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Black Sabbath

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Sean Trane
Prog Folk
4 stars 4.5 stars really!!

Difficult to find a more influential album in the heavy metal genre than Black Sabbath's debut album. Graced with a gloomy old mill filtered photo with a so-called witch, the Brummie quartet went straight for the dark side of rock and their sinister looks sporting large crosses were certainly enhancing intently this image. Recorded and produced (almost inexistently by Rodger Bain) in just two days, this might seem today a real botch job in the light of modern technology, but it is precisely this rough, raw finish that gave this album its aura. The album was immediately successful on both side of the Atlantic, but it was to stay 18 months in the US charts.

If anything must represent heavy metal, than the eponymous album opener is it: from its thunderstorm and bell intro, to the sinister slow descending riff (based on Gustav Holtz's Mars piece from The Planets Suite) and Geezer Butler-inspired depressive lyrics, the group cannot help but launch a chain of reaction in everyone. Love it or hate it, this track is an absolute stunner (I remember that even my grandfather had to recognize its powers, when I presented him this "UFO") and the reaction of the public was immediate. One of HM's most defining moments. The following gloomy Wizard track is a blues-derived riff-laden song with an unusual pace and the dreamy, almost ambient by their standard, Wall Of Sleep with its great slower mid-section are not as much attention-grabbing, but remain quite solid tracks that make this album an all-time classic. Closing the first side is an epic love song (NIB is NOT Nativity In Black), starting on a pulsating bass solo (Geezer Butler is the unsung hero of BS's first two albums and had one of the more original style back then), than Iommi's solid guitar riff takes over accompanying an average Osbourne vocal line, but for some reasons, the whole thing works quite fine and this track remains a classic to this day. Ward's jazzy drumming throughout the album brings a bit of lightness to his three mate's overpowering heaviness. Butler's style is also bringing much air, as he generally shadows Iommi's riffs (instead of countering or underlining them) and plays much like his inspiration, Cream's Jack Bruce.

The flipside starts on a rare cover, the groovy bass-ed up Evil woman, which was originally intended as the single then with what I' call the album's weaker track Sleeping Village: it seems like a collage of three pieces, but comes off well in its second half, and might be as close as they'd get to an instrumental track on this album. As SV ends in a feedback, the most impressive almost 11-min Warning (an Ainsley Dunbar Retaliation cover) starts exactly on that same feedback, and although it might appear as completely indulgent nowadays, it is one of the most Sabbath tune ever. Indeed the track is full of "solo" playing that seem to drag on a bit, especially Iommi's guitar twangs in the middle section, but it is a real testimony to his passage in Jethro Tull and Mick Abrahams (whom he replaced), see Cat Squirrel on the This Was album. But it got most future metalheads understanding what Iommi's modified sound was all about. Indeed a work incident had him lose a fingertip and he had to detune his guitar strings in order to accommodate his self-made prostheses to replace the lost bit. The bonus track closing the remastered version Wicked World is another great BS track, getting lost in the shuffle of their first two albums' abundance of good ideas, as it was used as a non-album single.

The Legacy edition brings a second disc of alternate takes and work-in-progress, even bumping the previous Wicked World bonus on the remaster version on the second disc, thuis making it less interesting. This Legacy edition does provide an extended booklet with piccies and liner notes, but the digipak doesn't really respect the artwork, so I'd advise you against the extra cost.??.. Need I say something more about this flawed but groundbreaking artefact of the first months of a then-new decade?

Report this review (#143800)
Posted Friday, October 12, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars


this is it...the beginning of all started Friday, 13th, 1970 and it all started with a rain...

four kids from miserable and industrial Birmingham, poor, having to do any possible job to make a living, formed a band and after trying to make it even with polka music... then, guitarist/mastermind Iommi lost his fingertips in an accident at work and had to play with the bass strings cause otherwise it was painfull... in addition to this they changed their name and sound to a more doom/heavy one so that they would sound spooky and macabre and ultimately gain a contract... little did they know, they would create an entirely new genre: doom metal.. indicative of their ignorance was that their vocalist, Ozzy Osbourne was/is a great Beatles fan and when the record came out, he called his mother filled with excitement to tell her about it as if he was a little child...

for sure, the most influential album in the history of metal, a shock to the music world of the 70's... apart from its importance, though, it contains only flawless songs.. "Black Sabbath" and "NIB" are more than classics while "Behind The Wall Of Sleep" and "Warning" are the carpet where the riffmaster, his Majesty, Mr Iommi lays his excellent guitar work, sth that will continue for at least 3 decades after... "Wizard" and "Warning" are simply hard rock dynamites.

few albums can be proud that they achieved what this one did... a cornerstone? of course... it changed everything... had they not existed, personaly, i wouldn't be here... metal fans, these are your routes..RESPECT!!!

Report this review (#143816)
Posted Friday, October 12, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars There are a lot of things wrong with this album. It's rough as guts, for one. The musicianship is at times suspect, with the rhythm section getting out of synch on a regular basis. Having been recorded in three days, it's no wonder. The lyrics are trite at best, and edge towards outright cheesiness ('Satan's come around the bend, people running 'cos they're scared.'). And then there's OZZY's voice, which to me was always a serious negative when listening to this band.

But, of course, there was enough right with this album that it is now regarded as seminal in the birth of heavy metal. Fantasy/occult themes, crushing riffs, slow tempos, simple structures and the signature TONY IOMMI guitar sound - an accident due to his lightweight strings and alternate tunings to make the instrument easier to play doe to a hand injury.

SABBATH's supreme gift was two-fold. First, they tied the doom-laden sound with occult motifs, instantly appealing to a generation of working-class youngsters disenfranchised by the middle-class, optimistic hippie movement. And second, IOMMI's talent for writing killer riffs turned virtually everything they wrote into a classic.

This album has its share of classics. The title track is cheesy beyond belief, but it's riff and atmospherics were enough to make it an instant hit. 'N.I.B.' is the album's outstanding track, however, demonstrating the band's straightforward genius. There are a couple of blues tracks ('The Wizard' and 'Evil Woman' or 'Wicked World', depending on what side of the Atlantic the album was released) and an excellent extended jam ('Sleeping Village/Warning').

I think, however, these songs are part of metal's canon because of what SABBATH were able to produce following this album. I certainly don't believe this is an essential purchase. Nostalgia trip, yes; curio, certainly. Necessary, no - certainly not in the way their next five albums are necessary.

Report this review (#144019)
Posted Friday, October 12, 2007 | Review Permalink

In those days, it didn't take a long time to record an album. "Van Der Graaf Generator" took ONE day to do so for "The Aerosol Grey Machine". "Sabbath" will only need a couple more for their first album. The band's imagery, often related with black magic and sorcery is already very much present (just look at the cover).

These types of sounds were rather unusual for the time. A band had never sounded so heavy. Remember, this album is released BEFORE "In Rock" and all the fuss that this legendary album will generate. Sabbath's fame will be built in a matter of weeks. In the US first. They will cross the country like Led Zep a year before them but starting from East to West and build an incredible live reputation. At the top of the bill at the Fillmore, almost instantly (there is a great live release recorded from these sessions at the Fillmore West in Frisco).

Almost all the tracks are extremely heavy like the title track "Black Sabbath" which is one of the highlights. But "The wizzard" for instance contains some blues influence as well (which was a source of their inspiration in their early days - prior to this album). There will be several anthems of the band featured on this album ("Behind the Wall of Sleep", "N.I.B.) . More than thirty years later, they will still be played during their live performances. So, the early days fans (to which I belong BTW) are considering this debut album as a seminal album.

A great debut, fully in line with later work (which is not often the case in these ancient times : neither "Genesis", "Purple", "Yes" of which two does not share anything with "Sabbath" of course will produce such a debut : so close to their future production). Other highlights are "N.I.B." and the extra long "Warning" to give you a hint of the "Sabbath" power.

There will be lots of different version available for this album, including or not "Evil Woman" (a cover song and their first ever single). Since it is the weakest song of the European version, there is really nothing to worry about.

Seven out of ten but for the influence of this album not only on "Sabbath" future work but also for having generated the whole heavy (and not prog) metal genre I will upgrade it to four stars (but it is a bit on the high range, I admit).

Report this review (#144168)
Posted Friday, October 12, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars I can only give this album 5 stars, since it forms the carpet of my yought music experience. Especially the songs NIB and Warning are important in this, the rest a bit less. I remember listening to Warning deep in the night with my headphone (one ear!) from my little mono cassete deck, and being completely happy. The guitar riffs are incredible, the bass is thunderous, and Ozzy sings "I was born without you baby, but my feelings were a little bit too strong". This song, together with "Child in Time" of Deep Purple, is the most important ever in creating my musical background. The album in hindsight shurely has it's flaws, but to me this is the birth of self- conciousness in music. The roots of Black Sabbath, blues rock, are very clear on this album and influences of eg. The Cream cannot be denied. But they brought it to another level. A groundbreaking album, and because NIB and Warning, 5 stars.
Report this review (#144209)
Posted Friday, October 12, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars This band is one of the most original bands in Rock music. In fact, I believe that they created a new style of Heavy Rock music which also influenced a lot of new bands since the early seventies, having the same "mysterious", "dark" and "horror and evil" in lyrics and music. Some of these bands influenced by Black Sabbath of course include Iron Maiden and a lot more. Even Ozzy Osbourne as soloist kept the same style of the band in image and in music.

This is a very good debut album from this band. The version that I listened in the mid seventies was one called "Black Sabbath 2", released in Mexico under the Vertigo Records label, and with the inner credits in a black gatefold cover listing Ozzy as "Ossie Osbourne". Why this version was called "Black Sabbath 2" in my country? I don`t know, but it says in the label that it it was released in 1971, not in 1970. It was released in a series called "Rock Power", which also released "Who`s Next" and other albums from that period. I think that it was released as "Black Sabbath 2" maybe because their "Paranoid" album was released first in my country than this album. Anyway, they released the British version , not the Warnerversion from the U.S. (Why the U.S. labels tended to change the songs in albums? They did it with The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Uriah Heep, etc.).

The album starts with a "dark" atmosphere very well created by rain sounds and thunder. Then, the great guitars of Tony Iommi (one of the heaviest sounds, with also from the bass guitar, that I have listened in Rock). The lyrics talk about the story included in the inner gatefold cover about a mysterious lady and what happens in a "Black Sabbath". The lyrics of this band were mostly written by Geezer Butler, so he also has an additional credit as an influence for the same kind of lyrics written by other bands. The rest of the songs of the album are obviously heavy, very well played, with a lot of distorted guitars and very good lead guitars and with all the members of the band shinning in their performances. "N.I.B." is one of my favourites in this album. In fact, I played it with a covers band in the early eighties, with my brother on guitar. In the mid seventies, my brother also learned how to play heavy distorted lead electric guitar playing along with this album (and others) a lot of times. This was one of his favourite albums then, I think. This old L.P. is now very used and with a lot of scratch, but it still can be played!

If you want to listen to the real "original Evil Heavy Rock band" I think that this is the best place to hear the influences for Iron Maiden and other bands which later composed music with the same "dark" lyrics and image. Black Sabbath is the "Father" of all these bands, in my opinion. They also had some Prog Rock influences which justify their inclusion in this website.

Report this review (#144211)
Posted Saturday, October 13, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars Black Sabbaths debut was one of the first CD's i ever bought, and that was a good choice, since still today, i think it's top 5 on the best rock albums ever made! This album still carries the very bluesy roots of earlier pre-sabbath bands, and the guitar playing & music style sometimes reminds me of Jethro Tull's debut. Notably on the 10-minute blues song "The Warning", which features a long, free guitar solo by the magic hands of Iommi. Also, some improvisational bits that includes the whole band (except Ozzy). Those bits really reminds me of Tull's debut, and a song on it that i can't remember the name of. But it wasn't all blues, this album also Created heavy metal. It comes quite clear, listening to the evil title track with the dark lyrics, and the Intro riff to N.I.B. N.I.B. is one of the best songs on the album, while the whole album is fantastic. The title does not mean "N-something-in-black", which some might think, but it comes from Ozzy saying to Bill: "Hey, your beard looks like a pen nib", while high on opium. Somehow the dots came there, and now to the music/lyrics: It's a blues-rooted Heavy metal song with a Heavy Riff, great rhytm section, a nice bass introduction by Geezer playing the Bass through a Wah-Wah pedal & great lyrics. The lyrics is about the devil falling in love, and i can't help but love it! Other great songs, is well... Every other song on this album. Standouts are "The Wizard", that really shows their bluesy roots, with Ozzy playing harmonica in the intro riff.

To sum it up, there's not many, if Any album that can top this. I absolutely love it, and probably, always will. It never gets boring! 5/5

Report this review (#144248)
Posted Saturday, October 13, 2007 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars One of the most important debut albums in history of rock, Black Sabbath also acts a s a birthplace of heavy metal genre. Dark and menacing sound of tumbling guitar riffs, stomping bass and fiery drums, coupled with freaky Ozzy's vocals and lyrics elaborating on the evil side of human being, horrors of destructive mind and "satanic" imagery were unprecedented before. There are lots of heavy, blues and jazz based jamming which went in line with the emerging progressive rock trends. Therefore, inclusion of this band in PA was more than justified. It is enough to hear a terrifying sound of church bells in the opening title track, followed by slow agonizing guitar riff by often neglected guitar inventor Tonny Iommi, to send shivers down my spine. You can almost physically sense the heaviness of metal "substance" filled with paranoia of a man deluded by a feeling that the Evil is presently chasing him. Not only the later legions of commercialized and bastardized metallic "headbangers" but also many of the Goth-rock actors of the 1980s would testify how influenced was the BLACK SABBATH debut LP.


