Ozzy Osbourne, Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler and Doug Ward were the masters of heavy riff tunes that started the Heavy Metal genre, which has grown and flourished through multiple generations and incarnations. Black Sabbath was where it all started back in 1970.
Max Rich has put together a set of lessons on some of their earliest tunes, most of which go into great detail on the solos as well as the riffs that defined their sound. A bonus lesson from Ozzy's solo career is inckuded as well, featuring the virtuoso playing of Randy Rhoads.
Lesson 1: Sabbath Bloody Sabbath
Sabbath Bloody Sabbath is the opening song of the self titled album released by Black Sabbath in 1973. It's a perfect example of how Tony blends open chords and single note palm muting to create a "dual instrument" effect that sounds like there's a bass and palm muted guitar to fill out the rest of the space. He does something unique that he doesn't do very often, playing 4 and 5 string chords in place of the power chords he typically plays. In this case, he has an acoustic approach, using chord strumming that is atypical to his normal playing, exemplifying his versatility. The solo uses double stops which is also atypical because he usually exclusively uses pentatonic shapes and positions. There is a repeated phrase that revolves around double stops and long quarter note triplets that further shows off his versatility and will give you a lot to practice.
Lesson 2: N.I.B.
N.I.B. is heavy song from Black Sabbath's self titled debut album, which was released in 1970. This one has a very rhythmic power chord riff that's broken up by a high bend with a vibrato that rounds out the phrase. It has a call and response style of phrasing, where the riff plays the power chords (the call) and then are followed by the high bends (the response). There's a lot of rhythmic single string playing followed by extremely long droned power chords that create an atmospheric affect, which is a prime example of good song writing. It's important to know when the guitarist should lay back and not play so much, instead occupying a background role. The licks from the solo are incredibly melodic and incorporate a lot of major pentatonic shapes. There's a great 16th note lick that's a really good for beginners to practice their pentatonic playing and pull offs.
Lesson 3: Black Sabbath
Black Sabbath, the title track is named after both the band and their debut album "Black Sabbath" which was released in 1970. This one's interesting because it's very sparse and atmospheric. It incorporates a trill which is basically really fast slurring between two fingers on the same string which gave it a really dark feeling in the diff. Then the song breaks into a double time feel where you'll use a palm muted G Minor chord shape that revolves around the first position, as well as some open string positions that have a great drone-like effect. This song makes for a great chance to practice your musicality and timing.
Lesson 4: Paranoid
Paranoid is the single from the self titled album, released in 1970. This wasn't the first Black Sabbath song that I learned, but its definitely the one I played the most growing up because it's got such an great and well known riff. Even if you aren't a fan of Black Sabbath, there's a good chance you've heard this song. It uses a basic power chord shape but breaks it up with hammer ons, so you'll have to be able to bar with your first finger and hammer on with your ring finger. This one's a great song to learn standard rock guitar techniques because it uses a lot of 8th note palm muting and chord hits to emphasize the melody. The solo is pretty much all pentatonic but it has very melodic qualities and is a prime example of getting a lot of mileage of just a few small positions. This is something that's really important to get good at because it emphasizes the musicality of your playing instead of just playing quickly.
Lesson 5: Iron Man
Iron Man is possibly Black Sabbath's most popular song from their second studio release "Paranoid" in 1971. This is one of my all time favorite Black Sabbath songs and is actually the first one that I learned. It starts with that recognizable droning open E string. You can actually hear Tony Iommi bending the open note by bending it behind the nut on the tuner, which gave it that distorted, drone-like and almost vocal sound in the beginning. Then he goes into that iconic sliding power chord riff, taking a chord shape and moving it around up and down in the pentatonic pattern. The verse mimics that power chord shape but plays it instead with single notes. Tony's playing is has great vocal characteristics and the tone was able to get out of the gear at the time was revolutionary.
Lesson 6: Mr. Crowley