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Words That Grow Read Tomorrow And Beyond - 90%

Sweetie, October 13th, 2021

Years ago, I actually found myself liking this one a lot less than I do now only because of the hype around it being the first of the first. But the truth is, beyond Black Sabbath being the ignited spark that brought everything we all know and love as heavy metal, there’s way more to it than just that. Maybe the title track is something we could chalk this up to. Since it’s all anyone ever wants to talk about, we get this feeling that it’s the only important part. Thankfully that just isn’t the case.

Matter of fact, “Black Sabbath” might be my least favorite song off of the debut. I personally think more magic lies in “Behind The Wall Of Sleep” than anything else. Just because of the way it really emphasizes that whole “the spaces between” factor. Let alone the fact that this riff is so catchy and utilizes the ascend/descend tactic of the same notes rearranged so wonderfully, but the bassy fills that gap Iommi’s solos to the several different verses brings it to heights greater than anything the band did that year. Everyone by now knows how important the bass and drum combos were to this record; it’s all over the place. But this is where it reached its peak performance.

Moreover, a record as loose and chaotic as this one being able to hold the same exact vibe the entire run of it is fucking masterful. Like, that song is made up entirely differently from the opening title track, and between it you stick “The Wizard” which is another step away, but they all fit together like a perfect jigsaw puzzle. “The Wizard” is probably my second favorite track because of the contrast in heavy riffing with the upbeat harmonica and barrage of bass/drum combos holding it up. Add in the extreme shift in tone after the intro where Ozzy starts singing and you’ve got yourself a banger and a half.

That’s all without even mentioning any of the combo songs that run together as a giant noodly epic, making up at least half of the content on Black Sabbath. It used to bother the shit out of me until I was able to see the uniqueness of it. “A Bit Of Finger / Sleeping Village / The Warning” is such a monster! There’s so much Led Zeppelin-esque wandering with Iommi’s leads in the middle, taking several different moods to the point that you completely forget that there are lyrics. When the vocals come back at the end, it’s like a resolution you weren’t even looking for, and it took a while before I could appreciate the greatness of it.

Black Sabbath’s debut is a weird one to take as a “first metal album,” and that’s why I always recommend people start with Paranoid rather than this. It’s an album that has been talked about and praised to death, yet for it being the first of its kind it’s really not conventional to how the band would become. People will compare this to Cream, Uriah Heep, and other proto-metal acts, but I don’t even think it’s any closer to that than it is to KISS or Aerosmith. Nothing this loose while also being this consistent exists (at least in metal), and that’s important.