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Black Sabbath Mob Rules album cover
3.52 | 456 ratings | 26 reviews | 25% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 1981

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Turn Up the Night (3:42)
2. Voodoo (4:32)
3. The Sign of the Southern Cross (7:46)
4. E5150 (2:54)
5. The Mob Rules (3:14)
6. Country Girl (4:02)
7. Slipping Away (3:45)
8. Falling off the Edge of the World (5:02)
9. Over & Over (5:28)

Total Time 40:25

Line-up / Musicians

- Ronnie James Dio / vocals
- Tony Iommi / lead guitar
- Geezer Butler / bass
- Vinny Appice / drums

- Geoff Nicholls / keyboards

Releases information

Artwork: Greg Hildebrandt's "Mob Dream"

LP Vertigo ‎- 6302 119 (1981, UK)
LP Warner Bros. Records ‎- BSK 3605 (1981, US)

CD Vertigo ‎- 830 777-2 (1987, Germany)
CD Essential ‎- ESM CD 332 (1996, UK) Remastered by Ray Staff
CD Warner Bros. ‎- R2 460156 B (2008, Europe) Remastered by Dan Hersch

Thanks to Terra Australis for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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BLACK SABBATH Mob Rules ratings distribution

(456 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of rock music(25%)
Excellent addition to any rock music collection(42%)
Good, but non-essential (24%)
Collectors/fans only (7%)
Poor. Only for completionists (2%)

BLACK SABBATH Mob Rules reviews

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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by ZowieZiggy
2 stars "Mob Rules" is just like its predecessor. It won't add anything to your "Sabbath" collection in terms of outstanding songs. The format (nine songs for forty minutes of music) is full radio-oriented. FM radio music; that's all. Poppish at times ("Turn Up The Night"), heavy riffs during others ("Voodoo"). But the latter is totally uninspired. Iommi is trying to save it but it is hopeless.

Ward has also disappeared from the line-up (same reasons than Ozzy : drug addiction). He is replaced by Carmin Appice's younger brother Vinny. He's holding the drumkit quite well actually.

It seems that there are still legions of fans that are willing to follow the band since this album reached the twelfth sopt in the UK charts. Nonetheless, I wouldn't recommend this album to anyone, except maybe to die-hard Dio fans (which is absolutely not my case).

Still, there are some songs showing some more research in terms of songwritting : "The Sign Of The Southern Cross" is one of these. Instead of a uniform concept, this one holds several identifyable sections. Acoustic to start, powerful vocals combined to some heavy riffs later on. It breaks the dull feeling and must be considered as a highlight. Since it is by far the longest song of the whole album (almost eight minutes) it's a good news and an enjoyable moment (unfortunately, there won't be many). Maybe a bit too long and repetitive towards the end...

The spacey instrumental "E5150" is useless. But it is not the first time that "Sabbath" releases such a song. I really wonder why. Iommi holds the pieces together during "The Mob Rules" because otherwise this song wouldn't deserve your time to listen to it. But the story goes on and on here.

Another exception is "Falling Of The Edge Of The World". It's a again a more elaborate song which starts as a smooth and quite song but will be built crescendo to end up as a very good hard-rock number with a furious guitar solo. Upbeat tempo. A very energetic song. The second highlight. The album closes on another decent song. The rock ballad "Over & Over". Yes, Iommi is playing a great guitar break here as well.

"Sabbath" has turned into a standard hard-rock band by this time (but this tendancy started already some times before this release). The heavy metal sound of the band has disappeared, the line-up will almost change for each album while Iommi will be holding the band on his own.

Two stars.

Review by clarke2001
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars A horrible title for an almost entirely horrible album....Okay, my first disappointment was a changed sound picture of the band. This album was my first touch with non-Ozzie Sabbath. And I could digest different vocals (I actually like Dio's voice a lot, but did that man ever sung something decent in his entire career?), but the different sound picture of the band was changed for worse...even if I don't count the sound picture the album is dull and uninspired.

...however, there are two songs worth checking: the first one is a mini-epic "The Sound Of The Southern Cross", a great song, worth your attention, and another song is - no, I won't mention "Falling Off The Edge Of The World" - another song is "E5-150", a short track, instrumental and great one at that (no virtuoso showmanship here, just a spacey drones). Sabbath did that kind of short experimental things before (remember the useless "FX"), but this one is making sense for the first time.

This one deserves two stars, the same rating goes for the entire BLACK SABBATH career after Ozzy.

Review by Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Meanwhile, drummer Bill Ward left Black Sabbath due to ill health and was replaced by Vinnie Appice (brought in by Ronnie James Dio). "Mob Rules" was almost as successful as its predecessor "Heaven and Hell": In the U.S., it went gold, and in the U.K. it reached the Top 20 and spawned two chart singles, the title track and "Turn up the Night."

