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BLACK SABBATH

Prog Related • United Kingdom


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Black Sabbath biography
Founded in Birmingham, UK in 1969 - Major recording hiatus between 1998-2013 - Disbanded in 2017

The historic four members of Black Sabbath went to the same Birmingham secondary school (in the then-semi slums of Aston) and played in two separate groups (Ozzy and Geezer in one called The Rare Breed and Tony and Bill in another called Mythology) then joined forces. Tony Iommi's loss of two fingertip of his fretting hand in an industrial work-related accident (he is a bit older than the other three and was working already) had almost convinced him to stop music, but his foreman offered him a Django Reinhardt album (he was missing two fingers) and this helped Tony overcoming his handicap by adding a self-made prostheses on his fingertip, but he had to detune his guitar to play with it. The now-named EARTH group (a definite improvement on the previous Polka Tulk Blues Band then the Earth Blues Band) soldiered on for a few months without much success, although they were playing 12-bar Jazz-Blues-Rock ala Ten Years After, until Toni Iommi accepted an offer to join JETHRO TULL as their guitarist in replacement for Mick Abrahams. While Iommi's tenure in Tull lasted a few weeks (his only testimony is Tull's appearance in the RnR Circus DVD), it gave him an idea of what kind of efforts were required to get a professional group together. After his return to Birmingham, he reconvened EARTH and gave them a tight schedule and work ethics, which made him assume the leadership of the group as well.

Changing their name to Black Sabbath, the group started getting gigs all over the country, and recorded their debut album in two days. This self-titled album is now one of the most influential albums ever in rock's history, especially the eponymous track, with its bell-and-thunderstorm intro, its huge descending riffs and gloomy fantasy lyrics. The group went on crazily-scheduled tours and quickly managed an international fame with the star system lifestyle including heavy use of all kinds of drugs. With their second album "Paranoid", Sabbath consolidated their aura and success, with a highly impressive and very different sound to anyone else around, great interplay and grim lyrics, and almost didn't include the title track, which would go on to be their only #1 hit on either side of the Atlantic. One of the reason of the group's success is their "Satanist" image, which attracted all kinds of freaks (we are in the aftermath of Manson and the Tate murders), but th...
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BLACK SABBATH discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

BLACK SABBATH top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.23 | 907 ratings
Black Sabbath
1970
4.31 | 1005 ratings
Paranoid
1970
4.08 | 792 ratings
Master Of Reality
1971
3.87 | 651 ratings
Volume Four
1972
4.12 | 780 ratings
Sabbath Bloody Sabbath
1973
4.05 | 589 ratings
Sabotage
1975
2.78 | 410 ratings
Technical Ecstasy
1976
2.97 | 388 ratings
Never Say Die!
1978
4.04 | 580 ratings
Heaven And Hell
1980
3.48 | 407 ratings
Mob Rules
1981
2.80 | 330 ratings
Born Again
1983
2.62 | 232 ratings
Seventh Star
1986
3.16 | 226 ratings
The Eternal Idol
1987
3.22 | 243 ratings
Headless Cross
1989
3.14 | 225 ratings
Tyr
1990
3.08 | 288 ratings
Dehumanizer
1992
3.20 | 192 ratings
Cross Purposes
1994
1.91 | 189 ratings
Forbidden
1995
3.59 | 172 ratings
Heaven & Hell - The Devil You Know
2009
3.75 | 312 ratings
13
2013

BLACK SABBATH Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

2.94 | 93 ratings
Live at Last
1980
3.43 | 139 ratings
Live Evil
1983
2.91 | 30 ratings
Cross Purposes Live (CD + VHS)
1995
4.21 | 113 ratings
Reunion
1998
3.97 | 86 ratings
Past Lives
2002
4.16 | 39 ratings
Live at Hammersmith Odeon
2007
4.25 | 51 ratings
Heaven & Hell: Live from Radio City Music Hall
2007
4.50 | 4 ratings
Neon Nights . 30 Years Of Heaven & Hell . Live At Wacken
2010
3.70 | 10 ratings
The End - 4 February 2017, Birmingham
2017

BLACK SABBATH Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

3.41 | 15 ratings
The Black Sabbath Story - Volume 1 1970-1978
1991
3.73 | 15 ratings
The Black Sabbath Story - Volume 2 1978-1992
1992
1.86 | 29 ratings
The Last Supper
1999
3.60 | 20 ratings
Never Say Die
2003
4.50 | 4 ratings
Inside Black Sabbath with Tony Iommi
2003
2.81 | 12 ratings
Cross Purposes Live
2003
4.60 | 10 ratings
In Concert
2004
3.75 | 4 ratings
Total Rock Review
2006
3.87 | 28 ratings
Heaven and Hell: Live from Radio City Music Hall
2007
3.75 | 4 ratings
Children Of The Grave
2008
2.71 | 8 ratings
In Moscow
2008
4.60 | 5 ratings
Madman Alive in Athens
2008
3.90 | 10 ratings
Classic Albums: Paranoid
2010
3.45 | 20 ratings
Live. Gathered in Their Masses
2013
3.57 | 7 ratings
The End - 4 February 2017, Birmingham
2017

