“Brum Beat” and the Secret Origin of Black Sabbath

Photo courtesy of Black Sabbath/Facebook

Black Sabbath’s 13 — their nineteenth album, but who’s counting? — came out this week. It’s their first studio record in 35 years to feature both singer Ozzy Osbourne and bassist Geezer Butler. (Its first single, “God Is Dead?,” appears below.) Sabbath are arguably the first full-on heavy metal band, but they didn’t appear from a void. They came up through a music scene, and a very particular one: all four members of the original lineup grew up in Aston, an area within the English city of Birmingham, and the city’s music was an important part of their lives as they were starting to make music of their own.

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