Riff Of The Month: Black Sabbath: Iron Man
This iconic riff appeared on the classic 1970 Black Sabbath album Paranoid. Tony Iommi is often referred to as the father of heavy metal, and riffs like this prove why. The first sound that we hear is a huge descending droning note, which is actually an open-string bend from behind the nut. Since Tony used a fixed bridge Gibson SG this is the only way an open string can be bent. In later years Tony added an E octave on top of the string bend, so we have tabbed the ‘live’ version for you.
The riff consists of root 5th powerchords all played with the root on the sixth string. This gives the chords more weight and a darker tone than if they were played on the thinner fourth and fifth strings.
When playing along with the backing track keep a solid tempo by tapping your foot and when you play the riff, try to make it feel as slow as possible; this will add the required sludge and heaviness that defined the sound of Sabbath.
String bending behind nut Powerchords Sliding chords shapes what youwilllearn
Iron man Music and lyrics by Terrence Butler, Frank Iommi, John Osbourne and William Ward © 1970 Westminster Music Limited Worldwide reproduced by kind permission of Essex Music Group All Rights Reserved. International Copyright Secured