Symptom of the Universe – Black Sabbath

The ultimate Sabbath song has to have certain key elements. It needs a riff so primeval you could replicate it dragging a car door across gravel. It needs Sci-Fi lyrics about time travel and unicorns. There should be Drums that sound like three people were taking turns in trying to out drum each other. You want Bass strings rattling like the cables on a suspension bridge in a storm and of course, rather essentially, it calls for Ozzy Osbourne going “Yeeeeaaaahhhh!” Every now and then.

Your ultimate Sabbath song requires dramatic time changes & yet lots of repetition. It needs to stick to strict rules & be the sort of song that any band with boot sale instruments could have a recognisable crack at. So it’s quite a specific list, and yet there are many candidates.

Paranoid is too tight. War Pigs too weird. Sabbath Bloody Sabbath is too complicated and Never Say Die is just too poppy. So now the list gets shorter.

The Wizard? Too simple. Sweet Leaf… That is a close runner but we’d reduce them to a stoner stereotype if we let it top the list.

NIB is pretty close. Children of the Grave is brilliant but not representative enough of the band as a whole because of the furry production job.

So it’s between Tomorrow’s Dream and Symptom for the title fight. Tomorrow’s Dream represents the doomier side of what Sabbath invented. The Horror film inspiration and the all black everything. But Symptom Of The Universe has that bit near the end when it goes all physche and Ozzy starts hollering about riding horses over flamenco guitars.

So it wins. By a nose.

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