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Black Sabbath - Black Sabbath CD (album) cover


Black Sabbath


Prog Related

4.24 | 1034 ratings

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Prog Sothoth
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.

Prog Sothoth | 5/5 |


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