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Black Sabbath - Black Sabbath | Song Info | AllMusic


Composed by

Geezer Butler

Tony Iommi

Ozzy Osbourne

Bill Ward

Release Year



Song Genres

All Genres Pop/Rock (9)

Song Styles

All Styles British Metal (10) Heavy Metal (7) Hard Rock (5) Doom Metal (2)

Song Moods

All Moods Gloomy (9) Ominous (9) Dreamy (8) Dramatic (7) Intense (6) Spooky (4)

Song Themes

All Themes Halloween (5) Mischievous (5) Scary Music (5)

Black Sabbath

Black Sabbath

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Song Review by Bradley Torreano

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 and provided generations of angry teenagers with a sound they could relate to. People can argue endlessly about the first Led Zeppelin album or the brutal sounds coming from Detroit that preceded this, but "Black Sabbath" is really where heavy metal began. From the imagery to the look and the sound, Ozzy Osbourne and company are the undeniable godfathers of the genre. With this song they sapped the blues out of garage rock and replaced it with a naïve self-importance that inspired legions of like-minded kids to pick up a guitar and sing about the devil. The three-note riff that pours from Tony Iommi's remaining fingers sounds like nothing before it -- distorted, discordant, and ungodly slow. Drummer Bill Ward pounds his drums like a caveman alerting the tribe of something bad, and indeed, something bad arrives. Armed with the most unique banshee wail in rock, Ozzy'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 points at me." With two lines and a good riff, the band had suggested the sort of Dungeons and Dragons imagery that would feed its imitators for years to come, while alternately leaving so much to the imagination that artists as diverse as Nirvana, the Cardigans, the Butthole Surfers, and Big Country would admit their love for the heavy metal foursome. By the time bassist Geezer Butler shows up to carry the song off to its galloping conclusion, Osbourne has already begged God for help but to no avail. "Satan's coming 'round the bend," he sings, "people running 'cause they're scared." And mainstream critics, who had never heard such dark lyrics and brooding music sound so heavy, did exactly that. Black Sabbath was roasted by the press and shunned by the media for years, until finally it became obvious that heavy metal, not punk, was the mainstream voice of disenchanted suburban youth. And by that time, Osbourne was a drug addict who made better headlines than music, and Sabbath was a washed-up joke that Iommi couldn't bring himself to end. It only goes to show that the kids really are right, and Sabbath would pass on that knowledge to every metal band that rose up in its footsteps. The band had better songs and made much better albums, but this song was the defining creative moment of Black Sabbath's career.

Appears On

YearArtist/AlbumLabelTimeAllMusic Rating 1970 Black Sabbath Black Sabbath Rhino / Warner Bros. 6:19 1976 Black Sabbath We Sold Our Soul for Rock 'n' Roll Warner Bros. 6:20 1980 Black Sabbath Greatest Hits [Griffin] Power Sound 2001 6:15 1981 Black Sabbath Mob Rules BMG / Noise / Sanctuary 0:00 1983 Black Sabbath Born Again Essential Records 0:00 1986 Black Sabbath Seventh Star Castle Music Ltd. 0:00 1986 Black Sabbath Black Sabbath Greatest Hits Sanctuary 6:14 1994 Black Sabbath Cross Purposes EMI-Capitol Special Markets 0:00 1994 Black Sabbath The Ozzy Osbourne Years Import 1994 Various Artists Rocktastic 6:19 1995 Black Sabbath Between Heaven & Hell 1970-1983 Sanctuary 1996 Black Sabbath Under Wheels of Confusion: 1970-1987 Castle / Essential 6:21 1999 Black Sabbath Black Mass Pilot 6:34 2000 Black Sabbath The Best of Black Sabbath [Sanctuary 2000] Sanctuary 6:19 2001 Black Sabbath Complete 70's Replica CD Collection Castle Music Ltd. 6:18 2002 Black Sabbath Symptom of the Universe: The Original Black Sabbath (1970-1978) Rhino / Warner Bros. 6:17 2003 Various Artists Lords of Chaos Season of Mist / Sem 6:16 2004 Black Sabbath Black Box: The Complete Original Black Sabbath 1970-1978 Rhino 6:18 2005 Various Artists Geracao Rock and Roll [DVD] Atracao 2006 Black Sabbath Greatest Hits 1970-1978 Rhino / Rrw 6:16 2006 Black Sabbath We Sold Our Soul for Rock 'n' Roll, Vol. 1 Power Sound 2001 6:11 2006 Black Sabbath Past Lives, Vol. 2 Earmark 8:23 2007 Various Artists Funeral for a Friend: Back to the Bus DMC 6:16 2007 Black Sabbath Audiobiography Nova / Regeneration 2008 Black Sabbath The Rules of Hell Rhino / Warner Bros. 8:38 2009 Black Sabbath The Greatest Hits Universal Music TV / Sanctuary / Universal Distribution 6:18 2012 Black Sabbath Iron Man: The Best of Black Sabbath Sanctuary / Sanctuary Records 6:18 2012 Black Sabbath The Vinyl Collection 1970-1978 Sanctuary 2014 Black Sabbath The Complete Albums 1970-1978 Rhino 6:18 2016 Black Sabbath The Ultimate Collection BMG / Sanctuary / Sanctuary Records 6:17