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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Black Sabbath - Masters of Doom (Mighty Lambchop's Heavy Metal Nails #2)

Good morning!



Today we continue with the venerable Black Sabbath. Sabbath are probably most credited for defining the classic heavy metal sound and dark lyrical themes of the genre. Thanks to the often sludgy, doom laden riffs of their early recordings; they are also credited with laying the foundations of the Doom Metal subgenre.
Black Sabbath's influence has helped to shape almost all of heavy metal but especially the more extreme forms. From Thrash, Death Metal, Black Metal and on.
Black Sabbath has a long history that has been plagued with a revolving lineup and is well known for having A LOT of different singers. I will focus on the two incarnations of the band that hold the most influence. First with Ozzy Osbourne on vocals and Ronnie James Dio on vocals, second.

In the beginning...
Black Sabbath was formed in Birmigham, England in 1968, originally under the moniker, Earth. (Actually, there were a couple of different band names but this is by far the most important.) 


The original lineup 1968-1979
Left to right: Tony Iommi/Guitar, John "Ozzy" Osbourne/Vocals,
 Terry "Geezer" Butler/Bass and Bill Ward/Drums


The band changed their name to Black Sabbath in 1969. It's said they got the name from the classic Italian horror film, Black Sabbath. That remains a point of contention, according to various statements over the years but it is widely considered to be the origin of the name. Originally, they played blues standards and a handful of originals. When they found themselves being confused with another band by the same name, they changed theirs and changed their music. The music featured down tuned guitars and embarked on a occult inspired lyrical theme.
In 1970, the band recorded their debut album, the self-titled, Black Sabbath. The album was not only a commercial success but was tremendously influential. The title track is terribly ominous and eerie, making good use of the dissonant tritone AKA Diabolus in Musica. (The tritone has an interesting history itself and makes for some good reading. It also helps one to understand just why heavy metal bands persist in using it.)
Black Sabbath continued to great commercial success and produced what are now considered to be not only classic heavy metal albums/songs but the standard bearer for heavy metal music. Paranoid, Iron Man, War Pigs, Sweet Leaf and Sabbath Bloody Sabbath are by far some of their best known songs. And they are truly revolutionary. Not only did they bring an oppressively heavy sound that differed from the sweetly psychedelic and folky scene at the time, they forged a new path lyrically thanks to primary lyricist, Geezer Butler's interest in the occult.
Sabbath is often criticized for being "Satanic" and the like. Though Butler was interested in the occult, the band does not associate themselves personally with the occult and Satanism. In fact, Christian crosses have long been part of the band's logo and artwork and most members of the band claim alliance with Christianity. What is true is that the band was plagued with substance abuse and frequently used drug imagery and themes in its music.
The good times could not go on forever and thanks to Ozzy's worsening substance abuse, he was fired from the band in 1979.

I recommend almost all early Sabbath albums except for Technical Ecstasy and Never Say Die. My favorite song from the Ozzy era is Fairies Wear Boots. It's pretty bad ass.
My favorite Ozzy era album? It's a tie between Master of Reality and Sabbath Bloody Sabbath.

Interesting bit of trivia here: Tony Iommi briefly left Sabbath in 1968 to join Jethro Tull. Though he never recorded with the band, he did appear with them in The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus television show. Iommi was official as member so this marks Jethro Tull's branch in the family tree. Go figure.


The Dio Era


Black Sabbath 1979-1980
Left to right:
Geezer Butler, Tony Iommi, Ronnie James Dio and Bill Ward


With the firing of Ozzy Osbourne in 1979, Black Sabbath hired Ronnie James Dio, formerly of Elf and Rainbow, on vocals. Interestingly enough, it was Sharon Arden (later Osbourne) who suggested hiring Dio. 
Dio's presence brought  a new sound and new direction to the band. It also took the burden of writing lyrics off of Geezer Butler. The sound was much more polished and far more melodic. The lyrical themes changed as well. Dio has been known for fantasy themes in his lyrics, such as dragons, kings and the like. Also there were more emotional themes such as sadness and loneliness. 
Here's where I get into a bit of controversy. I think Ronnie James Dio is a better singer than Ozzy. 
However, it's like comparing apples and oranges. Ozzy was one to sing with riffs in Black Sabbath and was a total showman whilst Ronnie would sing over them, thus adding a new layer to the sound and using his voice more like an instrument. (And no less a showman in his own right.) Thus, both incarnations of Sabbath are entirely different beasts. 
(I am neither Team Ozzy nor Team Dio. I am a Black Sabbath fan. I don't trust people who are on one side or another. Because they do Tony Iommi a great disservice and he is the riff master.)

