You see them walking down the street, hanging out at the 7-11 parking lot, waiting for a bus, and even at your local record store flipping through the copies of old Voivod albums. They are usually wearing all black, with much more hair than you falling on shoulders draped with a faded t-shirt bearing a violent cartoonish graphic on the front. They usually have a scowl on their face, or at least a look designed to keep all grannies and members of the clergy at arms length, and an attitude that could only be described as “Very Metal”.
These are the legion of true rockers who worship the ‘gods of thunder’, the heavy bands that melt brains and shatter skulls with their tumultuous feedback and galloping beat, bands that all owe a great debt to the originators of all music that is “heavy” and “evil”: a band whose coming is sounded by a holy chant that can be heard echoing off the mountainside in the distance… “Sabbath… Sabbath… Sabbath!”
How will they feel when they find out that their beloved Black Sabbath, yes “Ozzy’s old band”, are responsible for bands like Petra and D.C. Talk?
Now this may be a bold statement, and I may get death threats from metal heads around the world, but I’m going to go off a very short and not-so-high-off-the-ground limb and state that Black Sabbath were the first Christian rock band. “Whoa there, little buddy,” you may say to me, “Aren’t Sabbath known as one the most evil and crazy devil worshipping rock and roll combos that has ever laid a black boot upon sacred earth?” The answer is “NO.” That distinction goes to many a Norwegian Black Metal band who has ever been involved in murder and cannibalism in addition to their devil worship. Ozzy just bit the head off a bat, and that was in his later, hideously drunken, solo years.
The truth is that Sabbath perpetuated an evil image that was false, wearing black clothes and crosses and writing many a song about the horned beast Beelzebub. If you take a look at their lyrics, and I only speak of the early albums with Ozzy (because that’s all I can bring myself to even listen to), all of those supposedly evil songs about licking the firey scrotum of Ol’ Scratch or whatever, are actually about begging for God to deliver them from that great evil. Take the lyrics of the opening title track from their first album, 1970’s “Black Sabbath”:
What is this that stands before me?
Figure in black that points at me
Turn round quick and start to run
Find out you’re the chosen one.
Big black shape and eyes of fire
Telling people their desire
Satan standing there he’s smiling
Watch those flames get higher and higher
Ok, evil, right? This is clearly talking about the Prince of Darkness and how much of a bad mofo he is. But wait, Ozzy follows this with a tortured plead of “Oh No! No! Please God help me!” Clearly Ozzy doesn’t like Satan pointing at him and telling him he’s the chosen one. The chosen one for what? TO DIE!!!! Ozzy’s running, for Christ’s sake! These are not the words of a Satan-worshipping, blood-drinking, virgin-sacrificing heavy metal hellion. Of course you could say that these are the words of a man who is scared of evil and death, which many of us can relate to, but a Christian rock band does this not make. Alright, Doubting Thomases, what about the lyrics for “War Pigs”?
“War Pigs,” one of the most famous of the early Sabbath songs, deals with politicians and world leaders and how they are destroying the world with wars and what our president now would call “terra”. In the first part, Ozzy paints a picture of these leaders as being the true evils of this world, referring to them as “Sorcerers of death’s construction” and comparing them to “witches at black masses”. It is in the second part of the song that he admonishes them, telling them to “wait ‘till their judgment day comes, yeah!” Finally, in the last verse Ozzy gets religious:
No more war pigs have the power
Hand of God has struck the hour
Day of judgment, God is calling
On their knees, the war pigs crawling
Begging mercy for their sins
Satan, laughing, spreads his wings
So the bad guys lose and get to spend an eternity in Hell with Satan, whom the Sabbath guys doesn’t seem to be worshipping in this one. See? Christian rock.
More examples abound. Again from the self-titled album, “Wicked World” is a rather hippyish anti-war song about all the childrens of the world getting together in peace and harmony. From the Paranoid album, “Electric Funeral” warns of an evil futuristic atomic age where bombs melt houses and evil robot slaves turn the Earth into a wasteland of biblical proportions. There’s even a little section where Ozzy talks about “Heaven’s golden chorus” and warns of how “Evil souls fall to Hell, ever trapped in burning cells.” From the same album, “Fairies Wear Boots,” although lyrically confusing and fairly ridiculous, is ultimately an anti-drug song. After seeing fairies and dwarves on a deranged drug trip, a doctor tells Ozzy at the end that he’s “gone too far / ‘cos smokin’ and trippin’ is all that you do.” How evil is not doing drugs?
Perhaps the most religious oriented album from the early period is “Master of Reality,” from 1971. Sure the first song, “Sweet Leaf” is about pot, but it is the second song, “After Forever,” which is the real kicker and the biggest proof that Sabbath were indeed the first Christian rock band:
Have you ever thought about your soul – can it be saved?
Or perhaps you think that when you’re dead you just stay in your grave.
Is God just a thought within your head or is He a part of you?
Is Christ just a name that you read in a book when you were at school?
When you think about death do you lose your breath or do you keep your cool?
Would you like to see the Pope on the end of a rope – do you think he’s a fool?
Well, I have seen the truth. Yes I have seen the light and I’ve changed my ways.
And I’ll be prepared when you’re lonely and scared at the end of your days.
Could it be you’re afraid of what your friends might say
If they knew you believe in God above
They should realize before they criticize
That God is the only way to love.
Is your mind so small that you have to fall
In with the pack wherever they run
Will you still sneer when death is near
And say they may as well worship the sun.
I think it was true it was people like you that crucified Christ
I think it is sad the opinion you had was the only one voiced
Will you be sure when your day is near say you don’t believe?
You had the chance but you turned it down now you can’t retrieve.
Perhaps you’ll think before you say that God is dead and gone
Open your eyes, just realize that He is the one,
The only one who can save you now from all this sin and hate.
Or will you still jeer at all you hear? Yes – I think it’s too late!
Now I may be wrong, but that’s about as overt a Christian statement that has ever been found on a major label rock album, especially by a band that is supposedly so “Satanic.”
There are many other lyrical examples in those early albums, but I think you get the point. Black Sabbath is Christian rock. And it doesn’t suck! So there you have it. It’s proof that you can Rock for Jesus and still be cool. Well, as cool as Black Sabbath is. Now hopefully I won’t get jacked by a gang of metal-heads wearing shirts designed by Pushead. May the Lord be with you all!