BLACK SABBATH Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

0.00 | 0 ratings
Black Sabbath
1970
4.05 | 5 ratings
The Best Of Black Sabbath
1971
4.00 | 5 ratings
Attention! Black Sabbath
1973
5.00 | 4 ratings
Pop Giants: Volume 9
1974
5.00 | 3 ratings
Reflection
1975
0.00 | 0 ratings
The Best of Black Sabbath
1975
3.18 | 41 ratings
We Sold Our Soul for Rock and Roll
1975
4.67 | 3 ratings
Attention! Black Sabbath Volume 2
1975
4.50 | 4 ratings
Children of the Grave
1976
5.00 | 2 ratings
The Best Of Black Sabbath
1976
5.00 | 2 ratings
Paranoia
1976
4.67 | 3 ratings
Star Gold
1976
4.09 | 13 ratings
Greatest Hits
1977
3.57 | 5 ratings
The Singles 1970-1978
1978
5.00 | 2 ratings
The Best: The Ultimate In Heavy Metal
1983
5.00 | 2 ratings
Collection Vol.1
1984
5.00 | 2 ratings
Hand of Doom
1984
5.00 | 2 ratings
The Sabbath Collection (original)
1985
1.48 | 4 ratings
Blackest Sabbath
1989
5.00 | 4 ratings
Black Sabbath
1990
5.00 | 3 ratings
Backtrackin'
1991
5.00 | 2 ratings
The Black Sabbath Story
1991
4.71 | 7 ratings
The Ozzy Osbourne Years
1991
5.00 | 2 ratings
The Ultimate in Heavy Metal
1991
4.25 | 4 ratings
Iron Man
1992
4.50 | 4 ratings
Iron Man (Alternative Version)
1994
2.08 | 9 ratings
The Sabbath Stones
1996
4.71 | 7 ratings
Under Wheels of Confusion 1970-1987
1996
4.25 | 5 ratings
The Originals
1996
5.00 | 2 ratings
Black Sabbath 1970-1987 Digital Remaster
1996
0.00 | 0 ratings
We Sold Our Soul To Rock 'n' Roll, Vol.II
1996
4.50 | 4 ratings
The Collection
2000
4.50 | 4 ratings
The Singles 1970-1978
2000
3.79 | 20 ratings
The Best of Black Sabbath
2000
4.56 | 9 ratings
The Complete 70's Replica CD Collection 1970-1978 (boxset)
2001
4.67 | 3 ratings
Rock Champions
2001
4.67 | 3 ratings
The Best of Black Sabbath
2001
4.73 | 11 ratings
Symptom of the Universe
2003
4.53 | 17 ratings
Black Box (The Complete Original Black Sabbath 1970-1978)
2004
5.00 | 5 ratings
Selections From - Black Box: The Complete Original Black Sabbath (1970-1978)
2004
5.00 | 3 ratings
Black Sabbath
2006
4.50 | 6 ratings
Greatest Hits 1970-1978
2006
5.00 | 2 ratings
Rock Giants
2006
3.74 | 23 ratings
The Dio Years
2007
5.00 | 2 ratings
Audiobiography
2007
4.80 | 10 ratings
The Rules of Hell
2008
5.00 | 1 ratings
Greatest Hits
2009
0.00 | 0 ratings
Iron Man: The Best of Black Sabbath
2012
4.50 | 2 ratings
The Ultimate Collection
2017
0.00 | 0 ratings
Supersonic Years: The Seventies Singles Box Set
2018

