BLACK SABBATH — Black Sabbath (review)

BLACK SABBATH — Black Sabbath album cover Album · 1970 · Heavy Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
4.5/5 ·
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.
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