This second album with Dio as lead vocalist proved to be much mature than the previous one. Both Iommi and Dio seemed to find their chemistry so that music making became a work of fun. The opening track "Turn Up the Night" (3:42) is a good hard rocker followed with another rocker "Voodoo" (4:32). I like when the CD reaches third track "The Sign of the Southern Cross" (7:46) where the opening part comprising vocal and acoustic guitar are really nice. This song moves naturally in relatively mellow style into heavier part with some blues components. "The Mob Rules" (3:14) is also another good track. "Country Girl" (4:02) has powerful guitar riffs and drum work. What is truly my best favorite is the 8th track titled as "Falling off the Edge of the World" (5:02) because it has a very good structure, starting with mellow and moves to bluesy part and later the heavier part.

Review by Sean Trane
3 stars Second album with RJ Dio at the mike, but by now the surprise it gone, If Geezer Butler is now back fully in the fold, following some more internal problems, it is drummer Bill Ward's drug-related health problems that will cause a further line-up change. He will be replaced by the brother of Carmine Appice (Vanilla Fudge, Cactus and BBA), called Vinnie and this was to be his first high profile gig. This line-up change occurred during a tour prior to the recording of this album. Graced with a superbly evocative artwork, TMB was to be yet another strong seller on the strength of two hits, the best known being the title track.

If H&H had been a stupendous album, it was partly due to the surprise it provoked from fans that were not expecting much out of it, as Ozzy was deemed irreplaceable back then. So the comparison between the two Dio-era album must be cautious, but it relatively clear that TMB is just not as highly inspired as H&H, partly due to the fact that the songwriting was more collective than on its forerunner. Indeed, the only track that seems to bear the same kind of dramatic impact of H&H is The Sign Of The Southern Cross, which happens to be the longest rack on the album, but even then it fails to bring a blistering Iommi solo. The opening Turn Up The World is a rewrite (not litteraly) of Neon Knights while the closing Falling Off The Edge and Over & Over are slightly better than the average on this album.

Not quite as superb as its predecessor, little did we know that TMR would be the last studio album (for some 10 years) of Sabbath's Mk II line-up, even if the Live album would come a few months later.

Review by b_olariu
4 stars No doubt a good album, keeping the doomy sound of the previous one. Dio's voice give a fresher mood to the band and the result is very good to me if not for many. With a new drummer Vinny Appice, Black Sabbath made an album that among the fans is a great one. Some very intristing and even today on live play list are:The Sign of the Southern Cross and Falling off the Edge of the World. Not quite as superb as its predecessor, but a 4 star without hesitation, among the best Sabbath albums.
Review by Raff
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Released one year after the monumental "Heaven and Hell", "Mob Rules" enjoys the less than complimentary reputation of being a sort of clone of its illustrious predecessor. While I would never dare to state that it is on the same level as H&H, I nevertheless believe MR is a much better album than it usually gets credit for. Though, in a way, it does reproduce H&H's structure, that does not mean it is not a good album. As a matter of fact, some of the tracks on MR number among the best ever written by the band.

The second Sabbath album without Ozzy Osbourne also sees the temporary departure of original drummer Bill Ward, replaced by Vinnie Appice, brother of legendary drummer Carmine (of Vanilla Fudge, Cactus and a hundred other bands' fame). Appice, who would later join Ronnie James Dio's eponymous band, though not a particularly creative drummer, is certainly no slouch behind the kit, and his no-nonsense approach to his craft is quite well suited to the album's heaviness.

The album kicks off with "Turn Up the Night", a song whose intro is somewhat reminiscent of "Neon Knights", though with a distinctly more radio-friendly approach. The following track, "Voodoo", is a classic Dio-era, bass-powered mid-tempo, where RJ's awe-inducing roar gets a chance to shine. On the other hand, "Country Girl" is BS's take on a romantic ballad, which Dio sings in a smoother, more melodic, less aggressive way, reminding the listener of his vocal style on Rainbow's debut album.

As good as the above-mentioned songs are ("Slipping Away" is in my opinion the only really throwaway track, like the similarly-titled "Walk Away" on H&H), the album features three killer tracks that can be easily numbered among the best material the band has ever produced. The album's standout track is undoubtedly the crushingly heavy "The Sign of the Southern Cross" - one of the highpoints of Dio's career, which he still performs live with his own band. Clocking in at almost 8 minutes, it starts out slowly and poignantly to develop into a monstrous, atmospheric, doom-laden ride dominated by Dio's mesmerising vocal performance. "Falling Off the Edge of the World" begins in much the same way, but then unfolds into an energetic, fast and furious hard rocker, which seamlessly blends with album closer "Over and Over" - another slow-paced, moody number enhanced by Tony Iommi's absolutely blistering guitar, a perfect foil for Dio's vocal intensity.

As was the case with H&H, any prog elements in MR are few and far between, but that obviously doesn't detract from the overall quality of the album - which, in my opinion, is worth having even if only on account of the three songs I have mentioned in the previous paragraph. Not a masterpiece by any means, but a very enjoyable effort by a great line-up.

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
3 stars Over and over, but not slipping away (yet!)