BLACK SABBATH Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

4.43 | 14 ratings
Paranoid
1970
4.00 | 14 ratings
The Wizard
1970
3.85 | 13 ratings
Evil Woman
1970
4.11 | 9 ratings
N.I.B.
1970
4.00 | 7 ratings
Coleccion Underground N° 3: Presentando Paranoid
1970
0.00 | 0 ratings
Sweet Leaf
1971
4.00 | 9 ratings
Paranoid
1971
2.89 | 9 ratings
Iron Man
1971
3.50 | 3 ratings
Rock Power
1971
3.56 | 9 ratings
Snowblind
1972
3.25 | 8 ratings
Tomorrow's Dream
1972
3.56 | 9 ratings
Snowblind
1972
3.88 | 8 ratings
Wicked World
1972
4.25 | 4 ratings
Black Sabbath/Status Quo split PROMO
1972
3.88 | 8 ratings
Paranoid
1972
4.10 | 12 ratings
Paranoid
1973
4.25 | 8 ratings
Sabbath Bloody Sabbath
1973
4.30 | 10 ratings
Sabbath Bloody Sabbath
1973
2.73 | 11 ratings
Sabbath Bloody Sabbath
1973
3.78 | 9 ratings
Hole in the Sky
1975
3.56 | 9 ratings
Gypsy
1976
3.38 | 8 ratings
It's Alright
1976
3.75 | 8 ratings
Hard Road
1978
3.67 | 9 ratings
Never Say Die
1978
3.67 | 6 ratings
Hard Road
1978
0.00 | 0 ratings
Lady Evil
1980
4.40 | 10 ratings
Die Young
1980
4.77 | 11 ratings
Neon Knights
1980
4.00 | 10 ratings
Mob Rules
1981
4.14 | 7 ratings
Turn Up the Night
1981
4.13 | 8 ratings
Paranoid
1982
4.13 | 8 ratings
Paranoid
1982
0.00 | 0 ratings
Trashed / Zero the Hero
1983
4.13 | 8 ratings
Paranoid
1986
4.00 | 3 ratings
Seventh Star Sampler
1986
3.67 | 6 ratings
No Stranger To Love
1986
4.00 | 5 ratings
The Shining
1987
3.80 | 5 ratings
4 Songs From The Eternal Idol
1987
4.17 | 6 ratings
Devil And Daughter
1989
4.20 | 5 ratings
Devil And Daughter
1989
4.00 | 1 ratings
Black Moon
1989
4.00 | 6 ratings
Call of the Wild
1989
4.14 | 7 ratings
Devil and Daughter
1989
2.57 | 9 ratings
Headless Cross
1989
3.70 | 10 ratings
Feels Good to Me
1990
4.00 | 3 ratings
Castle Gold Collection: Volume 22
1991
4.00 | 3 ratings
Kerrang! Four-Play
1992
3.88 | 8 ratings
Time Machine
1992
3.84 | 10 ratings
TV Crimes
1992
3.88 | 8 ratings
I
1992
0.00 | 0 ratings
Back to Eden
1994
3.63 | 8 ratings
Get a Grip
1995
3.78 | 9 ratings
Psycho Man
1998
3.67 | 3 ratings
Paranoid
1998
4.00 | 5 ratings
Reunion
1998
4.22 | 9 ratings
Black Mass
1999
4.20 | 5 ratings
The Best Of Black Sabbath
2000
4.22 | 9 ratings
Paranoid
2000
4.22 | 9 ratings
Paranoid
2004
4.33 | 9 ratings
The Dio Years (Sampler)
2007
4.00 | 5 ratings
The Devil Cried
2007
4.00 | 6 ratings
Heaven and Hell (Radio Sampler)
2008
0.00 | 0 ratings
1969 Demo
2009
3.32 | 18 ratings
The End
2016

BLACK SABBATH Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Sabotage by BLACK SABBATH album cover Studio Album, 1975
4.05 | 589 ratings

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Sabotage
Black Sabbath Prog Related

Review by Hector Enrique

4 stars Sabotage shows the mature Black Sabbath: challenging themselves, incorporating acoustic sounds that add a greater variety of nuances and colors to their typically rough and dense proposal.

Hole in the Sky begins the album with an accelerated and furious theme that, after the small acoustic interlude spanish-style Don´t Start, gives way to the superb Symptom of the Universe, whose vibrant and devilish riff must be one of those that they claim with authority the paternity of thrash metal. The song takes a surprising turn towards the end, lowering the revolutions to conclude in a relaxed and detached way.

The excellent and intense Megalomania with its almost 10 minutes, combines atmospheric passages with elements of hard rock beautifully, followed by the blues-like The Thrill of it All which, despite having interesting moments, is probably the least recognized song on the album.

The terrifying instrumental Supertzar, with those gloomy guitars and the chorus that seems to be taken from some evil prophecy, gives way to the more dynamic and light Am I'm Going Insane, whose end of laughter and tears is enough to scare the bravest.

The Writ closes the album and is one of the compositions that comes closest to the progressive concept, with constant changes of rhythm and a very elaborate structure, where punchy riffs coexist with magnificent acoustic developments and outstanding vocal work by Ozzy. It is, in my opinion, one of the best songs on Black Sabbath's discography.

Sabotage is the last great work of Black Sabbath in the Ozzy era, and one more example of the remarkable influence that the Birmingham band had on the creation of the metal genre and its variants.

 Paranoid by BLACK SABBATH album cover Studio Album, 1970
4.31 | 1005 ratings

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Paranoid
Black Sabbath Prog Related

Review by Hector Enrique

5 stars Paranoid, Black Sabbath's second album, besides being probably the best work of the group, is one of the cornerstones in the gestation of heavy metal. With a raw and harsh sound, the hallmark of the band, in just over 40- minutes the demonic and furious guitar riffs of Tommy Iommi flood the entire rhythmic spectrum of the album. Very well supported by Ozzy Osbourne, who despite not having a particularly privileged voice, with his peculiar style and charismatic personality, perfectly matched the band's musical proposal and image.

Many of the most emblematic songs of Black Sabbath can be found in Paranoid: the extraordinary and representative War Pigs, a critique of political power due to their inclination for armed conflicts; Paranoid, a forceful and galloping short-lived rock; the halftime paced and dark Iron Man with his runaway finale; and finally the spooky Electric Funeral, to whom doom metal owes several coins.

The different touch in Paranoid is given by Planet Caravan, a hypnotic and ghostly theme that only confirms the legendary belief of Black Sabbath's interest in the esoteric and dark, approaching something similar to voodoo or black magic session.

The album is completed by the instrumental Rat Salad (including a correct drum solo by Bill Ward), and the bluesy reminiscences of Iommi's primal style with Hand of Doom and Fairies Wear Boots, which without having the aforementioned transcendence, are a couple of excellent songs too.

I remember when I first heard Paranoid several years ago, and the feeling of being present to a chilling walk through the deep roots of the most primitive and disturbing side of rock remains with the same intensity to this day. A crushing work.

