Black Sabbath is the debut album by Black Sabbath. Released on 13 February 1970 in the United Kingdom and on 1 June 1970 in the United States, the album reached number eight on the UK Albums Charts and number 23 on the Billboard charts. Although it was poorly received by most contemporary music critics at the time, Black Sabbath is now widely considered the first heavy metal album.
To be precise that is not a quite correct definition. There we have some rockers, blues style's songs and just a little of Heavy metal's roots, but not the first Heavy Metal album at all! This is perhaps the first album in where we can hear the birth of heavy metal as we now know it. But in the next months with "Paranoid" and later with "Master of Reality" the band transcended its clear roots in blues-rock and psychedelia to became something more. Maybe there, with second and third album we are able to say that there we got the first two Heavy Metal albums!
According to Black Sabbath guitarist and founder member Tony Iommi, the group's debut album was recorded in a single day on 16 October 1969. The session lasted twelve hours. Iommi said: "We just went in the studio and did it in a day, we played our live set and that was it. We actually thought a whole day was quite a long time, then off we went the next day to play for £20 in Switzerland.
Aside from the bells, thunder and rain sound effects added to the beginning of the opening track, and the double-tracked guitar solos on "N.I.B." and "Sleeping Village", there were virtually no overdubs added to the album. Iommi recalls recording live: "We thought, 'We have two days to do it and one of the days is mixing.' So we played live. Ozzy (Osbourne) was singing at the same time, we just put him in a separate booth and off we went. We never had a second run of most of the stuff.
Black Sabbath's music and lyrics were quite dark for the time. The opening track is based almost entirely on a tritone interval played at slow tempo on the electric guitar.
Black Sabbath was recorded for Fontana Records, but prior to release the record company elected to switch the band to another of their labels, Vertigo Records, which housed the company's more progressive acts.
Received primarily unfavorable reviews from contemporary music critics. Rolling Stone's Lester Bangs described the band as, "just like Cream! But worse", and he dismissed the album as "a shuck – despite the murky songtitles and some inane lyrics that sound like Vanilla Fudge paying doggerel tribute to Aleister Crowley, the album has nothing to do with spiritualism, the occult, or anything much except stiff recitations of Cream clichés"