Rock Reads: Black Sabbath: Pioneers of Heavy Metal by Brian Aberback

Reviewed by Kevin Wierzbicki

In the last paragraph of the last chapter of this book, Judas Priest front man Rob Halford, himself a member of Black Sabbath for three live shows, says "I think it's kind of agreed that metal all started with Sabbath." Few will disagree with that assessment. How though, would you back up that theory to a youthful person who doesn't know Black Sabbath from black licorice? Of course you would play them some music, but then what? Enter Black Sabbath: Pioneers of Heavy Metal, a brief but thorough recapping of the band's history, presented almost textbook style (although there are no quizzes!) The book is an unauthorized "rockography" and therefore there is no band member commentary here except for a few stray quotes lifted from other sources. There are no stories about Ozzy getting stoned and trashing a hotel room or about how many groupies the guys bedded. This is not the purpose of the book. The book is a quick and fun read but the idea is to educate more than it is to entertain and the band's career to date is summed up in a mere 89 pages. Readers will learn how the band members met and how they chose the name Black Sabbath and what inspired their early "scary" sound. The pressure of non-fame almost caused them to breakup and the pressure of fame did. The parade of line-up changes is chronicled, Sharon Osbourne's "saving" of Ozzy is touched on as is Ozzfest. The death of guitarist Randy Rhoads, although he was not a member of Black Sabbath, is also covered since the event had such a tremendous effect on Ozzy and therefore by extension is germane to the Sabbath story. For longtime fans of Black Sabbath there's nothing new here. For new fans though, here's a great place to start and a valuable resource-in-waiting for future students of metal or rock in general who maybe haven't even been born yet.

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