These are the things that were going through my mind as I watched Black Sabbath play for my final time. No, these thoughts of death weren't what I was thinking because the band members themselves are so close to the grave, but it was because of some of their anti-war songs. The embrace and exploration of death and the dark was heavy metal's primary function from it's very conception.
Going back to that first album from 1969 it is hard to argument that Sabbath didn't
invent heavy metal as we know it today. The first album as well as the first track on that album are called Black Sabbath, and even if there were plenty of proto metal bands around laying down heavy tracks, they didn't lay down this track. The song Black Sabbath is the very foundation of doom metal, not only with its slow heaviness, but also with its showcase of satan and black figures in the lyrics, and the sounds of rain, thunder, and church bells. It's crazy how right this band got it the first time and continued to get it for years to come.
For many people, Sabbath is their Stones, their Beatles, their Stooges, and I'm
definitely in that camp. I'd even argue that they have had a bigger influence in shaping music than any other band as there are new bands popping up all the time still soaking in Sabbathesque chords, and singing. This has been going on since the 70's. The imitators are endless. Petitions have even gone around to make their song War Pigs the national anthem.
War Pigs, this is the song that got me thinking about all of this in the first place.
While a lot of Sabbath is a much more fantastical embrace of death, this song takes all that mixes it up with living here on earth now. While this song was written during the Vietnam era, it is just as relevant now, and this is why I always felt heavy music most represented the world we actually live in. Though my sensory input
tends to run towards the dark side, I'm not a gloomy, downtrodden person. Sure, I have my rants, but I don't go around pissing on my peers parades all day. I'm generally a happy person and I believe that my looks into the abyss are what gets me through life and its disappointments in a much more relaxed manner.
Although War Pigs is all doom and gloom, facing the facts that conspiring politicians and generals aren't so different than a cabal of evil witches scheming some wrongdoing. This look at the darkness is no different than hundreds of other bands who have done the same, and one thing they all have in common is while their imagery embraces death, it is very much against it. Sometimes to understand the worst of the worst, you have to throw it in one's face, and that is something in which metal bands do best, they throw it in your face. Some people are going to get it, some people aren't, and if you don't, that's cool. Just know that because I like the dark, doesn't mean I am, I just don't like to look away.