Black Sabbath and Philosophy: Mastering Reality (The Blackwell Philosophy and Pop Culture Series) Paperback – 19 Oct 2012
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This is a thoroughly enjoyable read, shedding a lot of light on the members, music, and society with regards to everything from religion to family. (Sacramento Book Review, 1 June 2013)
This is a thoroughly enjoyable read, shedding a lot of light on the members, music, and society with regards to everything from religion to family. (City Book Review, 1 March 2013)
Black Sabbath & Philosophy is a wholly absorbing read large . . . A long–overdue work, and a rewarding one both for fans and those curious about the philosophical gravity behind all those murky riffs. (PopMatters, 11 January 2013)
Much like Black Sabbath themselves, this wide–ranging, amusing book entertains and makes your brain ache in equal measure. (Record Collector, 1 December 2012)
A book to dip into, that will get you thinking and almost certainly have you going back and listening to your old Black Sabbath albums in a different light. Highly recommended. (Get Ready to Rock, 20 November 2012)
From the Back Cover
What personal and cultural conditions led Black Sabbath to create heavy metal?
What makes Sabbath sound evil? Is evil in the ear of the beholder?
Is it still Black Sabbath without Ozzy?
How can Black Sabbath and existentialism help you to face your demons?
Black Sabbath is one of the world′s most influential and enduring bands. Dubbed "the Beatles of heavy metal" by Rolling Stone, they helped to define a genre with classic songs like Paranoid, Iron Man, and War Pigs, songs whose lyrics reveal hidden depth and philosophical insight. Confronting existential despair, social instability, political corruption, the horrors of war, and the nature of evil, this book explores the wide range of profound ideas in the band′s music and lyrics to help you understand Black Sabbath as never before. From Aristotle and Nietzsche to Schopenhauer and Marx, this book brings some of history′s heaviest thinkers to bear on the band′s music. So . . . can you help me, occupy my brain? Yes! Start reading Black Sabbath and Philosophy.See all Product description
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While the philosophy presented here rarely got terribly deep or intricate, I can appreciate that the book (and by extension, the series) is not intended for academia. The desired audience here is the thinking Sabs fan, not the academic curious about the Sabs. It is assumed the reader is versed in Sabbath, not philosophy. As a result, the philosophy here is, as a whole, on the 101 level (with some 200 and 300 level arguments mixed in here and there). And I presume the idea is to take the pop culture fan and show how thought and intellectual approach can be part of their / our / my world, too. And to that end, this is a pretty darned good book, as will as being fun. It helps that the contributors are clearly Sab fans. Several are far more knowledgeable in the sub-worlds on metal than an old guy who loved 'em in the 70's, like me. (And I am sorry, Mr. - unless in the meantime it has become Dr. - Cray - w/o Ozzy it ISN'T really quite Black Sabbath.)
Along those lines, most of the examination of Sabbath's work itself is focused on the Ozzy years and the first 6 albums. While Dio, Heaven & Hell, et al, do show up here and there, the bulk of the examination of the *work* of Black Sabbath, as well as much of the examination of the *entity* of Black Sabbath, is on the early stuff that created a whole new world out of working class angst, some bad dreams and Geezer's interests. And of course, for me anyway, this is fine. That's the stuff that matters even if some of the other stuff was fair to middling.
And it has a great, consistent sense of humor about itself, which is no small achievement for a multi-author anthology of philosophical examinations of a (THE) heavy metal band.
For thinking Sabbath fans, for certain.
Same thing with the book.
Sabbath Bloody Sabbath album as reading soundtrack to the book is perfect experience.
Each "chapter" is actually a stand-alone essay written by a different person. This has its pros and cons. On the plus side, if one doesn't grab you, there is always a different one coming. And you do not have to suffer through a single agenda from start to finish. The negatives would be the usual expected from any collection of different writers. Some articles seem to labor to make their point, stretching things to a credibility breaking point, but that is not uncommon in these sorts or works.
One should not fear, however, that this book is some kind of excruciating analysis of Sabbath lyrics, going through song after song, stating obvious observations, quoting lyrics at great length, etc. I detest those sorts of books. This one generally gives the reader credit with being familiar with the songs, or at least can make an interesting point about them without a plot synopsis, which is just wasted space for fans. Articles also range far afield, covering things like the ethical dilemmas of retaining the band's name on recordings after most original members have left, Schopenhauer and Sabbath, and the often redemptive quality of the band's songs, plus many other topics.
There are not many serious books on Sabbath or metal groups in general. A few of the articles disappointingly suffer from the usual sub-par, superficial writing of most rock criticism, and while the "philisophy" connections are sometimes just not there, there is enough of interest that should appeal to both Sabbath and thoughtful metal fans, and those looking for something off the beaten path in pop culture analysis. As the owner of every Sabbath album up to Born Again, I enjoyed it, and the price is right. A tip of the hat to all those involved.
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