 The Singles 1970-1978 by BLACK SABBATH album cover Boxset/Compilation, 1978
3.57 | 5 ratings

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The Singles 1970-1978
Black Sabbath Prog Related

Review by Heart of the Matter

3 stars Disc 1: a) Evil Woman (from "Black Sabbath" album) A classic, simple but very well constructed rocker with a jazzy touch of syncopation and killer (if brief) guitar solo by Iommi. b) Wicked World (same album) Doomy chops for intro, and then came witchy Ozzy: the rest is legend.

Disc 2: a) Paranoid (taken from "Paranoid") Blockbuster single, signature song, and concert staple. b) The Wizard (from "Black Sabbath") Amazing, simple but tasty harmonica call & blues-rock response by the group.

Disc 3: a) Tomorrow's Dream (from "Volume 4") Classic heavy stuff with a psychedelic touch. b) Laguna Sunrise (same album) Very nice instrumental highlighting the acoustic guitar by Tony.

Disc 4: a) Sabbath Bloody Sabbath (from "Sabbath Bloody Sabbath") Dense and elaborated guitar overdubs shine here. b) Changes (from "Volume 4") Beautiful moody, piano ladden ballad.

Disc 5: a) Never Say Die (from "Never Say Die") Alternates a strong riff with a climatic section soaked in reverb. b) She's Gone (from "Technical Ecstasy") Acoustic, orchestral, sad, gorgeous ballad with sensible vocals by Ozzy.

Disc 6: a) Hard Road (From "Never Say Die") Not my favourite, even Tony sounds unfocused. b) Symptom of the Universe (From "Sabotage") Now we are talking! Just hear the sonority of the bass and the unique guitar solo. Good acoustic touches also.

Anyway, the full albums are essential, not this.

 Forbidden by BLACK SABBATH album cover Studio Album, 1995
1.91 | 189 ratings

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Forbidden
Black Sabbath Prog Related

Review by TCat
Special Collaborator Eclectic / Prog Metal / Heavy Prog Team

2 stars This album is considered the worst of the worst by many critics and fans as far as Black Sabbath goes. This one was ill- fated from the beginning though as the line-up was quite shaky. Released in 1995, it would be the last album the band would release for quite some time, but this was because there were already rumors of the classic Black Sabbath line-up reuniting. However, this album was kind of a reunion album in and of itself. When everything was finally ironed out, the line-up would be the same as it was for the album "Tyr" with the return of Cozy Powell on drums and Neil Murray on bass, who replaced GeezerButler, Sabbath's original bassist. Returning from the previous album, "Cross Purposes", is long-timer vocalist Tony Martin, who was by now a familiar face in the Black Sabbath "modern" line-up since he was only beat out by Ozzy as the most faithful vocalist in the band's history. Also Tony Iommi on guitar was back, or course, and so was Geoff Nicholls on keys.

This album can blame it's poor reception on songs that seem to be less inspired than ever. The band just didn't have any spark whatsoever. Martin claims he knew nothing about the rumors of a reunion of the classic band or of the plans to bring back Dio for the "Heaven and Hell" band. Also, busy schedules and record company restrictions kept the band from rehearsing or writing songs as a team. Only Iommi, Martin and Nicholls were available to jam together and put the songs together. The album only took 10 days to record because of time constraints, so many things were not possible to work out. The album turns out to be one of the most non-cohesive albums of the band's history, but there are plenty of reasons for that. What you end up with is mostly what sounds like half-hearted attempts. Martin claims that the songs actually sounded great in practice, but everything got lost in production. Honestly, I can hear something in the songs that sound like they might have been decent if they had been worked on and developed better.

In the end, there are some okay moments here, so it's not a complete loss, and personally I would rate this album a tad higher than the awful "Technical Ecstasy" or "Never Say Die", but not enough to earn it another star. Again, the songs sound like they might not have been bad if the band was allowed the same conditions to work out the problems. However, the best tracks like "Can't Get Close Enough" and "Shake off the Chains" are ruined by quick fade outs and a feeling of insecurity in their sound. Of course, the next studio album under the name of Black Sabbath would be the one that would redeem the name of the band as it would be the one to unite the classic line-up again in a very successful way, so the band would at least end on a positive note with the album "13" released in 2013. But it would be done at the expense of the loyal Tony Martin and Geoff Nicholls, but that is what we all really wanted, wasn't it? "Forbidden" could have been a decent swan song for this line up, but instead, it turns out being a sad ending for them. 2 stars. Too weak and underdeveloped, most of the time it can't even be considered heavy or even hard rock. It sounds like an amateur attempt instead of a group of talented veterans.

 Sabotage by BLACK SABBATH album cover Studio Album, 1975
4.05 | 589 ratings

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Sabotage
Black Sabbath Prog Related

Review by TCat
Special Collaborator Eclectic / Prog Metal / Heavy Prog Team

5 stars "Sabotage" was the last of the great Black Sabbath albums. It also tends to get overlooked for some reason, though it is (along with "Paranoid" and "Sabbath Bloody Sabbath) highly progressive, dark, heavy and loud. This time around, the album was going to be centered solely around the band with all of the extra orchestration from the previous album left off. During the recording of this, their 6th album, the band was experiencing a lot of stress resulting from legal battles with their former manager. The band's anger from this was front and center on the album, and only worked to make it even better and stronger, though it had an effect on the band. This, along with the growing inner conflict in the band, was the underlying foundation for the album.

