Black Sabbath

More notorious for its reputation than the actual music, and more influential for what it inspired than what it actually is. The band has always maintained their Satanistic trappings were a commercial hook and not a lifestyle, and I believe them, because there was probably a lot of weirdness in 1969 and why not capture those dark souls' dollars with some dramatic imagery, howling guitars and doomy sound effects? Throw in that bleak unsettling cover with the enigmatic woman in black and theoretically you're ready to rock eternal agony. Well, not quite: Tomy Iommi's guitars are skillful and the Geezer Butler bass is appropriately heavy, but Ozzy hadn't quite achieved the vocal prowess of later albums and the sparser metal feel gets monotonous in these long-form tracks. The self-titled first track on their self-titled first album is genuinely creepy and not for listeners of delicate constitution, but the rest of it feels a lot like Led Zeppelin's pasty white Antichrist love-child with Jethro Tull (no doubt the result of Iommi's brief professional association with Ian Anderson), bluesy jams and harmonica (!) intact, and just as noodly as such a description would imply. "Wicked World" gets points for relative brevity, but the interminably titled and interminably recorded third and fifth tracks just go on and on. Much metal followed the pattern this album established and the genre can trace itself back to this very record, but the album itself is a dreary slog and even the cultists would find it boring. (Content: occult themes.)