Black Sabbath – Black Sabbath (1970) – Review

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We always like to reach back into the distant past when the first Black Sabbath album saw its light of day! These were the days when the future still looked bright and was full of woozy promise. And we heartily welcomed these renegades from England with their truly unique sound.

As the lore goes, the band recorded their self-titled album in a drug-induced fog, in a 12-hour session over one single friggin’ day. A classic album recorded on a live set, no less. In other words, they just went in, played, and created a global hit. A record that starkly resounds to this day with its devil’s music.

Black Sabbath actually went to the dark side of the moon in a manner of speaking. When all the other bozos and potheads rode the wave of peace and love, they named the devil. Literally. Then they lit up those guitars and hit those solos like no other band in this time. And 1970 was fertile ground for a few great albums.

Black Sabbath, the self-titled record, was the parting shot of that stellar career. Throughout all these years, they always kept to their side of the road, regardless of what the mainstream happened to be. And this led them to tremendous successes that sustained them to this day.

Need proof? The re-united Ozzy Osbourne, Geezer Butler, and Tony Iommi just released their cheekily eerie newest record 13. One with loads of added crunch that really took us aback.

But let’s face it. Black Sabbath – the record – still firmly tries to base itself in Hard and Blues Rock, but does not really succeed. It does explore new roadways to rock’n’roll that were truly revolutionary. A bad boy sound, if you will. Which led to that infamous lore that Black Sabbath should be guilty of the creation of all sorts of styles, but – surely – metal.

It is – however – undoubtedly true that much of that stuff on this record clearly boasts a certain metallic tinge. A tinny echo of what we eventually might call metal today on a much more developed plane of existence. And – truly – Paranoid, its sibling from that very same year, already sported a much more metallic taste than this one ever did.

The centerpiece of the album is also the very first track called … Black Sabbath. The thing that stands before me, somewhere. Right in front of the Mapledurham Watermill in the UK, so they tell us. But we still don’t know who the figure is in the picture, even if it looks eerily like Ozzy himself. Doesn’t it?

However, now we also know where AC/DC got the idea of a bell tolling for Back in Black much later. But they will probably deny that one vehemently as well. But hey, the evidence is overwhelming.

Now and somewhat unfortunately, the whole production suffers from what they thought should be great Hard and Blues Rock back then. To be fair, technology was not as advanced as today for recording, mixing, or mastering. This may explain some of the tinny sound that we often find on the record. Despite the fact that the Ozzy whine was and still is unmistakably that.

Many of the tracks are – most unfortunately – somewhat influenced by the psychedelic bullshit the ’68 generation flower-power people played back then. But fear not. What today sounds totally weak, some 50 years ago Black Sabbath was the epitome of a harsh and almost satanic soundscape. And I daresay, the band got viciously attacked over it.

But all of the above notwithstanding, their tune was already stellar in the ’70s. Even if somewhat flat in sound by today’s standards, Iommi‘s riffs and surely the solos are truly remarkable. This is high-level guitar prowess that is still as good today as it was back then.

Other noteworthy tracks are The Wizard, Sleeping Village followed by Warning. The other songs in between are typical ’70s style of bluesy Hard Rock, with some Heavy Metal indicators. But not more. 

These were – indeed – great beginnings for this band. And for sure Black Sabbath‘s highway to greater fame that even they would never have imagined.

This record still is and will remain on my personal playlist. One that I revisit, whenever I had enough softie stuff or get fed up by too much metal, which – to tell you the truth – is rarely the case.

Ed’s note: The review made it successfully onto the first ever Intermittent Best Of and our Old’n’Tasty series. Congrats!

Record Rating: 7/10 | Label: Vertigo | Web: Official Site
Release date: 13 February 1970

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