"Hole in the Sky" is a perfect opener which instantly displays the heaviness of the album with some of Osbourne's angriest vocals. A sudden cut off at the end of the track leads to a short acoustic Iommi solo which quickly fades being replaced by another strong and heavy track "Symptom of the Universe". This track has been credited as being an influence of thrash metal's development, most specifically in the main riff. The song features many riff changes as it continues and the last section of the song (the more acoustic section) comes from an in-studio spontaneous jam. Once again, the anger comes through in the frantic playing by all of the band members and most obviously in Osbourne's vocals, even in the excellent sudden change to acoustic in the last section.

The anger and power comes to a head in the amazing "Megalomania", an almost 10 minute track that begins slow and dark with some cool echoing effects in the vocals and Iommi creating a mysterious and atmospheric feel through the organ. A sudden change at 3 minutes sees an up-tempo shift as a new riff is introduced and a new melody starts in the vocals with a bridge that even brings in a boogie-style element. The song then shifts around with the riffs and styles for a while. There is also a lower and darker voice singing along with Osbourne in the lead up to the "chorus" during this time. The music follows this pattern for a while, but builds in intensity as an almost symphonic sound comes in with Iommi adding synths in with his guitar improvisations.

More heaviness mixed with interesting song structure changes and great riff continue with "Thrill of It All" which also utilizes a moderate tempo that is actually quite catchy in a way. Towards the center of the song, layers of synths are added in that actually brighten up the track without being overbearing or annoying. This is another big difference between "Sabbath Bloody Sabbath" and "Sabotage" in that Iommi pretty much plays all of the keyboards, where in the former album, keyboard duties were handled by all four of the members. "Supertzar" is another instrumental. It's driven mostly by Iommi's guitar but with a lot of atmospheric keys and some very dark non-verbal vocals provided by the English Chamber Choir". The track is surprisingly dark, but lightened up a bit with chimes that add a nice layer to it all.

This is followed by a mostly synth-lead track called "Am I Going Insane (Radio)". This was the single for the album, but the band members were mostly disappointed with it, and it is also the weakest track on an otherwise perfect album. The last track returns to excellence with "The Writ", an almost 9 minute track with lyrics by Osbourne. Most of Black Sabbath's lyrics were done by Butler. Osbourne was inspired by the legal battle that the band was experiencing at the time and are a stab at the previous manager and at the music business in general. It starts off quietly with a soft processed bass which is suddenly interrupted when the band kicks in with a return to dark heaviness and a return to the true anger they were feeling. It follows this pattern for a couple of cycles, then enters into another style which alternates with heaviness led by the guitar and keyboard-led softness that sounds somewhat inspired by "Fluff" from the previous album, but with Osbourne's vocals continuing throughout both styles. The track ends on another heavy guitar riff which takes the album to the end.

The stress and anger is what drives this album, but it might be that the underlying events kept the band from focusing too much on their inner battles. At least, they pulled off another virtually perfect album, but unfortunately, it would be their last one. Osbourne would get more disenchanted with the band and lose interest. Even though they would record two more studio albums with their classic line-up, they sound forced and seem like they are also rushed. It must have been difficult to even record the sub-par material that would appear on their next two albums. The band intentionally moved away from the dark and heavy sounds and added more keyboards, but they were definitely poorly directed. Yes the band had keyboards previously, but at least they were well used.

Anyway, this album still manages to get to masterpiece levels, both in progressiveness and in heavy metal aspects. Even if it wasn't as popular as some of their other albums, it has still been revered as one of their best. Sabotage would be their swan song to excellence as after this, the band would fall apart.

 Sabbath Bloody Sabbath by BLACK SABBATH album cover Studio Album, 1973
4.12 | 780 ratings

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Sabbath Bloody Sabbath
Black Sabbath Prog Related

Review by TCat
Special Collaborator Eclectic / Prog Metal / Heavy Prog Team

5 stars Coming off the successful tour to support "Volume IV", Black Sabbath went right back to the studio to begin their new album which would become known as "Sabbath Bloody Sabbath". However, continual life on the road and excessive use of drugs had left the band exhausted, so they all took a well-deserved, yet short hiatus. When they came back to the studio, the band experienced writer's block. The band decided to go back to the UK and record in the same place that other bands (including Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple) had successfully recorded, at Clearwell Castle in Gloucestershire, England. Amazingly enough, that did the trick. The band rehearsed in the dungeons and scared the crap out of each other, and that seemed to be the impetus that got them over their writer's block. Tommy Iommi suddenly found the main riff to the title track and things just came together after that. In 1973, the album was released to the eager public and once again, the band released another amazing and highly influential album.

The album starts off with the multi-tempo and progressive sounds of the title track, dark and heavy, yet extremely inspired. This track inspired the rest of the album and the topics that would be covered by the songs. The use of synths and other keys would even be more noticeable in this album, and at this point, these were used very effectively. All of the synths and keys were played by various members of the band on all of the tracks except for "Sabbra Cadabra". Most everyone knows that Black Sabbath was able to convince Rick Wakeman to bring along his mini-moog and piano for this track, and Wakeman was happy to oblige and was paid in beer. Wakeman by the way, was a bit put off by the album Yes was working on at the time (in the same studio apparently) which was "Tales from Topographic Oceans". Wakeman's contributions to that track gives it the extra professionalism it needs and a nice, complex accompaniment adding to the dynamic quality of this album.

