Oeuvre Easy: Black Sabbath

By Fox, Darrin | Guitar Player, September 2005 | Go to article overview

Oeuvre Easy: Black Sabbath


Fox, Darrin, Guitar Player


Just because you're the undisputed pioneer of metal, it doesn't mean your recorded canon is sans a smattering of head-hanging clunkers. Such is the case with Black Sabbath, where its early releases ruled so much, the only place to go was down. Originally a blues/rock outfit named Earth, vocalist Ozzy Osbourne, bassist Geezer Butler, drummer Bill Ward, and the master of the modern-metal riff, Tony Iommi, changed their moniker to Black Sabbath in 1969. This "classic" lineup recorded eight albums (all available in the remastered Black Box: The Complete Original Black Sabbath 1970-1978), before artistic and personal differences--exacerbated by Mt. Everest-sized piles of cocaine--caused Osbourne to split. But Black Sabbath went on. And on, and on, and on. It's telling, however, that revolving personnel, smelly albums, and several reunion machinations still weren't enough to sully the band's reputation as the definitive metal master.

INSPIRED

Black Sabbath, 1970

Recorded on a 4-track in a mere 16 hours, this is the blueprint for metal. Iommi proves to be a riff wellspring, and his lead chops exhibit a hip mixture of British blues, frenetic pentatonic flourishes, and stony modal lines. The record also set the high-water mark for heavy tone, but before the band entered the studio, Iommi's Strat came up lame with a faulty pickup, forcing him to press his backup Gibson SG into service. Sonic history was made.

Paranoid, 1971

"Iron Man," "War Pigs/ Luke's Wall," and the title track are killer, but the rest of this record is just as good. Paranoid is the sound of Sabbath at the peak of its virility, with focused songs, production, and performances.

Master of Reality, 1971.

Kicked-off by Iommi's weed-induced hack on "Sweet Leaf," Master of Reality is the apex of the guitarist's sinister riffing.

REQUIRED

Black Sabbath, Vol. …

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