Monday, June 02, 2008

Black Sabbath – Black Sabbath

Black Sabbath exploded onto the scene with one of the most ponderous and darkest tunes of all time as the title song of their first album. Slow almost to the point of absurdity, Ozzy still managed to create a melody over the back drop as Tony Iommi actually defines heavy metal guitar. Before it gets to be too much, though, Tony takes off on a speedier riff and the tune turns into a head-banger. This was a far cry from the blues-bar-band that they had been before bassist Geezer Butler came up with this wild new direction!

One of their most underrated yet greatest songs of their career is “The Wizard”. Another super-heavy riff – not that dissimilar to the one used by Blue Oyster Cult on “Cities on Flame with R’n’R” – which the entire band pummel mercilessly. Drummer Bill Ward is wild on this with almost off time beats that still propel the power - while Ozzy sings his semi-bizarre occult lyrics over the chaos. A great, flat-out aural assault!

What follows is an almost 11 minute medley of 4 song segments – “Wasp”, “Behind the Wall of Sleep”, Bassically” and “N.I.B.”. This starts as a mid-tempo, heavy, head-banger – the usual good stuff from the Sab. I assume from the title that the “Bassically” section is Geezer’s bass solo that leads into the monsterous “N.I.B.” – super ponderous and rockin’, with heavy riffs from both Geezer and Tony. Iommi soars over the beat with twin lead guitars at the end, showing that he was among the best of the time.

“Wicked World” starts as a high-energy guitar work-out, before cutting the tempo in half for another head-banging outlet for Ozzy. Good, rockin’ stuff!

The final song of the 5 song (!) album is another medley, starting with the finger-picking “A Bit of Finger” (possibly a nod at the fact that Tony sliced off several fingertips and fit them with homemade prosthetics). Of course, the loud, over-driven guitars come in with another Brontosaurus-worthy riff which he then stretches out and solos over. I’m not sure where “Sleeping Village” or “Warning” actually starts, but at some point, the song comes down enough for Ozzy’s vocals and, once again, I am impressed by the fact that he manages to fit a melody over the licks. This medley twists and turns with varied segments and even starts and stops to allow Tony to burst out a flurry of notes before returning to the original or a new theme.

This was one helluva debut and truly is one of the originators of heavy metal!