Review #355: Black Sabbath, Black Sabbath

Karla Clifton
2 min readFeb 27, 2023

#355: Black Sabbath, Black Sabbath

YES. I love a good triplicate. See: “Black Sabbath,” by Black Sabbath, off Black Sabbath. And reading the RS blurb for the title song made me even more excited. The way RS puts it, it “even scared the band itself.” Maybe I’m overtired, but I found that incredibly funny.

Personally, I didn’t find it all that terrifying. I mean, not really. I loved the sludgy doom of it all, obviously but even mention of Satan sitting there smiling didn’t freak me out. For some reason, none of it freaked me out until I read that lyricist Geezer Butler was Catholic. (???) (I’ve been marathoning the Conjuring films this week, maybe that’s why.) Yep, that was when I finally had to turn it off. It’s not that I was scared, it’s just that I wasn’t about to tempt the actual devil.

RS also compares this record’s sound to the “birth pains of heavy metal.” Which is gross. (Seriously, who’s writing these? Set them FREE.) But also, this is 1970, and I can’t think of anything heavier released before it. So maybe they’re onto something.

There are not one, but TWO devil songs — “Wasp / Behind the Wall of Sleep / Bassically / N.I.B.” casts Lucifer as the damned protagonist. But there’s some hints at classic bluesy/country traditions, too. “The Wizard” starts with a lengthy harmonica solo, and my notes for “A Bit of Finger / Sleeping Village / Warning” read Clint Eastwood’s theme song?

Black Sabbath recorded this in under 12 hours and apparently it’s all played live. You can accuse them of devil worshipping but you can’t accuse them of being talentless hacks, not with the guitar solo on “Wicked World.” No way. They were the real deal, reality shows be damned.

(By the way, if Ozzy & Co. ARE worshipping the devil, The Osbournes is the biggest proof of that of all.)

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