satan, wizards, evil women and black sabbath's. This is possibly the heaviest and scariest album ever created, at least from the perspective of its time. Even the cover art is groundbreaking and full of dark mystique. There is a perfect fit between the music and the picture.

The title track and N.I.B have become two of the most well known songs by the band and especially the first must be heard by anyone interested in the history of Rock music. Another track that deserves special mention is Sleeping Village which starts with a short acoustic part featuring a traditional Scandinavian instrument that I don't know the name of in English. Ozzy's vocal performance is surprisingly impressive. His voice perfectly fits the music.

This album was the start of an amazing career by an amazing band and is one of the most impressive debut albums I have ever heard! Black Sabbath is an absolutely essential album, but it is not quite a masterpiece like some later Black Sabbath albums. Some parts have a slight improvisational character fitting better in a live setting than on a studio album.

Despite its minor flaws, this is an extremely important record!
Sean Trane
Difficult to find a more influential album in the heavy metal genre than Black Sabbath's debut album. Graced with a gloomy old mill filtered photo with a so-called witch, the Brummie quartet went straight for the dark side of rock and their sinister looks sporting large crosses were certainly enhancing intently this image. Recorded and produced (almost inexistently by Rodger Bain) in just two days, this might seem today a real botch job in the light of modern technology, but it is precisely this rough, raw finish that gave this album its aura. The album was immediately successful on both side of the Atlantic, but it was to stay 18 months in the US charts.

If anything must represent heavy metal, than the eponymous album opener is it: from its thunderstorm and bell intro, to the sinister slow descending riff (based on Gustav Holtz's Mars piece from The Planets Suite) and Geezer Butler-inspired depressive lyrics, the group cannot help but launch a chain of reaction in everyone. Love it or hate it, this track is an absolute stunner (I remember that even my grandfather had to recognize its powers, when I presented him this "UFO") and the reaction of the public was immediate. One of HM's most defining moments. The following gloomy Wizard track is a blues-derived riff-laden song with an unusual pace and the dreamy, almost ambient by their standard, Wall Of Sleep with its great slower mid-section are not as much attention-grabbing, but remain quite solid tracks that make this album an all-time classic. Closing the first side is an epic love song (NIB is NOT Nativity In Black), starting on a pulsating bass solo (Geezer Butler is the unsung hero of BS's first two albums and had one of the more original style back then), than Iommi's solid guitar riff takes over accompanying an average Osbourne vocal line, but for some reasons, the whole thing works quite fine and this track remains a classic to this day. Ward's jazzy drumming throughout the album brings a bit of lightness to his three mate's overpowering heaviness. Butler's style is also bringing much air, as he generally shadows Iommi's riffs (instead of countering or underlining them) and plays much like his inspiration, Cream's Jack Bruce.

The flipside starts on a rare cover, the groovy bass-ed up Evil woman, which was originally intended as the single then with what I' call the album's weaker track Sleeping Village: it seems like a collage of three pieces, but comes off well in its second half, and might be as close as they'd get to an instrumental track on this album. As SV ends in a feedback, the most impressive almost 11- min Warning (an Ainsley Dunbar Retaliation cover) starts exactly on that same feedback, and although it might appear as completely indulgent nowadays, it is one of the most Sabbath tune ever. Indeed the track is full of "solo" playing that seem to drag on a bit, especially Iommi's guitar twangs in the middle section, but it is a real testimony to his passage in Jethro Tull and Mick Abrahams (whom he replaced), see Cat Squirrel on the This Was album. But it got most future metalheads understanding what Iommi's modified sound was all about. Indeed a work incident had him lose a fingertip and he had to detune his guitar strings in order to accommodate his self-made prostheses to replace the lost bit. The closing Wicked World is another great BS track, getting lost in the shuffle of their first two albums' abundance of good ideas.

Need I say something more about this flawed but groundbreaking artefact of the first months of a then-new decade?

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