Mob Rules is Black Sabbath's tenth album and for the first time in their career they followed a formula. Say what you want about albums like Technical Ecstasy and Never Say Die, but they showed a band willing to change and try out new things. Mob Rules followed on the heels of the successful Heaven And Hell, and maybe they thought 'why divert from a successful formula?' Personally, I am prepared to forgive the formulaic approach here and for me Mob Rules is about as enjoyable as Heaven And Hell is!

With the sound of the band remaining constant, the line up, however, did not. Vinnie Appice takes over the drum stool here. He is a very competent replacement for Bill ward. The album opens with Turn Up The Night which is this album's Neon Knights. This is a powerful opening number. The Sign Of The Southern Cross is this album's Children Of The Sea and is actually my favourite Dio-era Black Sabbath song. It starts out with lovely acoustic guitar and an excellent vocal performance from Ronnie. This is every bit as good as Children Of The Sea!

Voodoo, Country Girl and the title track resembles Lady Evil, Whishing Well and Walk Away from the previous album. These are the least good songs from these albums. I can't help thinking that had they discarded these straightforward Hard Rock songs and put the longer, more elaborated songs from both albums onto a single album, it would have been a really excellent one! But this is what it is and as they stand both Heaven And Hell and Mob Rules are three star albums.

The instrumental E5150 does not have any representative on Heaven And Hell. But it follows in the same tradition as FX from Volume Four, only better. I'm not too impressed by this little interlude and I would probably not put it on my imaginary album. But I don't mind it too much. This inclusion might signal keyboardist Geoff Nicholls' increasing importance for the band. Nicholls was never recognized as a full member, but he contributed to every album from Heaven And Hell onwards plus following them on tours.

Falling Off The Edge Of The World and Over And Over would, on the other hand, definitely make it onto that dream album as they are excellent, heavy songs in the style of Lonely Is The Word. Again, these have excellent vocals by Ronnie.

As it stands, Mob Rules is a fine album that will undoubtedly appeal to most Black Sabbath fans as it does to me. While some songs have interesting bits, particularly the excellent The Sign Of The Southern Cross, the Dio-era albums are among Black Sabbath's least progressive albums. It is therefore hard for me to raise very much Prog-enthusiasm over these albums despite some engaging songs and moments. But at least one of these similar albums is worth having in your Prog collection.

Review by UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Mob Rules is the tenth full-length studio album by UK heavy metal act Black Sabbath. I learned a lesson listening to the predecessor Heaven and Hell (1980) as I remembered it in a very different way from when I first listened to it fifteen years ago to how it actually sounded when I listened to it again recently. I found that album to be a great success and a ressurection for a band that had gone astray on the albums Technical Ecstasy (1976) and Never Say Die (1978). The inclusion of the vital and skilled Ronnie James Dio on lead vocals was just the right medicine for a disillusioned Black Sabbath to get back on their feet again. Mob Rules continues the new sound of Black Sabbath and while itīs not vastly different from Heaven and Hell there are differences that sets them apart.

The music is heavy rock/ metal with an at times epic edge. The album has both great rockers like Turn Up the Night and The Mob Rules as well as more epic sounding heavy metal tracks like Over & Over and the beautiful and powerful The Sign of the Southern Cross. A fan favorite that the band has played on most tours ever since. Iīve been an Iron Maiden fan for years but never gave the Dio-era Black Sabbath albums a chance and thatīs such a big mistake because if I was ever in doubt of what influenced the eighties Bruce Dickinson-era Iron Maiden I have my answer now. There are many similarities IMO.

The musicianship is excellent and while I mourn the loss of original drummer Bill Ward, new drummer Vinny Appice does a great job on this album. Tony Iommiīs guitar solos were more vital and powerful than ever on Heaven and Hell and he continues his fierce yet melodic style on Mob Rules.

The production which like on Heaven and Hell was done by Martin Birch ( Deep Purple and Iron Maiden) is a bit darker than on the predecessor but still powerful and very suiting for the music.

While I donīt find Mob Rules just as important or inspired as Heaven and Hell itīs still an excellent heavy metal album and another classic from Black Sabbath. Another transition period in the bandīs history would follow as Ronnie James Dio would leave Black Sabbath after the tour supporting Mob Rules. The legacy that the two eighties Dio-era Black Sabbath albums left is enourmous though and I count them as some of the most important heavy metal albums from that period. A 4 star rating is warranted.

Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars I had this on vinyl and used to thrash it in the 80s during the birth of the heavy metal revolution when the 80s Metal gods unleashed thier hordes. Iommi, Butler, Dio, Appice, and some feller named Nicholls really were possessed to play any way they chose and they used to conjur up all sorts of demonic forces during their mainstay in the metal realm. I grew out of this type of music indefinitely after the initial excitement of new metal kicked in and ultimately died.

I guess the album still has some merit; notably the tracks Turn Up the Night, The Sign of the Southern Cross, E5150 and The Mob Rules but side 2 was a complete waste and rarely troubled my stylus. I remember the abum well for its audaciousness, the silly front cover and the tracks mentioned from side 1 but it was a tiresome effort really, packed with mediocrity and immature lyrics of demons and devils that never sat well with me. Dio's satanic hand signals were pitiful after a while and his voice drowned out the music too often - Iommi is always a sensation so shut up and let the man play! Once upon a long ago this album was the ants pants when it came to metal and was way ahead of its time before Metallica, Iron Maiden and Slayer transformed the metal genre and turned it into a force to be reckoned with.

