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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


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

4.24 | 1028 ratings
Black Sabbath
1970
4.32 | 1138 ratings
Paranoid
1970
4.09 | 906 ratings
Master of Reality
1971
3.87 | 751 ratings
Volume Four
1972
4.15 | 880 ratings
Sabbath Bloody Sabbath
1973
4.06 | 672 ratings
Sabotage
1975
2.83 | 478 ratings
Technical Ecstasy
1976
2.96 | 452 ratings
Never Say Die!
1978
4.07 | 654 ratings
Heaven And Hell
1980
3.53 | 466 ratings
Mob Rules
1981
2.85 | 382 ratings
Born Again
1983
2.65 | 271 ratings
Seventh Star
1986
3.17 | 261 ratings
The Eternal Idol
1987
3.25 | 283 ratings
Headless Cross
1989
3.17 | 258 ratings
Tyr
1990
3.11 | 333 ratings
Dehumanizer
1992
3.21 | 221 ratings
Cross Purposes
1994
1.95 | 221 ratings
Forbidden
1995
3.59 | 201 ratings
Heaven & Hell - The Devil You Know
2009
3.74 | 355 ratings
13
2013

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

2.94 | 107 ratings
Live at Last
1980
3.45 | 161 ratings
Live Evil
1983
2.94 | 38 ratings
Cross Purposes Live (CD + VHS)
1995
4.18 | 123 ratings
Reunion
1998
3.96 | 94 ratings
Past Lives
2002
4.18 | 45 ratings
Live at Hammersmith Odeon
2007
4.26 | 61 ratings
Heaven & Hell: Live from Radio City Music Hall
2007
4.33 | 12 ratings
Neon Nights . 30 Years Of Heaven & Hell . Live At Wacken
2010
3.68 | 19 ratings
The End - 4 February 2017, Birmingham
2017

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

3.40 | 16 ratings
The Black Sabbath Story - Volume 1 1970-1978
1991
3.75 | 16 ratings
The Black Sabbath Story - Volume 2 1978-1992
1992
1.91 | 30 ratings
The Last Supper
1999
3.55 | 22 ratings
Never Say Die
2003
4.50 | 6 ratings
Inside Black Sabbath with Tony Iommi
2003
2.81 | 12 ratings
Cross Purposes Live
2003
4.58 | 12 ratings
In Concert
2004
3.75 | 4 ratings
Total Rock Review
2006
3.88 | 29 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
4.33 | 6 ratings
Madman Alive in Athens
2008
3.91 | 11 ratings
Classic Albums: Paranoid
2010
3.42 | 22 ratings
Live. Gathered in Their Masses
2013
3.60 | 10 ratings
The End - 4 February 2017, Birmingham
2017

