Awesome Totally Awesome - DTK

The Story of Black Sabbath’s “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath”

In 1973, Black Sabbath were riding high on the success of their Vol. IV album and mammoth tour of the U.S., Australia and Europe.

But when it came time to work on the Vol. IV follow up album, guitarist Tony Iommi, bassist Geezer Butler, drummer Bill Ward and vocalist Ozzy Osbourne found the writing well had simply run dry.

Despite trying to duplicate the surroundings and good times they had when writing Vol. IV – renting a house in Bel Air, snorting up bagfuls of cocaine and using LA’s Record Plant Studios – they just couldn’t replicate that magic in the summer of 1973. The drugs were taking a toll and Iommi, the guy everybody was waiting on to come up with the songs, had the musician’s version of writer’s block.

“Everybody was sitting there waiting for me to come up with something. I just couldn’t think of anything. And if I didn’t come up with anything, nobody would do anything,” said Iommi in in the book Wheels of Confusion: The Story of Black Sabbath.

So after a fruitless month in LA, Sabbath returned to their English roots and rented a medieval castle, Clearwell Castle, in Gloucestershire, England, to work on writing new songs. The castle was well known to bands after Bad Company had worked within its gothic halls and dungeons. Later Led Zeppelin would rehearse some songs from the In Through the Out Door sessions there.

The Riff That Saved Black Sabbath

With a ton of pressure still weighing the band down, Iommi had an epiphany in the castle dungeon when he stumbled upon the mammoth riff that would become Sabbath Bloody Sabbath’s title track and savior of the band.

In an interview with Guitar World, Butler tells how low the band was before Iommi came up with that amazing riff: “We almost thought that we were finished as a band … Once Tony came out with the initial riff for ‘Sabbath Bloody Sabbath’ we went ‘We’re baaaack!'”

Awesome Totally Awesome - DTK

Certainly the spookiness of the castle served as an inspiration for Sabbath, who soon discovered a ghost lurked within the walls.

“We rehearsed in the armoury there and one night I was walking down the corridor with Ozzy and we saw this figure in a black cloak … We followed this figure back into the armoury and there was absolutely no one there,” recalled Iommi in 1998. “Whoever it was had disappeared into thin air! The people that owned the castle knew all about this ghost and they said, ‘Oh yes, that’s the ghost of so and so. We were like ‘What!?'”

Butler, in Wheels of Confusion: The Story of Black Sabbath, adds the medieval setting served as an inspiration: “It was really creepy but it had some atmosphere, it conjured up things, and stuff started coming out again.”

With songs in hand, Sabbath would end up recording the album at London’s Morgan Studios. It was released in December 1973, and on Jan. 1, 1974 in the U.S.

“The Pinnacle” for Sabbath

Indeed, Sabbath Bloody Sabbath is one of the band’s best albums. In addition to the title track, “A National Acrobat”, “Killing Yourself To Live” and “Spiral Architect” are among Black Sabbath’s greatest tracks.

Iommi even called it “the pinnacle” for Black Sabbath.

Additionally, the album’s cover is one of the most iconic in metal history. It was painted by Drew Struzan and is immediately with its depiction of an evil death on the front, and a good death on the back fold.

Speaking of that period in the band’s history, Osbourne noted it was “the beginning of the end” for the band.

“Sabbath Bloody Sabbath was really the album after which I should have said goodbye because after that I really started unravelling”, Osbourne told Mojo. “Then we ended up falling out of favour with each other.”

Check out more of Cam Maxwell’s Rock ‘N Roll Insight.

Awesome Totally Awesome - Freaks & Weirdos Boutique
ATA - DTK

Awesome Dropping

Awesome Totally Awesome - Pink Floyd Waters GIlmour

Pink Floyd's The Final Cut: One of their Best Albums

Look around the internet for what people think are Pink Floyd's best albums, and The Final Cut usually rates as one of the worst, at least of those from the Roger Waters era.
Awesome Totally Awesome Bono

“There Is A God,” Claim Millions of Atheists After Hearing the News That Bono Lost His Voice

Upon the news that Bono completely lost his voice, partway through U2’s performance in Berlin Saturday, atheists around the world began to seriously question their worldview.
Awesome Totally Awesome - Fleetwood Mac Rumors

Why Fleetwood Mac's "Rumours" is one of the Greatest Records of All Time

What makes Fleetwood Mac's Rumours album transcend into that musical stratosphere is the real emotion inherent behind the amazing harmonies and sound within the songs.

Awesome Features

Cliff Burton's Influence on Ride The Lightning

There's no question Metallica's sophomore album, Ride the Lightning saw the band finding their thrash metal stride with better songs and production than on their stunning debut Kill 'Em All.
Awesome Totally Awesome - Ignoring Help

Why Are We Ignoring a Blatant Cry For Help?

We want to believe that we are morally “good”, but when the shit actually hits the metaphorical—or literal—fan, sometimes we fail.
Awesome Totally Awesome - DTK

The Story of Black Sabbath's "Sabbath Bloody Sabbath"

In 1973, Black Sabbath were riding high on the success of their Vol. IV album and mammoth tour of the U.S., Australia and Europe.

Awesome Trending

Awesome Totally Awesome

Wu-Tang Clan and Activision to Collaborate for Call of Duty, 36 Chambers Edition

Videogame giant Activision announced that it will be collaborating with the legendary hip hop conglomerate, the Wu Tang Clan (“Wu”) for several upcoming projects, including Call of Duty, 36 Chambers Edition.
Awesome Totally Awesome Elon Musk

Elon Musk’s Next Collaboration Is a Trip

ATA has since discovered that Musk is working closely with DTK (Drink the Koolaid) Labs on a new LSD that he claims will initiate a new industrial revolution.
Awesome Totally Awesome - DTK

Digging For Dirt: How Alice In Chains Made Their Ultimate Album

Among the truly great heavy metal albums, Alice in Chains' masterpiece Dirt is easily a cut above the rest.