Skip to main content

Riffs That Shook Your World #3: Black Sabbath – Black Sabbath

In our massive reader poll of 25 riffs, you voted Black Sabbath's self-titled track as number three.

Let’s be honest – heavy metal has had more than its fair share of iconic riffs over the years. But none of these would have existed if were not for a bunch of scruffy, hard-up Brummies making their recording debut at London’s Regent Sound Studios in October 1969. After 37 seconds of rain, thunder and the loneliest church bell known to man, there it is. That riff. Ground zero for heavy music. The one riff to rule them all, infamous for the evil dissonance of its tritone: diabolus in musica, the Devil’s interval. Was it a reaction to flower power? Was it a lightbulb moment after seeing crowds flock to watch horror movies? The influence of British horror writer Dennis Wheatley? Or perhaps this strange ominous figure at the foot of Geezer Butler’s bed? Who knows, but one thing is for certain: without them, the world would be a different place. Forty-five years later, Sabbath are still lords of this world and undisputed masters of reality.

Find out more on the Riffs That Shook The World in the latest issue of Metal Hammer here.