For many metalheads, the names of Ozzy Osbourne, Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler and Bill Ward are where the journey starts. Formed in Birmingham towards the end of the 1960s, Black Sabbath began its life as the Polka Tuk Blues Band, before changing the name to Earth and finally settling on the name that we’re all familiar with, taken from a Boris Karloff film. Pioneers of the genre, the Black Sabbath story is one of hedonism and the heaviest of metal.
Paranoid, taken from the album of the same name, is the band’s signature song. With Iommi’s stark riff and chugging rhythm guitar supporting Ozzy’s relentless, driving vocals, it became an anthem for metal fans, everywhere. War Pigs, from the same album, is similarly furious and gave Sabbath a vent for their views on the Vietnam War.
Many of the band’s songs deal with topics that other metal outfits might shy away from. Snowblind, Am I Going Insane, Methademic and Sweet Leaf are all searingly honest explorations of the pitfalls of drug addiction, which Sabbath became notorious for.
Surprisingly, as a diehard metal band, Sabbath have never been afraid to dabble in other styles. Changes is a tender piano ballad, made all the more poignant by Ozzy’s fragile voice.
There are whispers of a reunion in 2022, for the Commonwealth Games.