Black Sabbath; oldass has-beens or transcendent musical icons? Whatever your flavour, there is no question of the band’s significance to metal music. Sabbath has been called a ‘pioneer of metal’, even a prototype for metal; pretty impressive for a bunch of guys with the small-time dream of escaping the prosaic life offered by home-town Birmingham and its mundane-as-hell factory work. But whether Sabbath intended to change the future of music or not, is not the point; they did. And they did it well.
“Black Sabbath & Philosophy: Mastering Reality”, part of the Blackwell Philosophy and Pop Culture series, offers a philosophical perspective one of the most influential bands of the modern era. It’s a compilation of carefully substantiated opinion penned by a host of authors (fans) and edited by series editor William Irwin (professor of philosophy at King’s College in Pennsylvania and originator of the Philosophy and Pop Culture series).
Face your demons with Sabbath and Existentialism, meet the band through the mind of Schopenhauer, find out what Nietzsche would have written had he been a Sabbath fan, consider the ethical implications of a band’s duty (to fans) to maintain a steady line-up, add in a little ‘war theory’ a note on stereotyping…
…and, of course, Ozzy; what is Sabbath without Ozzy? In “Black Sabbath & Philosophy”, James Bondarchuck says “It’s Not Sabbath Unless Ozzy’s the Singer (But it’s Fine if You Disagree)” and Wesley D Cray says “Fighting Words: Sabbath Doesn’t Need the Ozzman”. Perhaps Metaphysics can solve the problem? The debate gets super interesting when the same philosophy is used to substantiate opposing arguments.
And if you’re tired of the hackneyed mind-spew that claims ‘metal is less-than’ “The Dark Art of Metal” (Chapters 7, 8 and 9) will give you the philosophical tools to argue your pop/indie friends (if you have any – blagh!) into an abysmally deep ditch. Hell freakin yeah! #ThanksAristotleandPlato. The book’s discussion on why metal is art, what makes metal metal and what makes Sabbath metal? gives kudos to just why metal is (irrefutably) the best genre of music in the world.
If all this ‘philosophy nonsense’ sounds a bit pie in the sky for you; the metal fan who believes that music is ultimately about how it makes your feel and that over-intellectualising kills the heart and soul of the feeling. You’re right. But music has a mind. And “Black Sabbath & Philosophy” brings the mind to the masses. It’s a book written by fans, for fans. It surmises ideas that you’re already thinking, without realising that you’re thinking them. “Black Sabbath & Philosophy” is the stuff you talk about whilst waiting for a gig to start, listening to music with your pals, arguing over dinner with beer in hand and temper in fist – the stuff you talk about until 2am in the morning and still never agree on. The stuff that makes being human awesome!
Metal is genius. It’s rife with philosophy, ideas and attitude and to deny this is to distract from the force of that which inspires our souls to life. As postured in Greg Littmann’s essay “The Art of Black Sabbath” (Chapter 7 in “Black Sabbath & Philosophy”), Aristotle said that good music makes you think. When art is released into the world, mind and philosophy grab hold and interpretation endeavours to demystify the mystery, and so equivocation is born. Art’s penchant for relativity is what makes it as volatile as it is attractive. And if we’re talking volatile, none is so volatile as metal.
Metal invokes that which no other music dares: raw human emotion. Song and lyric wrestle with the heart of man: its anger, its ugliness, its brutality and its barbarism but also its potential for magnificence…and what happens when beauty is adulterated and hope is gone. Metal is unscrupulous in its exposition of reality and thus renders the most provocative, excruciating, socially acute poetry cited by popular culture.
“Black Sabbath & Philosophy”, an ode to Sabbath, is as controversial in ideology as is its muse; its philosophical meditations, meanings and musings inspire disagreement and provoke dissension. It’s a total mind fuck…
…Sabbath would have it no other way.
You can buy “Black Sabbath & Philosophy: Mastering Reality” on Amazon – CLICK HERE – and definitely check out the other books in the series; they’re an absolute riot. Visit Andphilosophy.com to find out more!