Black Sabbath. The words are like a hunting horn for any seasoned heavy metal fan.
A 50-year-career marked by legendary music, solid friendship and innumerable vices is finally drawing to a close.
After spending almost half a century in the ever-changing, volatile music industry, the Birmingham four-piece are putting a lid on their chaotic touring regimen – partly due to founder Tony Iommi’s deteriorating health conditions.
Though their achievements are now only recognised by music critics and aged rock fans, the sound created by Sabbath will always be echoed in the landscape of most modern pop and rock compositions.
A full-on musical intoxication, Black Sabbath’s debut brings you on an odyssey of classic blues progressions and lyrics of doom and gloom often engulfed in the menacing roar of Iommi’s guitar.
Renowned Rolling Stone critic Lester Bangs once said “Rock & roll has always been noise, and Black Sabbath have boiled that noise to its resinous essence.”
The music that defined their career was often submerged in infamy roused by a blend of obscure witchcraft rumours and outrageous Ozzy stories.
From snorting a line of ants, to setting his bandmates on fire, Osbourne became the prototype to the unhinged lead singer personality; he ticked almost every box in the rockstar’s handbook before it was even written.
Although Ozzy predominantly claimed the spotlight, Iommi also had a fair hand in the mischief. He describes blowing up a marquee that blasted all of Richard Branson’s fish into high heaven: “We put all this pyro round his tent. It was so loud that his marquee just took off, with a mushroom cloud like an atomic bomb. The blast went right through the lake and all these prize fish came floating to the top.”
However, beneath their self-destructive antics and childish exterior, the Birmingham four were always much more than the sum of their parts.
With their roots firmly planted in working-class England, they represented hope to marginalised minorities and embodied the idea that four scruffy kids with not two pence to scrape together can reach unstoppable heights and far exceed their ambitions.
But it wasn’t without excruciating effort. Iommi’s own story of reconstructing his playing after the loss of his two middle fingers in a machine accident shows a determination beyond comprehension.
Sabbath’s history is marked by episodes of resilience, bravery and triumph – and their music has become a testament of that history.
Spawning over four generations of bands, from Van Halen to Green Day, Black Sabbath will not be merely known as a heavy metal supergroup; they will be known as a band of true role model musicians – and a paragon of inspiration – for countless generations to come.
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