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Black Sabbath - Black Sabbath CD (album) cover


Black Sabbath


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4.24 | 1034 ratings

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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.

russellk | 3/5 |


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