Monday, September 15, 2014

Black Sabbath: The Majesty of Hard Rock

Black Sabbath is a seminal band in the history of rock music. The band played a brand of hard rock that would tragically spawn much of the regrettable heavy metal/death metal music of recent years. Black Sabbath’s music in their early years, however, was majestic hard rock rooted in the blues and played with skill and precision.

The band, comprised of singer Ozzy Osbourne, guitarist Tommy Iommi, bassist Geezer Butler, and drummer Bill Ward came out of Birmingham, England, in 1968. The band’s first four albums were outstanding efforts and all remain classics of the hard rock genre. The band’s eponymous debut, “Black Sabbath” (1970), was a showcase for the fine guitarist Iommi, and the haunted, intense vocals of Osbourne. The album is spellbinding from start to finish, especially on the title track, “Black Sabbath” and “The Wizard.”

The band’s sophomore release, “Paranoid” (1970), was the equal to the impressive debut and features some progressive rock influences such as the track, “Electric Funeral.” The album’s best known track, “Iron Man,” is probably the weakest track on the album. “Master of Reality” (1971), another classic of the genre, followed next. It contains the classic marijuana anthem, “Sweet Leaf.”

Sabbath next released “Volume 4” (1972), an album that is much more experimental and includes frequent use of synthesizers. The best track here is the ballad, “Changes,” featuring an unforgettable vocal performance by Osbourne.

Black Sabbath would release another decent album, “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath” (1973), before their descent to heavy metal mediocrity and the eventual departure of Ozzy Osbourne.

Early Black Sabbath shot