Dio recorded two albums with the band. The masterful Heaven and Hell and Mob Rules.
I love both so much. There were two live albums from that period although the band does not care for either of them.

Sadly, the Dio era came to an end in 1982. Bill Ward had already left in 1980 due to tensions in the band and a serious problem with alcohol. Ronnie James Dio pursued a tremendously successful solo career and cemented his status as a legend and one of the finest heavy metal singers of all time.
My favorite songs from the Dio era are undoubtedly Die Young and Over and Over.

Black Sabbath has continued to soldier on. More often than not, the various incarnations of the band were intended to be Tony Iommi solo projects but labelled Black Sabbath due to contractual obligations. Sabbath has had a couple of appearances from former Deep Purple members, Ian Gillan in 1983 and Glenn Hughes in 1986. I will wade into a bit more controversy and say I actually enjoyed the Tony Martin era

Ronnie James Dio re-joined Sabbath in 1990 to record the Dehumanizer album, which is criminally underrated. Later, Tony Iommi reformed the Dio era lineup under the moniker Heaven & Hell. This was to avoid confusion with the Osbourne fronted Black Sabbath that had continuously reunited and performed at Ozzfest since 1997. Heaven & Hell released a fantastic album in 2009, called The Devil You Know.
They chose to disband in 2010 shortly after the death of Ronnie James Dio.

As we all know, Ozzy Osbourne went on to a ridiculously successful and at times controversial solo career. Whether it was music, a reality television show or his very own heavy metal festival tour, Ozzy has been one of the single most important icons of heavy metal. 

Black Sabbath continues on today with most of the original lineup.Unfortunately, drummer Bill Ward is not part of this due to a messy and emotional contractual dispute. 
I have been fortunate to see Black Sabbath twice in 1997 and 2004. And both times were MAGICAL.

So for my manicure, I was largely inspired by the title track for their first album. I wanted to capture the dark and gloomy feel of the song. This is a super creepy song, y'all.





Black Sabbath Nails!




The index, middle and pinkie fingers have a base of Barielle Out-Grey-Geous. They are sponged with Sally Hansen Black Patent Leather, Collection Teen Silver and Ulta Of Corset Is. I used Kiss Nail Artist pen in White to do a "logo." The "s" is meant to resemble the font used on the Sabbath Bloody Sabbath album and the logo used on the Sabotage album. That is because I suck at freehanding and that's pretty damned easy.
My ring finger has two coats of Zoya Harley, topped with Barielle Out-Grey-Geous. I lightly sponged Of Corset Is over that. I then used Kiss Nail Artist Pen in black to freehand a cross. Again, I suck at freehanding but I was really proud of that. I wanted to use a cross because as I said before, Black Sabbath has used a cross in their artwork, logo and personal garb. I wanted to pay tribute to that.

That wraps up for now. I hope I've been able to demonstrate just how ridiculously influential Black Sabbath and Deep Purple are to heavy metal music. Tomorrow, I will begin discussing some of the different subgenres of heavy metal. The next up is Traditional Heavy Metal!

See you tomorrow. Keep it heavy!

Here are some other bands/artists that are related Black Sabbath in some form or another:
King Kobra
Rod Stewart
Def Leppard
BulletBoys
W.A.S.P.
Badlands
Vanilla Fudge
Pantera
AC/DC
Dokken
Yngwie Malmsteen


6 comments:

  1. ...Rod Stewart? Really? Wow!

    Thanks for this! I love the manicure! I hear Ozzy Black Sabbath on the radio on my local rock station (Namely War Pigs and Iron Man) and was always pumped by the sick/crunchy riffs. Totally ear-awesome. So this lesson was great! (I see Def Leppard's name on there too...One of my faves!! One armed drumming = EPIC) Will there be any DragonForce in your studies?

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    1. Thanks Candy!
      Yes, Rod Stewart is part of the family tree. Carmine Appice used to play in his band, then went on to play in Ozzy's band. Weird, huh?
      I love DragonForce and I will definitely be talking about them.
      I really appreciate your comments and I'm grateful for your visit.

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  2. My boyfriend really liked your post! This is the first time he has seen a headline on my computer, and asked me eagerly to open the link, even though he knew it was nail polish related.

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    1. Thank you so much! I'm glad he enjoyed it. I'm actually a little surprised how much positive male reaction this series received.

      Thanks again for coming by!

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