Today is New Years Day
, 2010. This new year will mark the 40th anniversary of heavy metal music. So I've decided to honor the genre with a review of the very first heavy metal album, Black Sabbath
's self titled debut album. This legendary quartet originated in Birmingham, UK. It's located in central England, approximately 100 miles northwest of London
This album reached the #23 spot on the Billboard 200 chart, in 1970. It stayed there for over a year. It's been certified platinum in both the USA and the UK. Bassist Geezer Butler
came up with the idea for the band's name from an old Boris
Karloff horror flick called Black Sabbath
. He saw how popular those movies were and proposed the idea of using musical themes about horror and the occult. Ozzy loved the idea and soon began writing the lyrics for the ominous song, Black Sabbath
. It was a very innovative idea at the time, because their contemporaries were into the hippie style.
Guitarist Tony Iommi
had 2 of his fingertips cut off in an accident, about 4 years earlier. So he downtuned his guitars, to make the strings easier for him to control. This gave it a darker sound, than that of the other guitarists of the time. Iommi
's guitar sound was the perfect fit for the doomy style that they were trying to create.
Originally, the European release had 1 different track, than the North
American release. The European release had the track Evil Woman
and the North
American release had the track Wicked World
are great songs.
The songs; Warning and Evil Woman
, were dark covers of blues songs, that were written by 2 different artists. The song Warning was written by Aynsley Dunbar and the song Evil Woman
was written by the band Crow.
The first song is called Black Sabbath
. The song opens with a church bell and thunder(you can also hear the noise of a rain shower). Then it goes into a tri-tone song with an ominous mood and slow tempo. The drum playing of Bill Ward
adds a somber effect to this song. The tempo picks up the pace in the last 90 seconds of this song. Tony Iommi
displays some flashy guitar riffs towards The End
of this song. The lyrics are about the terror of being pursued by Satan
. The lyrics are ambiguous, but very entertaining.
starts off with the harmonica playing of Ozzy. Then breaks into a more metallic sound. Then a nice and ugly bass rhythm from Geezer Butler
. Geezers's bass playing is really heavy on this song. The lyrics of this song are about how evilness and other aversions cease in the presence of a Wizard
Behind the wall of sleep starts with a loose and casual rhythm, then the tempo slows down, but the mood isn't very dark. The bass takes up some sharp riffs. The guitar plays a soft solo. Then the song reverts to that easy going and light hearted sound. The lyrics of this song seem to be about the dangers using some sort of a plant. Read the lyrics for yourself, because they're not very clear and to the point. I'm not sure what to make of these lyrics, anyway.
Bassically is the short intro before the song N.I.B. N.I.B. rocks with a heavy bass melody. The guitar playing usually acts as a mere complement to it, though it does break out with some flashy solos. I've read 2 different speculations on what the acronym N.I.B. stands for. Since I can't get a straight answer, I'm not going to sweat that. The lyrics are obvious, it's about being seduced by Lucifer
is a very heavy song that rocks at less than medium tempo. The lyrics are about the mistrust of a woman. This is the song that us Americans wished that was included on our albums. But now, as I re-listen to it, I think that Wicked World
was a much better song. At least it wasn't a cover song, with so much blues influence.
Sleeping village has only 4 lines of lyrics, so it's mostly an instrumental, that plays for about 3 and a half minutes. It really works more like an intro before the song Warning, which is over 10 minutes long.
Warning is a blues cover, the bass rhythm sounds like something that hillbillies would dance to. Then there are a series of guitar solos, that are an improvement to the first 4 minutes of this song, but don't seem to live up to their name or album cover. Then finally, 8 minutes into the song, we get a bad ass solo. Then 9 minutes into the song, it reverts back into the blues cover. The lyrics are about an unhappy marriage.
rocks at at a relatively fast tempo, with great drum playing by Bill Ward
. Then the song slows down and Ozzy sings. There is a familiar guitar hook in this song, it was recycled in the middle of the song Electric Funeral
on their upcoming Paranoid
album. This is one of the better songs on this album. The lyrics of this song are about the burdens of life. The song title is deceptive, compared to the lyrical contents.
This was the first heavy metal album, it was hugely influential to a vast array of musicians from many different genres of rock. The whole album doesn't live up to their dark name, but it was all that the naive public could handle, back in those days. It sounded a little bit rough, because they weren't allowed a lot of studio time. They were a young band, with some controversial themes, so they didn't start out with a lot of support. There was a dramatic improvement in their all around quality, on their Paranoid
album. The 40th anniversary of this classic album, will be this February. I've probably heard this album a zillion times.