P.A. RATING: 5/5

Report this review (#144431)
Posted Sunday, October 14, 2007 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Did Heavy Metal Start Here?

Hmmm .... finally Black Sabbath is added here. Some people has claimed that Black Sabbath pioneered the heavy metal genre through the release of this legendary heavy metal album. Ronnie James Dio, who sang with Black Sabbath from 1979 to 1982, said , "Let's face it, [Black Sabbath] was the first heavy metal band, a band that stepped on buildings when they came to town.". Yeah! Do you think so? Well, I think so as a band who consistently played heavy metal music. But if people say that Black Sabbath was the one who started heavy metal, I would not think so. I think King Crimson did, especially with the "21st Century of Schizoid Man" which was truly a heavy metal music and it was released in 1969, before the birth of Black Sabbath debut album (1970). Well, the boys in Black Sabbath started jamming sometime in 1968 and basically they played their music through jamming until it made up an album. The band's history started in Birmingham where as Bill Ward put it, there was only three options availble for young men in Birmingham at that time: work in a factory, play a music or go to jail (as Ozzy experienced it at that time). The debate on who started heavy metal has been around for such a long time but I don't want to discuss or raise any debate on this. I respect your standpoint if you say differently from me, it's okay. But for me, the one who started heavy metal was King Crimson. The only difference was that King Crimson only played one heavy metal song in their debut album "In The Court of The Crimson King" while Black Sabbath was consistent with it for their next albums.

This album delivers excellent music that combines powerful riffs, great guitar solo, inventive bass guitar and dazzling drum work. The opening track "Black Sabbath" was actually the first song the band created from various jamming they did. This is the key characteristic of Black Sabbath early history: most of the compositions were resulted from jammin. The band members were proficient musician so that the recording of all songs were taken "live" and first take! The Black Sabbath name was taken from a horror movie made in Italy. The band members commented that if people are willing to pay to get scared off when watching a movie, why not making a band with horror nuance? So, the result is the Black Sabbath name and the very dark cover. All tracks offered here at their first album are all excellent and the masterpiece is for me the last ones: "A Bit of Finger / Sleeping Village / Warning". This album is highly recommended for those who love heavy metal and those young men who love any kind of modern metal. Keep on rockin' ...!

Remember, King Crimson started heavy metal through "21st Century of Schizoid Man"! JRENG!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

Report this review (#146156)
Posted Sunday, October 21, 2007 | Review Permalink
Chris S
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Yes, Black Sabbath were the pioneers of Metal and it all began all those years ago on this their debut album. This dark , cold landscape of sound hit the nerve in progressive sound from the UK in 1970. The opener ' Black Sabbath' with the church bell sounds spelt doom for many teenagers as far as parents went. What? Listening to demonic, derranged music? Yes and why not, King Crimson gave us a hint with 21st Century Schizoid man and Black Sabbath were very able participants. the best lineup was the original four piece with Osbourne with his hard but powerful nasal voice, Iommi's methodical guitar riffs, Butler's bass and Ward's pounding drums made for a very ethnic ' Underground' sound.' The Wizard' is excellent as is ' Sleeping Village' and the closer ' Warning'. The best was yet to come from Black Sabbath but this hard edged simply created dark album was a superb start for 1970.
Report this review (#146174)
Posted Sunday, October 21, 2007 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
4 stars The album cover alone is enough to send chills down your spine, but then you put the record on and soon realize that what you are listening to is even more bleak and haunting then the album cover is.This is such an influential record, this was unique for 1970. Certainly the dark and heavy sound led by Tommy Iommi along with the taboo lyrics about Satan and hell were both groundbreaking and shocking.

I like when a group has a song that is the same as the it's band name. IRON MAIDEN comes to mind and they were no doubt influenced by BLACK SABBATH. I don't know if a more terrifying song has ever been composed than "Black Sabbath". It opens with the sound of rain as church bells chime.Thunder claps are heard as some low end guitar comes in.The atmosphere is dark and eerie and is enhanced ten fold when Ozzy starts to speak those scary lyrics. "What is this that stands before me. Figure in black which points at me.Turn around quick and start to run. Found out i'm the chosen one. Oh Nooo !" And later "Satan sitting there he's smiling. Watches those flames get higher and higher. Oh no no please God help me !" The song takes off 4 1/2 minutes in. "The Wizard" features Ozzy on harmonica along with a great rhythm, both make this one of SABBATH's best songs. The next song is a suite made up of "Wasp", "Behind the Walls of Sleep", "Bassically" and "N.I.B.". I really love the tone of the guitar on the lighter passages before the heavy melodies come in. The guitar after 6 1/2 minutes to the end of the song sounds fantastic ! "Wicked World" has some great bass throughout from Butler as Iommi is having some fun. A calm comes in before some blistering guitar arrives. The final track is another suite made up of "A Bit Of Finger", "Sleeping Village" and "Warning". This is the longest song at over 14 minutes. Guitar and reserved vocals open things before the song kicks in before a minute. The guitar melodies are incredible after 2 minutes.They're back 4 minutes in with vocals just not as aggressive.The rhythm is terrific 8 1/2 minutes in.Then Iommi just jams, offering a variety of styles before the band joins in at 13 minutes.

4.5 stars, almost a masterpiece in my opinion.

Report this review (#147867)
Posted Sunday, October 28, 2007 | Review Permalink
Eetu Pellonpaa
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars I'm not a huge fan of the band considering their overall career, but their first studio album is a real gem in my opinion, and it's sad that they later deviated for the promising starting points towards more primitive commercial macho metal style. Anyway, the title track manages to evoke really strong and mad sensations, and it also was a big influence for upcoming leagues of doom metal groups. I really enjoy the raw but not too heavy sounds of this stuff, the menacing insanity of the singer, and the audible roots of blues music yet reminding this is old stuff. "The Wizard" slips in some white magic, painting a funny portrait of a wizard. "Behind the Wall of Sleep" starts the first longer continuous batch of music on the album, focusing on dreamy paranoid anxiety. Heavier "N.I.B." rises out from a quick bass solo tying the two songs, describing the masquerading Lucifer tempting his prey. "Evil Woman" is more down-to-earth bluesy rocker in style of Deep Purple and other early 1970's hard rock bands. Then the last two songs "Sleeping Village" and "Warning" make up the most ambitious musical moments on this album, introducing several musical motives and bringing out anxious journey to the valleys of desperation, madness and self-pity. If you are among the fans of this very first album, try to seek out Black Sabbath's "Paris Concert 1970" named film (could be some other venue though); It was broadcasted in the British television network, and there are some really fabulous scenes of Ozzy whipping it out whilst wearing a suit jacket without any shirt.
Report this review (#151133)
Posted Friday, November 16, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars Hail Black Sabbath for making the first true metal album.Yes it is true others dabled but Sabbath perfected the art form.The first track with the thunder,bells and cheesy satanic imagiry is a masterpiece.The Wizard shows the bands blues roots.The rawness of this album adds to the effect.This is not the best Sabbath album but the most original and whos a better vocalist in all metal than Ozzy?Not Rob Halford,King Diamond,Russal Allan or Bruce Dikenson as great as they are all fall short.Remember Ideas and originality can match raw talent.
Report this review (#155803)
Posted Tuesday, December 18, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars Is this woman, this strange gothic Mona Lisa on the sleeve a ghost ? There's an urban legend around her, and it gave to Black Sabbath's debut album a kind of strange atmosphere. This album is probably one of the best from the band. Lots of songs are marvellous here, especially 'N.I.B.' (which is not for Nativity In Black, but for Butler's nickname, Pen Nib), 'Black Sabbath' and the long suite 'Sleeping Village'/'The Warning'. Absolutely great, even if the sound is not as good as on the other BS albums.
Report this review (#157360)
Posted Tuesday, January 1, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars Black Sabbath`s self titled debut LP established a concept in rock music which not only served as the blueprint for heavy metal but also began weaving a web for a myriad of other heavy styles from Goth to Industrial over which to manifest their dark images. At the time of it`s release, appropriately on Friday the 13th of February 1970, their resounding power chorded sound with lyrical references to everything grim and otherworldly was completely original and it could be said that this album alone made them one of the single most influential rock bands ever. It wasn`t only the tolling bells, falling rain and Satanic references and the inverted crucifix on the original inner sleeve ( not the band`s idea ) but it was the grainy photo of the gouhlish, almost sensually alluring green Mona Lisa goth woman staring out from the underbrush in front of an otherwise unremarkable 19th century English millhouse on the River Thames set in the autumn of the year which conveyed a forboding image one would associate more with black magic than with rock`n roll. In any case, rock music would never be the same after the onslaught of this sonic masterpiece.

The music without a doubt had it`s roots in the blues and jazz but the Sabs contorted and twisted both into something which might as well have just awoke from the beyond the netherworld. Raw guitar phrasings and fat power chords combined with Ozzy Osbourne`s petrified banshee wails evoked confusion, paranoia and delusion which would give a another generation of parents something to worry about, only this was a little more than just Elvis and his pelvis. Courting themes with references to the devil and evil immediately identified these anti-hippies with the occult and the title track itself, which is supposedly about a personal encounter drummer Bill Ward had with the Satan, wastes no time alluding to this from the very beginning which convinces the listener that the devil himself inhabits these record grooves.

Not suprisingly, two cover songs also appeared on the original UK release which had references to things evil and wicked in the form of Evil Woman, originally a minor hit for Minneapolis pop band Crow in 1969 and Aynsley Dunbar`s Warning ( originally sung by John Moorshead ) which was an example of how the the masters of metal were initially inspired by and interpreted the blues. Nonetheless, guitarist Tony Iommi`s innovative power riffing, although drawing somewhat from the Hendrix pardigm nonetheless effectively plodded on throughout the album for the most part in a dreary fashion with deeper lowered guitar tunings which added to all the evilness. Several ad-libbed guitar freakouts which seem to be inserted as filler due to the short period of studio time available ( something like two days ) occasionally get into some interesting grooves, paricularily on the afore mentioned Warning, which identify him as a highly competent guitarist in his own right.

The album has a raw in your face sound which adds to the doom and gloom and obviously sounds dated. But hey, this was music history in the making! Forces were at work ! Ground was being broken! Earth was being overturned and foundations were being erected! Absolutely compulsory listening for every budding young metalhead and a nostalgic example of a bygone era where artists were still creating music which was immaginative, audacious and original and for maximum scare value must be listened to LOUD !

Report this review (#160168)
Posted Tuesday, January 29, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars My name is Lucifer ... please take my hand

A Blair Witch Project of an album. Fuzzy round the edges, a bit jittery in places but a memorable and unique experience. The great distorted guitar, fat bass (I love that flappy sound in Evil Woman), jazzy drums and Ozzy's vocal (Ozzy is Sabbath). Incomparable, love it or hate it: you won't forget it.

One of the striking things I've found about introducing people to Black Sabbath is that all without exception have been surprised about how heavy it isn't. Yes it has that slow deliberate heaviness that is neither blues nor rock n roll but it's along way from the death, speed or thrash that people expect. Maybe that's the thing about Black Sabbath, the impression taken away is of a really gritty heavy album and yet each listening reveals a softer lighter side. N.I.B. is a classic example of this.

The Wizard always conjures up a vision of some bizarre carefree Vancian figure dandering through the woods of the dying earth. An all time favourite.

This album Master of Reality, Sabotage and Volume 4 provided the soundtrack to many late night sessions. In some ways its easy to lose sight of just what a sea change Sabbath brought to the table, and their debut laid out for all to hear a new and challenging sound.

This is an essential album for a broad music collection, and a must for all the heavies but the progster in me has to recommend it as an excellent addition to your prog collection (along with Paranoid, Master of Reality, Sabotage and Vol4)

Treat Yourself, you know you want to..

Report this review (#161113)
Posted Wednesday, February 6, 2008 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars "Black Sabbath" is the eponymously tited debut full-length studio album by UK, Birmingham based heavy metal act Black Sabbath. The album was released in Europe through Vertigo Records in February 1970. It saw a US release through Warner Bros. Records in June 1970. The US version features an alternative tracklist to the original European version, replacing the Crow cover track "Evil Woman" with an additional Black Sabbath original titled "Wicked World". The tracklist change makes sense as the band were never that happy with the inclusion of "Evil Woman", but they were pushed by their then manager to include the track, as he felt the album otherwise lacked a song with commercial appeal (and if he was shooting for a radio hit single, he was probably right).

