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Archive for March, 2011

So, when I was around 15/16, there was a few bands that I thought that I never listen to because they were essentially, old music. Music for people who were older than me and were not listening to the newest, most modern stuff.  For example, Korn, Fear Factory and Sepultura were regulars on my tape player at the time so anything like Saxon or Judas Priest were totally out of the question! (However, I had a Judas Priest poster as my folks wouldn’t let me buy an Iron Maiden one as well as a Saxon tape when I was 7.)  Anyway, stupidly, one of the bands I lumped into that category was Black Sabbath.  Ozzy was an old man to me and listening to War Pigs wasnt for me, or so I thought.  Fast forward and in order to expand my musical tastes, I buy the best of Black Sabbath 2 CD set from a second-hand shop in Cardiff and my world changed.

Tony Iommi is the stuff of legends. I’ll ignore the boozing and hell raising that took place with Ozzy at certain points during his life and stick to the guitar facts that I know about him as that is what this blog is about.  Hailing from Birmingham which was a heavy industry town, Tony worked in a factory working with metal-cutting machines. One day, he caught the tips of his right hand in one of the machines slicing the top of one of his fingers off.  Normally for a right-handed guitarist this wouldn’t be a problem but Tony was a left hand guitarist, this was a massive deal. In order to continue playing, he fashioned a plastic finger tip from an old washing up bottle and was able to play again.

Often hailed as the “God-Father of Heavy Metal”, Tony’s guitar style is very blues based but brought with it a darker and sinister tone which wasnt really heard of before. The most obvious track to mention at this point is “Black Sabbath“.  The intro sets the tone with rain pouring and single bell tolling, the riff kicks in with searing distortion, rolling drums and thundering low-end from Geezer Butler on bass. The riff itself is very simple but super effective only featuring a few notes but dynamics playing a huge part in it.  The distortion is rolled back to let the single note riff ring out clear as bell before storming into the chorus with gain fully cranked.

Tony’s riffs were generally pretty simplistic but why play thousands of notes when you can get away with just a few? Another track which springs to mind is Symptom of the Universe.  That opening riff is so simple as again its only a few notes played a few times over and over but the sheer brute force of it makes it a true Iommi classic. NIB is another song so falls into this category of simple but effective riffing.However, if you want to hear some of thier blues roots, check out the track Hole In The Sky (which was covered by Pantera proving the British can do blues just as well as the Americans.)

Guitar wise, Iommi has always favoured the SG shaped guitars mainly and been a long time user of Laney amps.

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