[Today: Black Sabbath deals out some doom…]
The scariest horror movie monsters are those deliberate, lumbering instruments of death like Frankenstein, the Terminator, and that gang of zombies from Night Of The Living Dead. These creatures were never going to outrun you, but one way or another they were going to end up with their hands around your throat. Much of Black Sabbath’s music sounds like that – abnormally strong, consumed with darkness, and fully intent on destruction.
Sabbath made seven consecutive albums worth of mini-epic horror flicks, starring Tony Iommi’s guitar and Ozzy Osbourne’s pipes. Ozzy is
easily the greatest heavy metal singer of all-time, simply because he never lost control of his vocals, never lapsed into operatic silliness, and always sounded like the voice of doom itself. Meanwhile Iommi played his guitar like a man wielding a sledgehammer. If Iommi’s riffs were the sound of a broken bell tolling within a burning church, then Ozzy was the creature standing among the rubble, licking blood from his fangs and savoring every drop.
On Sabbath’s third studio album, Master Of Reality, they dipped their sound in sludge and made the heaviest album of their very, very heavy career. In his November 1971 review of the album, uber-critic Lester Bangs observed that “Rock & Roll has always been noise, and Black Sabbath have boiled that noise to its resinous essence.”
Oddly, Sabbath were most often compared to Grand Funk Railroad in their day – proving both that they were critically misunderstood and utterly without peer. Nonetheless, Master Of Reality is a massively influential album that spawned a thousand metal zombies, who rose from their shallow graves to stagger into the grey sunrise of the 80’s.