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Black Sabbath - the Pioneers of Heavy Metal

Metal fans, raise those devil horns and hail the original legends of rock. The Gods of Metal are back. Veteran British rock band Black Sabbath announced last Friday about a reunion tour and an upcoming album in their original four man line-up. The hitherto unnamed album, after a 33 year long hiatus is slated for a 2012 release accompanied by a world tour.

Singer Ozzy Osbourne, guitarist Tony Iommi, bass player Geezer Butler and drummer Bill Ward told at a news conference at legendary Sunset Strip club Whiskey a Go Go they would perform at the Download Festival in England in June 2012, and then embark on a world tour.

Formed in Aston, Birmingham, in the late 1960’s, Black Sabbath was one of the pioneers of heavy metal. They explored and defined the genre with releases such as quadruple-platinum ‘Paranoid’. Rolling Stone magazine said of this album that it "changed music forever". MTV has ranked them as the Greatest Metal Band and VH1 placed them at number two on their list of the 100 Greatest Artists of Hard Rock behind Led Zeppelin. Black Sabbath was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2006, and included among Rolling Stone's list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time.

Black Sabbath were not off to the best start though. Critics of the era dismissed their sound as it stood in stark contrast to the popular music of that time. The band virtually received no airplay on rock radio, much like their heavy metal contemporaries. Tony Iommi, the band's primary songwriter, wrote the majority of Black Sabbath's music, while Osbourne would write vocal melodies, and bassist Geezer Butler would write lyrics. Vocalist Ozzy Osbourne's excessive abuse of cocaine and his alcohol addiction led him to being fired from the band in April 1979. Post this, he emerged as a solo artist, sold more than 32 million albums, acquiring a cult status among rock fans. The band’s original line-up reunited with Osbourne in 1997 and released a live album ‘Reunion’.

Despite variations in the line up and stylistics changes, Black Sabbath’s original sound mostly focused on ominous lyrics and doomy music, often making use of the musical tritone, famously known as the "devil's interval". Their songs were never structured- it could start with a long intro, break into a jazz piece and even derive influences from folk. Black Sabbath has sold over 15 million records in the United States alone and more than 100 million records worldwide.

The four musicians, now all in their 60s, released their last studio album of all original material in 1978 with "Never Say Never".

The band has outdone themselves time and again and carved a vanguard position for them in the adrenaline pumped world of rock music. There’s little wonder as to why Rolling Stone has posited the band as 'the heavy-metal kings of the '70s'. Black Sabbath are genuinely and inarguably one of the most influential heavy metal bands of all time.

-by Parmita Borah


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