BLACK SABBATH – Black Sabbath


Vertigo Records
Release date: February 13, 1970

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This is the first album from the pioneers of Heavy Metal. Their self-titled debut is one of the most groundbreaking albums of all times. Led Zeppelin released a Heavy Rock album the year before Black Sabbath made their debut, but Black Sabbath truly stands as the first-ever real Metal album.

What is really amazing about the recording itself is that they recorded the whole album in one day. They simply played all the songs as they were, and then Tony Iommi would do guitar overdubs, Ozzy Osbourne would do vocal overdubs, and that was it. This album was the start of a career that has influenced a countless number of bands, including well-established bands like Guns ‘N Roses, Black Label Society, and Slipknot, to new bands like Viking Skull.

The album is more Blues-inspired than the later albums would turn out to be, and the lyrics mainly deal with darkness and black magic. The opening track “Black Sabbath” starts with the sound of a thunderstorm and church bells, followed by a slow and sludgy guitar riff from Iommi and a howling and complaining vocal from Ozzy. It has a dark, Gothic overtone and the lyrics help make this song even darker, before the beat eventually speeds up and ends with a guitar solo.

Next is the Bluesy, harmonica-driven rocker “The Wizard.” It starts off with a harmonica solo played by Ozzy before the riff becomes a bit crueller. It’s much lighter than the previous song, and has more of a toe-tapping rhythm to it. What’s so special about the riff is that the guitar, bass, and drums sound exactly the same on every tune. This song has also been covered by, among others, Judas Priest.

“Behind The Wall Of Sleep” reveals Geezer Butler’s abilities to experiment with the bass lines outside the main riff. The song reaches its climax when the riff goes over in a bridge with psychedelic guitar sounds and Ozzy singing “Take your walk of remorse, take your body to a corpse …” before the song slides into a brilliant guitar solo by Iommi.

Though many say that their next album, Paranoid, is their most important album, Black Sabbath laid the foundation for the Metal genre. You can actually hear much of Paranoid’s intensity in “N.I.B.” The intro to the song is a bass solo called “Bassically,” which allows Geezer to show some skills on the bass. Its groovy riff, the catchy drum beat, and chants of “Oh yeah!” make it, possibly, the memorable moment of this album. The solo part is a double-tracked solo where the two guitar parts are similar, and crossover each other. This is a technique Iommi has used a lot on later albums. “N.I.B.” is actually a reference to a nickname the other band members had for Bill Ward’s beard at the time, a “pen nib.”

The last three songs are all Bluesy Hard Rock songs, although the lyrics are dark and doomy here too. “Evil Woman” is a cover song that was originally done by a band called Crow, and is the first song Black Sabbath recorded. Finally, there is “Sleeping Village” and “Warning” (“Warning” is also a cover song, originally done by Ansley Dunbar’s Retaliation), which are two Blues Rock songs that kind of merge into each other. They consists of groovy Blues riffs and some humming bass notes, and goes off like a 14-minute long jam that Iommi dominates with wild and wailing guitar solos.

Geezer Butler plays the bass steady and manages to keep it interesting throughout the whole album. It doesn’t drown in the mix and you can hear every single tone as well, without it overpowering the guitar. Bill Ward does a great job on the drums, and is especially remarkable on “The Wizard,” “Sleeping Village,” and “Warning.”

Black Sabbath is one of the most influential albums in Rock/Metal history and should be the cornerstone for all Hard Rock and Heavy Metal collections.

Tony Iommi – Lead Guitar & Keyboards
Geezer Butler – Bass
Ozzy Osbourne (originally credited as Ossie Osbourne) – Vocals & Harmonica
Bill Ward – Drums


  • Kristian Singh-Nergård

    Kristian is one of the partners at Metal Express Radio. He is Metal Express Radio's Marketing and Communications Manager, and on occasions also reviewer and photographer. Based out of Oslo, Norway, Kristian is a bass player and owner of the independent record label Pug-Nose Records. He has been a proud member of the Metal Express Radio crew since 2006.

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