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.


James Garcia Jr said...

Great post. Great album cover. I have been filling my Ipod like crazy since last father's day, and this album is one of those few that remain, and I am eagerly hunting for its songs.
There are very few songs as haunting as "Black Sabbath".
Thanks for sharing.

Dan said...

Sean, Great post. I was a little young when they first appeared on the scene but soon found them during high school. They were always so much darker and richer in their sound than any other band I knew. Tony's guitar licks were new and brazen. Ozzy's voice was like watching Dr. Demento at midnight, fun and scary all at the same time. It was even released on Friday the 13th. With Geezer and Bill driving the back beat the world was theirs. Thanks

Play Rock Guitar said...

It was a defining album. I never knew it was played live in one take before.

I have alway loved Tony's riffs, they are great for a beginner guitarist to learn. Easy to play and distinctive sound too.

Sean Coleman said...

James- Thanks. Definitely a must have in any collection of music.

Dan- Thank you. They had another advantage in having a drummer who had a bit of Elvin Jones going on, so that the heaviness also had a bit of swing.

Play Rock-One day to track and the second to mix. Listen to Geezer's bass solo prior to NIB. Just as he finishes noodling, you hear the volume increase on the last note as he turns up his amp and they dive into the riff for NIB. Pretty cool.

Barbara said...

Awesome post. Put me right in the mood for a little Sabbath on the Sabbath.

(Dan, are you bragging about your age?)

Dan said...

Braggin cause I'm young or old?

Mike aka MonolithTMA said...

Still my favorite Sabbath album.

"What is this that stands before me?
Figure in black which points at me"

d.edlen said...

Nice post! I hadn't thought of this album as prog metal. Must be a reason why I like it so much, maybe more than "Paranoid".


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