Fact: metal as we know it wouldn’t exist without Black Sabbath. Sure, you can talk about your Blue Cheers and your Led Zeppelins, but those first six Sabbath albums have influenced more bands and been directly responsible for more sub-genres of music than any other band’s body of work, and it’s easy to see why: they’re pretty much unfuckwithable.
With Black Sabbath’s final Indianapolis show coming up at Klipsch on Sept. 2, we asked some Indy musicians, promoters, and the IMS staff what their favorite Black Sabbath song is and why.
Drew Smith (Archarus): Three immediately come to mind, but picking one I’d have to take “Hole in the Sky.” The medium paced bounce is a great feel. And the basic simplicity of the minor pentatonics blends away from the traditional dark, minor keys they usually use. Perfect riffing, in the box headbanger. Tristan said “Megalomania” because of the dynamics. It starts off slow then ends rocking. Love the vocal melody in the last half. Also note, our old guitarist Matt used “Sabbra Cadabra” in his wedding ceremonies. Facebook Twitter Instagram Bandcamp
Derek Felix (Void King): My favorite Sabbath song is “Black Sabbath.” I can’t even begin to imagine what people were thinking back then when they first heard that song. The heaviness of that riff…. NOTHING sounded like that. That guitar riff has stood the test of time as one of the heaviest riffs ever written. Void King doesn’t exist without that band or that song. Facebook Twitter Bandcamp
Karl Simon (Wretch): My favorite Black Sabbath song is “Thrill of it All” off Sabotage. The song begins with an interesting gnarly riff, leading into a fierce yet melodic solo, and then slams into the most intense verse in rock and roll for me. Geezer’s lyrics are delivered fiercely by Ozzy, and the squeal from the pick hitting the strings indicates to me that Iommi was beating those things for all they were worth. And then it pivots in a Beatlesque manner: the tone brightens, synth beds come in all leading to one of Iommi’s best leads taking the song out. Facebook
Larry Rasener (Metalhead Productions): My favorite Black Sabbath song is “Never Say Die.” It’s one of the faster Sabbath songs which is probably why it’s my favorite. Ozzy sounds great and Bill Ward pounds the drums on this one. Crank it!!! Facebook Twitter Website
Nate Olp (Kvlthammer): “Hole In The Sky” is my joint, it’s got the slippery riff that drives me fuckin’ crazy. It’s the perfect tempo, it’s sexual and has the weight of a thousand storms. The lyrics are a perfect mix of an orgy acid party on steroids. Facebook Instagram Bandcamp
Travis Roach (Ice Howl): My favorite Black Sabbath track would have to be “Supernaut” from Vol. 4. That main riff blasts off, and takes you on a journey past the moon and back. Memorable lyrics, catchy riffs, and the drum solo all come together to create what I believe to be an instant classic! Personally, this song is the reason I wanted to play music! Facebook Bandcamp
Ty Winslow (Occult Deceiver/Battersea): Honestly, I’m terrible at picking favorites. When it comes to Black Sabbath, my favorite song is basically everything on the first four albums. However, for the sake of being a good sport with this article, I’m going to go with “Hand of Doom.” First of all, that’s a great song name. I love the opening bass line and how the song starts out kind of mellow, builds up, and comes back down. It’s a song that takes you on a ride.
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Jaso Loco (Indy Under Siege): It wasn’t easy for me to pick a favorite Black Sabbath song, but I’m going to go with “Megalomania” because I resonate with the vibe and the lyrics hit home. The progression is sweet going from mellow ambiance to in your face groove then finishes with an epic string build up into the solo.
“I’m really digging schizophrenia the best of the earth / I’ll chase my soul in the fires of hell? / Peace of mind eluded me, but now it’s all mine / I simply try, but he wants me to fail / Feel it slipping away, slipping in tomorrow / Now I’ve found my happiness, providence of sorrow” Facebook
Bryan: This was a tough choice, but I have to go with “Jack the Stripper/Fairies Wear Boots.” The intro riff is one of my favorites and I love the swing that Bill Ward puts on the drums throughout the whole song. Also, I’ve always believed that the Kurt Hammet’s (Metallica) intro riff in “For Whom the Bell Tolls” is an homage to the outro guitar lick in this song.
Clayton: Man, this is a tough one—It’s hard to narrow it down to just one. If we’re talking based on the main riff alone, it would be ‘Sabbath Bloody Sabbath,” but I think that in terms of overall songcraft “Snowblind” edges it out. That opening riff is one of the more complex that Iommi ever wrote, especially the arpeggios he throws in there. Lyrically, I appreciate the extended metaphor that, while perhaps not particularly nuanced (snow = cocaine), is still a step up from “Sweet Leaf.” Can’t forget about that transition into the bridge, either.
Londa: My favorite Black Sabbath song is definitely “War Pigs.” This song is great because it surprises you by starting out super slow and then the music takes over. I can remember being about 5 and my dad would jam this song so loud. He would get so into it and sing. Now as an adult I find myself doing the same. It’s very catchy and I have a hard time not singing along. Now that I’m a mom I can only hope that I can pass on this song to the next generation because Black Sabbath will be immortal.
Kyle: “Follow the Tears.” Many want to catch the final Black Sabbath tour “before anyone dies,” but one of the most prominent members of Sabbath has already passed – Ronnie James Dio (not including Ray, Cozy, etc. who don’t get the same name recognition). 2009’s Heaven and Hell album The Devil You Know was the Sabbath album without the Sabbath label – out of respect for Ozzy, presumably. It showed that the combination of Ronnie James Dio, Geezer Butler, and Tony Iommi were an unbeatable formula that would always produce HEAVY rifs, stellar songwriting, and soaring, catchy vocals. The Devil You Know was an infinitely better album than Black Sabbath’s actual comeback album, 13. I won’t pretend that the best songs Sabbath ever wrote are on The Devil You Know – but the album has special significance because it’s the final recording featuring Ronnie James Dio. The album is a testament to the effortless abilities that Ronnie had as a vocalist and a lyricist. Plus, the album is littered with ridiculous puns (the opening track is called “Atom and Evil”), and I’m a huge fan of puns. “Follow the Tears” is the song I’m choosing, because now that Ronnie has passed, it’s that much more heartbreaking to listen to. When Dio sings, “So if you want to know where I’ve been hiding all these years – follow the tears” – a realization sets in. That trail of tears will never lead us back to one of the most talented and revered frontmen in metal history. And no, that hologram that premiered at Wacken doesn’t count.
Chris: I discovered Black Sabbath when I was 15 years old and they blew my mind at the very first listen. I’d listened to stuff like Metallica and Ozzy’s solo albums, but I’d never heard anything so dark. They’re also the band that got me to notice the bass guitar for the first time due to Geezer’s incredible lines on songs like “NIB” and “Iron Man.” But the song I’d recommend by them is “After All (The Dead),” a track from Dehumanizer, the third album they recorded with Ronnie James Dio on vocals. The riffs are as haunting as they are dynamic and the lyrics are some of the most existential ever associated with a classic metal band. Considering how Dio left us in 2010 and Sabbath is on its farewell tour now, it seems to be just as relevant now as when it was written.
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