Black Sabbath were metal pioneers and when they were great they dominated (first 4 albums especially) but when they were ordinary, they sucked. This album is only for collectors so tread carefully among the hallowed ruins of the early 80s metallution, for among the greatness there was so much mediocrity.

Review by snobb
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars Some BS purists think only Ozzy is real vocalist for Sabbath. It looks like Soviet time Communist party member position :)

I think we are there because of music, not because of musical religion. So, BS with Dio on vocal isn't better or worst of BS Mk.1 ,with Ozzy. It just another group, and I think - just another musical evolution step for great musicians.

Ozzy was really Great at his time (first half of BS Ozzy's years), after some troubles he found his way again as solo vocalist, I can say great solo vocalist.

Dio get to BS new blood and new life. "Heaven and Hell", first BS album with Dio, is absolutely perfect! It returned BS to the top (OK, heavy metal world's Top). Unhappily, it started fast and strong, but was finished soon. Even second Dio album show, that all ideas and qualities Dio bring with him to BS, were used during first perfectly concentrated album. "Mob Rules" is just the pale shadow of "Heaven and Hell". Nothing new at all, sorry, but even nothing the same!

It is not very bad album, no. It is just very faceless one. You can listen it, and after you can remember almost nothing. I can recommend it for Dio (not BS) heavy fans only, just because of Dio vocals, or ,OK, BS collectors.

Starting from that point, BS will change some vocalists, some musical styles, but will never return back to form ( as during few Ozzy's first albums, or "Heaven and Hell")

Review by Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars The Mob Rules continues with grown confidence on the path that Heaven and Hell carved the year before. The album is heavier and more consistent and the battle between Dio's vocal chords and Iommi's power chords reaches its zenith.

Turn up the night is a good opener but it isn't till Voodoo that this record really kicks off. Classic groove on that one. Sign of the Southern Cross is the epic beast and easily as good as Heaven and Hell for me. An instrumental interlude E5150 with creepy distorted bass chords leads into the straight old school metal title track. Halfway through the album, Country Girl offers a first lighter flair on this ripping doom monolith. It's a folksy catchy tune with a beautifully tender middle section. Slipping Away is a solid heavy rock song but probably the least interesting on the album. Some enjoyable bass picking from mr Butler though.

After these two down to earth tracks, Falling off the Edge of the World takes us away into Dio's fairy land again. A gentle intro leads into a short brooding funeral march till things are stirred up around the two minute mark with a entrancing looping riff courtesy of mr Iommi. Over and Over is the final proof that this is an album from the days when artists still knew how to make one. A slow emotional ballad rounds things up on a strong note and balances beautifully against all heaviness that preceded it.

For everyone even remotely interested in metal this is an absolute must. For the prog fan, Heaven and Hell might be more appealing with its more prominent melodic lyricism. So I'm a bit a loss with the star system here. Guess 4.5 rounded down will have to do.

Review by Finnforest
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Decent, but a band well in decline

Even as Sab fans back in the day (early 80s) my friends and I were aware we were getting the TV dinner version of Sabbath, as compared to the juicy, slow-roasted pig-on-the-spit that our older brothers got in the early 70s. Sabbath's tenure as a truly relevant, adventurous band ended with Sabbath Bloody Sabbath, despite having made a few more decent albums like Sabotage and Heaven and Hell. The band were basically dying a slow, writhing death rather than an honorable quick one. After Ozzy crashed and burned, followed by Bill Ward, the new Mob Rules Sabbath had Vinny Appice and Ronnie Dio in the fold. They were now helping usher in the 80s anthemic metal scene, in my opinion a music scene dominated by formula, image, and feel-good headbanging. Not that there wasn't some of that in the classic years but there was also quite a bit more. If I sound snobbish it's not an accident: while there is nothing wrong with having fun with music, as I did and still do, it just has to be acknowledged that as important rock music Sabbath were well past mattering, flirting with the edge of banality just a few years later. But that is strictly judging them on musical importance-it you don't care about that aspect and can enjoy the 80s metal scene for what it is, then dive in! You will still find much here to get the blood flowing before Dio bolted to a solo career that sounded quite close to The Mob Rules album. Musically I find this one more interesting now than H&H, it has a bit more energy. It features those white hot fist-pumpers that Dio loved like "Turn up the Night" and the title track, which sound a lot like "Stand up and Shout" and "We Rock" in his next band. It featured the killer "Voodoo" which owned a classic Tony chug as big and lumbering as any. And the highlight was the elegant "Sign of the Southern Cross" which like the classier numbers on H&H had a real mystical feel to them, a more authentic dark fantasy vibe than the beer-party numbers which filled up the less stellar moments of the 80s teen metal scene. "Falling off the edge of the world" is another slow, brooding beauty. Generally speaking this is fun stuff which I can still enjoy on occasion but maxes in the 3 star range.

