How influential was Black Sabbath on metal

Black Sabbath's debut turns 50Heavy metal big bang with long-term effects

The guitar rises ominously and menacingly from the acoustic bed of pattering rain, thunderstorms and the ringing of bells. Incidentally, the record company only had that added after the album was recorded. Is that really the hour of birth of heavy metal?

"Styles develop in such a way that they emerge slowly, that they become detached from what already exists, and when enough people join in, there is a new name at some point. If not enough people join in, it remains a personal style. where it started, and that's where most people actually agree very strongly on this first Black Sabbath album. " Says the musicologist Dietmar Elflein from the TU Braunschweig, who has written numerous scientific articles on the genre and the monograph "Heavy Metal Analyzes - About the Musical Language of Heavy Metal".

Unlike any other

There were already two other famous bands back then that many fans also see as co-founders of metal. However, Elflein does not share this assessment. "Led Zeppelin stay much more formal in blues structures and Deep Purple write classic rock songs. In that sense they are really a hard rock band that comes strongly from progressive rock."

What made the sound of Black Sabbath so different was Tony Iommi's guitar. In short, Heavy Metal is the by-product of an industrial accident. As an unskilled worker, Iommi had lost several fingertips of his gripping hand in a metal press.

Riffs, riffs, riffs

In order to be able to press the strings with his self-made leather prostheses, he tuned them loosely - that is, lower and played power chords that are easier to grip. Together with bassist Geezer Butler, drummer Bill War and singer Ozzy Osbourne, he established the dominance of the riff on the first album with unprecedented consistency.

"Everyone plays the riff in parallel. The bass, the guitar, the drums also emphasize, and in the case of Ozzy Osbourne he also sings along the riff. Sometimes."

To a certain extent it had already existed, of course, but not in combination with this force, or - as in the title song that opens the album - with this agonizing slowness.

"Black Sabbath" by Black Sabbath from the album "Black Sabbath" is now considered the first Doom Metal song. Like any heavy metal subgenre, if not built on the debut, then at least built on Black Sabbath's discography. Iron Maiden are fans, as are Metallica boss James Hetfield, but also the punk band Black Flag and hardcore musician Henry Rollins.

Pop bands also cover Black Sabbath

And it's hard to believe: the post-Britpopper Arctic Monkeys also like to incorporate a short excerpt from the Black Sabbath classic "War Pigs" into one of their songs during live performances, which the crossover rockers from Faith No More did years before had covered. What certainly contributed to the success and influence of the four lower-class children from Birmingham was their flirtation with the occult. But one shouldn't overestimate that, says musicologist Dietmar Elflein.

"This is a game. This is a working class band for the time being. This is a game with symbols. You name yourself after an old horror film in which Bela Lugosi starred, which was called Black Sabbath. You have one or two lyrics, but you are actually himself very Christian, at least in the case of Tony Iommi. And the whole image of Black Sabbath ultimately comes very much from the record company. "