Black Sabbath
Black Sabbath



by Bartender EMERITUS
January 14th, 2005 | 280 replies

Release Date: 1970 | Tracklist

Released 1970 on Warner/Vertigo.

Number 241 on the Rolling Stone Top 500. Bastards.

Ozzy Osbourne - vocals, harmonica
Tony Iommi - guitars
Geezer Butler - bass
Bill Ward - drums

What is this that stands before me"

Do I even need to give background here" Few enough artists have achieved this kind of level of fame. Hendrix, Elvis, The Beatles, Miles Davis, maybe a few others. Everyone and their dog at least knows of Black Sabbath.

Still, I suppose a little background can't hurt, in case there are music newbies reading this. Originally called a few things, including Earth, Black Sabbath hail from sunny Birmingham, England, recorded this, their debut album, in something like 12 hours and with �600, and invented heavy metal. That's right, invented it; no matter how many people argue the case for Deep Purple, the heavy metal blueprint arrived with Black Sabbath - the band, the album, and the song.

Ah, the song. I know there are 7 other tracks here for me to be discussing, but to be honest, I'd like to spend the entire review talking about just that one. Even now, it's the quintessential heavy metal track - everything about it is iconic, from the thunderstorm and tolling bell at the beginning, through the slow, simple and yet oh-so-ominous guitar of Iommi and the sporadic drumming which seems to be all that's driving such a song along, to Ozzy's awesome vocal performance. Now, Ozzy clearly isn't the most talented singer out there (he won't be winning awards for skill), but could anyone else have fit this song so well" Could anyone else have managed to sound just this side of terrified, and yet remain cool" And could anyone else have pulled off overly dramatic lines like "Oh, no, no, please God help me!" without sounding ridiculous" Hell no. What his voice lacks in technique, it more than makes up in being memorable and characterful, the latter in particular being something that many otherwise great vocalists lack. He has imperfections - for example, when he attempts a note that is really too low for him to be comfortable in - but they come to be what you love as much as his good points. It's a strange thing, but it's what I've found, and it's why I think Ozzy really is a good vocalist, despite the disagreement such a statement is bound to bring. Now, can you imagine what this song would have sounded like in 1970" It's pretty much the antithesis of everything the flower power music of the sixties stood for, musically and lyrically, and it's release being when it was, (February 1970 - and a black Friday, if legend is to be believed) could be seen to make it almost prophetic.

Anyway, the rest of the album. Despite the claim (which I still stand by) that this brought about metal, the album itself isn't entirely metal. The band's previous incarnation as Earth, a blues rock group, is still heavily prevalent here. At most, there are probably three real metal songs on the album - the title track, The Wizard and N.I.B. - and even then, with the exception of Black Sabbath itself, the blues/jam ethos remains at large, in the harmonica and awesome drumming of The Wizard, and the cooler-than-cool blues guitar intro of N.I.B..

The other five tracks are all basically bluesy hard rock (especially Warning, which is more or less a 10 minute jam), though with a definite metal slant, especially in the lyrics. Wicked World in particular, with it's lyrics about how "the world today is such a wicked place"; it's a very vague social commentary, but still more than most bands of the preceding decade had said. I actually think Wicked World is a very underrated Sabbath track; it was originally the B-side to Evil Woman (which seems to have been written with a single release in mind), and I think it's fairly superior to it, especially Iommi's solo soloing about halfway through.

Bass fans rejoice, by the way - Geezer sounds great (in both tone and playing) throughout the album, and is nicely noticeable in the mix as well (without overpowering the guitars), which is something I like. Bill Ward does a great job on drums too, especially in The Wizard.

Most of the progress towards a 5/5 score is made simply because of the historical importance of the release - it pretty much defined the metal sound, and much of it's ethos, including entwining the idea of heavy metal inextricably with Satan. That there's a damn fine album on top of that is just a bonus. As an album it isn't perfect, but it isn't really that far off, and the imperfections often end up working similarly to those in Ozzy's voice - maybe it's just me, but listening to the album you get the sound of a young band who are having fun with what they're doing, and really are experimenting (and unwittingly changing history) at the same time.

Recommended track:
Has to be Black Sabbath itself - I spent nearly half the review discussing it - though really there are things to recommend many of the tracks.


Recent reviews by this author
The Wildhearts Earth vs. The WildheartsAlec Empire Intelligence and Sacrifice
Canvas Solaris SublimationCanvas Solaris Spatial/Design
The Blueprint PhenomenologyThe Chasm Deathcult for Eternity: The Triumph
user ratings (3221)
other reviews of this album
1 of

Comments:Add a Comment 
September 11th 2004


Album Rating: 5.0

I'm aware that isn't the original tracklist, but there were a few different version available even when the album was first released, and this is what mine is. I think it's a 1996 reissue.

