Black Sabbath (song)

Last updated
"Black Sabbath"
Song by Black Sabbath
from the album Black Sabbath
Released
  • 13 February 1970 (1970-02-13) (UK)
  • 1 June 1970 (US)
RecordedNovember 1969
Genre
Length6:16
Label
Songwriter(s)
Producer(s) Rodger Bain
Audio sample

"Black Sabbath" is a song by the British heavy metal band Black Sabbath, written in 1969 and released on their self titled debut album. In 1970, it was released as a four-track 12-inch single, with "The Wizard" also on the A-side and "Evil Woman" and "Sleeping Village" on B-side, on the Philips Records label Vertigo.

Heavy metal is a genre of rock music that developed in the late 1960s and early 1970s, largely in the United Kingdom. With roots in blues rock, psychedelic rock, and acid rock, the bands that created heavy metal developed a thick, massive sound, characterized by highly amplified distortion, extended guitar solos, emphatic beats, and overall loudness. The genre's lyrics and performance styles are sometimes associated with aggression and machismo.

Black Sabbath British heavy metal band

Black Sabbath were an English rock band, formed in Birmingham in 1968, by guitarist and main songwriter Tony Iommi, bassist and main lyricist Geezer Butler, drummer Bill Ward, and singer Ozzy Osbourne. Black Sabbath are often cited as pioneers of heavy metal music. The band helped define the genre with releases such as Black Sabbath (1970), Paranoid (1970), and Master of Reality (1971). The band had multiple line-up changes, with Iommi being the only constant member throughout its history.

<i>Black Sabbath</i> (album) 1970 album by Black Sabbath

Black Sabbath is the debut studio album by the English rock band Black Sabbath. Released on 13 February 1970 in the United Kingdom and on 1 June 1970 in the United States, the album reached number eight on the UK Albums Charts and number 23 on the Billboard charts. Black Sabbath is widely considered the first heavy metal album. Additionally, the opening track of the album—Black Sabbath—is widely considered to be the first doom metal song.

Contents

History

According to the band, the song was inspired by an experience that Geezer Butler had in the days of Earth. Butler, obsessed with the occult at the time, painted his apartment matte black, placed several inverted crucifixes, and put many pictures of Satan on the walls. Ozzy Osbourne handed Butler a black occult book, written in Latin and decorated with numerous pictures of Satan. Butler read the book and then placed it on a shelf beside his bed before going to sleep. When he woke up, he claims he saw a large black figure standing at the end of his bed, staring at him. The figure vanished and Butler ran to the shelf where he had placed the book earlier, but the book was gone. Butler related this story to Osbourne, who then wrote the lyrics to the song based on Butler's experience. [2] The song starts with the lyrics:

Geezer Butler English musician, bassist and lyricist of Black Sabbath

Terence Michael Joseph "Geezer" Butler is an English musician and songwriter. Butler is best known as the bassist and primary lyricist of the heavy metal band Black Sabbath. He has also recorded with Heaven & Hell, GZR, and Ozzy Osbourne.

Satan Figure in Abrahamic religions

Satan, also known as the Devil, is an entity in the Abrahamic religions that seduces humans into sin or falsehood. In Christianity and Islam, he is usually seen as either a fallen angel or a jinn, who used to possess great piety and beauty, but rebelled against God, who nevertheless allows him temporary power over the fallen world and a host of demons. In Judaism, Satan is typically regarded as a metaphor for the yetzer hara, or "evil inclination", or as an agent subservient to God.

Ozzy Osbourne English heavy metal vocalist and songwriter

John Michael "Ozzy" Osbourne, also known as The Prince of Darkness, is an English vocalist, songwriter, actor and reality television star who rose to prominence during the 1970s as the lead vocalist of the heavy metal band Black Sabbath. He was fired from the band in 1979 due to alcohol and drug problems, but went on to have a successful solo career, releasing eleven studio albums, the first seven of which were all awarded multi-platinum certifications in the United States. Osbourne has since reunited with Black Sabbath on several occasions. He rejoined the band in 1997 and recorded the group’s final studio album 13 (2013) before they embarked on a farewell tour which culminated in a final performance in their home city Birmingham, England in February 2017. His longevity and success have earned him the informal title of "Godfather of Heavy Metal".

What is this that stands before me?
Figure in black which points at me

A version of this song from Black Sabbath's first demo exists on the Ozzy Osbourne compilation album The Ozzman Cometh . [3] The song has an extra verse with additional vocals before the bridge. [4] The guitar and bass are tuned down one whole step, resulting in the key position of A being played on the fretboard, but having the pitch as G (octave - D flat) to the listener. It's one of the band's most frequently performed tracks, being featured on every single tour of their career.

<i>The Ozzman Cometh</i> compilation album by Ozzy Osbourne

The Ozzman Cometh is a compilation album by British heavy metal singer Ozzy Osbourne released in 1997. It is his third greatest hits collection. Its initial, limited edition 2-CD pressing contained five previously unreleased songs. Versions released in 2002 and later have only one disc, and the song "Shot in the Dark" is replaced by "Miracle Man". This was due to a legal action brought about by the song's co-writer, Phil Soussan, for unpaid royalties.

