June 12, 2010
Though few were quick to spot it at the time of release, Black Sabbath's first album was the template for an entirely new musical genre. I'm not referring to heavy metal, as there were plenty of bands that were capable of destroying the hearing of concert goers at that time. It was much more than volume that distinguished these guys from their contemporaries, whose stock in trade had been heavy blues. Sabbath was certainly in this category, though they quickly moved away from 12 bar fare, structuring original compositions around inventive riffs and shifting time signatures. This may have placed them closer to prog, although they did not stretch out in quite the same fashion as Yes, King Crimson and ELP. The multi-part essays that Tony Iommi indulged in were much more concise. Ponderous, ominous stoner rock might be the best descriptor of what they unleashed on an unsuspecting public.
Played entirely live, with very little time spent on overthinking or retakes (according to Iommi, most of what you hear was captured in one pass) there are few finer debuts. Inventing something quite unlike anything that came before, it is hard to believe that the whole thing was committed to tape and mixed in just two days.
One of my favorite cuts from this disc.
by Sean Coleman