Speaking of dynamic quality, the instrumental "Fluff" in which Iommi plays all of the instruments except for the bass, is the most beautiful instrumental the band would ever create. This is a track that tears at the soul and still maintains the dark, somber tones of the album. The combination of the acoustic guitar and the harpsichord is simply exquisite. The addition of the string orchestra in "Spiral Architect" also adds to the dimension of the album and brings the album to a very logical conclusion, still dark and heavy, but the orchestra literally drags the listener out of the depths of the rest of the album.

Most of the tracks on this album are excellent and the ones that are slightly weaker ("Who Are You?" and "Looking for Today") aren't really that weak. It's just that there is so much ingenuity and genius musicality to the other songs that, if there has to be any weaker tracks, it would have to be them. However, all of the tracks fit and deserve to be on this album and contribute to it's greatness. The album is a metal masterpiece and is very deserving of the accolades and praise that are heaped upon it along with the claims of inspiration from artists that came after and the entire genre of music that would result from Black Sabbath's best years. However, the waters were beginning to feel a bit troubled as drugs and endless touring continued to take their toll. Fortunately, the band would still find it in them to pull out another masterpiece album following this one before everything came falling down. 5 enthusiastic stars.

 The Eternal Idol by BLACK SABBATH album cover Studio Album, 1987
3.16 | 226 ratings

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The Eternal Idol
Black Sabbath Prog Related

Review by TCat
Special Collaborator Eclectic / Prog Metal / Heavy Prog Team

3 stars Around 1985-86, Black Sabbath's line-up was a huge mess. The album "Seventh Star" had been released with Glenn Hughes as the vocalist, but he agreed to be vocalist because the album was originally supposed to be Tommy Iommi's solo album and Hughes didn't want to be involved with the name Black Sabbath. Hughes got in a fight with the production manager and ended up with a broken orbital bone which affected his voice. He was replaced with Ray Gillen so the band could continue with their tour, which later ended up being cancelled because tickets weren't selling.

Nevertheless, the band began to work on new material as work on the album "The Eternal Idol" commenced. But the problems continued. Their producer left and was replaced and so was bassist Dave Spitz who also quit. He was replaced with Bob Daisley (Rainbow, Ozzy Osbourne) who re-recorded the bass tracks and wrote lyrics for the new album, but then he also left before the album was finished to play for Gary Moore and took Black Sabbath's drummer Eric Singer along with him. Bev Bevan (from Electric Light Orchestra) was brought in to do some drum overdubs to help finish that part of the album. Another producer left and another was hired. Then the new vocalist Ray Gillen also left to form "Blue Murder". That was when Tony Martin was brought in as the new vocalist, and finally, Black Sabbath had a regular vocalist. Martin would end up being on more Black Sabbath albums than any other vocalist except for Ozzy Osbourne. He would sing on every studio album from 1987 to 1995 (except for "Dehumanizer" released in 1992 with the return of Ronnie James Dio) singing lead for 5 studio albums.

When the dust finally settled and upon the albums release, the regular line-up left over was Tony Martin on vocals, Tony Iommi on guitar, Bev Bevan on drums and faithful, yet underappreciated Geoff Nichols on keyboards, bass and guitar. (Geezer Butler would return to the line up for a short time after in July of 1987 only to be replaced by the return of Dave Spitz.) Because of the inner turbulence during the recording of the album, there are also contributions from Ray Gillen (vocals), Bob Daisley (bass) and Eric Singer (drums) on the album. If you could follow all of those crazy changes, it is obvious the band was in a huge state of flux and this would affect the album and the tour. This upheaval would continue for many years, but at least the band had a faithful core in Tony Iommi, Tony Martin and Geoff Nicholls.

The nine tracks on "The Eternal Idol" had their lyrics written by Bob Daisley and Ray Gillen (with some modification done by Nicholls) and the music by Iommi. Even though Martin ended up doing most of the vocals, he had no other part in writing the music. The original album cover credited Dave Spitz as the bassist, but the parts were all done by Daisley.

As with the previous album "Seventh Star", the music sounds very little like the original Black Sabbath, however, the overall sound in comparison to "Seventh Star" returns to a heavier sound. "The Shining" sounds the most like previous Black Sabbath albums with a melody and structure that sounds like something Dio could be singing and has that "Rainbow" sound. "Ancient Warrior" adds more synths giving things a mysterious feel, but still retains a solid guitar and drum heaviness with a blistering solo. "Hard Life to Love" picks up the pace a bit more, and looses the atmosphere of the synth, but otherwise doesn't offer anything much different. The first half of the album ends with "Glory Ride" loosens things up a bit and recalls the Dio years again, but offers nothing to make it stand out. So after 2 pretty good tracks, there still is nothing on the first half of the album that really catches your attention or that becomes memorable. No new tricks, no memorable riffs, and nothing that resembles any level of progressive rock.

