Metal Insider’s Top 5: Reasons Why Black Sabbath’s Debut Album Remains Monumental

Posted by on February 13, 2012

Metal Insider’s Top 5 is a column where we count down the top five of…well basically anything.

Forty two years ago today, Black Sabbath’s self-titled debut album was released. Though the album didn’t come out in the States until June 2 of that year, the album’s UK release technically serves as its official debut. And thus, as many would argue, marks the birth of heavy metal as we know it today.

With so much drama surrounding the original lineup’s current reunion attempts, we thought it would be nice to take a moment and list the top five reasons why Black Sabbath still remains a monumental album in heavy metal.


5. The Songs:

Though at first the album was met with a luke warm response, Black Sabbath’s debut album includes songs that still remain as classic in the metal community. Songs like “N.I.B.” and “The Wizard” still stand the test of time. However, if there’s one song that best serves as an introduction to Black Sabbath, then it’s aptly self-titled track. It’s haunting main riff and eerie lyrics still after 42 years remains as one of the darkest metal songs of all times.


4. Iommi’s guitar tone:

Not only is Tony Iommi responsible for some of metal’s most memorable riffs, but also arguably for metal’s heavy sound. After a factory accident cut off the tips of his two right hand finger, Iommi was forced to make plastic tips for himself so he could still play left handed. However, to ease the pressure on his fingers, he downtuned his guitar from the standard E to C#. And thus, Sabbath’s signature sound (which went on to influence the sound of metal itself) was born and heard for the first on the self-titled album.


3. Ozzy Osbourne
Sure, with such a distinctive voice and a drive to get the hell out of Birmingham, John Michael Osbourne might have made it whether he was in Black Sabbath or not, but at the helm of Sabbath for eight albums, he left an indelible mark on the band that not even Ronnie James Dio could match. When the band finally decided to fire him in 1979, he went on to become even larger than they were, with a string of solo albums that continues to pretty much this day. He’s also gotten his own festival, a TV show, and an acting career out of it. Not so bad.


2. Their Legacy Remains
A lot of bands would’ve been content with founding a genre, making their mark, and disappearing. However, not only has Black Sabbath influenced just about every guitar driven band that plays heavy music, they’ve flourished, and after some rocky years in the mid-80s and ‘90s, are still together – possibly with all four original members. The band is working on their first studio album with Ozzy singing since 1978’s Never Say Die. And while Tony Iommi is battling lymphoma and contract disputes are currently keeping Bill Ward from committing to the band, we sincerely hope they’ll be able to put aside their differences and health issues and make the album that their fans have been waiting for. There’s a petition saying as much, and if the Rick Rubin-produced album is made with all four original members, it will be a perfect way to cap off their career – even if it is their last album.


1. It Truly Is The First Heavy Metal Album:
Sure, if you want to get technical, Steppenwolf’s “Born to be Wild” coined the term “heavy metal” in 1968, but the song itself wasn’t particularly metal. However, with the February 13 launch of Black Sabbath, we now know that heavy metal turned 42 today. There was definitely music out there before that was heavy, but Black Sabbath’s sludgy, heavy, dark music was pretty much the polar opposite of the hippie flower children peace and love movement of 1969, and ushered in a new era of music. Although critics hated them, their first album made it to #8 in the UK, and the album made it to the top 25 in America when it came out four months later. Sound familiar? There’s a lot of metal that’s ignored or savaged by critics, but touches a nerve with metal fans.

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