Review by Mellotron Storm
4 stars 4.5 stars. I must say i'm shocked at how low the ratings are for this album. It's in the same style as the previous one "Heaven And Hell" and it's really a toss up as to which one is better (a matter of opinion of course) yet this is rated way lower here. Makes no sense. "Mob Rules" may not reach the heights of "Heaven And Hell" but it doesn't reach the lows either, it's much more consistant. "RYM" has them rated fairly evenly and that's the way it should be. My rant is over (haha). Again we have the late and great Ronnie James Dio on vocals with Iommi, Butler and for the first time on drums Vinnie Appice as Ward has left. The only negative I have for it is the album cover. What were they thinking ? I've blacked out mine from just below the album's title and it looks cool now.

"Turn Up The Night" hits the ground running as vocals join in quickly.Iommi is ripping it up 2 minutes in. What I like about the SABBATH's Dio years is that Iommi is playing faster and has become more inventive at the same time. "Voodoo" is a bit slower paced than the opener as the guitar grinds it out and drums pound. Great sound here. "The Sign Of The Southern Cross" is a top three for me. Gentle guitar to open as reserved vocals join in. It kicks in heavily before 1 1/2 minutes then settles back. Contrasts continue. Guitar solo before 5 minutes. What a powerful track ! "E5150" is the only instrumental and it's very experimental. Deep sounds a minute in and spacey sounds late. I like this one a lot. "The Mob Rules" sounds amazing. Lots of energy on this one. Guitar solo 1 1/2 minutes in. Vinnie really shines on this one. Great line "If you listen to fools, the mob rules".

"Country Girl" is a top three for me as well. Some nice in your face guitar to start as they slow it some here. Love the vocals. The calm 1 1/2 minutes in is so good, then it kicks back in. "Slipping Away" opens with aggressive guitar as the drums pound. Dio is powerful as usual. Iommi before 2 1/2 minutes puts on a show. Check Butler out as well. "Falling Off The Edge Of The World" is my other top three. It becomes dark, almost doom-like at 1 1/2 minutes. Guitar after 2 minutes as it picks up. Hell yeah ! I'm moved by the guitar solo after 3 1/2 minutes. Guitar and drums stand out early on the final track "Over & Over". Vocals before a minute cry out. Guitar solo before 2 1/2 minutes goes on and on. Nice. More prolonged guitar before 4 minutes.

Sorry about my opening rant and thankyou to all of my Metal friends (Bonnek, Raff, UMUR, b olariu) that have reviewed this album (all gave 4 stars). That's all that matters. RIP Ronnie James there was no one who could sing like you.

Review by Rune2000
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars With the 1981 release of Mob Rules Black Sabbath seemed to repeat the same old story like the one from a decade earlier where they first released a single-based album and then followed it up with a magnificent complete album experience of Master Of Reality in 1971! The results this time might not be as magical but at least Mob Rules definitely gets my seal of approval for being the best Sabbath album of the '80s!

It's true that the first few run-throughs might suggest that the band were just rehashing the Heaven And Hell formula where they start with an upbeat opener, Neon Knights/Turn Up The Night, have one lengthier tune towards the album's midpoint, Heaven & Hell/The Sign Of The Southern Cross, and finally conclude with a strong ballad, Lonely Is The Word/Over & Over. Looking at it this way will definitely make Mob Rules seem like the weaker album since Heaven And Hell definitely had the stronger standout moments. Fortunately Mob Rules doesn't have the problem with the same amount of filler material, instead these weaker standout moments perfectly mix together with the rest of the compositions creating the album experience that I've been longing for even since the early days of the debut album and Master Of Reality!

Here we have completely unexpected moments of excellence with the album's title track and especially Falling Off The Edge Of The World, which is often considered to be the most underrated Black Sabbath track since it was rarely performed by the band and seemed to have fallen just like it's title would suggest. While The Sign Of The Southern Cross and Over & Over might not be as strong as their counterparts from Heaven And Hell there's still a lot of passion in these performances that says to me that the band were really trying to take the material up a notch. As for the rest of the tracks, Voodoo was a big concert favorite and was eagerly performed by the reunited Heaven & Hell lineup up until the end. Country Girl and Slipping Away could be dismissed as being filler, but I actually like the way they smooth out the otherwise rough transition between the album's title track and Falling Off The Edge Of The World.

I'm really surprised that more people haven't embraced Mob Rules for being the strong album that it really is! No, it doesn't feature any of the hits. Personally though, I would never exchange this complete experience even for an album comprised of the best bits from Paranoid and Heaven And Hell. A must-have album for all Hard Rock fans out there!

