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Black Sabbath by Black Sabbath

Black Sabbath

by Black Sabbath

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In the beginning of heavy metal there was Black Sabbath

Indeed there was. Trying to put this album in its historical context is difficult (for me, since I wasn't born at the time) but it is definitely worth doing. It is quite unbelievable that it was recorded late in 1969 and released early in 1970, to say nothing that it was reportedly taped in a single day and the mixing finished in another. Now, the heaviest and most aggressive music at the time was the glorious Led Zeppelin II (1969) and the almost equally stunning Deep Purple in Rock (1970). Leaving musical value aside, Black Sabbath completely blows away these albums in terms of sheer aggression and heavy sound. If the beginning of heavy metal can be simplified to one album, this is it. The fascinating thing is that it has a lot more to offer than mere historical significance.

The album contains seven songs, five of them Sabbath's own plus two covers (''Evil Woman'' and ''The Warning'', the latter an epic 10-minute track with Tony in fabulous form). Two of the original compositions have become classics and concert favourites since: the slow, dark and brooding ''Black Sabbath'' and the only slightly more cheerful ''N.I.B.'' These are rather compelling combinations of powerful riffs, exhilarating solos, eerie bass and psychotic drums. The black magic and satanic stuff in the lyrics – which Black Sabbath were immediately, and wrongly, associated with – may be inane and puerile, but with such music who cares? Less impressive but still greatly advanced for their time (at least as far as heaviness goes) are ''The Wizard'' and ''Behind the Wall of Sleep''.

Considering the time and circumstances of recording, the album is rather nicely produced and very well recorded. The balance between the instruments is excellent and so is the clarity of the recording. The only caveat – more of a surprise than a disappointment – is Ozzie's voice. It sounds much, much more different than in any of the later albums, rather lower and harsher, but it suits the music admirably.

It goes without saying that the album is indispensable for Sabbath fans – and let nobody who doesn't like it dare call himself a Sabbath fan. As for the searchers of Sabbath's ''definitive album'', they are just a little better, if at all. The most remarkable thing about Black Sabbath is that their first five albums were astoundingly different, ranging from the bleak and menacing Black Sabbath to the elaborate and sophisticated Sabbath Bloody Sabbath. Last but not least, lovers of more modern and/or more complex heavy metal definitely should avoid the original Black Sabbath in general and their debut album in particular. At best, try something from the years with Dio and Tony Martin, but please spare us, the fans of the old-time rock, comparisons with Korn or Limp Bizkit (whatever the spelling). For my part, the magic of Black Sabbath lies in the well-nigh unique combination of aggression and simplicity, spiced up with some of the most memorable guitar riffs and solos I have ever heard. This Black Sabbath delivers splendidly. ( )
4 vote Waldstein | Sep 30, 2015 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0793567777, Paperback)

(Guitar Recorded Versions). Black Sabbath features exact note-for-note transcriptions in notes and tab of all the songs on the recording that began the very successful careers of Black Sabbath and Ozzy Osbourne!

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:20:59 -0400)

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