Why is Black Sabbath on my best 1,000 albums ever list?
The definition of heavy metal.
Some stats & info about Black Sabbath – Black Sabbath
- What kind of musical stylings does this album represent? Rock, Hard Rock, Metal, Heavy Metal, British Bands
- Rolling Stone’s greatest 500 albums ranking – #355
- All Music’s rating – 4.5 out of 5 stars
- When was Black Sabbath released? 1970
- My ranking, the one you’re reading right now – #949 out of 1,000
Black Sabbath on Spotify
What does the “best 1,000 albums ever” mean and why are you doing this?
Yeah, I know it’s audacious, a little crazy (okay, maybe a lot cray cray), bordering on criminal nerdery.
But here’s what it’s NOT: a definitive list of the Greatest Albums of All-Time. This is 100% my own personal super biased, incredibly subjective take on what my top 1,000 albums are, ranked in painstaking order over the course of doing research for nearly a year, Rob from High Fidelity style. Find out more about why I embarked on a best 1,000 albums ever project.
What does Black Sabbath mean to me? What does it make me feel? Why is it exciting or compelling?
First of all, let’s talk about that album cover, which is one of the deep level creepiest album covers of all time. Which, when you’re a pre-teen kid growing up in the strip mall-drenched suburbs of Long Island, New York, seems next level bad ass. To quote Stephen King’s tongue in cheek line: dig the heaviness, man.
This is the kind of album by a band with the kind of name that you use to freak out your parents, impress or disturb (ideally: both) your friends, and allows you to conjure up a vibe, a persona perhaps, that sets you apart from the other kids. I’m into this stuff, so watch out.
But creepy/cool album cover art and a creepy/cool band name equate essentially to jack squat, as Matt Foley, Motivational Speaker might put it, if the music doesn’t hold up.
Which, thankfully, it does.
For me, this is an album that absolutely deserves the honor of being called “heavy metal,” an amorphous and loosely defined sub-genre that’s usually harder to nail down than you might think. But on songs like “The Wizard” and the nine-minute plus “Wasp / Behind the Wall of Sleep / Bassically / N.I.B.” we’re treated to timeless heavy metal guitar riffs that are iconic: slow, sludgy, muddy, and deep level kick ass. In other words: heavy.
As far as the lyrics are concerned, I honestly don’t have a lot to say about that. I got all the horror and thrills I could want as a kid out of the aforementioned Stephen King, The Twilight Zone marathons, and movies like A Nightmare on Elm Street. I enjoy Ozzy Osbourne’s voice on this album but never once did I try to parse through whatever occult statements are being made here. And whatever I did ingest I understood as purely entertainment content, as we might say half a century after this great debut album was produced.
This album also sounds like
I’d say Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin are solid peers to look at here, though Black Sabbath doesn’t have time for the psychedelic and, as mentioned above, is all about that slowed down heavy metal vibe.
Personal stuff that’s somehow related to Black Sabbath
“The Wizard” immediately takes me back, time travel-like (black magics-like?) to my senior year of college in Binghamton, New York. 59 Leroy St. to be more specific.
And to the sublime game. The majestic game. Of skill. Of passion.
And lots of trash talking.
I’m talking about foosball.
Our house was also known as “the rugby house,” and for good reason: most of us played for the Binghamton University Rugby Football Club (BURFC-AFD). I lived with ten guys – which included an extra person occasionally living in the spacious attic of this ramshackle Animal House-like abode.
We also spent an inordinate amount of time a) doing nothing b) playing video games c) playing foosball.
We had a great old foosball table that you don’t see a lot of these days. It was made out of wood and had the kind of playing surface that allowed the ball to go fast but not too fast, and was also very forgiving when liquids (read: beer) would spill on it. It also had the positional set up that I most prefer, where there’s one “goalie” and then a line of two defenders in the second defense row.
It was the kind of table that worked great for both one-on-one, two-on-two, and even one-on-two matches, depending on who was around and wanted to participate. I’m not ashamed to say that I’d occasionally play against myself. This was one fun foosball table in one hell of a fun house is what I’m trying to say.
And for whatever reason the Dark Lords of Foosball decreed, Black Sabbath was most often the music we’d play. There was something about the sound and cadence of Ozzy and crew that matches the vibe and speed of our foosball matches. And for that reason alone, I’ll always hold fond Black Sabbath memories that only my friends and compatriots from that spectacular and singular year could possibly share.