Out of all the bands that are started by a group of ambitious (or not so ambitious) musicians, very few of them are very successful. Out of these bands, very, very few of them rise to the top of the pack and spearhead a genre. Out of these bands very, very, very few of them are influential enough to pioneer an entirely new musical movement. Black Sabbath
is one of these bands. Hailing from Birmingham, UK, the band fused the elements of rock, jazz and blues with a heavy distortion. At the time of their arrival on the music scene, Black Sabbath was one of a kind and you'd be hard pressed to find a band that played a sound similar to theirs. Little did they know that their first album, titled Black Sabbath
, would influence an entire generation of musicians, and 36 years later, still be regarded as one of the most important albums in metal.
Black Sabbath stumbled on their signature sound almost accidentally. The band's heavy riffage and dark lyrics take their influence from horror films. The reasoning behind this? While rehearsing in a studio which just happened to be across the street from a movie theatre that was showing a horror movie, guitarist Tony Iommi mentioned to the rest of the band, "Innit it weird man that people pay money to see a movie that scares the *** out of them?"* Having said that, the band decided to write darker, "scary" if you will, music influenced by horror films. Indeed my friends, the themes can be stuck throughout the album, especially on the album's slightly creepy title track. Another suspenseful moment on the album would be the quiet, eerie start to the third last track, Sleeping Village
. Though it only lasts for just about a minute, the spooky riff helps enhance the overall feel of the album. The slower sound that Sabbath is known for on future songs such as Iron Man and War Pigs can be found all over the album, most notably on the title track, Black Sabbath
, and The Wizard. The closing song, Wicked World
, is also dominated by an infectious, slow riff.
A major qualm I have with this album is Ozzy's voice. Now I have never been the biggest fan of the man's singing, but on Black Sabbath, Mr. Osbourne's voice is at its worst. Whether this is because for the quick recording of the album (it was recorded in less than two days) or just because he just hadn't honed his voice at the time, Ozzy's voice just isn't enjoyable to listen to. His singing is especially bad on the album's closer, Wicked World
, where it sounds very nasally. Though his voice is very irritable, Ozzy still has some memorable moments on the first album. His singing in both The Wizard
is quite catchy, and stands out as his best efforts on the s/t debut. Another memorable moments, though for a more comical reason is the shouts of "Oh nooooooo" on Black Sabbath, the title track. Luckily, Ozzy's voice improves in the band's next album Paranoid. I'm really hoping this is the last I have to mention Ozzy Osbourne, as it's driving my spell check hay-wire. Damn it, Ozzy. Black Sabbath's other musicians perform spectacularly on the album. Guitarist, Tony Iommi, has several great blues influenced solos on the album. Check out the 10 minute track, Warning
, for an excellent example of Iommi's soloing talents. N.I.B.
also contains some pretty catchy licks from Tony, as well as some of the album's best riffs. Both the middle and end of the song contain perhaps the most melodic riffs and solos of the album, which is certainly a plus in my book. Bassist Geezer Butler can also be heard very clearly on the album. Rather than just following the guitars, Geezer offers up excellent bass lines, that while not always the most technical, give Iommi a solid rhythm to work with.
Though when it was first released critics shrugged off Black Sabbath's debut album, it was certainly a fresh collection of songs from heavy metal's first band, and fans loved it. The album reached #8 on the UK charts, and managed to hit #23 in the US. Decades later, the album is hailed as the first heavy metal album, and one of rock and roll's finest. Though perhaps not Black Sabbath's finest contribution to music, the album excellent, easy to find, and dirt cheap. Both fans of blues influenced hard rock and heavy metal or all sorts should find something they like on the album, be it the creepy title track, the musically superb N.I.B., or the excellent solos found on Warning and Wicked World.
*(Thanks to wikipedia)