Black Sabbath: Symptom of the Universe
Pub Date : Apr 14 2015
This book seems to have originally come out back in 2013, so I’m not totally sure if this is just a re-issue or just a new version? Not sure. Anyway. Growing up in the midlands during the 1970’s and early 80’s it was impossible not to be aware of Black Sabbath. My first exposure to them was through my brother who owned their first few albums. It was initially a bit too bleak for my then young ears, and it wasn’t until Paranoid that I saw anything to like – WarPigs, Iron Man and NIB would then quickly become favourites. However, if I’m honest my first real ‘love’ in Sabbath terms was when Ronnie James Dio joined the band, and Heaven and Hell and Mob Rules came out. I loved both of these records. It was only later that I really stated to get into the original Ozzy period more earnestly and diligently.
I came to this book knowing some of the story – having read Ioimi’s and Ozzy’s books, but was still impressed with how Wall (who I I originally knew as a writer for Kerrang and Sounds) has managed to craft a tale that tries to tell a tale of the ups and downs of a band without too much bias to any particular version of events. Of course, the fact that Wall worked for the band – he was a PR man for them during the late 70s early 80s, as well as for Dio in the 90s – also means he was around the band when part of his story is taking place and his friendship with the various band members means that he doesn’t just have to rely on previously published material.
It’s an informative and easy read that ticks off all the boxes along the sabbath journey: early years, early success, being dismissed by music press, inner power struggles, outer power struggles, reunions and the role a powerful father and daughter would play in their history.
You certainly get a feeling here was a band who didn’t think they got their due – at least not at the time. I could perhaps have done without Wall’s reviews of the albums as we go along, especially as when he does comment he does so in an authoritative, I’m clearly right manner. At one point, he declares Heaven and Hell one of the greatest HM records of all time. This made me crack out the Vinyl and play a record I hadn’t listen to from start to finish in almost 10 years. For me, it’s half an excellent record and half ok filler. But, this is a minor gripe. The book, which is also packed with great photos, is a great introduction to the band and it’s various line-ups.
Review copy provided by St. Martin’s Press/ Netgalley