"The bullring was a lonely place of concrete towers and steel. The coal mines and the industries were all we had to feel." Sings the Metal-God Rob Halford from his "Resurrection"-album. And from the concrete jungle of Birmingham, England, the world's finest Heavy Metal-band was born. A band that would shape, mould and influence countless others and a band that would ultimately collapse due to the excesses of the music business, but then be reborn many years later to show the nu-school just what they were missing.
As a debut-album "Black Sabbath" is just hard to beat. The flower-power happiness of the Sixties was being replaced by the doom and depression of the 1970's and SABBATH were the perfect role-models. Pounding drums, wailing vocals, thumping bass and the guitar riffing of the master Tony Iommi. "Black Sabbath" didn't welcome you with open arms. They just bulldozed into your collective and grabbed you by the balls to introduce you to their world.
The title track is a master class in Heavy Metal-song-writing. The opening picked riff coupled with Ozzy's wailing vocals leading to the thundering middle riff must have sent punters running for cover! Heavy and very heavy was SABBATH's message. "The Wizard", complete with harmonica (!) is a glorious number with fantastic lyrics that would later become a trademark of Ozzy's capabilities. "Behind The Wall Of Sleep" shows SABBATH's diversity in musical tastes. Not content to play straight down the middle Metal. They introduced awkward time changes, alternating drum fills. These guys could play. The live favourite "N.I.B" needs little introduction save to say that this is one of Iommi's classic riffs. "Evil Woman" strays off the Metal-path and once again shows us SABBATH's Jazz and Blues-influences with a great bass riff by Geezer Butler. Another part of the SABBATH-sound is Iommi's acoustic playing which starts off "Sleeping Village" then leading to another great riff: slow, brooding then some Jazz-inspired drums from Bill Ward underplayed by a fantastic Butler-bass-run and culminating in some fantastic double-tracked guitar soloing from Iommi.
The class of musician on this groundbreaking album is remarkable and I think often overlooked. SABBATH were doing something totally different from the PURPLEs and ZEPPELINs and to this day, some thirty years on, "Black Sabbath" is still one of the best debut albums ever released and if you are a Metal-fan, then this should be in your collection.