"Born to Lose" sounds like it must have been of interest for a single, faster paced and a great Iommi solo, but nothing else interesting. "Nightmare" has a moderate tempo featuring a repeating, catchy riff that soon wears out its welcome, but again reflects some of the Dio sound again. At least it has a tempo/melodic turn in it which harkens back to the original Sabbath style, but it soon reverts back to the main melody. The sinister laugh that you hear is the only audible thing that remains from Ray Gillen's involvement. "Scarlet Pimpernel" breaks the mostly unchanging sound of the album with a soft instrumental which features Iommi and atmospheric keys, it's actually one of the better post-Osbourne instrumentals, but it quickly fades after 2 minutes. "Lost Forever" brings back the expected heaviness and not much else. The album ends with the title track, the longest on the album at over 6 minutes. It is the one more evil sounding track with a slow and heavy style with vocal effects and probably the best track on the album, but unfortunately it's too little, too late.

A reissue in 2010 expanded the album by two additional tracks, both of them b-sides; the original, early version of "Black Moon" (which would show up later on the "Headless Cross" album) and "Some Kind of Woman", both songs written by Martin and Nicholls. There is also a 2nd disc which has the same songs (albeit in a different order) as sung by Ray Gillen, so you can hear how they were originally supposed to sound and choose which you like the best. There is nothing there to really hold out for though.

One of the things about Tony Martin's voice is that, even after doing several albums as the lead singer, his voice never had that unique sound that Osbourn, Dio or Ian Gillan had that would make anyone recognize it as being a Black Sabbath sound. Also, Iommi's guitar playing and riffs would become more and more standard losing their unique sound, and the band would just end up melting in with every other hard rock band out there. It's not a complete failure, but it's not one that could ever be considered essential or memorable even under regular heavy metal standards. It might be heavier than the previous album, but nothing ends up standing out at all making the album pretty average sounding. Also, at least this album was moving to another style of Black Sabbath, so for that reason it gets a 3 star rating, but this sound unfortunately never gets built upon in the future, thus future albums end up faring even worse.

 Seventh Star by BLACK SABBATH album cover Studio Album, 1986
2.62 | 232 ratings

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Seventh Star
Black Sabbath Prog Related

Review by TCat
Special Collaborator Eclectic / Prog Metal / Heavy Prog Team

3 stars Just looking at the surface of Black Sabbath's discography and the varying line-ups that were happening at this stage, one would think that the band was having a hard time keeping a lead singer around. That really wasn't quite the case once you look into the history behind each album. Most everyone knows that Ozzy Osbourne had left the band after 8 studio albums and was replaced with Ronnie James Dio. It seemed that Black Sabbath was getting a new life with Dio, but then he left the band after 2 studio albums to work on his own music. At this point Tony Iommi wanted to also release albums under his own name. The record label disagreed.

The album 'Born Again' featured Deep Purple's (at that time) former singer Ian Gillan and was supposed to be Iommi's first solo album. The record company nixed that because they thought it would do better with Black Sabbath's name attached. It worked that time, at least since the album was a commercial success. However, the band was not satisfies with Gillam and he was not happy with the band either, so that line-up only lasted for one album. Once again Iommi put together a different line- up for another try at a solo album. This time, he brought in Geoff Nicholls who had been playing for Black Sabbath previously as a 'session' musician for many years, to play keyboards, Eric Singer on drums, Dave Spitz on bass, and finally Glenn Hughes for vocals. Hughes was another ex-Deep Purple member as he played bass and sang for the Mk III and Mk IV line-ups for that band. Once again, the record company insisted that it be released as Black Sabbath even though it was not intended to be a Black Sabbath record. This time, however, they allowed it to be released as Black Sabbath featuring Tony Iommi. However, Iommi's fears came to reality when critics, fans and everyone else compared the album with previous Sabbath albums, and Iommi was the only regular member of this new line up.

Changing the name to Black Sabbath turned out to be a real disaster that can be blamed mostly on the record label. The album was only moderately successful and this signaled and also initiated the downfall of what was a legendary band. The name would start to be ridiculed and for several years, people pretty much ignored the band except to make fun of it.

Typically, however, nowadays, this album probably would hardly even be mentioned anywhere if it hadn't been labeled as a Sabbath record, so at least now, it works to its advantage. It is considered one of the weaker ones though, but at least it gets some recognition. The music is definitely a major turn away from the heavy metal sound of the Dio years, and almost light years away from the groundbreaking music of the Osbourne years. The music on this album is more hard rock and blues oriented, and since it didn't really stand out, it kind of got lost in the crowd of hair metal bands emerging out of the woodwork like a bunch of horny termites. Other things that worked against this time in the band's history was that the line-up hardly even lasted very far into the tour for the album. Nicholls was fired not long after the tour began because his weight problems made it impossible health-wise to continue. He was replaced during the tour by Ray Gillen who can be heard singing on the 2nd disc that comes with the 2010 deluxe edition of this album.

