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Even the first wheel was kinda squarish - 76%

UltraBoris, August 21st, 2002

Well kids, here it is. The first EVER heavy metal album. Sure it doesn't sound like much when compared to, say, Eternal fucking Nightmare, but still, you guys have to realise that on February 13th, 1970, when this album was released, there was really NOTHING out there that was this evil, this fucked up, this... HEAVY!

Oh yes, Tony Iommi has managed to lay down some of the most morbidly twisted riffs ever, and combined with Geezer's ideals for lyrics, we have here a true masterpiece of Pure Fucking Satan.

But, it's not perfect. Some of the song structures leave a bit to be desired, and Ozzy's voice is average at best, and just pretty damn crappy for the most part. The album really can't make up its mind sometimes if it wants to be evil or not - sometimes the lyrics are too happy, at other times it's the music. But when it gets it right... oh good lord, hold on to your Bibles, kids, Satan's coming and he don't look all too pleased.

We start off with THE song - Black Sabbath. This is definitely the highlight of the album - it starts off slowly, with a monster doom riff (to anyone else that wants to write a slow crushing riff, let's face it, the be-all end-all of slow crushing riffs has been done. No way to improve it.) and then speeds up by the end, by the "Satan's coming around the bend" part. Yes, some of the lyrics are just a little bit silly, I must admit. But the overall effect is incredible... from the slow heavy stuff, to the galloping guitar-and-bass as Vic mentioned (listen carefully in headphones, it's two different riffs on two instruments that are distorted to sound kinda similar) part, and then the final cacophany of despair. "Oh no, no nono!!!"

Next is "The Wizard", which, if you were to just look at the lyrics, you would think this were a silly power metal song. It's about wizards and dragons and little prancing elves. Well, not really. It's also pretty happy lyrics, which kind of stand in stark contrast to both the first song, and also the music of the second. Again, even the first wheels were kinda squarish - this album isn't an allout focused attack, but it is the FIRST, and you can't deny that.

We go back to being evil with "Behind the Wall of Sleep". More riffs here, including a bit of an intro. Then, "NIB" is probably the most generally famous song on this album, it's got more Satan lyrics, though the way the song is structured, it sounds just a bit upbeat. "Oh yeah!" The only really heavily morbid part is the middle part... "Your love for me has got to be real..."

Then, "Wicked World". Some versions have "Evil Woman" - mine has "Wicked World", so we will comment on that. Another song that's generally okay, with some decent riff construction - I have to keep reminding myself, this is 1970, not 1976, and that way it stands out more.

Then we have the last song - I can never remember where the songs tend to track themselves, as I have a tape copy, so I don't know where what starts and what ends... there is "A Bit of Finger/Sleeping Village/Warning" - we'll just call it that. I think I know roughly where they begin and end, but one can't be too sure, especially with the first two. The first two are mostly instrumental, sounding like a really tripped out jam session (good heavens, could you believe it probably WAS a really tripped out jam session???) - lots of riffs here being worked, with some great soloing too, but somehow it's a bit incoherent. Sorta like Priest's "Rocka Rolla" album - it's like, guys what are you DOING? Play a song already.

And the song is "Warning", which ends up being a twisted love song. Not evil in the Great Satan sense, though.

So overall, what's there to think about this? Some really great ideas are being developed here - Tony Iommi's riff construction is like nothing ever seen before, and that is the greatest contribution to heavy metal. "Guys, this is heavy metal." But it is pretty inconsistent - if you're going to be vicious and Satan, you may as well be that 100 per cent of the time... I'm not sure why it took music that long to realise it... it really wasn't until Sabotage (1975), Sad Wings of Destiny (1976) and Stained Class (1978) that we had an album that grabbed you by the balls at the beginning and didn't let you go.

But hey - a first time for everything!