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

3.50 | 2 ratings
Black Sabbath
1970
4.02 | 7 ratings
The Best Of Black Sabbath
1971
4.00 | 7 ratings
Attention! Black Sabbath
1973
5.00 | 3 ratings
Pop Giants: Volume 9
1974
5.00 | 4 ratings
Reflection
1975
3.50 | 2 ratings
The Best of Black Sabbath
1975
3.18 | 44 ratings
We Sold Our Soul for Rock and Roll
1975
4.60 | 5 ratings
Attention! Black Sabbath Volume 2
1975
4.40 | 5 ratings
Children of the Grave
1976
4.67 | 3 ratings
The Best Of Black Sabbath
1976
5.00 | 3 ratings
Paranoia
1976
4.50 | 4 ratings
Star Gold
1976
4.09 | 15 ratings
Greatest Hits
1977
3.63 | 7 ratings
The Singles 1970-1978
1978
4.50 | 4 ratings
The Best: The Ultimate In Heavy Metal
1983
4.75 | 4 ratings
Collection Vol.1
1984
4.50 | 4 ratings
Hand of Doom
1984
4.75 | 4 ratings
The Sabbath Collection (original)
1985
1.64 | 6 ratings
Blackest Sabbath
1989
4.43 | 7 ratings
Black Sabbath
1990
4.50 | 4 ratings
Backtrackin'
1991
4.75 | 4 ratings
The Black Sabbath Story
1991
4.56 | 9 ratings
The Ozzy Osbourne Years
1991
4.50 | 4 ratings
The Ultimate in Heavy Metal
1991
4.40 | 5 ratings
Iron Man
1992
4.67 | 6 ratings
Iron Man (Alternative Version)
1994
2.21 | 11 ratings
The Sabbath Stones
1996
4.56 | 9 ratings
Under Wheels of Confusion 1970-1987
1996
4.17 | 6 ratings
The Originals
1996
4.75 | 4 ratings
Black Sabbath 1970-1987 Digital Remaster
1996
4.00 | 1 ratings
We Sold Our Soul To Rock 'n' Roll, Vol.II
1996
4.33 | 6 ratings
The Collection
2000
4.33 | 6 ratings
The Singles 1970-1978
2000
3.80 | 22 ratings
The Best of Black Sabbath
2000
4.55 | 11 ratings
The Complete 70's Replica CD Collection 1970-1978 (boxset)
2001
4.75 | 4 ratings
Rock Champions
2001
4.75 | 4 ratings
The Best of Black Sabbath
2001
4.62 | 13 ratings
Symptom of the Universe
2003
4.55 | 20 ratings
Black Box (The Complete Original Black Sabbath 1970-1978)
2004
5.00 | 7 ratings
Selections From - Black Box: The Complete Original Black Sabbath (1970-1978)
2004
4.25 | 4 ratings
Black Sabbath
2006
4.50 | 8 ratings
Greatest Hits 1970-1978
2006
4.67 | 3 ratings
Rock Giants
2006
3.73 | 26 ratings
The Dio Years
2007
4.67 | 3 ratings
Audiobiography
2007
4.75 | 12 ratings
The Rules of Hell
2008
4.33 | 3 ratings
Greatest Hits
2009
3.33 | 3 ratings
Iron Man: The Best of Black Sabbath
2012
4.33 | 6 ratings
The Ultimate Collection
2017
3.50 | 2 ratings
Supersonic Years: The Seventies Singles Box Set
2018

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

4.53 | 17 ratings
Paranoid
1970
4.06 | 18 ratings
The Wizard
1970
3.81 | 16 ratings
Evil Woman
1970
4.23 | 13 ratings
N.I.B.
1970
4.00 | 8 ratings
Coleccion Underground N 3: Presentando Paranoid
1970
4.67 | 3 ratings
Sweet Leaf
1971
4.10 | 12 ratings
Paranoid
1971
3.10 | 12 ratings
Iron Man
1971
3.33 | 3 ratings
Rock Power
1971
3.67 | 12 ratings
Snowblind
1972
3.20 | 10 ratings
Tomorrow's Dream
1972
3.64 | 11 ratings
Snowblind
1972
3.91 | 11 ratings
Wicked World
1972
4.25 | 4 ratings
Black Sabbath/Status Quo split PROMO
1972
3.90 | 10 ratings
Paranoid
1972
4.09 | 14 ratings
Paranoid
1973
4.45 | 11 ratings
Sabbath Bloody Sabbath
1973
4.38 | 13 ratings
Sabbath Bloody Sabbath
1973
2.85 | 14 ratings
Sabbath Bloody Sabbath
1973
3.92 | 12 ratings
Hole in the Sky
1975
3.55 | 11 ratings
Gypsy
1976
3.60 | 10 ratings
It's Alright
1976
3.70 | 10 ratings
Hard Road
1978
3.64 | 11 ratings
Never Say Die
1978
3.63 | 8 ratings
Hard Road
1978
3.50 | 2 ratings
Lady Evil
1980
4.33 | 12 ratings
Die Young
1980
4.72 | 13 ratings
Neon Knights
1980
4.00 | 12 ratings
Mob Rules
1981
4.11 | 9 ratings
Turn Up the Night
1981
4.30 | 10 ratings
Paranoid
1982
4.30 | 10 ratings
Paranoid
1982
4.50 | 2 ratings
Trashed / Zero the Hero
1983
4.30 | 10 ratings
Paranoid
1986
4.00 | 3 ratings
Seventh Star Sampler
1986
3.63 | 8 ratings
No Stranger To Love
1986
4.00 | 7 ratings
The Shining
1987
3.71 | 7 ratings
4 Songs From The Eternal Idol
1987
4.25 | 8 ratings
Devil And Daughter
1989
4.29 | 7 ratings
Devil And Daughter
1989
4.00 | 2 ratings
Black Moon
1989
4.13 | 8 ratings
Call of the Wild
1989
4.22 | 9 ratings
Devil and Daughter
1989
2.70 | 11 ratings
Headless Cross
1989
3.67 | 12 ratings
Feels Good to Me
1990
4.25 | 4 ratings
Castle Gold Collection: Volume 22
1991
4.00 | 4 ratings
Kerrang! Four-Play
1992
4.00 | 10 ratings
Time Machine
1992
3.90 | 12 ratings
TV Crimes
1992
3.89 | 9 ratings
I
1992
4.00 | 2 ratings
Back to Eden
1994
3.60 | 10 ratings
Get a Grip
1995
3.82 | 11 ratings
Psycho Man
1998
3.80 | 5 ratings
Paranoid
1998
4.00 | 7 ratings
Reunion
1998
4.08 | 12 ratings
Black Mass
1999
4.29 | 7 ratings
The Best Of Black Sabbath
2000
4.27 | 11 ratings
Paranoid
2000
4.36 | 11 ratings
Paranoid
2004
4.27 | 11 ratings
The Dio Years (Sampler)
2007
4.14 | 7 ratings
The Devil Cried
2007
4.00 | 8 ratings
Heaven and Hell (Radio Sampler)
2008
2.33 | 3 ratings
1969 Demo
2009
3.32 | 22 ratings
The End
2016

