Black Sabbath was on a roll in the early 1970s. After the critical success and loyal fanbase growing after the release of the Black Sabbath and Paranoid albums, there was no way people could deny that Black Sabbath made great heavy music. This album is still as good as the two albums that came before it. Let’s dive in and hear why.
Sweet Leaf is obviously about marijuana. Beginning with the infamous cough sample, before going into an awesome set of heavy down-tuned guitar riffage by Tony Iommi, before Ozzy Osborne sings a great song about inhaling the green plant of wonder. This is a stoner rock anthem, and catchy listening, even when one is sober. Brilliant. The whole band is on top form here, and they passionately play well here. The tempo and key change leading into the guitar solo and rolling drums are definitely impressive. “Straight people don’t know what you’re about,” sung by Ozzy shows that these guys were definitely experienced.
After Forever has a backward gong intro before keyboards and guitars lead into another very good song with some more great guitar riffs. It talks about religious concepts that once can (or cannot) believe in life. Let’s just say that this is really good music, and shows why heavy music, such as bands like Black Sabbath, has been disregarded as devil’s music. Black Sabbath weren’t really satanic musicians, but their argument tears a hole into the middle of religion. Some semi Eric Clapton guitar parts are here, a clear nod to their influences. Still, an amazing tune.
The short instrumental Embryo is wicked. It serves as a good guitar intro to the next song. Amazing stuff, even for only 30 seconds or so in length.
Next is Children Of The Grave, which begins with great guitar and bass guitar rhythms, before Ozzy Osborne sings with vocal effects. It continues the dark and metaphorical themes of their music. Brilliant stuff, this album is very difficult to beat in terms of musical brilliance and structure. It talks about possible afterlife concepts. The pure musicality of this song, and album, is amazing. It goes into a feedback and violining section at the end, with the song title whispered. Awesome.
Orchid is a great showcase piece of instrumental acoustic goodness by Black Sabbath. It shows that not only Ozzy was a great singer and celebrity, but also Tony Iommi can play some great riffs and melodies. A solid listen, beautiful, and moving.
Lord Of This World is a very brilliant and heavy rifftastic piece for our ears. It sounds fantastic with some semi-impressionistic lyrics for us to hear. Great stuff, with direct references to God and doing good rather than being blinded by evil. For simple music, there is not a dull moment here whatsoever. No wonder metal still rocks hard today. Excellent listening. For dark and heavy music, this is fantastic listening.
The melancholy ballad Solitude is next. It has a larger variety of instrumentation, with some quiet percussion and flute. The guitar and bass playing as well are amazing. Seriously, this is wonderful music. It just flows beautifully, more so than you’d ever expect of a band like Black Sabbath. It has some sad lyrics to match, a great combination nonetheless to hear. It’s about losing everything to a broken love. “Memories I have remind me of you,” is a deep sentiment indeed from a lyrical aspect.
Next and last is Into The Void. It’s an excellent down-tuned and heavy piece to hear, even today. A wonderfully brilliant way to finish off this album. It begins as an instrumental sort of piece, before Ozzy kicks in, singing about space and time travel. It’s a story of interstellar overdrive and epic battles lyrically. In the middle, it changes drastically to a faster piece with more intricate playing from Tony Iommi in particular. A great musical accomplishment and expertly delivered song.
This album is an excellent and wonderful listen for a classic album. No doubt bands such as Queens Of The Stone Age and countless others paid attention to the music here. It further cemented the legendary status of Black Sabbath as a unique rock band and one to keep an eye on.
Fresh and inspired to this day.