***** star songs: Turn Up The Night (3:40) The Mob Rules (3:13) Falling Off The Edge Of The World (5:04)

**** star songs: Voodoo (4:33) The Sign Of The Southern Cross (7:45) Country Girl (4:03) Slipping Away (3:45) Over & Over (5:28)

*** star songs: E5150 (2:54)

Review by Conor Fynes
4 stars 'Mob Rules' - Black Sabbath (7/10)

Sabbath's "Heaven And Hell" not only brought their music into a new decade, it also saved them from an inevitable death. The two final albums of the Ozzy era were a sharp boot in the face to the six albums prior that had built the band up as one of the most respected in hard rock and heavy metal. With a new singer and more upbeat sound, Black Sabbath were reinvigorated, and "Heaven And Hell" enjoyed the first sounds of inspiration Black Sabbath had felt in a couple of years. "Mob Rules" doesn't necessarily push this new sound any further, but it proves that "Heaven And Hell" was not a fluke. Although not quite as consistent as its predecessor, "Mob Rules" is a great way to wrap up the first Dio era.

As was the case on "Heaven And Hell", the addition of vocalist Ronnie James Padavona changes the band's sound more than I would have expected. Although Sabbath's style had fluctuated a bit during the Ozzy era, the songwriting had generally been based around thick, heavy riffs, courtesy of Tony Iommi and his distinct approach to the guitar. Although Iommi's trademark doom did peek its head up occasionally, it sounded more like Dio's future solo career than anything the band had done in the past. "Mob Rules" does not deviate much from this course, but a little more of the traditional Sabbath cracks through. "Country Girl" is fueled by an incendiary Iommi riff that wouldn't have sounded out of place on "Master of Reality". "The Sign of the Southern Cross" is another song where Sabbath harken back to their more downtempo roots. For the most part however, Sabbath go for faster-paced metal tunes; "Turn Up The NIght" and the title track "The Mob Rules" are both memorable exercises in fire and brimstone.

Although I would have thought Black Sabbath were defined by the riffs, it's remarkable how much the music has changed with replacement vocalist Ronnie James Dio. While I thought Ozzy Osbourne had some great pipes on some of their earlier albums, Dio's voice is notably more powerful, effortlessly pulling off operatic belts that would have made Ozzy cower. With that being said, I think Ozzy's drug-addled charm could have added something to these songs that Dio's flamboyant delivery does not. As far as skill is concerned, Sabbath have certainly benefited from the vocal replacement, but Sabbath sound less distinctive than they used to, and a little more like the horde of their contemporary metal bands.

"Mob Rules" is not the remarkable statement that "Heaven And Hell" was, if only for the fact that "Heaven" did it first. Although it does sound as if Sabbath are trying to recall a little of their past sound here, it is for the most part a recreation of the previous album, albeit less consistent and powerful. Suffice to say, Ronnie James Dio brings a very different angle to Black Sabbath, and though I do not find this material to be as memorable as the Ozzy material, this era is a refreshing new sound for one of heavy metal's greatest bands.

Review by FragileKings
3 stars "Mob Rules" remains one of my favourite Black Sabbath albums. I think that the time in your life when you hear a particular album can make all the difference in how your opinion of the album compares to the general consensus on any given music site. You may have heard the album when it was new and exciting, when the music was fresh to you, or when you were ready in that time of your life to hear it.

"Mob Rules" was Sabbath's latest album when I first heard it. I was around 11 years old and already impressed with AC/DC and Van Halen. A friend let me hear the intro to the old classic, "Iron Man," because Ozzy's distorted voice and the bent guitar note sounded cool. Heavy metal music was filtering down to the boys of my age via the channel of older brothers (which I didn't have) and so it was through another friend that I was treated to this "new" heavy sound. When I first heard the, "tss, tss, tss, tss" of the opening track, "Turn up the Night," and the sudden thunder of guitars, I was in love. This was music to my ears.

"Turn up the Night" featured some blazing wah-wah pedal solos by Tony Iommi and Ronnie James Dio's gruff and powerful vocals. The song, a bit mainstream metal sounding I'll admit, thunders on through from start to finish. Say what you will about it, I still love to listen to it. The second track changes the pace quickly with a mid-tempo, less heavy in tone number called, "Voodoo". The contrast between the first two songs hints that this will not be all hellfire and thunder straight through the album. The soloing also shows a more stylistic approach in contrast with the sonic ray gun blasting of "Turn up the Night".

The third track, "Sign of the Southern Cross," remains as one of my favourite Black Sabbath songs ever. It features a pretty acoustic guitar intro with Dio showing off his skills as a talented singer, using smooth soft vocals and delicate falsetto. His delivery is impeccable. I remember my friends and I having a snicker over the line, "Vanish it to small," because one friend liked to sing, "vanish[&*!#]". Hey, we were 11 years old. After the intro, the song morphs with a monster slow and heavy riff. It has been said that heavy metal was originally slow and heavy and if you think of Sabbath's own, "Black Sabbath" then you can imagine that we are back to a 1981 version of that slow heavy riffing. The song has a seriously haunting, doomy atmosphere about it with a touch of a spooky cosmic mood during the verses. In spite of the fact that there are some cool drum and bass fills and the guitar solo concludes with a little bit of finger action, the music for the most part is sparse but effective. And by now, Sabbath have offered up three distinct songs of differing mood and tempo.

