Ah, lauded be thy beginnings, oh black tainted and (kind of wannabe) occult Black Sabbath! I still remember the hazy-daze atmosphere way back in time when we listened to this first Black Sabbath album. These were the times where the future still looked bright and full of woozy promise. And we heartily welcomed these renegades from England with their truly unique sound.
And sure enough, the band recorded the album in a drug-induced fog, as the lore goes. A bit like the whole music industry at that time.
Yet, Black Sabbath actually went to the dark side of the moon in a manner of speaking. Whereas the other potheads rode the wave of peace and love into oblivion. And I love the band for it. 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 themselves to this day.
Black Sabbath, the self-titled record, was the parting shot of a great band. Later albums have been, and still are, a living example of a superb music career. Albeit with many line-up changes, re-unions and break-ups, and so on and so forth. But this, of course, adds spice into this sabbatical soup that makes up the essence of this band.
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.
Let’s face it, Black Sabbath – the record – still firmly tries to base itself in Hard Rock, but does not really succeed. Later records went all the way along that metal road. Which led to that infamous lore that Black Sabbath should be guilty of the creation of all sorts of styles, but – surely – metal.
And, somewhat unfortunately, the whole production suffers from what they thought should be great Hard 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.
But all of the above notwithstanding, their tune was already stellar in the ’70s. Even if somewhat flat in sound, yet with riffs and solos that – in some instances – rival what we hear today. With some Status Quo-esque atrocities that really should not be there at all. And with all the leeway we can possibly give them.
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 I am told. But we still don’t know who the figure is in the picture, even if it looks eerily like Ozzy himself.
However, now we know where AC/DC got the idea of a bell tolling for Back in Black much later. Well, they will probably deny that one vehemently as well. Make no mistake.
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, even they would have never imagined. This record still is and will remain on my personal playlist. One that I revisit, whenever I had enough softie stuff or too much metal, whereas the latter is rarely the case.
Record Rating: 7/10 | Label: Vertigo | Web: Official Site
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