The world into which the Birmingham England band Black Sabbath quickly rose to popularity with their second album, Paranoid, in 1970 felt increasingly like a dangerous place. It seemed that time was marked and policy formulated by a seemingly endless stream of violent acts including assassinations, bombings, race riots, the slaughter of college students on campus, and the decade-long Viet Nam war. And all of this violence was set against the pernicious incessant white noise of the nuclear arms race between the U.S. and Soviet Union in a thermonuclear game of “chicken”. Black Sabbath’s sound and subjects, which would be lampooned decades later as cartoonish, were forged as much by these deadly concerns as by Animal House debauchery.
While music critics were not hesitant to slag off every Black Sabbath release, 1972’s Vol 4 included, nevertheless it became the band’s fourth consecutive album to sell over a million copies in the U.S. , reaching #13 in Billboard and #8 sales in the UK. Yet many detractors, who had watched Bela Lugosi, Boris Karloff, Vincent Price, and Lon Chaney in such classic scary movies as Dracula and Frankenstein, nevertheless felt that Black Sabbath’s fantasy deadpan doomsday warnings in such songs as “Tomorrow’s Dream”,”Children of the Grave”,”Snowblind”,”Changes”, and “Supernaut” were somehow a threat. Black Sabbath co-founder and original lead singer Ozzy Osbourne joins me In the Studio on the 40th anniversary of what is widely regarded as the last classic album from the Godfathers of Heavy Metal. – Redbeard