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The day is Friday February 13th 1970, and on this day the first metal album graced us all, and changed the course of musical history.
At first this album was lambasted by critics, or just plain ignored, quite odd for an album the usually pops up on “greatest album” type lists. But for some people this was the musical equivalent of a breath of fresh air after a much too long Greatful Dead concert (for some, literally).
Of course this isn’t a leap from The Beatles to say, Death. This album contains pretty much blues derived music, which puts this closer to bands like Cream, or Led Zeppelin than a Judas Priest. Then what separated this from its popular counterparts? Subject matter, while some preached love to achieve peace, Sabbath wrote of the harsh realities of living in a worn torn country. They hinted at being much darker and mysterious than they really were, but in reality the biggest theme is society and life.
Being the first of its kind it is easy to understand that this is not perfect, but more radical (for its time at least). But being perfect wasn’t the point, this music was meant to bludgeon the listener into an almost hallucinatory state, while reveling in its own dazed, druggy state of consciousness.
And who could forget about the cast of characters that made this landmark album? Still amateurish 20 year olds this still has all the trademarks of classic Black Sabbath from Ozzy Osbournes a hellish shrieks, to the morbid riffs conjured up by Tony Iommi, and the thundering bass backbone provided by main lyricist Geezer Butler, with Bill Ward filling out the bad with a loose jam oriented drums. Who knew that these kids would one day become the idols of millions and the godfathers of not only a musical genre, but a culture, and this album started it all.
As for the material on this album, it’s classic. The songs blur together due to the lengthy jam quality to the music. Each riff pounds at and never lets up, until the next equally powerful riff takes over. And as for highlights, it’s all a highlight! Listen to every moment, take it all in, let in run through your veins.
Overall this is absolutely a classic groundbreaking album, and for that reason alone it should belong in your (and every metal-head’s) collection. And if that wasn’t reason enough, get this because it’s good, there’s substance throughout this album that lives strong today. Absolutely essential.