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The first album of literally any kind that I can remember hearing - 100%

Kronisk, December 21st, 2018

Doo-oom, tick-tick, doooom, doom doom doo-ooom, tick-tick, doooom, da da dah doo-ooo-ooom, doom doom doom...

Sometimes, when I have the laptop in front of me, I try to come up with creative ways to describe what a musician is playing. Not because I want to obfuscate or make my meaning more dense, but seriously just because of copyright concerns. The above is an example of what I could come up with in five seconds flat for the opening guitar riff of Sabbath Bloody Sabbath, which happens to be the first *song*, full-stop, that I remember ever having heard. Why am I pointing that out to you? Because I have come across people online that genuinely believe that everybody who listens to doom, black, or whatever, has to have a "gateway", like Poptallica, or Poison, or the other million inbred assholes who tried to force a babifying mask upon those of us who got the message from the get-go. Considering that I was a toddler when I first heard the song Sabbath Bloody Sabbath, and the male parental entity who put it on without knowing at first that I could hear it from where I was was about eighteen years old when Sabbath released their first blueprint, well, what I am hoping to convey to you is how ridiculous the whole gateway "theory" (or rather, fanatical belief) really is. When a five year old boy can hum in perfect timing the bass parts of Sabbath Bloody Sabbath, what is a "gateway" to him other than a momentary distraction from the real thing?

Black Sabbath loved their drugs. More and more of them they took as they got more successful, until they rented a mansion and tried to record songs for Sabbath Bloody Sabbath. The story goes that they were having trouble coming up with any songs, and that the eight on SBS are miraculous in that they got written and recorded at all. If nothing else, this proves that Tony and Geezer were a good deal more talented than either of them are ever going to get credit for. I do not find Side B of SBS to be anywhere near as strong as Side A, but that is like saying I do not find a kick in the balls nearly as powerful as a knife in the chest. Side B is far more loose and experimental, clearly written on the spot to fill out the record, but if every band that needed to fill out a record could come up with songs like Spiral Architect, we would already be in the Wunderwerck, and doom metal would lose all relevance to us. (That is a good thing, by the way.) SBS is not my favourite Sabbath record, but it puts up a damned good argument throughout concerning why everyone else out there thinks it to be Sabbath's best.

If you ever entertained notions of learning to play bass guitar and becoming the next Geezer, Billy, or Cliff, then you are in for a real treat concerning riffs to consistently fukk up until you finally get good enough. A National Acrobat is a great lesson in how it is not just what you play, but when you play it, and when you keep quiet, that make all the difference. It is also one of the strongest vocal performances that Ozzy has ever put on in his life. Whether he was as coked out as the rest of the band when he sang that he is the world that hides the universal secret of all time, you believe in the way he sings it because he is putting everything he has got into it. There are classically trained, beautiful-sounding vocalists out there who never deliver anything as strong as this. And I am the guy who likes to tune out the vocals because they are getting in the way of my enjoyment of the bass, bear in mind. Ozzy pulls another rabbit out of a hat during Sabbra Cadabra. Singing how he don't wanna leave you anymore, sure, he is cheating a little by putting his voice through a couple of channels at times, but you will never get a clearer demonstration of why Tony, Geezer, and Bill stuck with Ozzy throughout eight albums, corresponding tours, and all of them getting so shitfaced at times that it is a wonder they are still alive. Yes, Ozzy is a very lucky shower singer, but he is a good very lucky shower singer, as Sabbra Cadabra proves.

Getting back to Geezer, it was decades later when a man made a video about how to be a good bassist, and cited Geezer as an example. The responsibility the bassist takes on is enormous, as their level of professionalism and musicianship tends to reflect throughout the entire band. Throughout SBS, whilst Tony does give great guitar riff and Bill great pounding drums, the thing that makes the come-back-in from Tony's solo on Sabbath Bloody Sabbath or the whopping sense of not being in Kansas anymore during the intro of A National Acrobat is Geezer's bass. Without that low, rolling, slimy presence in the tubs of your speakers, many of the riffs and thumps on SBS would just plain not work. It also helps that Geezer writes the vast majority of what comes out of Ozzy's mouth, so he knows exactly what kind of mood he wants the record to have when all the pieces are put together. Tony might have been the one in charge, but Geezer was the one who made all those trains run on time. It shows in songs like Sabbra Cadabra. Yes, the quick-strike guitar riff grabs your attention, but it is Geezer's low, rhythmic anchor of same, and his change into a rolling elevation, that keeps you listen after you start to twig to how simplistic Tony's guitar riffs still are after five albums.

There are a small few not-so-wonderful moments tucked away here and there on SBS, sure. Listening to Ozzy sing the phrase "looking for today" (or rather, "looking for todaaaaaaaaaay-hey!") over and over does get on the nerves quickly. Only mildly so, but enough to make this little black duck want to scream at him to shut up for a couple of seconds. Fortunately, given that the rest of the song is well-composed and even has a good use of the flute at times, and that the song is immediately followed by closer Spiral Architect, you can forgive this little slip-up. If every song that I composed whilst I was in a rented house, trying to come up with material to finish album, were as good as Looking For Today, I could retire. As I indicated earlier, Side B is definitely the weaker half of SBS, and at times noticeably so, but there are numerous bands out there claiming to have followed on from Sabbath who would give their left nut to be able to make albums that are half as good as SBS' Side B. Given that this is quite probably the only qualifying thing I can say to temper my praise of SBS, that alone should tell you what a treat you are in for here. Even the (slightly) too-lengthy instrumental, Fluff, is awesome because it lulls you into a false sense of ease and relaxation before Sabbath slam you in the head with one of the most aggressively-introduced love songs in history.

People have told me when I was a younger person, that I got off to a great start if my story about SBS and especially its opening song being the first music I ever heard is true. That it is is irrelevant. What you should be taking from this little tale is that what you put into your child's mind from day one will be reflected back at you when they are old enough to have children of their own. The rest of what certain individuals put in there is horrible, awful, not worthy of being put there. But as long as I am alive, I will be thankful that four drugged-out, fatigued men made yet another blueprint for billions of facsimiles (most of them inferior), and largely by accident, I got to partake at a time when everything I heard and saw would be reflected in the man I am today. The people who have crippled you... you wanna see them burn! Damn right, Ozzy and Geezer. Damn right.