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Black Sabbath - Black Sabbath CD (album) cover


Black Sabbath


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4.24 | 1034 ratings

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Gustavo Froes
5 stars I usually hesitate before granting a non-progressive album a maximum rating in a progressive rock website,but I'm afraid there's no way out here.This album is fantastic.

For me,the first true groundbreaking heavy album was Deep Purple's In Rock,released a few months after this one in 1970.Still,I just can't imagine what must have been like to hear The Kinks everyday on a pop radio sation,and suddenly be presented to this sinister opus,with inviting satanic references all around,starting by the shocking cover.Four poor kids from industrial Birmingham messing with anti-religion themes,and building songs over the Triton(Diabolus In Musica,a muscial scale in which medieval priests believed to reside the devil).Well,Black Sabbath had their fair share of response in the following months,with devil-worshiping communities all around the globe sending letters everyday with invitations to rituals and related events(including serious threats towards the band when they declined these requests),and even an accident in which their backstage cabins were filled with fresh animal blood and inverted crosses(until this day,there's not a clue about who did it).It is said that for this reasons,the band put aside a good share of their satanic appealing from there on,but they clearly weren't concerned about consequences in this debut.

As the first track fades in,we hear a soft rain sounding and growing thunder roarings.And the band start their sabbath with the anthologic Triton riff.As guitar,bass and drums settle the mood and calm the furious introduction,the listener is presented to the voice of Ozzy Osbourne,in the classic line 'What is this that stands before me?'.And for a few terribly long minutes,this song crumbles a way to a false ending,with volume pitches up and down,up and down again as the band threatens to enter the chorus,and by the time they do,the arrangement explodes violently.When you think it is over,Tony Iommi comes in with one of the best hard Rock riffs ever made,built over a proud Triton and much better than any Death Metal band ever to emerge.In this last minute,the sef-titled hymn suffers a dramatic up-beat changing,marching towards the climatic guitar solo and finally a conclusion.Take a deep breath.

A bizarre harmonica sings happily through the speakers,two times,unnacompanied.The third is joined by a furious heavyness,in what turns out to be another riff-filled composition,The Wizard.The song is lead by the harmonica phrase and it's variations throughout several minutes,and is where the album really starts to be unfolded.These compositions are much heavier than any of Led Zeppelin's early material,and I don't believe that by that period,there was anything remotely like them.

This debut was recorded in two days,straightly and roughly,with very few studio ads.It grants the album a dark,raw edge like none I have ever heard,with clearly noticeable volume pitches and echoing.And I didn't like it at first,for all the songs presented here are equally nude and malicious.At least as far as this (here) iconic rawness goes,the band was never the same after this album.

Behind the Wall of Sleep/N.I.B. is a suite which grows gradually,starting of as a mystic outfit with very dark and poetic lyrics,and evolving to a muscial hell on the second part.A bridge connects these two halfs,echoing the unique 'slumbering' feel of the first minutes.When the band comes back after an hypnotic bass solo,it's in a deaf-threatning heavyness,as this is easily the most chaotic and violent piece here.As Mr Osbourne finishes his black mass with the lines 'looking into my eyes,you'll se who I am/My name is Lucifer,please take my hand',the rest of the group concludes the composition with dramatic last moments.

Evil Woman is the weakest moment in the album,as it sounds slightly misplaced due to a more commercial approach.It is nothing too harmfull,though,and most people seem to like it as much as anything else here,so I'm not throwing in any more personall impressions.It's basically a blues rock workout,with,of course,a heavily arranged contrast.This is the start of Side B on the vinyl original,a less direct and more complex half than the first.And perhaps not as heavy as the 20 minutes passed,but this is where Black Sabbath reflects a musical relation to the occult in a major way,giving this last part a sinister intrumental context,that has not ever really been matched by another band,I believe.

Evil Woman fades away and acoustic strings start to echo through an apparently far away microphone.After a short silent introduction sang very darkly by Osbourne, the band comes in with Sleeping Village,a mood-settling piece,preparing us ordinary mortals for what is to come.After nearly 6 minutes of an instrumental mystic symphony,ghostly echoes of a distorted slide guitar make the transition from the fading first half of this suite to the second,the album's climax and conclusion,The Warning.Along with the third album's solitude,this is my favourite song by the band.It starts with the insisting bass riff that brings back the slumbering and dramatic guitars of Tony Iommi on the two speakers.Following a verse/chorus structure in the first minutes,this piece(which was actually not written,but simply arranged by the band)is unleashed towards nearly 7 minutes of guitar jams.Sounds misplaced?It isn't.Some of the best soloing by Iommi in any album,and climatic instrumental peaks simply bubble throughout the song.This is the sum-up of what is presented in this album,a blues-based malicious piece that is brought down again in the very last minute with the most passionate vocals of Ozzy Osbourne's career.This is by far his best album-recorded vocal performance,light years before his 80's comic metal trash.

Holding notes from the concluded blues rock outfit bring the album to an end.And I just keep wondering why I love this debut so much.Maybe because it's musically very distant from all the other album by the band,which on a level or another all hold resemblances to each other,except this one.Maybe because since the first rain drops on the opening piece,the music is nothing short of superb.

All I know is that,after the intro of War Pigs in their following album(to be the big one),Black Sabbath was never the same.

Gustavo Froes | 5/5 |


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