The Black Sabbath album Tony Iommi called a “nightmare”

For rock music, Black Sabbath set a new standard at the start of the 1970s. Throughout the colorful and turbulent 1960s, rock music managed to carve out ever-tinier niches for itself. Ozzy Osbourne’s quartet from Birmingham advanced the heavy rock sound of Led Zeppelin with correspondingly sinister, demonic overtones, as the genre’s spread continued throughout the 1970s.

Sabbath raised the standard for themselves and their early heavy metal peers, Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin, with their self-titled first album released in 1970. These three bands are commonly considered the “Unholy Trinity” in retrospect, even though the latter is more easily linked to the prog-rock movement.

Even if Black Sabbath had broken up after their self-titled album, their hits like “N.I.B.” and “The Wizard” would have made them a household name thanks to an unbreakable record. Fortunately, the group continued to make music throughout the early 1970s, putting out some equally well-received and significant albums, including Sabbath Bloody Sabbath, Master of Reality, Vol. 4, and Paranoid.

After Sabbath Bloody Sabbath arrived in 1973, Osbourne started to get disinterested in the band’s artistic approach. When the band issued Sabotage two years later, there was a clear loss of cohesion, which was indicative of internal struggle. A contentious legal drama and the members’ escalating drug and alcohol problems at the time were aggravating factors.

Guitarist Tony Iommi recalled Sabotage as a particularly trying time for the group in a 2023 interview with Louder Sound. He remarked, “Oh, it was a nightmare.” “We had a court case with our ex-manager, Patrick Meehan [who had recently been replaced by been replaced by Don Arden], while we were in the middle of making the album. We’d get a writ, and we’d end up having to go into bloody court in the morning, all dressed up, then try to get back to the studio afterwards to carry on working. It was hard to come up with things. You had to have two heads.”

Iommi said that although the court case disrupted recording sessions, composer Geezer Butler found inspiration from the incident. He continued, “[Geezer] wrote one song called ‘The Writ’, so it influenced him, that’s for sure,” Iommi continued. “I think the aggression definitely came out in the music when we played together. There is some really heavy stuff on that record.”

Below, you may listen to “The Writ” by Black Sabbath. The inspiration for the song came from a lawyer who would show up out of the blue during practice to deliver legal documents to the band. Iommi commented, “They used to turn up all the bloody time, We never knew they were coming. If we did, we’d have disappeared sharpish.”


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