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Idol Listening: Sumerlands Guitarist Arthur Rizk’s Essential Black Sabbath Playlist

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Philadelphia’s Sumerlands are that rare traditional heavy metal band that stands out from the pack: their riffs, their vocals and their hooks hit that perfect sweet spot of Priest, Crue and Sabbath without sounding too much like either and without sounding generic in the slightest. That’s no easy task. 

Sumerlands just released their self-titled album on September 16 via Relapse (order here), so to celebrate we asked the band’s guitarist Arthur Rizk (also of Eternal Champion) to put together a playlist of the most essential Black Sabbath songs of all time… in his opinion, of course, so feel free to disagree!

Listen to the playlist while you read Rizk’s insight on each track, and why it was bestowed “essential” status, below. 

1. “Solitude” – Master Of Reality (1971)

I could listen to this song on infinite loop; everything is perfect. Ozzy shows off his dynamic ability on this track and really translates the inner core of despair driving “Solitude”.

2. “Letter From Earth” – Dehumanizer (1992)

Dio’s vocals on this song (and album) are very spaced out and delivered in a slow, moody way, definitely an outside the box style for Dio. The patterns mesh well with Vinny Appice’s incredibly laid back drum style. I love the hard guitar parts and evil guitar solo! This is just as heavy as anything done previously in Black Sabbath.

3. “A Hard Road” – Never Say Die (1978)

Never Say Die is my favorite Black Sabbath album for the fact that it merges the best of their own world and the heavy coke rock world of The Rolling Stones, Thin Lizzy etc. It’s the most undervalued and hated Black Sabbath album, yet still contains the catchiest tunes with the most depth and dynamics. I love this song; in particular, the vocals and guitar hooks are so good.

4. “It’s Alright” – Technical Ecstasy (1976)

Bill Ward is a master; even his solo album in the ’90s was incredible. I love his voice on this song that he wrote himself! The classical acoustic guitar solo over the end of the song is so lit up.

5. “Swinging The Chain” – Never Say Die (1978)

Another Bill Ward vocal song, with an insanely sick riff. Tony Iommi can hit a simple riff in a way that cuts through the rest of the song like a chainsaw.

6. “Zero The Hero” – Born Again (1983)

Another Iommi chainsaw riff! This song is full of atmosphere and is so hard and fucking dark! Ian Gillan (Deep Purple) is incredible on vocals here and can really make any song sound so cool. Even though the song is seven minutes long I could listen on infinite loop. Especially the guitar solo!

7. “All Moving Parts (Stand Still)” – Technical Ecstasy (1976)

The leads on this song are so on point, and the bass line adds so much groove to the already giant drum beat. Such a shame, another hated Sabbath effort (Iommi once said that if Sabbath didn’t change people would complain that they’re the same, and if they did change people would still complain). “All Moving Parts” has great lyrics and subject matter about a transvestite elected president.

8. “Fluff” – Sabbath Bloody Sabbath (1973)

This is a classic example of Tony Iommi’s unblemished ability to orchestrate. The harpsichord is one of my favorite instruments and I love the addition of it here to give “Fluff” a Baroque/Renaissance vibe.

9. “Danger Zone” – Seventh Star (1986)

Glenn Hughes (Deep Purple) with this era of Tony Iommi riffing makes for a sleazy fucking combination. This was supposed to be a solo Tony Iommi album so in the Sabbath discography it’s slightly oddball, but it has the same genius in riffing. This riff is so simple but so insanely hard.

10. “The Mob Rules” – Mob Rules (1981)

I love the combination of Dio and Vinny Appice in Black Sabbath. What a monstrous lineup. I wish they had hired Vinny, one of my top three favorite drummers, to do the final 2016 Black Sabbath tour. Iommi’s riffing is yet again so, so stripped down and hard. The leads go from melodic, modal type stuff at first to straight blues leads at the end.

11. “Hole In The Sky” – Sabotage (1975)

Perfect song, so heavy. Perfect album, in fact! I love the unexpected harsh drop out at the end of the song, although I must confess I wish “Hole In The Sky” was 45 minutes long.

Sumerlands is out now. Order it here and listen to “The Guardian” below. 

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