(TheBRHM.com) Formed in 1968, Black Sabbath is a band that holds the distinction of being the first heavy metal band. It will be argued that other bands did a heavier rock sound before Sabbath—and that’s true—but none of those bands really hit the sound that would be foundation of heavy metal.
If anything, I’d say other bands were more of the roots or the building area for the house of heavy metal. The band would release its debut, self-titled album in 1970. Originally, I wanted to do this album as part of a “Best of the Decade” but the debut definitely deserves its own look.
As always, we look at the A-side and B-side of older debut albums separately and look at the strength of the opening track. Let’s dive into Black Sabbath from 1970!
A-Side of ‘Black Sabbath’
The A-side kicks off with the titular track “Black Sabbath” which introduces listeners to the heaviness of metal but also introduces the slower, foreboding pace and tone of doom metal. It’s an iconic song that shares “Everyone knows that song” honors with another Sabbath tune: “Iron Man”.
It’s a great opener to the album and sets the tone for the songs to come. Of the songs on this album this was the best possible opener. “The Wizard” is a bit more up tempo without being a total tonal shift for the album. While a good tune, it’s one of those songs that kind of rides and just bleeds into “Behind the Wall of Sleep”. That aside, “The Wizard” is my favorite Ozzy vocal performance on the album.
The third track is another good addition to the A-side. It’s not my favorite of the first four tunes but it fits the overall tone of the album and the approach of peaks and valleys in tempo. The listener isn’t battered with doom metal or simply given a bluesy hard rock album. There’s some of both on Black Sabbath while being mostly metal.
Closing out the A-side is “N.I.B” which is probably my second favorite track of the A-side and the album. It’s a song that would really bump the B-side up but it’s a strong closer for the A-side. “N.I.B” has a bit more umph without the speed. It’s chunky as hell but rides at the same time.
Also, I’ll give this song the nod as my second favorite vocal performance by Ozzy Osbourne on this album.
Now, the B-side never really grew on me as a whole. I didn’t dig the song “Evil Woman, Don’t Play Your Games with Me” but Ozzy and Black Sabbath do a cover that isn’t out of place on the album. It’s similar to covers that were on some Judas Priest albums to where I don’t care for the song but I appreciate the performance.
“Sleeping Village” is a song I often skip since it just does nothing for me. I tend to skip instrumentals unless the album is a neoclassical or shred project. This isn’t an instrumental but if you’ve got Black Sabbath on in the background, this is a song that can come off like an instrumental.
The song that closes the album, “Warning” is another cover and the better of the two. I’m not the biggest fan of extremely long songs—and this one isn’t as long as songs would become in doom metal—but this was enjoyable. It gets to a point where it simply goes and you’re along for the ride.
Strength of the Opener: “Black Sabbath”
The titular track is the superstar of the album. It could be argued that it wasn’t the best track—I even mentioned it wasn’t my favorite on the debut—but it established the band’s main sound on the album and going forward with Ozzy behind the mic. This song was a sample of the dark fantasy that Black Sabbath could cook up for listeners.
Also, the storytelling in song form saw everyone in top form. The strings and percussion did their thing and really set the atmosphere but the vocals really pulled the whole thing together. While the other songs are a mix of varying degrees of hard rock and heavy metal, “Black Sabbath” just delivers some 70s metal for your ears and is a great intro to the sound without being too intense.
Staff Writer; M. Swift
This talented writer is also a podcast host, and comic book fan who loves all things old school. One may also find him on Twitter at; metalswift.