"Sign" fades into the effects instrumental "E5150" which begins with some rather interesting effects but soon becomes neither here nor there. I read that the song title spells out "E-V-I- L" if you replace the numbers with Roman numerals. Sounds a little silly but it was probably someone's good idea at the time. Then abruptly the fearsome assault of "Mob Rules" erupts and reminds you that this album started out with a balls-to-the-wall metal rocker.

Side two begins with another "Voodoo" mid-tempo song that opens with another cool riff. "Country Girl" gives Dio a chance to show off his vocal prowess once more. "Slipping Away" was an education in music for me because I was still a newbie to rock and metal having come from a background of Disney story book cassettes, the Smurfs, and my parents' easy listening albums. In "Slipping Away" Messrs Iommi and Butler taught me the difference between an electric guitar solo and an electric bass guitar solo, thus initiating my long love for the bass guitar (though I only ever tried playing a bass once).

I always felt that "Falling off the Edge of the World" was like a sped up version of "Sign of the Southern Cross", perhaps because it too has a slow and very heavy riff before the song rockets off and plays at a pace to inspire many young and upcoming thrash metal musicians. The final track "Over and Over" often gets mention by other reviewers but I'm afraid it has never appealed much to me and is the only track off the album that I usually don't listen to. It's slow and seems to drag on. Dio's vocals affect a plaintive broken-soul tone which doesn't appeal to me either.

Many reviewers agree that this album is not quite as good as "Heaven and Hell" with some even going as far as saying that this is an inferior copy of the previous album. But I bought "Heaven and Hell" on cassette a year or two later and I loved only the first three tracks. After that I can't remember anything else from the album and I am not yet tempted to purchase it on CD. "Mob Rules", on the other hand, is one of my three-timers: an album that I have purchased once on cassette in the 80's, once on CD in the 90's, and a third time on remastered CD in the 00's. Still these days I find myself keeping the album or at least favourite tracks on my iPod. For me, this album was a very important stepping stone to getting myself into heavy metal.

As for a progressive rock or metal album, most of the songs follow a standard metal/rock format. The real treat on here is "Sign of the Southern Cross" for its atmosphere and composition. "Falling off the Edge of the World" makes for a good prog metal tune too. Overall, I think it deserves only 2 stars as a prog album, but keeping in mind that Black Sabbath are technically not a progressive metal band and that the music as a whole is very good, if you like metal, I'll give it 3 on this site. For my own preference I'd give it 4.5 stars.

Review by Prog Leviathan
3 stars Here's a satisfying hit of bottom-heavy metal from the genre's founding fathers which will appeal to prog fans looking to take their intellect down a few notches and revel in what makes rock music so fun: pure excitement, energy, and electric crunch. Mob Rules abounds with each of these, and while the songwriting is only occasionally elevated beyond straight-ahead hard rock fare, the experience is completely satisfying.

Black Sabbath's down-tuned, gloomy sound for this release follows in the footsteps of the excellent Heaven and Hell, the album which revitalized the band. Mob Rules has that same sense of scope, weight, and power. Iommi's guitar work is excellent throughout, while Geezer Butler continues to be one of the most underrated bassists in the history of rock. These two guitarists lay down a ton of sound, and unlike metal music which would appear later in the decade - and in contemporary metal, for that matter - the production is smart enough to let us hear them play! You can pick out every fuzzy riff of Butler's bass and each threatening note of Iommi's chord transition. He also does some powerful soloing throughout - any one else think that the guitar solo is rapidly disappearing? Great playing!

Dio is incomparable as always. He's one of the all-time greats in the genre and it shows throughout the album. A lesser vocalist would not pull off these songs, even the mediocre ones like "Country Girl." Lyrics throughout this album are not as engaging as in previous Sabbath albums, but they aren't all bad either. Some have a lot of gravitas that increase the scope of the album.

Highlights include the sleazy vibe and style in "Voodoo", the world-ending power chords of "Sign of the Southern Cross," and the rip-roaring energy in "Falling Off the Edge of the World." Unfortunately, for each of these moments there's a less ambitious "Mob Rules," "Country Girl," and "Slipping Away," hard-rock filler that strives for radio-friendly play, but feel like concessions when compared to the other more interesting songs.

All in all, Mob Rules is very satisfying. With only a few prog or art moments, it's appeal will be limited to the listener's interest in classic - and above average - heavy metal, but that shouldn't prevent one from cranking up the stereo and letting Black Sabbath give us an ear-full of what real heavy metal sounds like.

Songwriting: 3 - Instrumental Performances: 3 - Lyrics/Vocals: 3 - Style/Emotion/Replay: 4

Review by Windhawk
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars UK band BLACK SABBATH are among the giants of rock, and a band recognized as a household name in music worldwide. "Mob Rules" is their tenth album, and the second and last of the first era with Ronnie James Dio, and was released back in 1981.

When this album appeared as the sixth entry in the Classic Rock Album Of The Week Club this week, I was kind of curious as to whether or not I could approach this album in an objective manner. I've listened to this band for most of my life after all, and several of their albums would be in strong consideration for my personal desert island list. "Masters of Reality", "Heaven and Hell" and "Eternal Idol" possibly the strongest contenders of the lot. "Mob Rules" isn't an album I've listened to all that much however, and I was intrigued by this chance to rediscover this album.

