Black Sabbath
Black Sabbath


5.0
classic

Review

by John Marinakis USER (26 Reviews)
April 16th, 2012 | 23 replies | 2,315 views


Release Date: 1970 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Volume, Power, Image, Attitude

3 of 3 thought this review was well written

A dark, loud masterpiece that reshaped and changed Rock music for ever.

The first album by Black Sabbath was heavy. Really HEAVY. In fact it was so heavy that, nearly four decades after it was unleashed on an unsuspecting world, it still stands as an introductory statement of intent that stands against any debut in Rock history. Pretty much cut in a single recording session in late 1969, Black Sabbath probably wasn’t the first album to deserve the retrospectively-bestowed epithet “Heavy Metal”, but it was certainly a benchmark release in the development of the genre. A raw, untotured, hard rock derivation of the Blues. A suffocating, primeval-swamp sound and production. Pneumatic-drill riffs and one-louder distorted guitar. Ominous bass line and Dante’s Inferno-esque drum parts. Neurotic, dread-filled vocals. A worldview built around disturbed visions and apocalyptic nightmares, all filtered through an occult-based lyrical prism – Sabbath brought all the ingredients that would subsequently become Metal clichés to the table and then simply smashed them all together to create one amorphous stew of gloomy, doomy downer Rock.

I believe the aforementioned passage summarizes in the best possible way what this band was all about: Four guys dressed in black who combined their talent, their love for Blues music and their messed up psychology to create, or to define if you will, the musical beast that we call today Heavy Metal. And eventually their contribution to the genre was far more greater than that. With their next five releases, Sabs took their experimental Blues-Metal sound and made their music bigger, darker, more powerful and everlasting. Their influences were obviously The Jimi Hendrix Experience and Cream, two of the heaviest bands in the late 60’s. Geezer Butler in an interview he gave in 1995 stated that:

To me, Sabbath was always just a really heavy Blues band. That’s all we were – just an out-and-out twelve bar Blues band. That’s what we started as. We just took these Blues roots and made them heavier, because we were into Hendrix and Cream, who were like the heaviest bands around at that time. We just wanted to be heavier than everybody else!.

I think, Geezer with that statement summarized perfectly Sabbath’s intentions, as well as their ambitions: A band that wanted to sound differently from everybody else, a band that wanted to be out of the ordinary, by using the same old school methods, the same old school Blues Rock formula. Indeed, if we analyse the musical content of their first album we will find out that Sabbath in the early stages of their promising career were just using their influences to write their material. Butler on another interview stated that:

On the first album, we didn’t really know what we were doing. When you write your first album, you’re influenced by all the stuff that’s going on around you, and I think each one of us bought our own particular style into the music that we did.

However, the truth is, that the British quartet brought some fresh new ideas to the scenery. These innovations were the ones that paved the way for the future generations and for their approach as to how they can write heavy Rock music. The first and probably the most interesting new element is the revolutionary method of using a bass guitar. Iommi has stated many times, that he envisioned Sabbath as a twin guitar band. Neverheless, he never found a guitar player who was suitable, or capable enough (that’s my assumption), and Ozzy unfortunately had absolutely no idea about the instrument. So Iommi decided to use Butler as a second guitarist. During the recording sessions, Butler’s thunderous bass took the initiative and eventually became the band’s second guitar. That is why Sabbath’s early records are such a pleasure to listen to. When using headphones, in most of the songs you can hear Iommi’s guitar and Butler’s bass separately. In Addition, Butler didin’t follow Iommi’s guitar lines, but played different lines with his bass within the same bluesy context, thus creating a unique sound. Another element is the band’s chemistry. Together Iommi, Butler and of course Ward established a powerful rhythm which is an essential ingredient, for any musician who wants to write Heavy Metal riffs.

What I learned from listening to Sabbath, is this irrefutable fact: in a proficient rock outfit, rhythm section should be comprised of musicians with a distinguished capability in reigning over their instruments and working prolifically as a team. What’s more to add, the quintessential for the bass guitar is to have a dominant, leading sound, because that’s where all the heaviness is coming from. And Sabbath was the first band that incorporated all these elements into their own music. There wasn’t any other band before them, that used the bass as an additional guitar and no one else believed before, that, when it comes to musical compositions, this instrument can be used not only as an accompanying instrument but as a leading one too. Prior to the Sabbath era, the only example of a leading bass I can think of, is the version of Spoonful by Cream and Led Zeppelin's version of Bring It On Home.