September 11th 2004


Album Rating: 3.5

Very cool review. I wouldn't have given the album a 5/5 though, because as historically important as it is, the quality of many of the tracks leaves a lot to be desired. 3.5/5 for me, with 5/5 individually for the title track, The Wizard, and NIB.

Masters Of Reality remains Sabbath's essential release for me.

keep on phishin'
September 11th 2004


i like this cd but its not sabbath's best by far..
the only part i dont like is the medley styling...obviously thats not on your version
but it does have a lot of classic sabbath songs
anyways, good review :thumb:

September 11th 2004


This is the only sabbath album I own, and I love it. "The Wizard" is one of my favorite tracks ever.

Per Ardua Ad Astra
September 12th 2004


Nice review, Bartender, though i don't think it's a full 5/5

September 12th 2004


Album Rating: 5.0

Yeah, I expected some disagreement on my giving it a 5/5. My thinking (which I hope came across somewhat in the review) was that with three top class tracks (The Wizard, NIB and Wicked World), and the title track (which I consider beyond a score ), the landmark nature of the album pushed it to a 5.

September 12th 2004


You know that's not a guitar intro to N.I.B, but a distorted bass, right? That song's so freaking awesome, and I've pretty much got the intro down. I can't recall hearing the title track, but if I heard it I would probably recognize it.

September 12th 2004


Album Rating: 5.0

I didn't realise that, thanks. It's still cooler than anything should legally be though.

September 12th 2004


Yeah, the bass is the only instrument in the song until it goes through the main riff once. Then they all come in for continued awesomeness.

September 13th 2004


"Number 241 on the Rolling Stone Top 500. Bastards."

Thats terrible whys it that low down!?

I really like this album i think it deserves a 4/5 because they have done better but this has one of my fav sabbath tracks ever on it: The Wizard

September 13th 2004


I can't stand this band. Ozzy is the worst vocalist ever: he sings out of key for the whole NIB song.

I Sold Me Soul For Rock N Roll
February 8th 2005


EVERy METAL FAN IN THE WORLD SHOULD HAIL THIS ALBUM,AND INDEED THE BAND!!! Zepplin and purple were leaders in turning blues/rock into hard rock/metal, but Sabbath were the main contributers,just listen to Iommis guitar sound. Geezer revolutionised the bass, befor bass was just one note every bar, he brought in serious,heavy,fast riffing bass. And what would metal be without Ozzy??? he is by far THE most known person in metal,because he has a total individual voice,lyrical quality,look,attitude,and the highest drug consumtion in the world! Sorry to miss Bill out,but i dont have a clue about drums,but his beats do sound kool. As for the album,it is a must have,great riffs,great solos,great lyrics. Wicked world?lyrics dont get much better. N.I.B?bassing doesnt get any better,and it is one of the koolest tunes ever made. Revolutionary. Fuck all Sabbath haters.

August 17th 2005


Album Rating: 5.0

really good album. NIB is one of the greatest songs ever

August 21st 2005


Album Rating: 4.5

I didn't realise that, thanks. It's still cooler than anything should legally be though.

Amen to that! Thats like the greatest bassline ever! Hits me every time I hear it...

"Number 241 on the Rolling Stone Top 500. Bastards."

Thats terrible whys it that low down!?

Because Rolling Stone is group of retards who put The Wall at 87 Who's Next at 28 but put Nevermind at 17? I mean, if they were going by Nevermind being so influential this should be on the top twenty, as well. Go figure.

Storm In A Teacup
September 15th 2005


Album Rating: 4.5

[quote=Iai]Masters Of Reality remains Sabbath's essential release for me.[/quote]

You're the only other person besides me I know that thinks that.

October 10th 2005


Black Sabbath rules!

December 26th 2005


Album Rating: 5.0

I think when sabbath came out they came all out ! By far there greatest album, A true metal classic. They created metal and they should be reconized for it. This started it all and it shall remain a piece of history forever.

Figure in black that points at me....

Seen them 2x and i was not dissapointed with one note, Stood up in my seats and pissed everyone off while singing the classics. May it live on for eternity

January 27th 2006


Album Rating: 5.0

This record rules, nothing else really needs to be said, ha. Different that later Sabbath releases with more jammy aspects (which I certainly enjoy very much) One of the most important records of all time.

January 28th 2006


Which one is evil woman? Is it the one that says something about "a little bit to strong"?

January 28th 2006


Album Rating: 4.0

This is a great album, a definite classic! Though this release did mostly start the beginnning of the heavy metal dynasty to come, i still believe Judas Priest in the late 60s composed some metal songs similar to the ones on this album, but they didnt get recorded until 71 i think. still, great review!This Message Edited On 01.28.06

You have to be logged in to post a comment. Login | Create a Profile


Bands: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Site Copyright 2005-2017
All Album Reviews Displayed With Permission of Authors | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy