February 13th 1970 marked a game changer in the history of rock music with the release of Black Sabbath’s first album which for many, marked the beginning of the heavy metal music genre. Some will argue heavy metal began before this with bands such as The MC5, Iron Butterfly or Led Zeppelin but the Black Sabbath sound was altogether heavier and darker and their self-titled first album is unquestionably one of the most influential heavy metal albums ever made and a source of inspiration for the scores of bands who followed in their wake.
Of all the albums to emerge from that period none were quite like it. Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple had a distinct blues influence to their music, a cranked up version of the British blues bands of the mid to late sixties, But lead guitarist Tony Iommi created haunting riffs and solos to the rhythm of Geezer Butler and Bill Ward’s bass and drums and the unique vocals of Ozzy Osbourne.
What would follow was a succession of albums throughout the seventies which never truly received the plaudits from the critics I and many others felt they deserved. By the time of Sabbath Bloody Sabbath and Sabotage their song structures had become more complex and creative but at its heart remained the driving force of a heavy metal sound and Iommi’s thundering guitar parts. They were laughingly misunderstood by the media and disconcerted parents of teenagers alike, they were widely accused of devil worship and inciting young people to the cult of black magic and drug taking when in fact they were four mates from the same part of the English Midlands who knew nothing of the music industry, would find themselves routinely ripped off by dodgy managers whilst finding the availability of illicit pleasures too frequent and hard to forgo. Nothing Black Sabbath did was manufactured, their sound and lyrics were a product of their upbringing and that, I believe is what made them so unique. They never quite seemed to believe their luck and that fact always escaped their detractors.
The first album is a wonderful debut by any standard but consider it at the time of its release and what else sounded anything like it, The fact is that nothing did and let that be their abiding legacy.
Categories: The Music Lounge