I have no intention to analyse each song separately. But I want to write a few things about the title song. If someone wants to understand how Rock music, evolved and moved on from old school Blues, to British Psychedelia and eventually to Heavy Metal he is obliged to listen to the title song. But if this fellow wants, to comprehend the song’s impact in music, he must first listen to the numerous acts that existed prior to Sabbath, in order to see how different this band really was. Then he might appreciate the song and the group even more. What i always loved about these guys was their dark, pessimistic, eerie atmosphere they use to build around their songs. They emerge in an era when everybody was singing about love, peace and flowers and they refuse to follow the trend. So they wrote and perfom songs talking about themes such as drugs, (the negative side of Rock and Roll for which no one else had the guts to mention in their song writing), war, the end of the world, paranoia, unstable relationships and for that, they were not received well by the critics of their era. When I listened to Black Sabbath for the very first time, four years ago, it was a completely new experience for me for which I wasn’t prepared for. And I must admit, for those few who haven’t heard the song, this can be a life-changing experience. I really wonder, if this track sounds heavy in our time, what would have sounded like in 1970. Most probably like a soundtrack of an impending Apocalypse. The album begins with the eerie sound of a ringing bell, (an opening used by many future bands, like AC/DC, Maiden, Metallica, Candlemass), accompanied by the sound effects of a thunderstorm, an introduction suitable for what will follow. And then, Mr. Iommi introduces to us, with the most perfectly executable way, Heavy Metal. Isn’t it unbelievable, that the first guitar riff we hear on Sabbath’s first album is constructed around the diminished fifth? The infamous interval, which was banned in the Middle Ages, is now considerated a cornerstone in Blues and Rock music. This particular interval was used countless times by Sabbath, because they wanted to create creepy, daunting music to scary and discourage people. Talking about having ambitions.

The rest of the album is just heavy Blues jamming with some highlights like: NIB, The Wizard and Warning. The last track is a 10 minutes cover, in which Iommi showcases his exceptional soloing skills. Each song makes a good contribution to the overall dark, gloomy, negative atmosphere and that is something, which I believe, you won’t find in the other albums. It is true, that their debut is somehow inconclusive and as the years went by, the band with each release got improved, and their next works are undoubtedly superior. But they never matched the same feeling, the tone and the atmosphere of this record.

To conclude, I believe that Sabbath’s greatest contribution in music was their immense influence. People today hail Black Sabbath as the godfathers of Heavy Metal and when they discuss about them, they say how great they are, just because they started a new genre. We can debate for hours, about which was the first Metal band in history, but that’s not so important in my eyes, because everybody has a different opinion about what defines this genre. What really matters is what you leave behind in this world, how tremendous your legacy really is. Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, Iron Buterfly, Mountain, Cream, Blue Cheer, Sir Lord Baltimore, all of these bands were playing heavy music and were talented enough to write great records. Some might imply that Zeppelin and Purple were even more talented than Sabbath and I will agree. But when it comes to influence, almost nobody can claim that their work influenced more people. The only artists who can be considered more influential are The Beatles and The Jimi Hendrix Experience. There is not a single metalhead out there, who is a musician, claiming that he hasn’t heard, or he doesn’t like, or he isn’t influenced by Sabbath’s music. Just listen to NIB. The bass intro became a staple for Stoner Rock music. The title track is said to have affected the whole Doom genre. Heavy Metal would have existed, with or without Sabbath’s music, but still would be very different without these four guys from Birmingham who showed us the way.

God bless their doomed, horror movie inspired souls.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
rockandmetaljunkie
April 15th 2012



3302 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

Due to the fact that this is my first review, i know that it is not flawless. So i'm waiting for your constructive critisism.

rockandmetaljunkie
April 15th 2012



3302 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

AllMusic describe Led Zeppelin as the definite Metal band. I wholeheartedly disagree. I think that Sabbath deserve this characterization more than any other band.

eternium
April 15th 2012



16307 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I don't consider Led Zeppelin metal. The length of this and lack of spaces between paragraphs keeps me from reading it.