The album was recorded in one 10-hours long session in October 1969, and it was predominantly recorded live in the studio, with lead vocalist Ozzy Osbourne recording his vocal tracks simoultaniously with the recording of the instrumental tracks. The band then spend a few hours doing some overdubs (a few vocal overdubs, the bells, thunder and rain sound effects opening the title track, and the double-tracked guitar solos on "N.I.B." and "Sleeping Village"), and then the album was more or less done. Although the contemporary music press was largely unenthusiastic about the album, it was a commercial success for Black Sabbath and after its US release, sold more than a million copies.

"Black Sabbath" is in retrospect THE seminal release which started the heavy metal movement. Although at it´s core it´s pretty much a really heavy blues rock album, there is a dark occult atmosphere to the album (which is further enhanced by the creepy cover artwork and lyrics about Lucifer and other dark themes) and some very heavy distorted riffs and rhythms, which were more extreme than similar features on the output by other contemporary heavy rockers like Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, and Uriah Heep. The most heavy and dark moments on this album simply transcend the term rock and belong to the then new born genre heavy metal (which it probably wasn´t labelled back then).

The album opens with the dark and doomy title track, which for contemporary ears must have been an extremely heavy track. But "The Wizard", "Behind The Wall Of Sleep", "N.I.B.", and "Sleeping Willage/Warning", are also quite dark and heavy tracks. Listening to "Evil Woman" it´s understandable the band didn´t feel it fit with the rest of the material, as it features a less heavy and lighter mood. "Wicked World" is arguably a better choice, featuring a similar heavy impact and dark atmosphere to the other tracks on the album. The album is packed in a dark, heavy, and organic sounding production, which suits the music perfectly. This one is not only a classic, it´s a great album featuring high level musical performances (real persons playing/singing, warts and all), a well sounding production, and powerful and creative songwriting. A 5 star (100%) rating is deserved.

(Originally posted on Metal Music Archives)

Report this review (#161156)
Posted Thursday, February 7, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars Glad to see this classic properly appreciated here on ProgArchives!

I find this album equally raw and rocking as Led Zeppelin I. When I initially offered this opinion to my classic rocker friends, the general reaction was that I was crazy. Maybe if they were metalheads, the reaction would be different, but fortunately they have come over to my side of the debate in recent years. Regardless, they are both quality albums, not to mention incredibly influential.

Sabbath introduce their drawling, heavy sound quite nicely here. They patiently set up killer groove after killer groove, and then really cut loose (especially Iommi and Geezer) once that groove has been established. I also much prefer Ozzy's raw vocals to his later, much-too-polished Crazy Train and beyond stylings. He's no great talent, and at least here he's not trying to be something he's not.

Black Sabbath, by Black Sabbath, on the album Black Sabbath. What a song to start a (generally) great career. It's dark, it's heavy, and it shows immediately that Sabbath are not simply following in others' footsteps musically.

Wall of Sleep/NIB, Wicked World. These are the highlights of the album for me--just lots of great grooves and plenty of catchy melody. It's not the tightest playing, but that strangely helps it to rock just a bit more.

The Wizard, A Bit of Finger/Sleeping Village/Warning. If there is any downside to this album, it's probably here. The former tune is fairly simple (though I love Ozzy on the harmonica for a change, even if he's obviously no virtuoso), and the latter features way too much filler between the decent parts.

Musically, this is probably closer to a three-star album, but given its historical significance, as well as the fact that it's a debut, I think it's reasonable to bump up to a four. Either way, if you are a progger, classic rocker, or metalhead, you'll have to have this album in your collection.

Report this review (#162813)
Posted Wednesday, February 27, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars For a long period of time (decades are in question) I considered 'Paranoid' the best Black Sabbath release. But as the time passed the sense of revision was growing and eventually I admit that according to all my prog parameters this first album deserves that attribute. From the mystic bells of the title track, nice mouth harmonica of the 'Wizard' to the closing numbers 'Sleeping Village' and 'Warning' there is excellent musicianship present coloured by Osbourne's powerful vocal. Particularly these last two tracks offer that, not prog related but prog determined feeling, Iommi's incredible guitar contributing massively to that adventure. Let me end with my favourite phrase when I'm giving highest rating to an album - 'no weak point' . Also, as a senior progger, I have to confess that this is the sole and only case in all of my prog rock music experience where I changed my opinion regarding the one I had in my youth. But I'm proud to announced it and give to this release absolutely deserving five stars.
Report this review (#169194)
Posted Wednesday, April 30, 2008 | Review Permalink
The Crow
4 stars This Black Sabbath's debut album is also one of their finest.

A milestone, which sounded really hard, scary and original back in 1970. The creepy lyrics, together with the strong guitar riffs and the powerful Geezer Butler's bass, are the basis of this influential album. Before Black Sabbath made their appearance, any band brought so many obscurity and darkness into a simple record.

This scary lyrics are maybe a bit laughable today, and the music is not really dark, compared with other actual bands but the fact is that these bands are here today in part because the Black Sabbath's legacy. It's impossible to find a single band, from which so many genres were developed: Stoner Rock, Doom Metal, Heavy Metal, Black Metal... The influence of Black Sabbath is just too big. Only bands like Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple and the usually forgotten Uriah Heep are comparable... But not really!

The album itself is not so hard as later albums, and like the first Led Zeppelin's work, it has a lot of blues influences (Behind the Wall of Sleep, Sleeping Village...) and some psychedelic elements too (N.I.B., The Warning...), while the true Black Sabbath's style was still to be developed.

But it has also the deep and hard Iomi's riffs, which together with the odd Osbourne's voice, are the Black Sabbath's trademark. So the style is not so well developed as the classic Paranoid, and not so well orientated as the stoner-milestone Master of Reality, a fact which makes this album a diverse piece of rock, where Black Sabbath shows all their influences, and where they started to make their own very important legacy. However, it's not their most representative album in my opinion.

Best songs: Black Sabbath (the main riff is the born of Doom Metal... I like the accelerated final part), N.I.B. (another album's classic... The bass intro is great, and so is the chorus) and Sleeping Village (this dynamic riff, is the root of stoner metal...)

Conclusion: this album is excellent, and its influence has been very big in the past four decades. Maybe Black Sabbath is not a blind recommendation for young and unexperienced listeners, but if you are curious to discover the origin of modern heavy metal you must hear this record.

My rating: ****

Report this review (#171967)
Posted Thursday, May 22, 2008 | Review Permalink
Petrovsk Mizinski
5 stars In all honesty, if I was to tell you what I thought about the majority of Black Sabbath's discography, I would simply tell you I don't like the bulk of it. But here we have it, the self titled release from the band, an album that was to become a revolutionary album, the album that saw the birth of heavy metal. That alone makes this one of the most important and influential albums ever. To truly understand what this album is about and why it sounds like the way it does, you need to understand the history surrounding it.

The band as the four piece of Bill Ward, Geezer Butler, Tony Iommi and Ozzy Osbourne, had called themselves Earth and began to play heavier riff based material, while being somewhat less bluesy than the competition. The band found out another band was already called Earth, so a name change was in order. and they decided to name themselves after the film Black Sabbath.

The band would begin to make music that was a great contrast to the flower power hippy music of so prominent at the time, a dark sound that would match the dreary post WW2 landscape of Birmingham. In December 1969, they recorded and released the first single Evil Women and the band recorded and mixed the rest of the album in January 1970. They didn't get to do a second run of most of the recording, so that has resulted in the overall sound coming off kinda raw and perhaps a tad flawed. The album was finally released on, of all days, Friday the 13th, 1970, which only adds to the raw evil power and feeling of this album.

The album begins with the title track, which at the time was incredibly dark and evil sounding and certainly I always try to imagine what it would have been like in 1970 to have heard something this evil sounding and certainly this song still sends a shiver down my spine listening to it. When the driving, heavy riff kicks in at 4:36, that just screams out, THE first true heavy metal moment for me, no more, no less, it just floors me everytime. Tony Iommi's guitar parts are just pure evil as well as Butler's lyrics, with a drum and vocal performance from Ward and Osbourne to match. Speaking of Ozzy's vocals, while he was never blessed with a great vocal technical ability like that of Bruce Dickinson and others of that ilk, Ozzy's style was and always will be the style that truly fit the context of these early Sabbath records. The Wizard is a hard rock, very classic Sabbath type song, but hard rock that clashed in the path of evil and while not one of the better songs on here, still certainly an excellent song. Behind The Wall Of Sleep has a similar vibe to The Wizard, but a bit more bluesy in places. The next song, N.I.B, is just sheer brilliance. Kicks off with a cool bass solo, and has some cool riffs too. There is a riff from about 2:50 which leads into the guitar solo, and that whole section instrumental section just blows my mind with it's brilliance and emotion. This section is repeated again, to amazing effect. Easily one of my favorite Sabbath songs, one I could never get sick of listening to over and over, pure genius. Evil Women is a classic bluesy type track, which isn't amazing, but sorta catchy and not a bad listen at all. The intro to Sleeping Village is so haunting and simultaneously so raw sounding and goes drives into the classic Sabbath rocking sound which is partly bluesy and partly jazzy as well, which is a nice touch. Another remarkable song here too. Warning is a cover song and very doomy sounding, while being a fairly basic type of blues sound. We then get a crazy and lengthy instrumental section, featuring a lot of guitar improvisation from Iommi. Some people find this bit boring, but I still remember the first time I heard it and just falling in love with this section instantly. Again, a top notch track, displaying a variety of feelings and emotions. I happen to have the version which has Wicked World on it to, and this song combines a jazzy feel in some sections while still keeping the bluesy rock theme this album is notable for. The vocals sound very raw here, as do the other instruments, and this seems to contribute to the evil and Wicked feel of this song. The song ends with crazy noise and feedback, and just seemed to be the most appropiate way to the end the album for me.

This is the band that combined jazzy stuff, along with blues and hard rock, and transformed it into something else entirely. Fans of metal, prog metal cannot be without this album, and of course this has to be of great interest to any prog fan out there.

Report this review (#172225)
Posted Monday, May 26, 2008 | Review Permalink
Symphonic Team
4 stars Behind the wall of gloom

This is the very first album by one of my all time favourite bands, Black Sabbath. It is also the very first Heavy Metal album of all time. This makes it progressive almost by definition. Mixing electric Blues, Jazz and Rock, creating a totally groundbreaking sound. In addition, the lyrical themes are also quite groundbreaking with references to Satan, wizards, evil women and black Sabbath's. This is possibly the heaviest and scariest album ever created. Even the cover art is groundbreaking and full of mystique. There is a perfect fit between the music and the picture.

In these very early days when neither Heavy Metal nor Prog had developed into fully fledged genres of their own they were almost indistinguishable from each other. Some Heavy Metal was highly progressive and some Prog was quite heavy. Listen to 21st Century Schizoid Man by King Crimson and the similarities become evident. (Many years later Ozzy released a cover album containing a version of this King Crimson song!)

The title track and N.I.B have become two of the most well known songs by the band and especially the first must be heard by anyone interested in the history of Rock music. Another track that deserves special mention is Sleeping Village which starts with a short acoustic part featuring a traditional Scandinavian instrument that I don't know the name of in English. Ozzy's vocal performance is surprisingly impressive. His voice perfectly fits the music.

This album was the start of an amazing career by an amazing band and is one of the most impressive debut albums I have ever heard! Black Sabbath is an absolutely essential album, but it is not quite a masterpiece like some later Black Sabbath albums. Some parts have a slight improvisational character fitting better in a live setting than on a studio album.

Extremely important record!

Report this review (#177914)
Posted Wednesday, July 23, 2008 | Review Permalink
2 stars It is 1970 and Black Sabbath have released their debut album. One big trip in the world of heavy metal music is about to begin. I don't know whether heavy metal starts here, but if it's so, obviously this genre doesn't start very properly. An album extremely influenced by blues, it is important album for the development of heavy metal. All I can say is that I'm not big fan of blues and all blues songs sound me like one exactly the same. There are some really good ideas here, but the way they were made is inappropriate. The sound is deadfully slow and all the songs are very boring. If I have to listen to one or two songs it's OK, but when I have to listen to the whole album it become more and more harder for me. The production of the sound is weak, too. The musicianship is ok. There is one really good song and this is N.I.B.! The thing I dislike very much in music is the static feeling - without harmony and moving forward and I can find all of these elements here on this album. The beginning is hard for very much bands, including Black Sabbath!!!
Report this review (#200919)
Posted Wednesday, January 28, 2009 | Review Permalink
3 stars A tolling church bell rings out over a sleeping village on a rainy morning, and ushers in a new era of music... witness the birth of Heavy Metal. The influence and importance of this band (and this album) can not be over-stated. Black Sabbath played heavier and were darker than any rock band before them... single-handedly inventing what would become Metal music. This is an extremely hard album to review, especially for a website dedicated to Progressive Rock. The atmosphere of nostalgia is so thick when i listen to this album that it's nearly impossible to look objectively at it. Black Sabbath have long been my favorite band as well...