What I can state straight away is that I know I will have the unpopular opinion on this one. For me, this is an album that documents a band in some sort of development stage or identity crisis, where the band as a whole appears to be searching for direction. Kind of odd really, as their previous album is such a scorcher. One question I kept asking myself when listening through this album now is just how much the late Ronnie James Dio had to say in the songwriting department this time around.

The thing is that several songs sounds like rough drafts or trials of ideas that would resurface as better songs on Dio's solo albums, while others appeared to combine aspects of this with a sound and approach closer to what Black Sabbath had done originally. But for both aspects something is missing. The vitality that brimmed on "Heaven and Hell" has been replaced with something far more lethargic, and there are no chorus sections, bass lines or other details that demands immediate attention. Many of these songs feel perhaps more insecure than safe, like a band that have lost their way and struggle for direction. The skills of the musicians involved is something of a saving grace of course, so that apart from E5150, which for me comes across as unneeded and unnecessary, there's nothing truly bad to be found. But too many of the songs fail to inspire.

There are some highlights though. The title track is an energetic run, where the vocals, pace and brevity of the song combines into a better whole, and the beefy Iommi riffs adds a nice depth to Falling Off the Edge of the World that makes this one a memorable cut too. The shining star for me on this album is The Sign of the Southern Cross though, a sweet, atmospheric laden creation with a majestic, epic atmosphere of the kind Black Sabbath have created quite a few of throughout their career.

Revisiting this classic Black Sabbath album wasn't quite the experience I had hoped it would be. I read that some feel this album is a safe one. For me this feels more like the album of a band that have lost their way, and struggle to find out where to go next. The high class musicians involved makes sure that the end result isn't as bad as this description makes it appear to be, but apart from the threesome of Mob Rules, Falling Off the Edge of the World and The Sign of the Southern Cross, "Mob Rules" comes across as a rather average production in sum for me.

Latest members reviews

4 stars A year after Heaven, a new album, we must strike while the iron is hot; same line-up except the new drummer Vinny and a mature BS for this decade. 1. Turn Up the Night title announcing that the hard blood is still flowing on this future retiree, yes they have been scouring the hard since the beginn ... (read more)

Report this review (#2312165) | Posted by alainPP | Sunday, February 2, 2020 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Not a bad release at all but "Heaven and Hell" would always be a tough album to follow up on. Very similar to the "Heaven and Hell" album but that's essentially what put me off Dio in the end - everything with him sounded like everything else that he did. His voice was perhaps just too powerfu ... (read more)

Report this review (#939542) | Posted by sukmytoe | Friday, April 5, 2013 | Review Permanlink

2 stars A one great song album from Black Sabbath. Gone is Ozzy and the late Ronnie James Dio takes the microphone. And most of the album too. His voice is among the two positives from this album. This album also proves how devastating his recent passing was for the scene. His vocals is excellent. Th ... (read more)

Report this review (#566772) | Posted by toroddfuglesteg | Saturday, November 12, 2011 | Review Permanlink

3 stars After a stunning 80s album, Sabbath think that they can repeat the same old thing, as it is an almost carbon copy as Heaven and Hell; only with different lyrics. The same heavy riffs and Dio-led vocals dominate the sound, leaving room for the excellent rhythm section of Vinny Appice and Geeze ... (read more)

Report this review (#336007) | Posted by Jazzywoman | Saturday, November 27, 2010 | Review Permanlink

3 stars The enigmatic Black Sabbath return to fight the vile Dr. Carbon Copy! Can they win? In... The Mob Rules! [Instant action inside! Too bad it is the same action as before.] Turn up the Night is a rocking opener, but it doesn't do much for me. Perhaps I am biased against pure hard rock. But t ... (read more)

Report this review (#212554) | Posted by Alitare | Monday, April 27, 2009 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Let's start by saying that Dio's entrance gave Black Sabbath the chance to create two of the best albums of the first years of the 80's and that can have no doubt as i said earlier. Heaven And Hell and Mob Rules is by far better than anything Black Sabbath did in their last three Ozzy albums, alb ... (read more)

Report this review (#209251) | Posted by Silent Knight | Monday, March 30, 2009 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Pretty similar to its predecessor, "Mob Rules" is the second album released during Black Sabbath's 'Dio era'. As I've already said, all the tunes are pretty similar to the ones that were released on "Heaven and Hell", but they are a tad weaker, in my opinion; the album is a bit on the inconsiste ... (read more)

Report this review (#182209) | Posted by Nhorf | Thursday, September 11, 2008 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Bringing in Ronnie James Dio was just the right thing for sabbath to do. It gave new power to Sabbath, who had almost lost the glow on "Technical Extasy" and the bit better "Never Say Die". Dio's first Sabbath album, Heaven and Hell was a great, great album. Too bad, this album isn't as good or "Fr ... (read more)

Report this review (#144259) | Posted by Abstrakt | Saturday, October 13, 2007 | Review Permanlink

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