Ginger Nuts of Horror
BY TERRY GRIMWOOD
Black Sabbath is my favourite band. It’s a simple as that. I have broad tastes, from Vaughn Williams to John Coltrane to Jimi Hendrix and everything beyond and between. But through it all, it is Black Sabbath with whom I shall grow old and finally settle down. It’s a love affair that began one afternoon in 1972. I was sixteen.
Why did I fall for them? No one reason. It was the deep, thunderous soundscapes of their riff-laden music. It was the imagery of the lyrics. It was the raw poetry of what they did. It was the way they tapped into a vein that had already been opened by Irwin Allen, Gene Roddenberry, Vincent Price, Peter Cushing, Herbert van Thal, Michael Moorcock, Robert Silverberg, Philip K Dick and their like
Black Sabbath are a national treasure now. A band whose final concert was courted by a false and fickle media that hadn’t the slightest clue of what they were about. A media who tiresomely cite Paranoid as the song the band are famous for, in other words, the only Sabbath song that most of them have heard. A band who, in their heyday, were dismissed and even treated with contempt by the music press. But the faithful will always be faithful. So, a romance in three songs…
It's odd, I don't have a favourite Sabbath album. The first six studio albums from 1970 - 1976, and the first album with Ronnie James Dio on vocals, do amount to seven of my favourite records of all time though (and I have a great many records). I can't get a cigarette paper between those seven records in terms of my own listening pleasure. Their influence on the heavy rock music around them at that time, and particularly during and after grunge, was monumental. I sometimes think that these days, it's almost hard to find a metal band without the spirit of Sabbath, and an abundance of its musical ideas, present. Like many metal fans, I also look for Sabbath in other bands. It's probably the highest tribute you can pay to a band. They were so original, and such a precursor; I often wonder what their own awareness was, at the time, of what they were doing with music? Oddly, I also enjoyed listening to these Sabbath albums more from the late nineties until the present day. I think at that time I fully appreciated just how special they were/are/always will be. I often have these records on.
That wasn’t quite what I got. Keyboards? Synthesisers? What the fuck? The record remained untouched amongst my collection for a few years, until I revisited it later, with more mature ears.
I have to admit that when I first heard Sabbath Bloody Sabbath, I didn’t like it.
It was the eighties. I was into hardcore punk, and I liked my music fast, loud and angry. I was also the guitarist in a ragged little punk band. Because I played guitar—however badly—I was drawn to heavy guitar music, and the people who made it. My peer group were all metal fans (we called them heavy rockers back then, kids), so I was drip fed a steady diet of rock—Sabbath, Zeppelin, Motörhead, Maiden, Saxon—but I didn’t own any of it...
I was playing Dungeons & Dragons at my neighbor’s house when I first heard the church bell and the thunderstorm, followed by the diminished fifth–the Devil's’ Chord. It wasn’t until the plea of “Oh, no! Please God help me!” that I stopped all dice rolling and demanded to know who played the soundtrack behind our orc-filled dungeon. It was 1980. I was 10. And Ozzy Osbourne had since been removed from my new favorite band. The good news was there was a whole catalogue of music by the band to discover, and thankfully my neighbors had acquired the majority of it. However, the quest to obtain my own collection had only just begun, which my mother prohibited. It would have to be a tucked away safely out of my concerned parent’s reach.
BY ANDREW FREUDENBERG
So it’s 1971 and those crazy young guys from Birmingham have put out their third album. You’ve kind of dug their first two releases, as bizarre and original as they are, and you’re keen to find out just what the hell they’ll do next. You’ve played ‘Led Zeppelin III’ and ‘Deep Purple In Rock’ to death; you’re ready for some new sounds. So you gather your friends, roll up a fat one, crank the stereo and it’s time. You hear that loop of Tony Iommi coughing and, boom, ‘Sweet Leaf’ is blowing your mind for the first time…
Paranoid may not have created heavy metal in and of itself, but it sure as shit smashed down the doors and led the charge for the genre, kicking up poisonous dust in its wake as it cleaved its way into the hearts and minds of a youth struggling through a tumultuous time in history.
“Sympathy for the music industry!” I hear them shout in unison.
I can relate. There’s a whole lot of bullshit out there.
You know of what I speak. I’m not talking about mainstream pop music here. Modern pop exists in its own mundane, artless bubble, and it’s not worth my time or yours. What really stings, is the lack of real vision, real danger, in mainstream Rock’n’Roll.