These songs take me back to when I was 5 years old: my father introduced me to Black Sabbath at a young age and this music is deeply embedded into my very soul... my dad dropping the needle on those vinyl records, and the massive sound that poured from those speakers are among the earliest and most treasured memories of my life. This band's first six albums are among the most important recordings in Rock history. Being as objective as possible, I must say that this debut is overall not as good as what would follow. Putting aside the legacy that this music created, it is still basically very simple blues-based Rock and Roll... only played more aggressively wicked and with more sinister intent than anything that came before it. The title track is gloom and doom personified... an undeniable classic and the song that birthed an entire genre of music. 'The Wizard' has a dark mythological pall draped over it... as does the menacing Blues of 'Behind the Wall of Sleep'. An overcast sky... sorrowful wails of wind and rain splattering on medieval British cobblestone streets. 'N.I.B.' contains the most evil riff on the album and an ominously bleak mood... yet is somehow enchanting and comforting to my soul. The second half of the album is not as good... I have never found it up to the standard of the first side. Dominated by prolix Blues-guitar solos, there is not much here of a progressive nature... this is simply Heavy Blues. ...but does the superior first side even contain anything 'progressive'? I would say yes... in it's own way it pushed the boundaries of what Rock music was, or could be, at that time. Not 'Prog Rock' per se... but inventive hard rock music with it's own progressive ideas of what 'Rock' should sound like. Still, i believe the band would write much stronger material over the course of their next few albums...

For the purposes of this site, i give this iconic record a 3... though it pains my conscience to not declare it a masterpiece. I simply believe there are too many weaker moments on the second side to warrant 4 stars. God, have mercy on my soul for this sacrilege!

Report this review (#202862)
Posted Sunday, February 15, 2009 | Review Permalink
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.

Report this review (#202986)
Posted Monday, February 16, 2009 | Review Permalink
2 stars Evil is born.

Yeah, this is it. The so called birth of heavy metal. And, the title track is assuredly evil sounding. And when ol' Kermit-the-Ozz shrieks that "oh please no!" and Iommi lets it rip, this is something special. And it is. This song is complex, powerful, and absolutely terrifying for its time. Then you get something unexpected. A harmonica introduction. This is a fun rock song. The Wizard is a somewhat complex. As to be expected, the riff is superb. I like this song almost as much as the title track, at times, but it is a step down in my eyes.

Behind the Walls of Sleep is a standard rock song. It is short, the riff is somewhat memorable, and Ozzy doesn't ruin everything, or does he? His vocals are rather awful here, and the music isn't even dark enough for it to mesh together. The riff wants to be funky, but it is so empty, as to be rendered weak. This song is only three and a half minutes long, but boy is it mediocre. At least it would be saved (read: completely rendered a waste of time) by the next track...

NIB. Quite possibly the best thing here, if only Ozzy didn't do that pedestrian and childish "oh yeah!" While his vocals are partly why I love the title track, here they just seem weak. And it is a shame, because this is still a very awesome song. The riffing is excellent, and it is heavy. Still an album highlight, and I Evil woman is up next, and already Black Sabbath drop their fun dark metal for a funky Deep Purple rock song that sort of falls flat. The hook is shallow, the lyrics are worse than cock rock, and it is one of the emptiest and weakest songs here. And is it me, or does the solo seem somewhat stumbling? Not complex, not innovative, and not interesting.

So far, it seems for each flash of brilliance, there are two sags of mediocrity (or in evil woman's case, banal rock and roll.) And the next song is a good showing of this. The whole thing is slow, and not in the good way. Black Sabbath try to be too funky. And the solos clearly show Iommi as a work in progress rather tahn the blistering work he would be later known for. The solos feel like spruced up meandering jams, rather than real parts of the songs. They are all interchangeable, and average, at best. So ends another unimpressive "rock" tune. Where is the grit? Where is the fire? Where is anything that isn't a rip off of Deep Purple (where DP did it better).

The album's epic "The Warning" is somewhat intriguing. It starts off as a bluesy funk-laden jam, with some dancing electric guitar, the rhythm plodding on, and Ozzy doing his best Jim Morrison, but he ain't no cool, jack (at least not now) The dancing guitars are nice, and this whole album is a decent enough hard rock affair, but it is nothing amazing. Still, the warning goes on for far too long. That drum solo is just unneeded. This might be seen as progressive, but it falls flat. The production is spotty (understandably so) and the soloing, while nice, is not worth the time. And it has no backing, so it is pretty much a free form jam, and not too bright of one, either. Closing the album is Wicked World. Another Deep Purple style uptempo rocker, and not a very interesting one. They are all competent musicians, but they excelled at writing dark metal, and this early simple rock doesn't suit them at all. The flurry at the end is kind of nice, though.

The boys try to hard to get funky and rocking, but it just isn't in them. Ozzy's vocals are just simply atrocious at times, and Iommi hadn't yet bloomed into the guitar master he is on later, more focused and cohesive albums. Too much spreading out of styles kills the atmosphere on the album. I will give this album **1/2 stars. One for each NIB and Black Sabbath, everything else adds up to the half. They will assuredly go on to do better.

Report this review (#212550)
Posted Monday, April 27, 2009 | Review Permalink
Tom Ozric
5 stars This debut album by BLACK SABBATH may not display much in the way of complexity and virtuosity, but it definately covers the darker edge of sanity with its musically heavy arrangements and lyrics inspired by a rarely approached topic at that particular time - Satanism and the occult. Anyway, all hype aside, this Blues-based waffle offered an amazing show of sensational Riffs, stone-heavy rhythms and a vocalist who sounded like he really meant what it was he sang. This vocalist, Ozzy Osbourne, doesn't really have the world's best voice, but the somewhat 'wasted' sound of his vocals really delivers the sinister vibe of the compositions perfectly. From the graveyard thunder-storm and churchyard bell sounds which open the album, through to the closing notes of the jammed-out 'Warning', the record takes the listener on an adventure which encompasses the darkest corners of the mind. Of course, this kind of 'evil' is to be taken with a pinch of salt, but it works 100% and paved the way for all the future 'Heavy Metal' and 'Thrash' escapades by any band thereafter. Maybe if it wasn't Sabbath, it may have been someone else (Atomic Rooster, Uriah Heep, Budgie, May Blitz...?) but it wasn't and it remains Sabbath. Sure I ramble, but these guys play with conviction, aplomb and certainly know their instrument's capabilities. Guitarist Tony Iommi creates guitar riffs that would-be guitar heroes possibly die for, Bassist Terry 'Geezer' Butler cranks his instrument up to grungey extremes and Drummer Bill Ward obviously knows how to attack his skins with ferocity and accuracy. All the songs play through fairly evenly, with highlights being 'The Wizzard', and there's something special about 'Evil Woman (Don't Play Your Games With Me)'. This is one amazingly fresh album, and should be respected and enjoyed by all who listen. Masterpiece status from me.
Report this review (#217313)
Posted Friday, May 22, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars This is a review of the European version

In which category do we put this album ? PA has got it right. But in the wider context, is it heavy-blues, heavy metal, hard rock, rock or prog ? BLACK SABBATH as a whole is difficult to describe because Tony Iommi tore up all rulebooks and created his own universe. A dark one, it is.

The opening track; the song that gave the name to both this album and the band, is just pure brilliance. One of the best ever songs released in the hard rock/heavy metal bracket. It's blend of horror movies themes, blues and hard rock is unsurpassed to this day. Everyone has copied the formula from this song. In particular the Norwegian black metal scene. I love the blues riffs in the middle of the song. I think it is one of the best songs of all time. Nuff said. The second song The Wizard is a very bluesy song and a contrast to the opening track. Behind the Wall of Sleep gives the psychodelia scene a nod and a wink. A complex song. N.I.B has some cool blues riffs too. Evil Woman is a pop song and the weakest track on this album. The only weak track, in fact. Both Sleeping Village and Warning is two excellent heavy-blues songs.

In my view; this album is a cornerstone of modern music. Pop, rock, heavy metal, jazz.... call it whatever you like. I would put it in the same bracket as the debut album of LED ZEPPELIN. It was recorded in a matter of hours in a back-alley studio and it sold millions over night. It is probably one of the biggest money makers ever taken costs vs. income into consideration. It is also an iconic album, slightly blighted by this Evil Woman track. This is a must-have album.

4.25 stars

Report this review (#218221)
Posted Monday, May 25, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars This debut album by Black Sabbath titled Black Sabbath is not a progressive album, but it has some progressive elements. What they did was take jazz, blues and hard rock to make something that nobody had ever heard before and make one of the most influential albums and become one of the most influential bands across Metal, Hard Rock and Progressive Rock Genres.

Black Sabbath, The title track and one of the best tracks on the album. The riffs in the song are incredible. The mood this song creates is fantastic and really prepares you for the rest of the album. This song really picks up at 4.34, moving into a faster tempo and then finishes with a bang. (10/10)

The Wizard, Starts with some very nice harmonica playing by Ozzy. Its a very bluesy / hard rock song. I also really enjoy the drum fills in this song.(8/10)

Wasp/Behind the wall of sleep/Bassicaly/N.I.B, This song is my favourite song on the album. It has a very cool bass solo to kick off N.I.B. The riffs in this song blow me away, the music is just awesome, its Iommi, Butler and Ward at there best.(10/10)

Wicked World, This song is just another great rock song with jazzy influences mainly on the drums. I really enjoy this song, i love the flat sounding bass under the riff, and the soft guitar part that leads into the solo.(9/10)

A Bit of Finger/Sleeping Village/Warning, The longest song on the album lasting 14.32 minutes long. This song has many great musical passeges and has loads of Iommi solo's, and as like the rest of the album the bass and drum work is great.(9/10)

This is just a awesome album and sould be enjoyed by all. 5 stars

Report this review (#224583)
Posted Sunday, July 5, 2009 | Review Permalink
3 stars It talks about Lee Dorrian of Cathedral. 「They have destroyed the style of music. Their spirits are common to Punk if it thinks about the point to have broken a conservative wall. 」A lot of bands that influenc it from Black Sabbath exist certainly all over the world. However, the age when Sabbath appeared in the world might have been exactly united to psychedelic and the blues-rock to some degree. The background in the age was groping for the situation in which the challenge and they to the flow of the music that overflowed exactly in the world for them were left. Sabbath was seriously opposite to music and their really living might have been a little difficult in provisions it at the time of the debut. The time of which Sabbath debuted was really in the flow of movement and a kind of saturation for them now though a lot of bands that influenced it from them existed. The member of Sabbath guesses that it was not able to do this year that should be done in those situations. Sabbath might not have forecast even it at the debut this time if the activity of the band that succeeded merits and demerits that they left was considered of course. The famous piece of music becomes complete to some degree in this debut album. They can surely easily find the start and the directionality of their histories if it listens to the element of the blues-rock and Rock though they are their prototypes. They advance surely further with the following album when music is directionality and is performed. However, it is guessed that some style had already been established. The flow of "Black Sabbath" and "The Wizard" might be consistently in the prototype of Sabbath. The tune such as "Evil Woman" and "Warning" is tunes that exactly symbolize the age. The flow of the blues- rock was not really limited to them and existed as an element at that time. However, the advancement of the directionality appears remarkably if it is considered that the reason why this had established some style was not taken the time so much by them and moved to the production of the upcoming album. Of course, four music that left it is a legend. And, we easily learn the prototype of Sabbath if it listens to this album.
Report this review (#225877)
Posted Friday, July 10, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars Where to begin? Well, this is one of the most influential albums. Ever. This album is the birth of metal. Sure, its roots lay in the late 60's hard rock and psychedelic bands of England, but this album is what cemented it, and was the first true metal album. Given the numerous sub-genres it has spawned and the thousands upon thousands of metal bands there have been from all across the spectrum, the impact can not be under estimated.

As mentioned above this genre grew out of psychedelic and hard rock, but drew heavily from blues. This would make sense, being that rock also grew from the blues. This album, is HEAVILY blues influenced. It can be heard the in the groovy bass, as well as the riffs and solos. You can also hear the hard rock, in the heaviness and loudness of the guitars and the psychedelic rock in the overall feel, and the solos. So given all that, what makes this the first metal album?

The heaviness. At the time it was unparalleled. Not to mention the slow, grim feeling. The darkness of it. My parents and teachers told me stories of how this band was "the devil's music" and "scary" and how they might be scolded by their own parents for listening to "that Satan music". THAT is metal.

Black Sabbath features some great musicians. There is of course Ozzy, who belts out some great vocals, and really contributes to the dark, bleak feeling. Tony's guitar playing is great and for the time truly heavy. Geezer lays down some of the best bass you will hear, not to mention one of the first uses of the wah pedal on bass. Also, he wrote most of the lyrics. Then of course there is Bill Ward. He just throws down some great sounding beats and is powerful, and lays down perfect fills. Just has a real knack for "feeling" the groove.

Black Sabbath. Perfect intro for the album. It sets up wonderfully for the riff, which is slow, heavy, and gloomy. The bass is funky, the drums complement perfectly and Ozzy's voice is the right fit. It picks up after a few minutes and then throws us into some pretty trippy soloing. You have now listened to the first ever heavy metal song.

The Wizard. Starts out with some harmonica. (How's that's for some blues?) Well it continues. The whole song has a very bluesy feel. A great song and one of the best showcases of Ward's drumming.

Behind the Wall of Sleep. Another bluesy song, this is more of the same, which is a good thing! Another superb song with some of the best bass on the album, and great drumming. The riffs are just so cool sounding and the lyrics are dark and inspired by Lovecraft.