BLACK SABBATH Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Sabbath Bloody Sabbath by BLACK SABBATH album cover Studio Album, 1973
4.15 | 880 ratings

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Sabbath Bloody Sabbath
Black Sabbath Prog Related

Review by DangHeck
Prog Reviewer

5 stars Coming off the heels of Vol. 4 (1972), Sabbath Bloody Sabbath is the band's fifth studio album. Recording in the beautiful Clearwell Castle where the likes of Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin and Mott The Hoople had recorded prior, it's purported that this change in locale reinvigorated the band, and therein we now have considered by many (and me) to be one of their finest works. Notable here, and not easily forgotten by me, Junior Prog Dork, Yes keyboardist Rick Wakeman features on "Sabbra Cadabra"; interestingly, of all albums in that group's catalog, recording next door at Morgan Studios (later on) was for the much-maligned-for-Prog-excesses Tales From Topographic Oceans (the sessions that ultimately led to Wakeman's parting ways with the band shortly thereafter). 'Nuff 'bout that. Onto the album!

Sabbath Bloody Sabbath begins with "Sabbath Bloody Sabbath"! And honestly, before the minute mark, this is markedly progressive to my ears, the beeves receding to a frankly beautiful passage of acoustic guitar and a crisp, purposeful mix for the chorus. The main riff is classic Metal, plain and simple. I think this is, generally, a great Ozzy vocal performance as well (the album is chock-full of excellent Ozzy performances). The bridge in the third minute is something else; discordant and chromatic, it kicks major ass. "A National Acrobat" features another classic riff; hypnotic and slow, it swirls around your dome, wonderfully matched with Ozzy's piercing delivery (with excellent close harmony vocals in the middle). Tony delivers a brutal, strong-felt solo approaching minute 4, weirdly reminiscent at first to some of Alex Lifeson's (Rush) style to come. Approaching the final minute, the tune completely changes to brightness, and, in its final moments, a powerful rhythmic display from the whole band. Spectacular, really. In "Fluff" we are introduced to more acoustic guitar, simplistic at first in a simple arpeggio, then doubled up with greater complexity. Seriously a beautiful piece of music, then with light electric guitar and even piano joining in. Very tasteful; methinks revealed to be a sort of Baroque Folk. In a most unexpected turn, this will likely appeal to fans of Anthony Phillips.

