Review Summary: It's "bassically" the album that started metal.The Beginning of a Genre: Part 1 - Heavy Metal
Frank Anthony ‘Tony’ Iommi ~ Lead Guitar
John Michael ‘Ozzy’ Osbourne ~ Vocals, Harmonica
Terrence Michael Joseph ‘Geezer’ Butler ~ Bass Guitar
William Thomas ‘Bill’ Ward ~ Drums
Released in 1970
As it were, Black Sabbath's
self-titled debut has become one of the most vital revelations of the music industry yet. Considering its undeniable historical importance (first heavy metal album), this one album (let's not forget Paranoid), impacted rock music for decades later, and started a genre that has received international and universal acclaim. That being said, the eight tracks that helped turned the band into rock heroes, the very presence of them being a landmark, are not the best of the band's career, as I've been told. But the song, album, and band are still after decades of music.
Perhaps the theme of the album, aside from the heavyness and darkness of the whole thing, from the album cover to the eerie riffs, is how chaotic life can be: themes of war, satanism, and chaos run through the album. Like a fair deal of Sabbath's records, its' been proven many times that they have a talent for making haunting musical soundscapes to make a point, and it shows in their infamous debut.
One of the things I commend Sabbath for, at the time of release, was the skill they possessed throughout the album, considering their age. The skill of the blazing guitar work from Iommi is exceptional, considering how unique it sounds (well, it may be because of the different strings and plastic around Iommi's fingers during an accident, but...), considering the riffs on "Wicked World" and the title track. Butler assists on the dark atmosphere as much as Iommi, his crushing bass tempos expertly fitting in with the agressive nature, such as N.I.B.
's solo intro. The drum work pounds in a chaotic sound, therefore making Ward a strong member. I never considered Ozzy as the best vocalist of Sabbath, sometimes even slightly irritating, his vocals are more tolerable than later albums, such as Sabotage
and Volume 4
Is there anything wrong with the album that denies it from a 5" Well, this is still Sabbath in their first stage, so there is still some blues-rock that is laced in the album. A good example is the Evil Woman song, featuring a tuned-down bass and different guitar noting, taking some familiar sounds to blues rock like Cream, or the psychedelic melodies and tempos of the 10-minute mini-epic, "The Warning
", and this is coming from the world's first heavy metal band. So, it's not the dark heavy metal throughout the whole album.
But despite this flaw and a couple of other minor missteps (Ozzy's voice could use some improvement still), the best thing about the album is that it shows an adolescent Sabbath. In fact, this album is like a teenager, or an adult in their 20's: as it goes on, as it progresses, it becomes more tolerable, and can be extraordinary. In Sabbath's case: they would go to pioneer metal into what it is. And this is the first step.
4.5 / 5
Vertigo Records / Warner Bros.
The album, as a whole, is recommended, but I'd have to say the title track best represents the atmosphere of it.