So, for studio album number 12, we see the band faltering. The only regular member still remaining is Iommi, so it isn't even Black Sabbath anymore at this point, it really is an Iommi solo album. Nicholls vocals are okay, but don't stand out like the previous lead singers for the band, including Gillan's. Nothing else really stands out either from any other hard rock band. The basic hard rock sound and anthem style rocker music is evident right off the bat with 'In for the Kill'. Of course, you are going to have some great guitar soloing during the instrumental breaks, but everything is quite predictable. Gone are the days of changing meters, tempos and ingenious music framed by smart songwriting. 'No Stranger to Love' opens with thick synth chords and a more bluesy sound. This song is a little better seeing that it goes for a darker blues sound which would have been a decent track sung by any of the predecessor vocalists. It is one of the two highlights of the album along with 'Heart Like a Wheel' on the last half of the album. Even so, it is still quite predictable and offers no real surprises.

The album finds itself creating ruts in the road that Black Sabbath would have a very difficult time getting out of. In the many albums that were to follow, the same tired formulas would be followed. There would be a little adjustment here and another there, but one album was hardly discernable from another for quite a long time. At least, following this album, Black Sabbath would find a fairly regular vocalist in Tony Martin who would become the 2nd longest serving vocalist after Ozzy, but his vocals really didn't standout either and the band would continue through the 80s and 90s as just another heavy metal band. The progressivness and ingenuity of Black Sabbath was no longer existent, and they sadly became just another loud band lost in the fray of countless mediocre heavy metal bands of the time. The downward spiral suddenly continues to get deeper.

 Sabotage by BLACK SABBATH album cover Studio Album, 1975
4.05 | 589 ratings

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Sabotage
Black Sabbath Prog Related

Review by Just Because

5 stars This is the most mature album by BS. It is one of their two the most elaborated ( along with «Sabbath Bloody Sabbath» ) and easily the best work.

«Hole in the Sky» is a non-prog, rather simple, yet effective heavy song, full of energy. Bill plays as if he wants to destroy the drum kit. Ozzy is in top form. One of the best BS`s openers. 9/10

«Don't Start (Too Late)». It is rather a draft than a finished track. However it is a sweet quasi-flamenco number that shows Tony`s talents to play on an acoustic guitar and serves as a break between two heavy songs. 7/10

While the band by itself in 1970`s was ahead of its time , on «Symptom of the Universe» they outdid themselves to make speed/thrash metal ( in 1975 ! ). Another example of foresight: at 3:39 comes a guitar solo as if «Iron Maiden» is here with their debut album. Not only that, after intensive hammering at 4:14 there happens a sudden twist and towards the end we hear a pleasant acoustic jazzy part. Still nowadays jazz-metal is not a mass genre and «Symptom ?» can be considered as an exotic song being an example how to sew seamlessly two such different pieces. 10/10

First part of «Megalomania» is creepy and depressing. Ozzy sings with increasing despair, he almost groans here, but a nice brief transition with piano touch is just around the corner. Then at 3:25 comes a riff one way or another replicated by many metal bands. Ozzy`s singing is getting more ferocious and his vocal performance would suit «Judas Priest». All band members seem to compete with each other in creation of dark drive. Tony adds an aggressive solo to already electrified atmosphere, then in the end begins an insane carnival or a real coven (yes, sabbath !). What also comes to mind is that ending of «In the Hall of the Mountain King ». 10/10

«The Thrill of it All» A song which structure reminds me of the previous track, yet it is more upbeat and not as heavy as «Megalomania». The first half has interesting riffing and an infectious melody, then an elegant shift (once again on this album) leads us to something that would be on Ozzy`s solo albums: a heavy-pop marching accompanied with synthesizers. 9/10

Inspired by «Karmina Burana» «Supertzar» is a well-crafted instrumental with a choir. IMHO the most symphonic effort of BS. 9/10

«Am I Going Insane (Radio)» sounds as another one Ozzy`s statement about coming solo career. Besides «Don't Start (Too Late)» it is the weakest and most commercial number on the album, but a pretty good song with tasty playing on synth. 8/10

«The Writ» is a stone thrown at the band`s former management. Funny that the same year «Queen» did the similar thing: they released «Death on Two Legs (Dedicated to?)» . But that`s another story. Laughter fades out and there enters prominent bass playing, it has intriguing and sinister feel. Cool. Bravo, Geezer ! The song moves to softer and back to heavier parts and some moments are out of this world. 10/10

The album is the brightest example of proto-progressive metal genre. 72/80 = 4,5 out of 5 which I have rounded to 5 stars.

 13 by BLACK SABBATH album cover Studio Album, 2013
3.75 | 312 ratings

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13
Black Sabbath Prog Related

Review by sgtpepper

3 stars All rock world was impatiently waiting for this long-awaited album whose initial work goes as back as 2001. Having 3 original members in the line-up and especially Ozzy behind the microphone sounded promising. The result is one of the heaviest Black Sabbath albums augmented by omnipresent dark riffing, loud guitar in the mix and drums being high in the mix which might be tiresome for a hard-rock album that very much focusing on heavy riffing. It actually makes a heavy metal album out of it with prevailingly moderately paced pieces.

In terms of compositions, the band harkens back to their most popular times in the 70's when doom rock was their major sound signature minus bluesy moves.

There are only 7 songs but all have plenty of time to develop and build or repeat. The last song even brings some feelings of being sorry and melancholy; it also contains musical references to the "Black Sabbath" song on their debut album.

This is a 4-star album to hard-rock and doom-metal/rock fans and a 3-star for progressive rock explorers.

Thanks to Sean Trane for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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