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Black Sabbath Black Sabbath album cover
4.24 | 1030 ratings | 58 reviews | 51% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
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Studio Album, released in 1970

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Black Sabbath (6:22)
2. The Wizard (4:25)
3. Behind The Wall Of Sleep (3:37)
4. N.I.B. (6:07)
5. Evil Woman, Don't Play Your Games With Me (Crow cover) (3:27)
6. Sleeping Village (3:46)
7. Warning (Ansley Dunbar's Retaliation cover) (10:33)

Total time 38:17

Bonus Track on 1986 CD release:
8. Tomorrows Dream (Live) (3:09)

Bonus track on 1996 remaster:
8. Wicked World (4:43)

Bonus CD from 2009 expanded remaster:
1. Wicked World (B-Side Of Evil Woman) (4:45)
2. Black Sabbath (Studio Outtake: Regent Sound Studios, 17/11/69) (6:22) *
3. Black Sabbath (Instrumental: Regent Sound Studios, 17/11/69) (6:13) *
4. The Wizard (Studio Outtake: Regent Sound Studios, 17/11/69) (4:46) *
5. Behind The Wall Of Sleep (Studio Outtake: Regent Sound Studios, 17/11/69) (3:41) *
6. N.I.B. (Instrumental: Regent Sound Studios, 17/11/69) (6:08) *
7. Evil Woman (Alternative Version: Regent Sound Studios, 17/11/69) (3:47) *
8. Sleeping Village (Intro) (Alternative Version: Regent Sound Studios, 18/11/69) (3:45) *
9. Warning - Part 1 (Studio Outtake: Regent Sound Studios, 18/11/69) (6:58) *

* Previously unreleased

Total time 46:25

Line-up / Musicians

- Ozzy Osbourne / vocals, harmonica (2)
- Tony Iommi / lead guitar, keyboards
- Geezer Butler / bass
- Bill Ward / drums

- Rodger Bain / producer, jew's harp (6-unconfirmed)

Releases information

Artwork: Marcus Keef

LP Vertigo ‎- VO 6 (1970, UK)
LP Warner Bros. ‎- WS 1871 (1970, US) "Evil Woman" substituted for "Wicked World"

CD Castle Communications ‎- NELCD 6002 (1986, UK) With a bonus Live track
CD Essential ‎- ESMCD 301 (1996, UK) Remastered by Ray Staff w/ both "Evil Woman" & "Wicked World"
2xCD Sanctuary Records ‎- 2700817 (2009, Europe) Remastered by Andy Pearce with bonus CD including 9 tracks mostly unreleased

Thanks to Sean Trane for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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BLACK SABBATH Black Sabbath ratings distribution

(1030 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of rock music(51%)
Excellent addition to any rock music collection(36%)
Good, but non-essential (10%)
Collectors/fans only (2%)
Poor. Only for completionists (1%)

BLACK SABBATH Black Sabbath reviews

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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Sean Trane
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?

Review by russellk
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.

Review by ZowieZiggy

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).

Review by Guillermo
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.

Review by Seyo
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR 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

Review by Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR 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

Review by Chris S
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR 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.
Review by 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.

Review by Eetu Pellonpaa
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR 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.
Review by obiter
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..

Review by UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR 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 itīs core itīs 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 wasnīt 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" itīs understandable the band didnīt 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, itīs 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)

Review by Flucktrot
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.

Review by 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: ****

Review by 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.

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
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!

Review by poslednijat_colobar
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!!!
Review by 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.
Review by Kazuhiro
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.
Review by JJLehto
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

Review by Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR 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.

Review by snobb
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR 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!

Review by tarkus1980
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.

Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR 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.

Review by Rune2000
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR 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)

Review by Warthur
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.

Review by Prog Sothoth
COLLABORATOR 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.

Review by 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.

Review by Sinusoid
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.

Review by GruvanDahlman
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.

Review by siLLy puPPy
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!!!!!!!

Review by Magnum Vaeltaja
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR 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.

Review by 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

Review by TCat
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR 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.

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