How Tony Iommi was ahead of his time with one of the most legendary riffs in history

Why was this particular track so influential? And how did Tony Iommi get ahead of his time by being unconscious and under the influence of banned substances?

How Tony Iommi made thrash metal history with his legendary riff

"Symptom of the Universe" - one of the greatest songs of all time heavy metal. It was a worthy addition to the band's "Sabotage" album. Black Sabbathand later became widely renowned for its riff! But it was not the only one that delighted the audience: as the critics note, it was on "Symptom of the Universe" that every member of the legendary British band is as good as ever...

It's a very interesting composition, no matter which way you look at it! But the most remarkable thing is that it was not released as a single, although it was a great success and many bands even made their own covers. But why did this particular track turn out to be so influential? And how Tony Iommi was ahead of his time, being unconscious and under the influence of banned substances?

Every member of Sabbath shines like never before

Black Sabbath
Black Sabbath

By the time the work on "Sabotage." actively boiled over, devastation reigned within the group: the members immersed themselves in a forbidden journey with substances, and just two years later, the public favorite Ozzy Osbourne will leave the lineup... But so far we are in 1975.

Ozzy Osbourne
Ozzy Osbourne

Work on "Sabotage" is in full swing, but the band members feel heavy pressure. According to many critics, this was the background against which the record turned out to be so powerful, sharp, philosophically intense. For all four of them it was a canvas on which they could express their wild energy and aggression, sadness and anxiety...

As part of "Sabotage," each member of the group showed himself with the strongest and bright side: Bill Ward's drumming, Tony Iommi's guitar skills, Geezer Butler's deep lyrics and Ozzy Osbourne's vocal skills! By the way: it was on this album that Prince of Darkness, according to foreign observers, finally realized the power of their vocals. and began to make full use of it, demonstrating incredible charisma and courage.

The gem was. "Symptom of the Universe". It was in this song that Ozzy's vocal prowess shone with new - bright colors! Some even note that this is the last great metal song recorded by Sabbath with Osbourne at the microphone. But something else in this track sounds special, unique, grandiose... And it's a masterpiece Iommi riff..

Thanks to him, the track has consistently made the lists of the most ambitious and critical in the history of heavy metal! And some critics even point out that Iommi ahead of the curve their own time, bringing the opening of thrash metal at least five years closer. Today it's "The greatest riff of all time." according to several influential metal-based publications!

Racing against himself

Tony Iommi
Tony Iommi

Over and over again the game Iommi In Symptom of the Universe headed lists of the greatest rock riffs of all time! It sounds powerful, tearful, aggressive... You could say that it is the personal "Symptom of the Universe" of Sabbath.

Repeatedly Tony Iommi was asked, how was this phenomenal sound born? But, alas, the legendary guitarist could not answer this question. During the making of "Sabotage," Tony, by his own admission, was in oblivion under the influence of illegal substances and hard liquor.

"My God, it's been so long ago! I can hardly remember how we wrote that track in the first place. I think it was a desire to go beyond what we had achieved, a desire to write something unique..."

Tony Iommi
Tony Iommi

Although this period is not imprinted on Iommi's memory, the central riff of "Symptom of the Universe" with its dark modality laid the foundation for thrash metal.

Tony was one of those guitarists who had in reserve always had some interesting parts for extensive jam sessions. And if we believe Iommi's vague recollection, the riff for "Symptom of the Universe" was one of those "spare" parts. According to the Sabbath legend, the track was an attempt to create something of their own, unique and very original. When asked if there were any guitarists he was trying to emulate back then, Tony said:

"Yes, I was. That's me. I was competing with myself. I was constantly trying to improve and change things. I didn't really listen to other guitarists, just in case I accidentally started playing someone else's riff!"


Ozzy Osbourne and Tony Iommi at Live Aid 1985 in America
Ozzy Osbourne and Tony Iommi at Live Aid 1985

"Symptom of The Universe" - not only one of Black Sabbath's most beloved tracks, but also one of their most experimental. In the second half of the record, the band abruptly heads into more jazzy territory. According to Iommi, the hybrid nature of the track was far from from intentional:

"We were just jamming together. First I played the riff, then Geezer (Butler) and Bill (Ward) joined in. And then Ozzie came in. And I think we came out pretty good!" he added.


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