Black Sabbath beginners’ guide

UAE band Anuryzm talk us through metal behemoth’s essential tunes

Interview

For UAE heavy metallers Anyurzym it was a dream come true when they picked up the phone to hear someone at the other end offering them the chance to support Black Sabbath, the band generally considered to have given birth to the whole genre. As die-hard Sabbath fans, we figured they were the best placed authority to talk us through Sabbath’s meaty, mighty back catalogue.

‘Planet Caravan’ (1970)

Vocalist Nadeem Michel Bibby said: ‘What can I say that hasn’t already been said? Brought to the forefront of people’s minds in 1994 by way of a Pantera cover, this haunting, psychedelic sci-fi song – with the obscured vocals, astronomy references and percussive elements – is a great contrast to their heavier stuff, and it links Sabbath and Pantera, two all-time greats. Speaking of which, the Pantera version, with Dimebag Darrel’s epic solo outro, still gets me every time. The Pantera cover also remains a true testament to just how influential Sabbath were and still are to the Heavy Metal genre.’

‘Sweat Leaf’ (1971)

Bassist Rany Battikh said: ‘In the early ’90s my older brother came home with a Master of Reality vinyl. We immediately pulled out the old turntable and blasted the record, listened to it from top to bottom. What a masterpiece! It’s just one of those albums that you know you’ll be coming back to – a lot. Every track is an absolute classic, and the opening track “Sweat Leaf” is a genre-definer. It is a complete song for me consisting of: a very memorable main riff, a brilliant upright-bass sounding bass line, a monstrous drums break right after the guitar solo, and Ozzy’s out-of-the-box vocal lines.’

‘Laguna Sunrise’ (1972)

Vocalist Nadeem Michel Bibby said: ‘I remember listening to this with my dad in the car on cassette tape. A beautiful song that Tony Iommi composed after staying up all night in Laguna Beach, California. Having lived in California, I supposed I have had my fair share of all-nighters and music composition, so I have a soft spot for this beautiful ’70s acoustic guitar-driven song.’

‘Disturbing the Priest’ (1983)

Bassist Rany Battikh said: ‘This song from Born Again (Sabbath’s sole album with Deep Purple’s Ian Gillan) sounds like a horror movie to me. The title is inspired by the band’s neighbor at the time. In my opinion, it is a very innovative tune, drifting away from the traditional metal song structure and focusing on the general atmosphere instead. What a creepy song.’

‘TV Crimes’ (1992)

Bassist Rany Battikh said: ‘I miss the pre-internet days when we used to get the latest metal news straight through our local record store. I picked up Dehumanizer in early ’93 and that’s when I realised that [singer Ronnie James] Dio had rejoined Black Sabbath, I didn’t know for how long though. I listened to this album everyday on my way to school and back. “TV Crimes” was a highly energetic yet dark song, and only this epic line-up could perfect such a combination. Dio seems to be on top of his game here, and the raw sound of the instruments just make the overall mix sound absolutely crushing. Dehumanizer remains my favorite album of all time.’

What does opening for/supporting Black Sabbath mean to you?
Lead guitarist John Bakhos Jean: It is a great opportunity and a welcome relief from the pressures of studio recording, as we are currently putting the finishing touches on our second album. It means a lot to share the stage with the legends who can only be aptly described as our ‘the heroes to our heroes’. We hope to add value to the overall event and honour Sabbath by putting on a killer performance.

Can you remember the first time you heard their music? What effect did it have on you?
Rany: Oddly enough, the first Sabbath album I listened to was Live Evil, and for many years I thought that Dio was the band’s original singer – that was until I got Master of Reality and fell in love with Sabbath all over again. I came a long way in music since the early ’90s but Sabbath always remained my all-time favourite band even when I studied classical music. I picked up the bass wanting to play like Geezer mainly because he makes the instrument shine all through Sabbath’s catalogue. Well, without Sabbath and Geezer I wouldn’t be writing this right now.

How would you react if you get the chance to meet the band?
Nadeem: We would all be very pleased that’s for sure, we’ve met all the bands we have performed with and most of them are always very cool, but in this case its extra special because Sabbath have a history of taking younger bands on the road with them, Ozzfest is a great example, and they are genuine and fun guys from what we have seen and heard.

How do you think last year’s 13 compares to their ’70s heyday material?
Rany: 13 is a bit of a paradox in the sense that it sounds like it could be from the ’70s and yet also modern. It is definitely a more mature release than most of the classic albums; it’s like they mixed the old material with influences they individually acquired throughout their careers. This album is an instant classic and fits perfectly right after Sabotage in my opinion.

Do you have a record out? Tell us about it and where we can get it?
Jean: Our debut album Worms Eye View, featuring Martin Lopez (of Opeth) was released independently in 2011, and later picked up by distributors in the US and Japan and re-released in 2012 for worldwide. You can buy a digital copy via iTunes, Amazon and all major online retailers.
Listen to Anurzym’s album at mrrmusic.com/album/worms-eye-view/

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