Thumping bass solo from Geezer Butler? Check.
Mega-fucking riff from Tony Iommi? Check.
Sinister lyrics about the devil? Check.
Must be time for “N.I.B.”
If the opening track of Black Sabbath set the tone for the metal genre, this track plotted the course for its future. Iommi’s simple, but beautiful riff is the cornerstone of a wall of sound that in 1970 had to sound like it had been issued from hell itself.
I grew up in the buckle of the Bible belt and spent much of my young life scared that I was going to do something to send myself to hell. Listening to this song is a perfect example. It was scandalous, and I could just imagine with Ozzy singing the lyrics from the viewpoint of Lucifer that I was damning myself just by listening, much less singing along. But the song was just so damned fantastic, I couldn’t help it.
The funny thing is that, all these years later, and having heard legions of overtly Satanic bands that have come and gone, I still find “N.I.B.” to be one of the most sinister songs that I’ve ever heard. There’s a sense of class and style to it that those bands never quite seemed to capture.
I’m no longer scared that I’m going to hell for listening or singing along, but there’s still this little niggling disturbing feeling when I listen to it, and years and thousands of listens later, it’s still a fantastic song.