And then we are onto a well-juxtaposed "Sabbra Cadabra", the aforementioned track featuring Rick Wakeman. Feels perhaps like a looking-forward to groups like Judas Priest. Ultimately, "Sabbra" is a heavy Blues Rock. In Iommi fashion, the track takes a darker turn, and this feeling is deepened even further with the inclusion of Wakeman's buzzing MiniMoog. He also plays acoustic piano to wonderful effect. This feels like a looking back to some of the winningest tracks off of their debut. Phenomenal composition and the mix is absolutely aflame with power and emotion. In classic Hard Rock fashion, we then have "Killing Yourself to Live". The warble of the guitar arpeggio feels like "Come as You Are"! Very interesting. Here they balance big beeves with melodic tact. Real interest is added by the change in riffs in the bridge. Sort of Emerson-esque synthing going on on "Who Are You?" And Who was it, but Ozzy and Tony (I don't think the first time, but still)! Very fun. This track features a dark lilt and we get more close harmonies from Mr. Osbourne. His golden era? I love this one.

Not utterly to itself, with trills of Progressive Folk for one thing (thanks to Tony's fluting!), but "Looking For Today" has a fairly unique vibe when compared to the whole. The rhythm from drummer Bill Ward had me wondering: it's almost like a dancey Mod thing! Heavy Metal meets British R'n'B? I find this combination of sonics alone highly progressive. And it's just a great track. Awesome melody, awesome performances all 'round. Finally, tying together the diverse sonic array, we have "Spiral Architect"! Proto-Opeth, anyone? haha. With the entrance of the verse, I am once again thinking of what Rush would do in the mid- to late-70s! Very interesting, too, is the added orchestration, reminding us of their love for the maximal and the psychedelic (perhaps reminiscent of the Moody Blues specifically?...)! Phenomenal. Again, killer melodies, killer performances. That fade-out with the applause was perfect. I wish I could have been there (so to speak).

Not a song on this album that I even nearly dislike. And again, with the sonic diversity throughout, your attention is pulled in almost constantly. Probably my favorite album by Sabbath. Given strong feelings and serious cohesion, my True Rate is a round-up from 4.5/5.0.

 Paranoid by BLACK SABBATH album cover Studio Album, 1970
4.32 | 1138 ratings

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Paranoid
Black Sabbath Prog Related

Review by Antonio Giacomin

2 stars Probably the greatest part of Black Sabbath s group of fans prefers this second album when compared to the first one. This was exactly my position until I started to be interested in progressive music and heard some of its main bands.

Great hits are here, and last time I went to an Ozzy Osborne show there were some songs from this album were heavily expected and heard in an euphoric way. No songs from the first album was present; but even with this condition, why did I change my mind ?

The problem here is that the new musical approach was already performed, and so was the surprise and seeds of strong musical influence as well. This album is not so tasteful to my ears if I consider progressive music, not hard rock, as the preferred of mine. We have here great guitar riffs from Tony Iommi, maybe the greater guitar riff creator of all times, but the musical lack of complexity and the only average quality vocals gives us a feeling that it did not fulfill a great musical achievement.

Although I love this album, it miss so much progressive musical contends that I will give it only two and a half stars to be rounded to two. After paying attention to Black Sabbath first album, a prog minded listener should might loose interest in their music although to albums like Sabotage still presents better progressive elements. Sorry, my brothers who love heavy music, but I am rating Paranoid with a kind of symphonic progressive mind?

 Black Sabbath by BLACK SABBATH album cover Studio Album, 1970
4.24 | 1028 ratings

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Black Sabbath
Black Sabbath Prog Related

Review by Antonio Giacomin

4 stars Ok, many people may consider Black Sabbath a band with no strong relations with progressive music, but their importance and musical influence is undeniable. And, of course, I am a fan of this band !

Considering what was said above, I will make this review more as a hard rock than a prog fan. By means of musical contends, I think listeners must look to what is this album about, not to its heaviness or lack of progressive intense and structured moments.

The greatest attention must be set in the opener, a song that turns heavy only after a long, slow but intense overture. The story of rock was never to be the same anymore after that. Many people may propose Led Zeppelin or Deep Purple as heavy metal creators, or even go back to Cream or Hendrix; but the real roots of a whole way of creating and playing music which was to be called heavy metal meets its real beginning with this band and this album. The other songs ? At least very catchy, with Tony Iommy beginning to present his enormous creation of riffs and Terry Geezer Butler showing HOW to perform thundering bass lines.