I’m talking about all those bands who should know better, who quietly limp along with nothing new to say or bring to the table, recycling the same old well-established ingredients while chasing after the fool’s gold that comes with mainstream acceptability. Inevitably, the results are mediocre, diluted versions of the trailblazing works that have come before them. Lifeless, lacking vision, standing uselessly on the shoulders of the fearless artists who have come before, peering over the wall of their mediocrity at the unattainable genius beyond.
THE SUN, THE MOON, THE STARS, BLACK SABBATH, FANTASY, AND THE SATANIC PANIC: A REFLECTION BY BRACKEN MACLEOD
"My friends and I were unwittingly thrust into the center of a dangerous counter-culture, and listening to the songs on Black Sabbath was like hearing the shot heard ‘round the world. It was a rallying hue and cry for teen rebellion."
I grew up in an environment filled with music. Something was always playing either in the car or the house (at least until we got cable—that’s right, not everyone always had cable their entire lives) and so I grew up accustomed to always having music to fill the otherwise quiet moments in life. My mother’s collection of vinyl and 8-tracks included The Doors, The Beatles, Pink Floyd, 10CC, Buffy Saint Marie, Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention, Kiki Dee, and Fleetwood Mac.
But what she didn’t have was Black Sabbath...
Following on from last year's highly successful Summer of Maiden, curated by Kit Power, Ginger Nuts of Horror returns with "Summer of Sabbath". The brainchild of Andrew Freudenberg, Summer of Sabbath celebrates the magic, the myth and the music of the masters of metal Black Sabbath. Featuring reviews and articles from some of horror's finest writers, this massive retrospective of the career of one of the most influential bands of all time is set to be a must read for your Summer days and Autumn nights.
Formed in Birmingham in 1968, by guitarist and main songwriter Tony Iommi, bassist and main lyricist Geezer Butler, singer Ozzy Osbourne, and drummer Bill Ward. Black Sabbath are often cited as pioneers of heavy metal music. The band helped define the genre with releases such as Black Sabbath (1970), Paranoid (1970) and Master of Reality (1971). The band had multiple line-up changes, with Iommi being the only constant member throughout its history.
Formed in 1968 as the Polka Tulk Blues Band, a blues rock band, the group went through line up changes, renamed themselves as Earth, broke up and reformed. By 1969, they had named themselves Black Sabbath after the film Black Sabbath starring Boris Karloff, and began incorporating occult themes with horror-inspired lyrics and tuned-down guitars. The band's first show as Black Sabbath took place on 30 August 1969, in Workington. Signing to Philips Records in November 1969, they released their first single, "Evil Woman" in January 1970. Their debut album, Black Sabbath, was released on Friday the 13th, February 1970, on Philips' newly formed progressive rock label, Vertigo Records. Though receiving a negative critical response, the album was a commercial success and reached number 8 in the UK Albums Chart, so the band returned to the studios to quickly record the follow up, Paranoid, which was released in 1970. The band's popularity grew, and by 1973's Sabbath Bloody Sabbath, critics were starting to respond favourably.
The series kicks off this Monday with Bracken Macleod's look at their debut album.
SUMMER OF SABBATH'S CONTRIBUTING WRITERS
Kyle M. Scott
Steven L. Shrewsbury
Ted E. Grau
If you would like to contribute to this amazing feature, please drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org (please mark your email Summer of Sabbath)
It is no secret to anyone who knows me that I consider the first seven Iron Maiden albums to be perfect. Entirely perfect. Not a single misstep among them. There are more than a few missteps in No Prayer, Fear of the Dark, and Virtual XI, but generally speaking I am pretty forgiving of Iron Maiden. Albums like The X Factor and A Matter of Life and Death have their detractors but I defend them unwaveringly. It must be said, however, that a person can notice a difference in overall quality between the Maiden of old and the band we have today.
That is, until now....
The first thing I think of when someone mentions Iron Maiden is the cheeky image of Eddie the Head who has fascinated me ever since I was a young girl. In truth, when I was little, he frightened me a little. I don’t even remember where I first saw him, but he’s been in my life off and on for quite some time. Which is funny, because my parents aren’t exactly metal heads. My mom prefers Patsy Cline, Elvis Presley and a whole string of caterwauling Country singers. (Though I have to give her credit for introducing me to Bob Marley as a kid)
I do like a bit of Metal. I’m no stranger to Pantera, Rammstein, Alice in Chains, White Zombie, Sepultura and System of a Down, to name a few of my favourites. I even like the ‘uncool bands’ like Korn and Aerosmith. So it’s actually quite funny to think that I don’t really know Iron Maiden’s music. They have, after all, been a really big part in the development of the Metal scene.....