N.I.B. A song told from the point of view of Lucifer, (though it may not be quite what one might expect!) Begins with a wah-wah bass solo. I fell in love instantly. Another amazing song with some good solos. My personal favorite from the album.

Evil Woman. This may be the most blues inspired song on the album. You can hear it in the riffs, the solos, the bass, and the overall song structure and feel of it. Not to mention the lyrics about the "evil woman" and Ozzy asking her to "don't you play your games with me".

Sleeping Village. A slow song, actually quite progressive this one has it all. Slow and bleak. Heavyness. Blues inspiration. Wild, dual solos, amazing bass playing, and perhaps the best drumming on the whole album.

Warning. A ten and a half minute song, this one is also very progressive, (the most on the album). This song spans all the genres I have mentioned above. Some of the solos just blow my mind.

I have not said too much about the songs specifically because you just have to hear this album. I can not stress how huge it is and it's impact on music. Every song on the album is good, and it never seems boring or drags and the musicianship is just superb. I personally give it five stars. However, this is not a progressive rock album and while it gave birth to metal, it has no influence on prog. We all know prog also is more descended from jazz then blues, and jazz is one thing you do not here on this album. While it is a spectacular work, and one of my favorite albums ever, for the purposes of this site, I'd say it deserves a rating of

4 stars

Report this review (#229004)
Posted Thursday, July 30, 2009 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars For the artwork alone, this album could deserve a 10 out of 10. For me it's the most fitting and eerie cover ever done, perfectly capturing the feel and atmosphere of the music. Ominous music if that still needs to be said.

This album kicked off heavy metal for real. Iron Butterfly, Cream, Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin and many others had done huge pioneering work in the years before, but still, something was missing in their hard rock. Despite all the screams and howls, and even with the aggressive playing and huge power chords, it all lacked one defining ingredient: Satan!

Here the horned root of all evil is not only present in the lyrics but also conjured up by the music. The way how to invoke Lucifer is as simple as it is effective: 1. wear the cross upside down, 2. use words such as Satan, evil, doom or devil at least once in every track, and 3. use the tritone as extensively as possible. Simply put, the tritone is a dissonant interval that sounds evil. They already knew it in the middle-ages. It was nicknamed 'Diabolus in Musica' and it was generally avoided till the late romanticists got their hands on it and used it to create darker and more menacing music. The title track is the perfect example of it.

By going in such occult directions, Sabbath openly distanced themselves from the prevailing hippie culture and guess what? It was an instant success and it reshaped the history of rock, or at least a huge part of the rock culture. Every track on this album surges with power and pours out sinister atmosphere. In fact, even the indulgent guitar solo in the lengthy Warning can't spoil the larger than life feel of the album. This is the defining album of heavy metal and probably one of the best in that category ever. Essential to every discography.

Report this review (#251804)
Posted Thursday, November 19, 2009 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Black Sabbath debut album is absolute rock classic.

It happened, that my first contact with Black Sabbath music started from "Heaven And Hell", their absolutely great album ,but from Dio era. I was almost hypnotised and my next supply was the release of the same year - "Live At Last". It was a low quality cover print Yugoslavian LP, and I just decided, that it is a fake. No way - Black Sabbath I loved never could sound so terrible!

Later I found all the story about last Ozzy release ( not last recorded, but last released) of eighties with BS. But at that time I just hated it and it killed all my interest for Ozzy's Sabbath for years.

I discovered Black Sabbath early Ozzy albums much later. And I fell in love with them!!!

Heavy blues-rock with overweight in bass, light jazzy drumming, solo guitar touches here and there, many impossible rhythm changes. Heavy metal is born, but this album gave birth not only for huge army of hairy four-accords bands with screaming youngsters and stereotype guitar solos in places you're waiting for it. They gave a birth for all concept and philosophy of doom, heavy and dark music in it's best!

And still very bluesy, this album is very progressive in key of proto heavy-metal. So free using of rhythm breakes, unusual sound mixing and instruments combinations in when playing! Did you notice, Ozzy has no great voice in classical understanding at all? He just screams, but voice tembre and intonations made him a great singer!

I believe that for some RPI lovers or Marillion fans this album could sound as Devil's work. Can't help, but just remember - rock was born not like sweet candy for middle class teens, so it has many faces. Including the great one like this!

Absolute classic!

Report this review (#255090)
Posted Wednesday, December 9, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars On the 13th day of the 13th month (a cold Smarch day) of 1970, Black Sabbath debuted at #13 on the British rock album charts, a contrivance that naturally built up the mystique around the group and album even further than it would have otherwise been. Fortunately, it didn't really need that extra bit of artificial marketing power, as it's still a good album in its own right. Regardless of my general complaints about how the evil persona of the band was just a matter of playing on silly superstitions, I still have to acknowledge that the band played on them extremely well, as this is easily one of the gloomiest, darkest rock albums that had been made to date. It's largely based in the blues, which isn't surprising given the success of Led Zeppelin and Cream in the time when this would have been recorded, but it treats the blues in a dark, disturbing way that neither of those bands (nor really any others) had really considered before.

Of course, the opening title track has almost nothing to do with the blues, but instead seems to come from the very depths of hell itself. It almost seems ridiculously over-the-top to me in a lot of ways, from the opening distant chimes (with the sounds of rain and thunder, no less) to the three-note tri-tone riff that must have horrified every protestant minister in the UK and the USA, but it's over-the-top in a way that I like. Ozzy's voice is much much deeper than it would be starting with the very next album, but it only adds to the gloom and despair and all that rot. He sounds rather emotionless to me, to tell the truth, but I think that actually helps things here somewhat; it gives an eerie feeling of detachment in the "narrator" portions of the lyrics, and gives a lobotomized horror movie feel to the "OH NO NO PLEASE GOD HELP ME" parts. Add in what I consider very tasteful and moody drumming in the 'main' parts, and an absolutely killer fast part that climaxes in an ending jam, and you have what just may be my very favorite Black Sabbath song.

The rest of the album doesn't really reach "classic" status, but most of it is at least good, and some parts come close to great. A relative highlight comes at the end of side one in the form of "N.I.B.," which everybody assumed stood for "Nativity in Black" but (according to rumor) is supposedly just a reference to Bill Ward's "nibbish" (pointy) beard. The lyrics are rather stupid in their "deeeeuuhhrr I'm Lucifer" vibe, but the riff is really great, and the way Ozzy mindlessly sings a vocal melody that matches the riff (a regular Sabbath trait) gives it a decent intensity. The only significant problem I have with it, truth be told, is that it's not heavy enough: combined with the guitar tone they'd have in the next couple of years, it would absolutely rule, but here it sounds a little more empty than I'd like. Plus, where Ozzy's flat delivery was to the benefit of the title track, it kinda hurts things here (for a comparison, check out Dio's vocals on the Live Evil version of the track).

As for the rest of the album, a lot of it contains, in addition to the already mentioned blues elements, a pinch of pop and jazz elements. Quite a bit of it sounds somewhat like, as is mentioned by tons of reviews of the album, the very earliest incarnation of Jethro Tull, which isn't completely surprising given that Iommi was their guitarist for a very brief time in 1969. For some reason, "N.I.B." is put on the same CD track as "Behind the Wall of Sleep," a silly little "moody" bluesy guitar-vocal call-and-response that is nonetheless quite a bit of fun to listen to (it's reasonably heavy in parts). Furthermore, the 36-second jazzy introduction to this song, entitled "Wasp," is on the same track, but listed as a separate song. Not only that, but a 20 second bass solo called "Bassically" (har har har) connects "Wall of Sleep" and "N.I.B." ... whatever. Anyway, the blues-poppy elements are most prominent in "The Wizard," which has amazingly bad lyrics but is a fun singalong regardless, and in "Wicked World," which plays off of "Wild Child" (by the Doors) in the verses and has a part where Iommi successfully goes for atmosphere by playing a bunch of notes really really fast. Not amazing, but enjoyable.

The first 25 minutes of the album, truth be told, are basically terrific, and I'd probably give the album the title of "best Sabbath album" if the rest of the album lived up to it. Unfortunately, the end of the album consists of the 14-minute "A Bit of Finger/Sleeping Village/Warning," which is not exactly the easiest thing to sit through. The moody introduction, with Ozzy singing over a sombre acoustic pattern, is nice, but then the band sets out to pioneer an aspect of heavy metal that hadn't yet been dealt with; the endless in- studio guitar jam. I like parts of it, even if Iommi isn't exactly an awesome soloist, but holy cow it gets tedious after about 7 minutes or so, and it just keeps going and going. I can see where some might love it, but while I can sometimes enjoy things like this in a live setting, I'm not really up for this kind of jamming in the studio (even if it is often two different solos, one coming out of each speaker, which is kinda neat).

That weakness aside, the album is pretty terrific. If I was a bigger fan of Iommi's guitar solos and of this kind of music in general, I'd probably worship this album. As is, I still like it, and think all fans of rock music in general should like it too. Unless you're 100% Puritan, pick it up.

Report this review (#279755)
Posted Wednesday, April 28, 2010 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Recorded in 3 days and sounding like it, Black sabbath's debut is a raw brutal assault on all thing's wholesome and pure. As soon as the three note guitar riff booms out on the title track, the doom and gloom of metal is felt in it's sheer ominous presence.

"What is this thing..." Ozzy wants to know, and his occult imagery abounds, with witches, wizards and sorcery; a full barrelled onslaught where music would never be the same again. There were occult bands out there in the 70s but Sabbath were in a league of their own. The crawling pace of the track is startling and effective, perap the beginning of death metal is right here. Certainly the themes are typical of the rising metal wave of the 80s; The 3 D's - death, damnation and devil worship would become the standard for metal songwriters for years to come but Sabbath were pioneers.

The real showstoppers are 'The Wizard' and 'N.I.B.' whichare quintessential sabbath tracks, along with 'Evil Woman'. The harmonica compliments the killer guitar riff in 'The Wizard', which ranks as one of my favourite tracks. Once it gets in your head you won't get it out.

Iommi's powerful guitar riffs are dynamic, pristine and sharp; simple but memorable and the enigmatic Ozzy Osbourne permeates each track with his pulsating shrilly delivery. This was the beginning of Sabbath's rise to infamy, and while not as polished as brilliant as subsequent albums, it is still a great debut from one of the most influential metal giants.

Report this review (#285440)
Posted Monday, June 7, 2010 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars "What is this that stands before me?" - probably the most haunting first line ever recorded!

The self-titled debut album from Black Sabbath is a real feast of groove and haunting atmosphere that I'm sure a lot of people are already familiar with, so let me keep it fairly short. This is an instant must-have release for all metal fans together with other milestones like Led Zeppelin's debut and Deep Purple's Machine Head. Of course most of the fans will praise it beyond words and they would have all the right to do so, but to be perfectly clear this material has its share of flaws. The music is soaked in Blues-Rock style of its time, even though the album's atmosphere might make most listeners ignore this fact. The second big flaw is that outside of the opening Black Sabbath and N.I.B. most of the material here isn't all that memorable and you won't be able to instantly recognize the other songs without hearing their supporting guitar riffs first.

Clearly these mentioned flaws aren't enough for me to dismiss this album as merely a product of its time. Even if Sabbath were still developing their sound here, it's the raw energy and youthful passion that makes this release a perfect example of how excellent albums should be done. There's no need for me to talk about the individual tracks since this is one of those releases the relies heavily on the groove factor and, unlike Paranoid, this record can be heard all the way through without the music loosing its momentum, but more on that in my next review!

The debut album from Black Sabbath is an instant classic that should be owned by every Heavy Metal fan out there no matter the sub-genre you might be into. The band would continue to evolve over the course of the next few releases but you'll rarely again hear this much passion and raw energy as you will find here!

***** star songs: Black Sabbath (6:21) N.I.B. (6:07)

**** star songs: The Wizard (4:24) Behind The Wall Of Sleep (3:37) Evil Woman (3:25) Sleeping Village (3:46) The Warning (10:32) Wicked World (4:43)

Report this review (#297513)
Posted Sunday, September 5, 2010 | Review Permalink
2 stars Their first full album showing a very dark pictorial atmosphere on the album cover is very truthful to the actual song(s)-- The opening song is reflective of the cover.

The rest of the album is not in the same theme though and leaves their sound open ended and lacking the distance. It reveals hidden drug use early in trying to become a professional group and a question to the common sense in how the lead vocalist became the lead, meaning they were not that poor or else illicit drug use would not have been a problem.

Overall the album is at most 3 stars and can vary from 1-3 stars. I don't support island individuals in any mainland based distance-- this album will fall short in observing the reference.

In giving the one star it is for collectors only nothing is new here, to say island based individuals came up with a genre of sound is saying mainland individuals were cannibals to our shared ancestors known as servants.

These island individuals are in perversion through all their albums. The reviewers should all get together and call it Island prog related.

Once more this is not progressive music it is performance based-- styled/themed. The problems this group has had are in this reflection. I would exchange their album any day of the week for a home--people will have to put things into perspective. Performances are not legends they are a continuation of the show.

The vinyl copy is two stars while the compact disc lacks full sound and receives one star.

