BLACK SABBATH — Black Sabbath (review)

BLACK SABBATH — Black Sabbath album cover Album · 1970 · Heavy Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
5/5 ·
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!!!!!!!
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more than 2 years ago
Not just those guys, Vim. I have around 80 bands in my collection who were doing to some degree or another heavy guitar rock between 1969 to 1973, albeit some of them not releasing anything until after 1970. But even then, most of them didn't try to copy Sabbath. They had their own ideas which were more congruous with what most everyone else was doing. I'll write about it in my review when I get there. Not yet. siLLy puPPy's review is an act I can't follow.
Vim Fuego wrote:
more than 2 years ago
@ Viola yep, if you put this up against Led Zep or Deep Purple of the same era, it's just not even in the same class.
more than 2 years ago
With all the proto-metal I've been checking out in the last two years, I thought this album wouldn't sound so unique. But going back to it again a couple of months ago, I could easily see how it stood apart from all the contemporary heavy guitar acts.
Unitron wrote:
more than 2 years ago
Great review, metal certainly wouldn't exist if it wasn't for this album. Not only is it historically a great album, but certainly a timeless classic that never gets old.
siLLy puPPy wrote:
more than 2 years ago
Thanks. I just felt this deserved a really well thought out review since it is known by everyone in the universe :)
more than 2 years ago
A well-written piece packed with history, critic and opinion. I keep thinking of how I'm going to review this. After your review, I think I should wait a while longer. Good job!


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