“Is it the end, my friend?
Satan’s coming ’round the bend!!!!!”
Here is where the birth of heavy metal took place. The defining moment. For the uninitiated, this album is responsible for the creation of heavy metal as it is commonly understood. Heavy metal is commonly understood as cruder, scarier, pro devil form of rock with moronic riffs. This is where it all started.
How does it sound? Well, it is very bluesy, riff driven; just imagine Cream or Led Zeppelin, only a thousand times heavier and darker (and goofier). The music is extremely guitar driven and the main focus is on sounding as scary as possible and as heavy as possible. The major influences, according to me, for Black Sabbath had to be blues. What happened here is that they understood that they couldn’t draw crowds just by playing blues, so they started the gimmick of being scary and singing about the devil. That, as we now know, was repeated endlessly by countless bands in different ways, each more repulsive than the other. Well, it all was done here first.
The major piece here is the title track, which is the best metal song ever folks and that is the bottomline. The first ever and the best ever and it cannot be disputed by anyone that there is no track more defining of the genre than this one. It starts nice and ominous sounding, with bells chiming and fire burning (ooooooooooo, I’m scared!!), starts off slowly, builds up to a frenzied guitar solo by Tony Iommi (remember his name, we are gonna talk a lot about him later on in this story) and ends in a car crash. Cathartic. Excellent. The vocalist, as most people might be aware, is the notorious mad man, the godfather of metal, the bat biting SOB, with the most unique voice ever, Mr. Ozzy Osbourne. I am a big fan of the guy, while in Black Sabbath and out of it, when he went solo. All of that will come later.
Apart from the title track, we have the catchy “NIB”, which has a great intro and solo that rocks the hell out and achieves the status of “classic”. The rest of the album is a little iffier and much less memorable than these two tracks. “The Wizard” and “Evil Women” lack the atmosphere that was built by the title track and are more firmly entrenched in normal, “poppier” sounding blues riffs, which I don’t like all that much.
All in all, this album is a must listen for people who are fans of metal, to understand the origin of the genre. Even though, on a whole, there is a lack of consistency, and some of the riffs are somewhat forgettable, the title track more than makes up for all of that, while the rest of the tracks, especially NIB, form a steady backdrop. This, as El Bajista always puts it, sounds right.