Report this review (#305507)
Posted Monday, October 18, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars An album of sheer sonic beauty, revolation, and, for some, pure terror. The album has been controversial for many years due to the fact that it may have kick-started the genre that we may all know by now as "Heavy Metal." The album itself, musically, is excellent. Now progressive in any way, im not so sure. There are hints in the psychedelia in some songs, but it did have a heavy impact on the world. That's all that turely matters.

1.Black Sabbath - An absolute metal classic. The song has an immortal riff, based on the "tri-tone"...which the guys in sabbath, obviously high or tripping, said "Yeah, let's use the tri-tone in most of our songs, man!" but overall, it worked out well with most of their albums. The track is heavily experimental at the time, and is one of the most haunting tracks that anyone could come across. The bleak vocals of Ozzy Osbourne in their immaturaity make it a potheads dream, with the heavy playing of Tony Iommi and Geezer Butler set the standard for all metal artists. There is a bit of swing in the drumming, thanks to Bill Ward and his fine ability to create complex rhythms out of scratch. A must hear. (10/10)

2.The Wizard - Another fine track, even if it is less heavy than the opening. The energy is always in this track, as suggests in the harmonica of Osbourne. Fast bass playing and furious guitar playing set to the max, this track is like a load of adrenaline to the brain. The lyrics are about a large magical figure, who sends an odd aura to the world. (9.5/10)

3.Behind the Wall of Sleep - The opening riff suggests a much darker song, though it turns to be a more standard bluesy type of track. Still, even in simplicity, is one of my favourite tracks. A steady drumbeat via Ward is always present and is totally grooving with the fuzz bass and ripping guitar. Great vocal melody from Osbourne as well, a truely mystic track. (9.5/10)

4.N.I.B. - Another turely immortal track, with an opening bass solo that can send anyone to groove space. The song itself isn't very complex, but offers some great interplay between guitar bass and drums, with a very trippy chorus to make the song even better. The lyrics don't really mean to much, as they are about love, as with many songs at the time of this release, but they are more dark and sinister, from Satan's point of view, and can send chills down anyones spine. A track that is epically epic, so to speak. (10/10)

5.Evil Woman - This is one of the reasons the track isn't really essential. The track is very direct, though has no sense of energy at all. The cut has a steady bass line that is groovy, but is delivered poorly, as with the vocals and guitar playing. The drumming seems almost standard and does not show much to emphasized the bass playing. A flop, in most respects. (6/10)

6.Sleeping Village - A more medival type of intro, almost as haunting as the title track, though cannot match the energy, as the track seems almost flat. The lyrics are very fine, as Osbourne delivers them with a heavy sense of confidence. The track then turns into a standard bluesy affair, and does not go anywhere. Nice try though, but could have been a little more. (7.5/10)

7.Warning - Grooving psychedelia at it's best. At over ten minutes, the cut has some ultra trippy bass playing, guitar solos that will send you into space, and vocals that will make you travel into vortexes unknown. Despite some good sections, the song still dosent sound as good as the original artist intended and the lyrics overall don't really fit with this type of trippy, dark and gloomy music. (8/10)

Though there are absolute classics and absolute duds, one cannot deny the impact that Black Sabbath had bestoed upon the world after the release of their epic debut album. A 4 stars for a fine and drug induced album, as things would only get better for them after this album.

Report this review (#318293)
Posted Saturday, November 13, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars This album has been quite rightly credited as a huge early contribution to the heavy metal genre. But this sound has influenced the stoner rock and goth genre's too. It was lyrically and musically very "dark" for the time, freaking out some young listeners and horrifying their parents!

The title track opens with the sound of heavy falling rain, a ringing church bell and light thunder in the background. The guitar, bass and drums kick in at a slow tempo, already sounding quite sinister while the lyrics concern a "figure in black". It is considered a great classic by many fans. "The Wizard" is the second track and a great song with singer Ozzy also on harmonica. The blues influence in the band's early sound is evident which was typical for most rock bands of that period.

Other highlights for me include "N.I.B" and the creepy "Sleeping Village". This is a great landmark album. The cover may trigger off some goose bumps too. Beware of the figure in black! The album was originally released on Friday 13th, which was a very suitable date for this record. It is definitely worth checking out for those interested in exploring the classics. 4 stars.

Report this review (#391334)
Posted Tuesday, February 1, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is by far Black Sabbath's greatest album and one of the greatest rock albums across any rock genre progressive or otherwise. I originally had the European version with "Evil Woman" and later bought the US version on CD with "Wicked World". Regardless of which version, every track on this album at a masterpiece level. Black Sabbath and The Wizard were the first two tracks I ever heard from Black Sabbath and to this day are the two tracks that I believe are their best. The imagery and mood that Black Sabbath sets with the opening track is unequaled on any other rock album I have ever heard and the The Wizard is one of my alltime favorite hard rock/metal tracks that I have played thousands of times. NIB is another brilliant Black Sabbath track that I never get tired of listening to. This album for me is up there with King Crimson's In the Court of the Crimson King in terms of creativity and importance as one of the most influential albums on future generations of music. Unfortunately future generations could never reach the level of artistry and musical skill that is found on this album. There really aren't enough stars for this album. Its that good.
Report this review (#410460)
Posted Thursday, March 3, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars Ok, many people may consider Black Sabbath a band with no strong relations with progressive music, but their importance and musical influence is undeniable. And, of course, I am a fan of this band !

Considering what was said above, I will make this review more as a hard rock than a prog fan. By means of musical contends, I think listeners must look to what is this album about, not to its heaviness or lack of progressive intense and well structured moments.

The greatest attention must be paid to the opener, a song that turns heavy only after a long, slow but intense overture. The story of rock was never to be the same anymore after that. Many people may propose Led Zeppelin or Deep Purple as heavy metal creators, or even go back to Cream or Hendrix; but the real roots of a whole way of creating and playing music which was to be called heavy metal meets its real beginning with this band and this album.

Black Sabbath does not have musicianship of Purple or Zep, but they are strongly important. A symphonic prog fan may pass all his life without knowing Black Sabbath whole discography, but this album must be known at least by means of understanding rock and roll critical moments on its history.

Report this review (#434538)
Posted Saturday, April 16, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars Previously a blues-rock band by the name of Earth chugging away in an era where blues-rock bands were hardly thin on the ground, and not really distinguishing themselves from their sound (heck, Iommi jumped ship briefly to play in Jethro Tull before departing to make way for Martin Barre to take that post), Black Sabbath took on a new musical direction inspired by horror fiction, tapped into the spirit of the end of the hippy era, and within a few months let loose this monster of an album, inspiring both traditional heavy metal and several other subgenres with it - doom metal and stoner metal in particular. Led Zeppelin had been active before them, and the Stooges had a raw and nasty guitar sound, but it took Iommi to teach the world what metal truly meant from the very first devastating, Earth-shattering, portentious riff on the title track. Coupled with a competent rhythm section and Osbourne's soul-in-torment wails and a new genre was born.

The Black Sabbath debut is a territory often revisited, and very occasionally equalled, but surely never beaten in terms of sheer inspirational glory. The pace might be a bit slow for fans of speed metal and styles influenced by it, but if you can take a slow riff or two, then you need to hear this album. If you don't like this one, then you're probably not going to enjoy half the metal out there either.

Report this review (#458174)
Posted Wednesday, June 8, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars 10/10

Incredible, mind-blowing, powerful, potent but also sorrowed by a very personal and avant- garde dark atmosphere surround masterpiece debut album for this unrepeatable 4-piece combo, and in part inventors of heavy metal.

Hard, heavy rock had never sounded so dense, obscure and marvelously intriguing 'till Sabbath put out this.

Besides the merit of introducing darkness and -why not- fear to metal, they both precisely and extremely loud and strongly mold progressive blues-rock bases as they pleased, creating a totally new sound and interpretation.

No particular tracks to over point here, every single one is a gem, from beginning to end.

An essential album for everyone who's interested in rock evolution and its greatness.

Report this review (#459194)
Posted Saturday, June 11, 2011 | Review Permalink
Prog Sothoth
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Continuing my little streak of albums released in 1970, it's becoming apparent how the changing overall climate of the times in the western world was also affecting the state of music, particularly rock music. The 60s were over, and that colorful culture of peace, love, hippies and Twiggy waned while war and rioting continued and an air of an uncertain future seeped into the conscience of the musical landscape. As some legendary rock stars died or went insane from drug and alcohol abuse, the masses turned their ears towards soothing soft rock and folk. Some of it was white bread dreck, but the biggest release of the year, Bridge Over Troubled Water, offered a sense of hope during troubling times, and certainly deserved its acclaim. But on the complete opposite end of the spectrum, something else was brewing...


Unlike Art's sensitive warm croon concerning the aformentioned Bridge Over Troubled Water title song, that line above is bellowed with a sense of insane terror by a man who sounded weathered, battered and possessed. It's a perfect opening verse to announce to the world a new form of music, darker, louder and more sinister than any preceding it in rock & roll. From the foreboding sounds of thunder and rain to the crushing finale, Black Sabbath's title track is a monster predicting doom and despair for those still clinging to hope for a dying era. It's brilliant, and is undoubtedly one of the most important songs released in 1970, and can be considered a diving board as opposed to a bridge over "troubled water".

An interesting thing about this album is that although in retrospect it is now considered the first true unabashed heavy metal album and thus one of the most influential rock albums ever, there's really not a whole lot of bands metal or otherwise that actually sound like the contents of this album. Their second album eventually sprung thousands upon thousands of imitators and those influenced by it, but Black Sabbath's debut has such a heavy dose of blues permeating throughout it that after all these years it still sounds somewhat unique. Cover tracks like Warning and Evil Woman are straight up blues songs done 'heavy', and Wicked World has a kickin' blues riff during the verses that sound like Hendrix on a bad bender (my Japanese version of this album contains both Wicked World and Evil Woman). The stone-heavy yet groovy The Wizard throws in a harmonica to give this piece an almost charming feel, and Behind The Wall Of Sleep has some funkiness to it. Really, only the title track and the vicious N.I.B. come across as the standard bearers for hellish dark metal music, in which they succeed beyond all means.

Ozzy's vocals sound different here than he would in later albums. He actually gives off an older and bluesier vibe (apparently he had a cold during these takes) and it works quite well for the material, particularly during Sleeping Village where he sounds like a demented old man.

It may not constitute "prog" in any traditional sense, but as a 'prog-related' rock album, its a landmark and a true original, even to this day.

Report this review (#567016)
Posted Saturday, November 12, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars I was quiet amazed when I found out that no one had noticed yet that the sound of Black Sabbath is a downright copy of Blue Cheer. The Blue Cheer made their debut in 1968 called Vincebus Eruptum, which is two years earlier then Black Sabbath. Blue Cheer had a sound as dark and heavy as this record: well, maybe even a bit more heavy.

A difference between Black Sabbath and Blue Cheer is that the Black Sabbath is less blues influenced. I say less, because this debut of BS is still a lot blues influenced: In the Wizard there are still mouth harps used and N.I.B. and the whole second side is still written with the blues chordschemes. Another difference is the image Black Sabbath used on their folding. This satanic imagery was new with witches and reversed crosses. The necklaces Black Sabbath wore on stage and dark clothes were also the same as with Blue Cheer. This debut record of Sabbath is the only record with these satanic imagery till Sabbath Bloody Sabbath.

I'm more fond of the first side then the second. The first side has the great doomsday sounding titletrack and some other nice tracks. The second side has some long solosections, but they seem directionless and naiev like BS needed to fill the record. Well, this record has some historical value, although it was not as groundbreaking as some has mentioned before me. The follow up record Paranoid is a more steady effort with more solid songwriting like "Warpigs".

Report this review (#711510)
Posted Friday, April 6, 2012 | Review Permalink
Conor Fynes
4 stars 'Black Sabbath' - Black Sabbath (7/10)

Although I would likely point the finger at King Crimson's "21st Century Schizoid Man" as the harbinger of 'heavy' in heavy metal, there's absolutely no denying what a massive impact Black Sabbath's self-titled debut had on the formation of the genre. With that context in mind, there's no wonder why it's still considered a classic by many, forty-odd years after its release. It is a lumbering, ugly hard rock record with strong ties to the blues and the occult, and though Black Sabbath do not impress near as much here as they would with the essential "Paranoid", its historical significance alone warrants a listen.

"Paranoid" would solidify the band's take on heavy metal, but the rich distortion and 'evil' tone have been nailed from square one. At this point, I might liken Black Sabbath to Led Zeppelin's first two albums. Though rooted in the American blues style that swept through the British hard rock scene at this time, the aggression has toned up several notches. In the case of Sabbath- and arguably what most sets them apart- is their devotion to a dark atmosphere. The infamous 'tritone' is upheld from the very start; the title track "Black Sabbath" opens with an unforgettably doomy riff, and vocals to foreshadow impending damnation. The title track sets a standard for doom metal that many bands still compete with.