Pitch (music) perceptual property in music

Pitch is a perceptual property of sounds that allows their ordering on a frequency-related scale, or more commonly, pitch is the quality that makes it possible to judge sounds as "higher" and "lower" in the sense associated with musical melodies. Pitch can be determined only in sounds that have a frequency that is clear and stable enough to distinguish from noise. Pitch is a major auditory attribute of musical tones, along with duration, loudness, and timbre.

Harmony

AllMusic's Steve Huey said the song is an example wherein Black Sabbath appropriated the blue note from the standard pentatonic blues scale and developed a heavy metal riff. [5] The main riff is an inversion of a tritone, constructed with a harmonic progression including a diminished fifth / augmented fourth. [6] This particular interval is often known as diabolus in musica, [7] for it has musical qualities which are often used to suggest Satanic connotations in Western music. [7] [8] [9] The song "Black Sabbath" was one of the earliest examples in heavy metal to make use of this interval, [7] and since then, the genre has made extensive use of diabolus in musica. [7] [10]

AllMusic online music database

AllMusic is an online music database. It catalogs more than 3 million album entries and 30 million tracks, as well as information on musical artists and bands. It launched in 1991, predating the World Wide Web.

In jazz and blues, a blue note is a note that—for expressive purposes—is sung or played at a slightly different pitch than standard. Typically the alteration is between a quartertone and a semitone, but this varies among performers and genres.

A pentatonic scale is a musical scale with five notes per octave, in contrast to the more familiar heptatonic scale that has seven notes per octave.

The riff was created when bassist Geezer Butler began playing a fragment of "Mars" from Gustav Holst's The Planets suite. Inspired, guitarist Tony Iommi returned the next day with the famously dark tritone. [11]

Gustav Holst English composer

Gustav Theodore Holst was an English composer, arranger and teacher. Best known for his orchestral suite The Planets, he composed a large number of other works across a range of genres, although none achieved comparable success. His distinctive compositional style was the product of many influences, Richard Wagner and Richard Strauss being most crucial early in his development. The subsequent inspiration of the English folksong revival of the early 20th century, and the example of such rising modern composers as Maurice Ravel, led Holst to develop and refine an individual style.

<i>The Planets</i> orchestral suite by Gustav Holst

The Planets, Op. 32, is a seven-movement orchestral suite by the English composer Gustav Holst, written between 1914 and 1916. Each movement of the suite is named after a planet of the Solar System and its corresponding astrological character as defined by Holst.

The main riff of "Black Sabbath" is one of the most famous examples of harmonic progressions with the tritone G-C#. Black sabbath transcription.png
The main riff of "Black Sabbath" is one of the most famous examples of harmonic progressions with the tritone G-C.

Music video

A music video was made for the song, as part of the band's 1970 performance on the German show Beat-Club. The video was filmed in a studio with a village on the foreground.

Beat-Club was a German music program that ran from September 1965 to December 1972. It was broadcast from Bremen, West Germany on Erstes Deutsches Fernsehen, the national public TV channel of the ARD, and produced by one of its members, Radio Bremen, later co-produced by WDR following the 38th episode.

Cover versions

"Black Sabbath" has been covered by the following bands:

Related Research Articles

<i>Paranoid</i> (album) album by Black Sabbath

Paranoid is the second studio album by the English rock band Black Sabbath. Released in September 1970, it was the band's only LP to top the UK Albums Chart until the release of 13 in 2013. Paranoid contains several of the band's signature songs, including "Iron Man", "War Pigs" and the title track, which was the band's only Top 20 hit, reaching number 4 in the UK charts. It is often cited as an influential album in the development of heavy metal music.

<i>Master of Reality</i> album

Master of Reality is the third studio album by English rock band Black Sabbath, released on 21 July 1971. It is widely regarded as the foundation of doom metal, stoner rock, and sludge metal. It was certified double platinum after having sold over 2 million copies. Master of Reality was Black Sabbath's first and only top 10 album in the US until 13, forty-two years later.

"War Pigs" is a song by English heavy metal band Black Sabbath. It is the opening track from their 1970 album Paranoid.

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Bill Ward (musician) English musician

William Thomas Ward is an English musician and visual artist, best known as the original drummer of the British heavy metal band Black Sabbath. He also performed lead vocals on two Black Sabbath songs: "It's Alright" from the album Technical Ecstasy and "Swinging the Chain" from the album Never Say Die!. Ward is known for his very unorthodox style of playing the drums, often using snare-drills and tempo-drop to match both vocals and riff.

Iron Man (song) song by Black Sabbath

"Iron Man" is a song by British heavy metal band Black Sabbath. It is taken from their second studio album, Paranoid, released in 1970. It was later included on their initial greatest hits compilation We Sold Our Soul for Rock 'n' Roll (1976), as well as all subsequent greatest hits compilations; The single version was included on the Greatest Hits 1970–1978 album.

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The Wizard (Black Sabbath song) song by Black Sabbath

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References

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