Rain pours down outside, and the distant sound of thunder crashes through the sky.
Then, like no moment in music before, the striking of a single guitar chord kick-started a genre. Drummer Bill Ward pounds his drums like a caveman alerting the tribe of something bad, and indeed, something bad does arrive.
John "Ozzy" Osbourne's first impression on the music world was a strong one:
"What is this that stands before me", he barks over the minimalist soundscape, "[a] figure in black which points at me"...
And all this gloom and doom gave legions of angry teenagers something they could relate to, as well as inspiring them to pick up a guitar and start singing about the devil.
"Black Sabbath", the song and the album, is really where heavy metal began. From the imagery to the look and the sound, and to the three-note riff that pours from Tony Iommi's mangled fingers, this album sounds like nothing before it. Distorted, discordant, and ungodly slow, filled with dark, Dungeons and Dragons-like imagery which somehow ends up being much more than just your average heavy metal posturing, mainly because of the dim, suffocating musical atmosphere which is like nothing, literally nothing, anyone had ever heard before.
There isn't much variety in mood or tempo, but that's not the point; Sabbath's slowed-down, murky guitar rock bludgeons the listener in an almost hallucinatory fashion, reveling in its own dazed, druggy state of consciousness.
Black Sabbath's debut album is filled with lengthy songs and suite-like pieces where individual tunes blur together and riffs pound away one after another. And it remains one of the most influential albums ever in popular music, and a must-have for anyone with an interest in heavy metal.
4 1/2 stars.