The distorted riffs are a constant throughout "Black Sabbath", but the songwriting feels more at home with its time period after the title track. "The Wizard" through "Sleeping Village" are all rocking tracks that make no effort to hide the heavy blues influence. Of these, "The Wizard" and "N.I.B" stand out, the former for its deep harmonica work and fantastic riffs, and the latter for its superb bass work, courtesy of Geezer Butler. "The Warning" brings Sabbath back to a more epic format, relying heavily still on bluesy riffs, but taking the structure a step further, and giving Iommi plenty of time for fiery solos that draw a parallel to Jimmy Page's lead style.

Although I loved his vocals on "Paranoid" and have been impressed by some of his performances thereafter, Ozzy Osbourne feels like the weak link on the debut. His nasal vocal tone fits the eerie atmosphere, but his voice feels unrefined and unkempt. Of course, this fits the description of the rest of Black Sabbath, but in the case of Ozzy's voice, it doesn't bode well. With the exception of the first two tracks and the catchy "Evil Woman", the vocal melodies feel tacked on without too much thought.

It's not the masterpiece that Black Sabbath would craft later the same year, but for the fact alone that they were able to revolutionize hard rock music within a single album, the debut deserves to be heard. Tony Iommi takes centerstage in everything the band does here, and though the songwriting does not feel as consistent or focused as they would for the two following records, the band's gritty sound and influence cannot be underestimated.

Report this review (#775605)
Posted Thursday, June 21, 2012 | Review Permalink
4 stars It's got sort of a push/pull relationship with me. Yes, Black Sabbath's debut has innovation, history, or at least a big shock factor to those who first heard it (I don't think the subject of Satan had been exploited to that extent in that time period). I hear it now, especially after coming from later, better works like PARANOID and SABOTAGE, it sounds like the band needed to work a few more kinks out in order to make the material outstanding. It's probably why PARANOID has a higher critical regard; the band took the formula of BLACK SABBATH and fine-tuned it into a heavy metal monument.

But as a heavy rock album heavy on the riffs, BLACK SABBATH is still a juggernaut in its own regard. Tony Iommi just has this way of making guitar riffs instantaneously memorable, even if you've heard a song for the first time. Fans still commonly regard ''NIB'', ''The Wizard'' and the title track as classics, and the guitar riffs have plenty to do with that. There's still more to it than that.

For the longest time, I had no idea that the song ''Black Sabbath'' was partially inspired by Gustav Holst's ''Mars-Bringer of War'', and I had known the Holst piece since age 15 and first heard the Sabbath piece a few years later. This essentially proves that this album is much more than simple riffing. Listen closely to ''Wicked World''; there's more of a jazz influence than you were initially expecting. Both the title track and the beginning of ''Sleeping Village'' set up doomy atmosphere, almost leaving the listener in goosebumps. And there's the cover of Aynsley Dunbar's ''Warning'' which is the closest Black Sabbath ever sounded like, get this, Led Zeppelin.

The Black Sabbath debut does have unplugged holes, but the total rifferama is worth owning this rock landmark. Even if many CD re-releases botch the track listing.

Report this review (#885116)
Posted Monday, December 31, 2012 | Review Permalink
4 stars Suddenly I find my self not so sure about the rating on this one. Is it four stars or three? Let me tell you why. The first Sabbath album ranks, and rightly so, as one (or THE) birthplace of metal. I agree. The song "Black Sabbath" is such an amazing track which set the bluprint for things to come, with it's unworldly heaviness and atmosphere. One can argue forever about the heaviness and whether or not other bands were equally heavy, during or prior this release. It all falls flat, in my opinion. Heaviness is one thing (I mean think of Bakerloo, High Tide or Blue Cheer) but the thing that makes "Black Sabbath" such an outstanding and thoroughly unique track for it's time is the context, the darkness and the way it all falls in place. Black Sabbath may or may not have been the first playing really heavy but they certainly was the first and most successfill when it comes to showing the world the future of hard rock in all it's dark and ugly (meant in a positive way) shape.

There are a few other tracks worthy of mentioning. "The wizard", "Village of Sleep" and "N.I.B" are also great tracks of mystery and occult leanings. "N.I.B" stands as the favorite track from this album with it's distorted bass and desperate vocals. Simply outstanding.

The remainder of the album is blues-infused hard rock, albeit of the greatest quality but remains just that, blues-infused hard rock. Really, one does not always consider the fact that Sabbath was a blues band and obviously brought their music with them, no matter if they'd already written "Black Sabbath". Half of the album is metal to be and the other half is bluesy hard rock in the vein of so many other contemporaries of the day.

Well then... Is it a three or a four star album? Apart from it's apparent influence on hard rock and metal I think the music is really outstanding. There is a youthful inspiration and joy in the darkness of the album I like and feel alot of love for and the title track itself is an obvious classis, worthy of five stars alone.

Sit yourself down, put on your headphones and listen to opening intro of falling rain and be transported into the realms of Sabbath and things to come.

Report this review (#928428)
Posted Tuesday, March 12, 2013 | Review Permalink
4 stars When this album was released I was 11 years old and I must have gotten hold of it at around the age of 14. It worried me a great deal back then as I was worried about the subject matter and in many aspects I found it to be demonic. Having travelled a long way from being 14 years old now I know that the demonic side of the album was purely for effect and for the music and I appreciate the album for what it is. Since then I have heard music that is "demonic" and I must say that I don't enjoy it at all. This album was essentialy the beginning of the Doom Matal scene and to a large extent the Prog Metal scene as far as I'm concerned and there is no doubt that Black Sabbath influenced most of Metal music in the future. I would never have lumped Black Sabbath under the "prog related" umbrella here in that at least 3 of their albums were progressive to todays standards and when their albums were initially released they were progressive in no uncertain terms - so I personally would have Sabbath under the "prog metal" banner. Ozzie's voice suits the music on the album although he improves a great deal down the line. What can we say about Iommi - he is a legend and he had a penchant for writing strong, moody, hard rock riffs.Many would have given up their guitar playing dream after an industrial accident involving losing a portion of their fretboard finger but this guy toned his guitar down to allow for easier press and used a thimble to assist him in his playing. The album itself is very atmospheric and in those days was almost the heaviest sound to emerge from the Rock music arena.The Black Sabbath album is by no means my favorite album of the band and I rate it with three stars with an added star for the amount of influence this album has had on the whole Metal scene - it is good but way better was on the way from them.
Report this review (#938338)
Posted Tuesday, April 2, 2013 | Review Permalink
5 stars A fine album, and seldom does a band start a career with such a fine offering. I am a bit ambivalent about BS, and basically I only really enjoy their 3 first albums, but this is the one I enjoy the most. It's not that the musicianship is extraordinary--Iommi doesn't show much virtuosity, although he has tones that belong only to him. I suspect that the most competent musician in the band is actually Butler. Still, what I like very much in the first album is that we can feel what influenced them, and I can smell a lot of Cream in this album.

This a fine example of the whole being more than the sum of its part. It's sometimes cheesy (and Osbourne could sure lay it thick at times), sometimes a bit too easy, and sometimes the musicianship sounds suspicious, and still, despite all this, the album remains an experience to enjoy and behold. It has the magic spark that makes me want to listen to it again and again, in the same way I enjoy listening to Led Zep, The Who or Zappa. It may not strictly be prog, but most progressive rock music lovers should enjoy it; in my opinion, this recording has the wonderful gift of not generating listening fatigue... 4.5 / 5 for me.

Report this review (#1113352)
Posted Sunday, January 12, 2014 | Review Permalink
siLLy puPPy
PSIKE, JRF/Canterbury, P Metal, Eclectic
5 stars The band, debut album and first track are all called BLACK SABBATH and it all begins with the pitter-patter of raindrops like fallen angels from the heavens above in tandem with the peal of church bells before the doom and dread inspired snail-paced guitar riffs introduce the world to a totally new player in the musical arena. Clearly the hippie flower power days and utopian idealism that dominated the latter half of the 60s had imploded and in its wake a new musical cynicism that BLACK SABBATH pioneered and offered the world, was dropped onto unsuspecting ears with a nice little slice of the occult complete with the blasphemous and utterly profane for the day and age.

After the initial unhurried guitar riffs run their course, the music kicks into some of the very first music ever recorded that i would call true metal. Sure there were plenty of other bands that developed aspects of metal such as the The Kinks developing the distortion, Blue Cheer upping the ante, Hendrix for adding some adrenaline and creative mojo to the whole thing, but it was BLACK SABBATH who practiced some musical magical alchemy and made metal out of lesser pseudo- and non-metal elements.

The whole enchilada that is! You know of what i speak! The kinda music that is loud, distorted, in-in-yer-face and drenched with attitude, despair and accompanied by brutal riffs (well, by the standards of the day!) and a true rockin' rhythm section. This must have been quite the album to shock the parents of the day. Oh the horror of good Christian parents who felt they went wrong with Timmy! Just look at that scary, nightmare inducing album cover! 45 years after its release, this is still some dark and ominous visuals and the music? Perhaps not as wicked as it sounded then but still has a mysterious aura to it.

Although this sound has been refined and branched out into a million different directions, nothing compares to the debut album by BLACK SABBATH as far as conjuring demonic filled atmospheres that tread heavily on the listener's psyche and sense of well-being in the world. This is true horror music of the first degree and one that Rosemary's baby would surely enjoy as demonic lullabies.

The sound that BLACK SABBATH created wasn't really some brilliant mastermind plan in the making. Like many things in music and history in general, it was a by-product of one fateful day in Tony Iommi's life when at the tender age of 17, he lost the tips of his middle and ring fingers in an accident on his very last day working at a sheet metal factory. Having been utterly devastated and ready to write off his guitar playing career altogether, he was reminded by a co-worker of a similar situation in the jazz world which after an even worse tragedy, Django Reinhardt took his disability as an opportunity to reinvent a musical genre.

The rest is history. This single day would transpire in the form of Tony Iommi putting a heavy emphasis on down-tuned fifth root power chords and riffing over more traditional classical interpretations of rock music. Years of honing these new musical innovations led directly to the SABBATH sound and unintentionally created a whole new rock genre that has only mushroomed into the vast universe that made its way into the 21st century.

Of course, SABBATH started out like many other bands in the world of the heavy psych and blues rock and even had the less wicked band name Earth in the beginning, but that name was already taken and the band opted for a more sinister name came from the title from a 1963 movie, an idea i hear was actually from the Vertigo record label. The inspiration from the movie and the newly adopted title led the band in the direction of horror music as they saw an opportunity to create a huge contrast from the dominate styles of the era.

On this first release they still have many ties to their bluesy past as heard, for example, on the second track "The Wizard" with the harmonica intro and bluesy guitar riff but even on these early tracks that are clearly connected to the earlier years, SABBATH manages to steer it into a sinister power chord frenzy punctuated by Ozzy Osbourne's efficacious poetic lyricism that despite relentless accusations isn't about practicing Satanism, witchcraft or evil-doings. It is on the other hand all about observing and reporting those Earthly horrors done by others in the form of musical story telling. Oh yeah, they definitely took a cue from the progressive rock world too while not clearly falling into that particular arena of music and developed a style that had progressive elements albeit used sparingly such as the multi themed tracks (like "A Bit Of Finger / Sleeping Village / Warning") that are in reality several tracks sewed together.

This was the very beginning for SABBATH and although not far from success and all the financial benefits that ensue, at this point the band were on a budget and as a result this album was recorded in a single day lasting only 12 hours and only another day for mixing. After all was said and done, the band relied on their sheer ingenuity and intuition to make this album come to fruition and i have to say that even though i wasn't experiencing this album at the time it was released, almost 50 years later i find this to be worthy of all the fuss and rage that has been heaped upon it.

It is ground zero for the explosion of the dark side of music that would waste no time diversifying and expanding a millionfold into everything from the obvious heavy metal and punk genres to even the world of dark cabaret and beyond. I never rate albums according to influence alone. They deserve recognition of course but don't necessarily make great listening experiences for yours truly. When it comes to the debut by BLACK SABBATH everything works for me. It is an excellent listening experience all the while making you feel like you are dipping your feet into the primeval pools of sonic torture that was essential in the big bang of the whole heavy metal experience and beyond. SABBATH!!!!!!!

Report this review (#1475578)
Posted Monday, October 12, 2015 | Review Permalink
Magnum Vaeltaja
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Black Sabbath's debut is influential, no doubt; pretty much every metal artist around today will cite the title track as an inspiration. Unfortunately, I think that the album doesn't have a ton going for it beyond that characteristic, its influence.

Black Sabbath is hailed as being the first distinctly metal album but personally I believe that, the first track aside, it fits more in the camp of dime-a-dozen dark, heavy blues bands that were popping up around the start of the 1970's. Songs like "The Wizard" and the first side's medley are really just heavy blues songs and Tony Iommi's solos are typical blues rock fare. The album's redeeming feature, in my opinion, are the songs on side two. "Wicked World" is slightly more progressive than the rest of the album, while still keeping in the heavy spirit, and the second side's medley features some of the best work by all the band's members.

"Black Sabbath" laid out a blueprint for the band, and countless others, to follow but there's a lot of fine-tuning (and Tony Iommi de-tuning) that would have to happen before their magnum opus "Paranoid" could be achieved.

