Friday, March 6, 2009

Black Sabbath - Black Sabbath through Sabotage

Every once in a while you need to get back to the basics. To go primitive in a way. To cut the crap, strip it all down, and get back to origins. For me, this basically means listening to nothing but Black Sabbath for days/weeks/occasionally months on end.

Sabbath, the be all and end all of metal. They started it, nobody has or probably will ever do it better. Ask anyone who knows me, I believe that statement with absolute conviction. This is not to say that there aren't other amazing bands out there and fuck everything that isn't Sab, it's just to say that, when it all boils down, there's a reason why they're still selling albums every day 39 years after the release of their first album.

Now I know everyone has their own stories of why they love them and I know there's established history and all this bullshit but I wasn't there for any of that so I have this idealized image in my head of the first time people ever heard this band. Here's what I picture. It's 1970, the summer of love is passed (1967), Woodstock just happened (May 1969), fucking hippies are everywhere, peace and love, blah blah. Then all of a sudden Hendrix is dead, Nixon is president, and this crazy fucking band with a satanic name from Birmingham England, which was basically a post industrial shit hole at that point puts out an album with an eerie as hell witch-looking motherfucker on the cover with an opening track featuring thunder, doomsaying church bells, and lyrics like:

"What is this that stands before me?
Figure in black which points at me
Turn around quick, and start to run
Find out Im the chosen one
Oh nooo!

Big black shape with eyes of fire
Telling people their desire
Satans sitting there, hes smiling
Watches those flames get higher and higher
Oh no, no, please God help me!"

Holy fucking shit man. I know it's basically just fucked up, detuned blues rock, but seriously, if I was some hippy kid sitting around at that time and I heard that I'd probably lock myself in a closet and cry for my mother for days on end. It's like all of the peace and love, idealistic bullshit crap that lead to Reagan 20 years later when the grown up hippies wanted to not pay their taxes any more came crashing down in 3 fucking chords. Damn. You just don't get that heavy any more.

I mean, on top of all of that social relevance bullshit, there's just no denying that all of the songs are perfectly crafted, massively heavy, anthems of doom. Geezer Butler and Tony Iommi tuned down a few steps and brought the songs back to the riff. Yeah there are solos, damn good ones too, but honestly what drives Sabbath and all of their gazillions of followers is the riff. The opening of Sweet Leaf, the bass breakdown in Sabbath Bloody Sabbath, FUCKING WAR PIGS MAN! THE WHOLE DAMN SONG! It's undeniable. Bill Ward, possibly the most underrated member of the original line just ensured the perfection by doing something most drummers of the era just couldn't figure out. How to play just enough and no more or less. None of this excessive jacking off bullshit, just the beat and spartan as fuck fills where necessary. Add Ozzy's wailing, high pitched, vocals bordering on the edge of drug and paranoia fueled insanity and you have the ultimate band.

Anyways, here's the first 5 albums. Black Sabbath, Paranoid, Master of Reality, Vol. 4, Sabbath Bloody Sabbath, and Sabotage. In order. These are the foundation of metal. It's like a textbook for how to do it right.

Black Sabbath - Black Sabbath
Black Sabbath - Paranoid
Black Sabbath - Master of Reality
Black Sabbath - Volume 4
Black Sabbath - Sabbath Bloody Sabbath
Black Sabbath - Sabotage

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