Black Sabbath

Black Sabbath

4.4 9
by Black Sabbath

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Black Sabbath's debut album is the birth of heavy metal as we now know it. Compatriots like Blue Cheer, Led Zeppelin, and Deep Purple were already setting new standards for volume and heaviness in the realms of psychedelia, blues-rock, and prog rock. Yet of these metal pioneers,


Black Sabbath's debut album is the birth of heavy metal as we now know it. Compatriots like Blue Cheer, Led Zeppelin, and Deep Purple were already setting new standards for volume and heaviness in the realms of psychedelia, blues-rock, and prog rock. Yet of these metal pioneers, Sabbath are the only one whose sound today remains instantly recognizable as heavy metal, even after decades of evolution in the genre. Circumstance certainly played some role in the birth of this musical revolution -- the sonic ugliness reflecting the bleak industrial nightmare of Birmingham; guitarist Tony Iommi's loss of two fingertips, which required him to play slower and to slacken the strings by tuning his guitar down, thus creating Sabbath's signature style. These qualities set the band apart, but they weren't wholly why this debut album transcends its clear roots in blues-rock and psychedelia to become something more. Sabbath's genius was finding the hidden malevolence in the blues, and then bludgeoning the listener over the head with it. Take the legendary album-opening title cut. The standard pentatonic blues scale always added the tritone, or flatted fifth, as the so-called "blues note"; Sabbath simply extracted it and came up with one of the simplest yet most definitive heavy metal riffs of all time. Thematically, most of heavy metal's great lyrical obsessions are not only here, they're all crammed onto side one. "Black Sabbath," "The Wizard," "Behind the Wall of Sleep," and "N.I.B." evoke visions of evil, paganism, and the occult as filtered through horror films and the writings of J.R.R. Tolkien, H.P. Lovecraft, and Dennis Wheatley. Even if the album ended here, it would still be essential listening. Unfortunately, much of side two is given over to loose blues-rock jamming learned through Cream, which plays squarely into the band's limitations. For all his stylistic innovations and strengths as a composer, Iommi isn't a hugely accomplished soloist. By the end of the murky, meandering, ten-minute cover of the Aynsley Dunbar Retaliation's "Warning," you can already hear him recycling some of the same simple blues licks he used on side one (plus, the word "warn" never even appears in the song, because Ozzy Osbourne misheard the original lyrics). (The British release included another cover, a version of Crow's "Evil Woman" that doesn't quite pack the muscle of the band's originals; the American version substituted "Wicked World," which is much preferred by fans.) But even if the seams are still showing on this quickly recorded document, Black Sabbath is nonetheless a revolutionary debut whose distinctive ideas merely await a bit more focus and development. Henceforth Black Sabbath would forge ahead with a vision that was wholly theirs.

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Warner Bros / Wea


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Black Sabbath [Japan Bonus Tracks] 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 9 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Everyone thinks that "Paranoid" was their best and none of their other ones come close. well i think this is just as great.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I think that this is the BEST Black Sabbath album by far. They never got any better than this one.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is the one that started it all, released on friday the 13th of 1970. It has a more evil feel then any other Sabbath Album. Get it, it truly rocks.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Sabbath's first album is a bit raw, even for their usual sludgy selves. The only track that really feels like a complete song is 'The Wizard', otherwise there's some long suites, by turns low and riffy and then eerie and psychedelic. Some of it is quite good, but this record still sounds like kind of a warm-up jam for Paranoid, their breakthrough.
Guest More than 1 year ago
While Paranoid is their most popular album, their first is their best. The trade off is slightly less developed lyrics for some kick a** sludgy guitar driven jams. For my money, this is their best but I don't want to take anything away from Paranoid.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This lp is the reason I had nightmares when I was young. A landmark debut for this band. Maybe not the most popular or sold the most, but in my opinion it is the best Sabbath lp. "Paranoid" did as well as it did simply because of this groundbreaker. Focus has done well for many bands on their maiden voyage, causing integrity to be THE priority on their debut project. I believe this was the case for Black Sabbath. This lp is always a joy for me to hear. "The Warning" is my fave. I guess my feelings were a little bit too strong! Great lp!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Who else would release an album on Friday the 13th. Perfect example of the mindset of the most talented, yet horrific band ever. I wish I could have been back in 1970 just to see the reaction of parents whose kids had been listening to the Beach Boys, The Doors, and The Who. The greatest asset a band can have is their own signature sound. Very few, maybe a handful, have an original sound. Most are copies of Sabbath, Deep Purple, Thin Lizzy, etc, at faster speeds. This group was crucified by the press and still is worshipped by the masses of fans and fellow musicians. Few people realize that all of their albums in the 70's went platinum, which back then was a much bigger accomplishment than it is today.
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