Report this review (#1503237)
Posted Thursday, December 24, 2015 | Review Permalink
4 stars REVIEW #10 - "Black Sabbath" by Black Sabbath (1970)

It is a fact that Black Sabbath is one of the most influential bands that shaped the genre of heavy metal. Considered by many to be the first ever "true" heavy metal album, their eponymous debut is a unique mix of blues and psychedelic rock with a never-before heard level of darkness, gloominess, and raw power. Whether it be the unique voice of vocalist Ozzy Osbourne, or the powerful guitar riffs by Tony Iommi, this album despite not being vehemently prog, still would go on to inspire many prog rock bands, and therefore deserves recognition as part of the genre.

Opening up the album is the added sounds of a thunderstorm, deep in bass and ominous in nature - a foreshadowing of what is to come in the opener track "Black Sabbath" (5/5). Suddenly the listener is hit hard by a loud, slow, heavy guitar opening. Utilizing a simple tritone riff inspired by Gustav Holst's "Mars: Bringer of War" movement (the same piece that inspired King Crimson's "The Devil's Triangle" on their second album released the same year), it sets the tone - dark and forbidding. A reprieve opens up to Osbourne's vocal strength - lyrics based upon a supernatural encounter by bassist Geezer Butler coupled with the vocal emotion makes the song even more haunting. The song goes from fast to slow before hitting a climax with an Iommi solo before abruptly ending. A simple song in scope, yet immensely influential. Next up is "The Wizard" (4/5), a Tolkien-inspired song utilizing harmonica and a faster paced tempo. With a good groove, this song is solid, and the harmonica is a great addition to make the song unique in comparison with the other material on the album. Then comes the heavier "Behind the Wall of Sleep" (4/5), a shorter piece which establishes the tone for the final song of the first side, the hefty "NIB" (5/5). Beginning with a bass guitar solo titled "Bassically" on American releases of the LP, this goes on for about a minute before ending and giving way to an infectious, powerful Iommi riff. With first-person lyrics from the point of view of the devil falling in love, the verses are followed by the same epic Iommi solo - elaborated upon in the song's final hoorah. A six- minute wall of metal, this is the highlight of the album, and one of the band's many classics.

Side two differs depending on the UK and US releases of the LP. In the band's native UK, the listener was given the band's first ever single, a cover of the band Crow's "Evil Woman (Don't Play Your Games with Me)" (2/5) which, despite being historically significant, falls extremely short to the other material on the album, due to its inherently commercial nature. Recommended to the band for being a radio-friendly song, the band was not very excited about recording a cover of the song, but went ahead with the wishes of their producer. On the American release however, the listener is given the far superior "Wicked World" (5/5) from the B-side of their first single. A song with cynical lyrics of the world (a sign of what would come on the band's second breakthrough album), the brutal riff coupled with the lyrics make this song a classic, although it is far less known in the Sabbath catalogue. The next track, "Sleeping Village" (5/5) offers a calm reprieve from the action on the album, with ominous lyrics that utilizes great imagery before opening up into a raw Iommi riff that segues into the closing track of the album "Warning" (4/5). An extended ten-minute cover of the Aynsley Dunbar Retaliation song, this is the only real example of prog you will find on the album. A much heavier touch on the original, coupled with a very long improv showcase with wild drums and guitar riffs, it is not a great closer to the album, but certainly ambitious and raw.

Black Sabbath's debut introduced the world to what would eventually become the diverse genre of heavy metal. Panned by critics, it also drew criticism to the band for "Satanic imagery", stemming from the lyrical content of some of the songs, as well as the inverted cross featured in the LP's gatefold cover (a decision by the cover artist, not the band). Over the course of the band's history has this criticism existed, despite the fact that every member of the band is a Christian. As a huge Sabbath fan myself, I am very happy with the content on this album - except the Crow cover. Everything else on this album is gritty, rough, and ominously beautiful - from the opener to the closer. It may not necessarily be an example of prog rock, but there is no debate as to whether this album was monumental in giving rise to the modern prog bands we see today. Many rock bands cite Sabbath as their inspiration, as the band, along with other pioneers such as Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple, brought rock and roll into a new era, one which is considered to be a golden age. Any rock fan should give this album a listen out of historical significance alone.

OVERALL: 4.42/5 (B+)

Report this review (#1648978)
Posted Friday, November 25, 2016 | Review Permalink
2 stars Music fads come and go so quickly that it's hard to keep up with a lot of them. That's why when Black Sabbath firmly established the genre of heavy metal (whether they solely created it or not is a different debate for another time) back in 1970, it's amazing that's it's stood the test of time and is still going strong today as one of the most popular genres of music in the world.

With that said, I'm not a massive Black Sabbath fan. I respect their achievements, and rightfully so, as the genre I hold so dear wouldn't exist without them, but that doesn't change the fact that their music just doesn't quite "do it" for me.

I can appreciate how revolutionary this was back in the day, nothing as heavy, dark or doom-laden had come before. However, by the time I came around to owning this CD, it sounded rather dated and didn't quite measure up to a lot of the stuff I was listening to at the time (I was born in 1987 to put that into context). Ozzy Osbourne's vocals are very primitive and somewhat annoying to listen to (story goes that he was only invited to join the band as he owned a PA), and Tony Iommi's guitars were never quite heavy or interesting enough for me.

That being said, there are one or two decent tracks, most notably 'N.I.B.' and the title track, but in all honesty I could think of thousands of other songs I'd rather listen to.

When it all comes down to it, it's just a matter of taste. While this is arguably one of the most influential albums of all time, I respect it for that, it's just not something I enjoy listening to. The record's status as a classic is certainly not in any danger due to my opinion, and hell, if you think this is blasphemous, you should check out my review for 'Paranoid'...

Report this review (#1785079)
Posted Wednesday, September 20, 2017 | Review Permalink
Prog Leviathan
4 stars If I were a young person in 1970, listening to Black Sabbath would have made me lose my mind. As a sort-of young man in 2017, listening to Black Sabbath makes me feel like I missed out on something great. The musical transformation of the "classic" era is unlike anything experienced in my generation (autotune included), and Black Sabbath's music is a significant part of that. This album, their debut, remains a seminole work that backs up the band's epic legacy in the rock landscape. It's very dark, very heavy, and very, very good.

It's reputation and influence aside, Black Sabbath is quite interesting and enjoyable. The opener is bleak, ominous, and menacing, with dire desolation giving way to savage riffing and a proto-metal guitar chug. One of the first lyrics is "Satan's sitting there, he's smiling. Watches those flames get higher and higher." If that doesn't make a statement, I don't know what does! Ozzie sings his heart out, for what it's worth, because, you know ... it's Ozzie, and while his voice is mediocre, his delivery is not.

Then, how about some blues-inspired hard rocking about a wizard banishing those same demons the first song just summoned up? "The Wizard's" off-kilter riffing and take on the conventional rock sound of the time is yet another example of the group's creativity. Side note, the recording quality remains outstanding--even after all these years. Geezer's bass lines shine through perfectly, despite the fact that the band's playing in general is definitely rough around the edges. His work and soling is a standout for me. How wonderful to listen to an album where each member can be listened to without struggling because of poor production.

The nearly 10 minute combination of "Wasp/Behind the Well of Sleep/Bassically/NIB" has a variety of twists and turns that ends too soon, while "Wicked World" throws muck on any remaining vestiges of the peace movement (and sort of makes me glad I wasn't young in the '70's now ... sorry guys).

The songs aren't masterstrokes--they're creative, for sure--but for Sabbath it's all in the delivery and tone. The band goes for something unique, and nails it.

Add to that a monstrous, solo-filled grand finale, and Black Sabbath makes a powerful impression. This album legitimately belongs in every rock fan's library. If you're younger than me and wishy-washy about picking up a classic rock work from when your dad was a kid: don't be a jackass. Black Sabbath is the real deal from an era when rock bands actually rocked. Give me a single tuned-down Iommi power chord over every one of Page's ripped off riffs.

Songwriting: 3 - Instrumental Performances: 4 - Lyrics/Vocals: 3 - Style/Emotion/Replay: 5

Report this review (#1839192)
Posted Tuesday, December 5, 2017 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars This is where Black Sabbath begins, and hence the first really metal album. Hard to believe this little record that was rather inconspicuous would have such a long lasting effect on the music world, not only with heavy metal, but also progressive metal.

Again, we have an album that has been reviewed so many times, that if you haven't heard it, you feel like you have. By the way, if you haven't heard it, then you need to understand that it is extremely influential. Even though the boys had a lot of room to grow from this album, and grow they did, it is near perfection and it also set the bar. Of course "Paranoid" the next album, raised the bar even higher, but before this album, one would be hard pressed to find an album that was as heavy as this one.

The title track is considered the first doom metal song, and the way it starts with the sounds of a storm and a tolling bell, then suddenly a very hard and heavy riff that is not easy to forget. Imagine yourself in 1970 and hearing this, and wondering what level of Hell you would find yourself in when it was over. Then, throughout the album, the heavy dark music doesn't really let up much. It invades the senses and makes you want to bang your head.

Of course, through history, Black Sabbath would be known for their infectious riffs and dark music, but they would also be innovative, not settling on just being a loud band, but also producing music that would continue to challenge, change and surprise. Even with the heaviness, there is an abundant and effective use of dynamics, meter changes and multiple melodies within each song.

All of these things are apparent, even in the first album, which comes across as rather raw and somewhat unpolished, but that only makes things better. Yes there would be better albums to come, but it is hard to replace this one as being the thing that would kick start an all new genre. Black Sabbath's debut album is 100% essential. Not quite yet a masterpiece, though, but that would come along in the next album. But it is still an album that should not be missed.

Report this review (#2055601)
Posted Tuesday, November 13, 2018 | Review Permalink
5 stars Review # 97. Black Sabbath's dark image (that would follow them forever), started here: On Friday the 13th of February 1970 with the release of their first self titled record. On the cover, we see a picture of an old house which seems to be abandoned, and a pale figure dressed in black at the front. The whole cover is like a picture that was taken from a horror movie. (The house on this cover was a windmill, situated somewhere on Thames river). In the original version, the cover had a gatefold with an inverted black cross and a poem written on it.

But let's move on and take a closer look at the songs here: The album opens with the famous Black Sabbath. Rain falls, thunders strike, and the sound of the church bell ringing setting up a dark and gloomy atmosphere, before the heavy sound of guitar and bass hit you in the stomach like iron. Ozzy with his odd voice sings about 'a figure in black' which points at him. (The lyrics of this song are based on a nightmare Geezer Butler had). One of the most "bizarre" songs ever recorded, which became a "must" in all their concerts during their long career. Next, comes the song N.I.B, in which the lyrics are written from the point of view of Lucifer. The song Behind the Wall of Sleep was inspired by the American writer H.P Lovecraft and his story with the same title. As for The Wizard, it was inspired by the wizard Gandalf from the Lord of the Rings books, written by J.R.R Tolkien. The songs Evil Woman and Warning are cover versions of some old Blues songs.

According to Tonny Iommi, the band recorded the album in just one day. They went to the studio, played all the songs live, recorded them and left. The only 'luxury' they had, it was that Ozzy was singing from another booth. Upon its release, the reviews that Black Sabbath received, varied from bad to terrible! My opinion is that the critics and the media of the time were unable to handle such album because it was something they were listening to for the first time and they had no idea how to react to it. Here are a few examples: "It sounds like a very bad version of Cream", or "It is like Vanilla Fudge playing a tribute to Alister Crowley". Despite the bad critics, the album sales were not bad at all! It reached at No. 8 at the U.K charts, and at No. 23 at the USA charts. With the passing years, the critics started giving better and better reviews, until it gained its position as one of the most important and influential albums in the history of Rock music. After all, let's not forget that Heavy Metal has its roots exactly on this record! (And the rest of the Black Sabbath's albums that followed)... But I still don't understand why a site like PA includes bands like Black Sabbath. Not that it bothers me though... I have been listening to them since I was 14 years old, so I literally grew up with their music. Impossible to be objective! 5 stars!

Report this review (#2115577)
Posted Sunday, January 6, 2019 | Review Permalink
4 stars Ok, many people may consider Black Sabbath a band with no strong relations with progressive music, but their importance and musical influence is undeniable. And, of course, I am a fan of this band !

Considering what was said above, I will make this review more as a hard rock than a prog fan. By means of musical contends, I think listeners must look to what is this album about, not to its heaviness or lack of progressive intense and structured moments.

The greatest attention must be set in the opener, a song that turns heavy only after a long, slow but intense overture. The story of rock was never to be the same anymore after that. Many people may propose Led Zeppelin or Deep Purple as heavy metal creators, or even go back to Cream or Hendrix; but the real roots of a whole way of creating and playing music which was to be called heavy metal meets its real beginning with this band and this album. The other songs ? At least very catchy, with Tony Iommy beginning to present his enormous creation of riffs and Terry Geezer Butler showing HOW to perform thundering bass lines.

Black Sabbath does not have the musicianship of Purple or Zep, but they are strongly important. A symphonic prog fan may pass all his life without knowing Black Sabbath whole discography, but this album is to be known at least by means of understanding rock and roll critical moments on its history.

Three and a half stars, rounded to four

Report this review (#2768754)
Posted Monday, June 6, 2022 | Review Permalink

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