Believe it or not, Black Sabbath were considered shocking at the time they released their first album. The remnants of the hippie psychedelia dream were still at play in the music world in 1970. This dream of utopian fantasy was about to be destroyed by Black Sabbath. The four men who made Black Sabbath, with a special note of singer Ozzy Osbourne, created and defined a large part of heavy metal in the early to mid-1970s.
This album is an absolute classic. Let’s dive in and have a listen.
We begin with the title track Black Sabbath, with a downpour of rain and a church bell ringing. Eerie, to say the least. Then – BAM! The band begins to play. It’s actually based on the classical piece Mars by Gustav Holst. But hey, this sounds super dark and wonderful. Its musical concept is absolutely brilliant and will scare the daylights out of any Christian, even today. Black Sabbath were not Satanists by any measure, they just made dark songs. Tony Iommi’s riffs power along with this tune, before it goes into a powerful and well-structured jam which does not stop until the end. Brilliant and essential listening.
Next up is the harmonica led The Wizard. It’s not Bob Dylan blues sort of stuff, it’s a tripped-out metal piece about a magical wizard. It may refer to drug use, but that’s not uncommon in rock and metal. It’s a brilliant and well thought out musical journey. It sounds so perfectly done, who needs 180 tracks on an EDM style layout when you have Black Sabbath? Very very good here. “Never talking, just keeps walking, puffing his magic…” Great stuff by the band.
Behind The Wall Of Sleep is next. It’s a more rhythmic piece. The riffs here and lyrics create a song about dreams in an out-of-body experience, maybe? Whatever the meaning of this song is, it sounds like Ozzy Osbourne and the other band members were doing a lot of drugs. Still, it is an awesome listen, and must be heard, along with the rest of the album. It fades out gloriously into the next song.
N.I.B. begins with some awesome bass riffage from Geezer Butler, before crashing into an awesome story about broken-hearted and betrayal of love. It’s a great listen and sounds super suspenseful, comparing said lover to lucifer. Nirvana may have taken many of their ideas from bands such as Black Sabbath, and it is easy to see why. Ozzy sings his heart out here, a very good listen and not a dull moment here. It ends with a series of crashes, nice.
The next song is very much a continuation of the last song. Evil Woman is about said topic. It’s a great and short song about the conscious knowledge that the woman does no good. It’s not as well known as the other songs here but still sounds great. Black Sabbath rock well here. Good stuff.
The next song starts with acoustic guitar and some cartoon-like sounds before we hear the tale of the Sleeping Village. It then crashes into typical Black Sabbath territory, and the band gives their all. Some great vibrato style guitar parts from Tony Iommi are here before we head into a pacing instrumental section. It then segues into the next song.
Warning is just that. It is a prophetic tale of doomed love, and Ozzy pulls off this craft very, very well. It’s a nice way to show this album off. Although, yes, it is about doomed love it doesn’t get boring. Many lesser albums have been done on the same topic. It’s a great listen, and a warning to all. A drum and guitar solo mashup drive this piece in the middle of it, making it all so tasty. It’s a longer and more instrumental sort of piece than you’d expect but is creative and inventive in brilliant measure. It then returns to the story towards the end and then ends. Brilliant.
Wicked World is the last track here, and sounds different. Why? It’s the only Black Sabbath song to use the Fender Stratocaster that Tony Iommi started off with. It’s a brilliant piece all the same and was the first recorded piece on the album. It’s just as essential as the other songs on the album. It has an interesting midsection, highlighted by Tony Iommi’s playing. The band then crashes into a combined effort once again. The outro is fantastic, some screaming feedback and guitar playing combined.
This album is absolutely essential. Not only did it begin Black Sabbath’s very long career, but it sounds amazing, even 50 years later today. Do yourself a favour and give this album a shot, it is totally worth it. The history of music values Black Sabbath, and so do millions upon this earth.