Sad to hear that Black Sabbath guitarist Tony Iommi has been diagnosed with cancer. Brummie Satanists Sabbath were the most edgily subversive of heavy metal’s hard-strumming first wave, taking the pyrotechnic blues-rock psychadelia of the Claptons and Hendrixes of the late ‘60s, stripping out the air-headed sunniness of the Summer of Love and refitting it for the long brown bad come-down that was the 1970s.
The tempo was reduced to a ponderous stomp, doom-laden and stark, as lyrics on depression, disillusion, demonology and drugs were delivered in the straitjacket howl of one Ozzy Osbourne – here in the days before he’d been completely obliterated by heroin. Crawling menace was occasionally replaced with a demented frenzy courtesy of Mr Iommi, a formula that produced the gloomy masterpiece of tension of release that was 1970’s Paranoid, the album which brought us the unmistakable ‘Iron Man’.
In the land of metal the hair might’ve got more outrageous and the amps turned up to 11, but the likes of Iron Maiden look like teeny boppers playing with the Halloween costumes at the joke shop by comparison to the Sab. Swift-recovery vibes go out to Iommi.