To us metalheads, Black Sabbath are more important than the Beatles. And it was back in 1969, a whole 50 bloody years ago, that Ozzy, Geezer, Tony and Bill channelled their bleak experiences working in Birmingham's metal industrials into a new form of music and created what we came to know as heavy metal.
To celebrate 50 years since these four blues-influenced rockers from Aston began a revolution, Birmingham is holding an entire season of heavy metal devoted exhibitions and events this summer, with Home of Metal presenting a series of exhibits in partnership with organisations dotted all around the city.
Some of these include Black Sabbath – 50 years (opens in new tab) at Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery, Monster Chetwynd: Hell Mouth 3 at Eastside Projects, Alan Kane: 4 Bed Detached Home of Metal at The New Art gallery Walsall.
There will also be a very special 15th Anniversary of Supersonic Festival, headlined by Neurosis and supported by Brum legends and pioneers of heavy industrial Godflesh opening the festivities with a very special concert at the stunning Grade I listed Town Hall Birmingham – following in the footsteps of Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin who played the historic venue themselves many years ago.
1. Metal fans are creative
The artistic talents of heavy metal fans go far beyond music and the exhibitions and events at the Home of Metal proved that.
At Midlands Art Centre, feast your eyes upon San Francisco based artist Ben Venom (opens in new tab)'s musically influenced masterpieces. His exhibition, All This Mayhem (on from June 22 to September 8) is an epic display of his works. The artist uses textiles associated with metal culture, such as denim and leather, along with modern and vintage band t-shirts to create stunning yet completely wearable and usable pieces of fabric art.
His ginormous textile quilt incorporates skulls, snakes, pentagrams and band tees, while a custom-made patchwork "Full Metal Jacket" made for Mastodon's Brann Dailor.
Still at the MAC, the exhibition Show Your Metal displays the stunning works of three Birmingham based jewellers who use heavy metal imagery and music as their inspiration for their craft. Dauvit Alexander (opens in new tab), Daisy Grice (opens in new tab) and Jordan Herry (opens in new tab) are all metalheads who are continuing the grand old tradition of metalwork and trade in Birmingham.
Each artist has their own unique way of incorporating metal culture into their jewellery, creating pieces that any metalhead would be proud to wear. Daisy channels black metal in her thorny designs created with fierce female metallers in mind, Dauvit directly references Brum's industrial heritage by marrying corroded nuts with beautifully carved precious stones and Jordan recreates iconic rock 'n' roll imagery with breath-taking intricacy.
2. Metal is a way of life
...it's like a religion, and us metalheads are devout!
Alan Kane: 4 Bed Detached Home of Metal (opens in new tab) at The New Art Gallery Walsall (22 June to 1 September) sees artist Alan Kane curate works from leading UK artists (and metalheads) alongside personal collections of metal fans, including recreating their bedrooms, complete with associated fandom paraphernalia!
Plus, Black Sabbath – 50 Years dedicates space to a recreation of super-fan Stephen Knowles’ living room, a homage to Black Sabbath and an entire wall of fans snapped at gigs around the world.
3. Birmingham is finally proud of Black Sabbath
The flagship exhibition of the entire event, Black Sabbath – 50 Years is proof that after years of being torn apart by the press and not accepted within their hometown, Birmingham is finally proud of Black Sabbath and the legacy of heavy metal. With Liverpool capitalising and embracing being the birthplace of the Beatles, it's high time Birmingham truly welcomed their role in music history: as the home of heavy metal!
4. No two battle jackets are the same
MAC's Hand of Doom (opens in new tab) exhibit features a collection of photographic portraits, taken of fans of Black Sabbath all over the world at various festivals and gigs.
Each portrait focuses on one thing: the ubiquitous battle jacket – all uniquely embellished, handmade and embroidered by the fans themselves and worn to tell their own story of fandom and in some cases, gig-attending history.
5. Black Sabbath are indisputably the inventors of heavy metal
The Home of Metal: Black Sabbath – 50 Years exhibit is hand-down the centrepiece of the entire city-wide event. The show gives fans the chance to have a look at some of the most intimate items of Black Sabbath's history and experience everything from a Birmingham factory to Tony Iommi's at-home studio and a full scale vintage gig atmosphere.
The exhibition is an incredible celebration of a band who have had such an important impact on modern music – and this celebration is not only expressed through the band's own artefacts, but through fan's own collections and pieces, proving just how important and incredible they were and still are.
A wall within the exhibition displays of over 3,000 portraits of Black Sabbath fans from all over the world, showcasing the undeniable breadth and diversity of the band’s many loyal followers.
6. Doom's not dead
As shown at the Black Sabbath – 50 years exhibition, there are plenty of companies and artists who are still producing Black Sabbath inspired artwork and merchandise (including a PEZ dispenser, of all things!).
Branca Studio (opens in new tab) is one such artist who is featured, and produces some brilliant Sabbath inspired pieces, including the "Hand of Doom" t-shirt, as well as collaborating with musicians who are still playing Sabbathian shaped doom metal, such as Lucifer and With The Dead.
Aside from the fantastic artists and companies who are still keeping Sabbath alive, Home of Metal will have a programme of performances during the week of Supersonic Festival.
The festival itself will host Yob as one of the supporting acts – who are part of a wider range of modern musicians keeping doom alive in their sound and the spirit of their music – as well as Newcastle's Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs and Anna von Hausswolff.
Plus, there will be two special Do.omyoga sessions: a workout with Henge performing the live soundtrack and a Doombath Gong Meditation at Eastside Projects Gallery.
To check out the full range of celebrations, visit The Home of Metal website (opens in new tab).