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Ground zero for true metal. - 100%

Warthur, June 17th, 2011

Previously a blues-rock band by the name of Earth chugging away in an era where blues-rock bands were hardly thin on the ground, and not really distinguishing themselves from their sound (heck, Iommi jumped ship briefly to play in Jethro Tull before departing to make way for Martin Barre to take that post), Black Sabbath took on a new musical direction inspired by horror fiction, tapped into the spirit of the end of the hippy era, and within a few months let loose this monster of an album, inspiring both traditional heavy metal and several other subgenres with it - doom metal and stoner metal in particular. Led Zeppelin had been active before them, and the Stooges had a raw and nasty guitar sound, but it took Iommi to teach the world what metal truly meant from the very first devastating, Earth-shattering, portentious riff on the title track. Coupled with a competent rhythm section and Osbourne's soul-in-torment wails and a new genre was born.

The title track sets the scene for the rest of the album, and the subsequent tracks are more or less all cast in the same mold; the only time the album can really be said to speed up very much is for N.I.B., and even then the song progresses with a heavy, plodding march rather than a lightning-fast speed metal gallop. The cover versions of Evil Woman and Warning are so infused with the band's own personality that you could believe (as I did for years!) that they were Sabbath originals.

The Black Sabbath debut is a territory often revisited, and very occasionally equaled, but surely never beaten in terms of sheer inspirational glory. The pace might be a bit slow for fans of speed metal and styles influenced by it, but if you can take a slow riff or two, then you need to hear this album. If you don't like this one, then you're probably not going to enjoy half the metal out there either.