Trebor.
Contributing Reviewer
April 15th 2012



49807 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

lol at led zeppelin being the definite metal band

Digging: Empire! Empire! (I Was a Lonely Estate) - You Will Eventually Be Forgotten

rockandmetaljunkie
April 15th 2012



3302 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

"lack of spaces between paragraphs"

My mistake, i forgot to leave spaces between paragraphs. If i have the chance i will edit my text.

taylormemer
April 16th 2012



4913 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

Remember when I first heard Black Sabbath (song) - best moment ever.

deathofasalesman
April 16th 2012



5812 Comments


I sang karaoke last night and I did "N.I.B."

The DJ who was running said that he has been doing karaoke for 15 years and that was the first time he's heard anyone sing Sabbath.

m/

SgtPepper
Staff Reviewer
April 16th 2012



4384 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Congrats on your first review!
Its a bit long.... but i like long reviews. Its very informative, though there is some info that we could have gone without. But anyway, its a good review. we can definitely feel the passion you have for the music, and i hope to see more of you in the future. I'll pos.

...also, yeah I dont consider Zeppelin "metal", though they were influential in the genre. In a documentary about Heavy Metal, someone described them as "really heavy Hard Rock"- I think that's dead on.

ZedO
April 16th 2012



1096 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Congrats, Man......

scissorlocked
April 16th 2012



3508 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Man, this one came unexpected!

for a first review it's a very good one- It's only a bit too long, not many will read the whole text

other than that, good job! The album is undoubtedly a cornerstone

Digging: John Roberts - Ausio

rockandmetaljunkie
April 16th 2012



3302 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

Thanks guys.

Paperback, indeed it is a long review but as i sat down and wrote this, i didn't figure out that it will come out at this length.

"i hope to see more of you in the future."
You will. This was the first and the last review i did, for an album that has been already reviewed. I did it only because this particular cd means a lot to me. But from now on, i will focus my attention on neglected albums.

Also i want to thank the mods who edited my text and took care of my own carelessness.

rockandmetaljunkie
April 16th 2012



3302 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

"for a first review it's a very good one"

Thank you !!!!
It took me long, cause English is not my first language.

LepreCon
April 16th 2012



3612 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Good review lad, keep it up.
Like everyone else said, a bit long, but then again there's nothing wrong with a bit of ambition, especially for a first review.
And quite a bit of Zeppelin's body of work can be linked to early heavy metal

JamieTwort
Contributing Reviewer
April 16th 2012



20036 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Great review dude, quite an ambituous one for a first too. Pos'd.

rockandmetaljunkie
April 16th 2012



3302 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

Thanks Lep. i'll try to make shorter reviews in the future.

Thanks a lot Jamie.

Funeralopolis
April 16th 2012



11035 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I'd have to be a faggot not to pos

Digging: Deftones - White Pony

YUJOS
April 16th 2012



915 Comments


Though I am not a Sabbath fan I am a fan of long reviews if of course are well written. And this is a very good review for a first one, so have a pos!

Digging: Misery Index - The Killing Gods

TheNotrap
April 16th 2012



7992 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Great to see your first review man.
English isn't my first language, so I know this is hard work.

The review is very nice, however I believe you should have synthesize this and skip the statements.
In my humble opinion the best reviews are short and to the point, but to each his own and you did a good job here.

About the album...well it changed rock music, helping to shape a new genre. One of the most influential albums ever released, that’s a fact.

Congrats once again and have a well deserved pos.


Voivod
Staff Reviewer
April 16th 2012



5921 Comments


Well written review for a classic album, pos.

Although I don't have anything against lengthy reviews, I agree with TheNotrap, try in future reviews to be less expanding and equally essential in your descriptions.

2-5 paragraph reviews should really do it for you.



Some corrections:

I believe that, the aforementioned passage, summarise

delete the comma and write "summarizes".



And it was these innovations,

These innovations were the ones that paved the way...



and in order to achive that,

achieve



you cannot have heavy Rock music without a prevailing rhythm section and in order to achive that, the bassist and the drummer, apart from the fact that both should be really good with their instruments, must work pretty tight together

in a proficient rock outfit, rhythm section should be comprised of musicians with a distinguished capability in reigning over their instruments and working prolifically as a team.



Please separate the last paragraph from its preceding one, in order to read better.

Digging: Essence Beyond - Carnivalism

rockandmetaljunkie
April 17th 2012



3302 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

"In my humble opinion the best reviews are short and to the point"

I understand what you are saying, but i think adding backround information in your reviews, can be useful.



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