Black Sabbath does not have the musicianship of Purple or Zep, but they are strongly important. A symphonic prog fan may pass all his life without knowing Black Sabbath whole discography, but this album is to be known at least by means of understanding rock and roll critical moments on its history.

Three and a half stars, rounded to four

 Volume Four by BLACK SABBATH album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.87 | 751 ratings

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Volume Four
Black Sabbath Prog Related

Review by DangHeck
Prog Reviewer

3 stars As the title so aptly implies, this is the fourth LP by the great, classic Heavy Metal band Black Sabbath, released 1972. Apparently the result of a cocaine-fueled era for the band, getting the stimulant delivered to them by speaker cabinets, Vol. 4 is considered one of their classic recordss (perhaps despite this? haha). The album has such notable fans as Frank Zappa and John Bonham (for "Supernaut", specifically) and Henry Rollins (specifically for the opener, "Wheels of Confusion"). I hadn't listened through this album in something like 10 years, so for that alone, I was excited.

"Wheels of Confusion / The Straightener" starts off our album low, slow, but sure. The main riff is real nice, rolling along with Ward's drum. The track picks up around 2:30 with a sort of more triumphant feel. In the middle section, I feel this is in some way stylistically glancing at Deep Purple with some of the riffs. The song just drives forward and onward, consistently so. In its final minutes, the rhythm once again shifts to the original roll, with some really cool keyboards under the driving beat. Mellotron responsibility is shared between Tony and Geezer, so who knows, but also who cares. Awesome.

And then it's the big and positively looming of "Tomorrow's Dream", with some of the grooviest, beefiest instrumentation they've done to this point, which is saying quite a lot really. The chorus is really strong. It is then followed by a new riff and a mellotron note that swings upward. Not the strongest, but still grood. Next, on "Changes", we have something we have not heard once before from them: a piano-led ballad?! I had no recollection of this song until the chorus haha. Pretty nice vocal performance by Ozzy. The string setting on the mellotron, the only other instrument played, causes the track to hang in the air. And with it, I never expected there to be something by Sabbath that would in any way cause me to think, 'Oh, sure, this is like The Moody Blues.' Haha. The chorus is lovely, but the song isn't much.

Next, starkly juxtaposed, is the unsettlingly sparse, super-tape-echo on the short "FX". Very interesting. I can't give it any high marks, though, as it doesn't act as an interlude or as any other function, so... it just feels kind of random and lost in the grand scheme of things. Next, the aforementioned "Supernaut", and of course this is beloved by Zappa and Bonzo! So heavy, so groovy, especially with the fun rhythmic breakdown in the middle section! Of course. Very fun song. Again, especially in this final half, big beeves. Next is one that I'm just a tad more familiar with, "Snowblind", with a very, again, familiar main riff and (at times excellent) vocal delivery from Ozzy. Simple though. The most (and only?) exciting part is after minute 3, with a total rhythm overhaul. This section lasts for about 30 seconds, but it really is satisfying within the overall composition.

One of the better songs throughout for me is "Cornucopia". She's a big'n. Solid main riff and interesting compositional flavorings. But more interesting still, a surprise even, is the acoustic and heavenly "Laguna Sunrise", a real scalp-tingler. Frisson, baby! I hope it isn't contrarian, but this is the least Sabbath-esque song and it's one of the best ones on here haha. I definitely hear a deeper Zep connection with it. Next, "St. Vitus Dance", a very fun song. Sort of hypnotic in its slight rhythmic oddity(?). And finally, we have a very signature Sabbath song to close us out, "Under the Sun / Every Day Comes and Goes"; very doomy, but then, agreed(?), that main riff, in its simplicity even, feels like a sign of what's to come: for them as a band, but also for all of Heavy Metal. Awesome. Big shift around minute 2, but... it's not my favorite. It returns to the original riff after minute 3. I guess I'm a little sad it ends this, in my opinion, weakly. Is what it is.

Good but not great.

 Master of Reality by BLACK SABBATH album cover Studio Album, 1971
4.09 | 906 ratings

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Master of Reality
Black Sabbath Prog Related

Review by DangHeck
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Doomy Beef in a Sea of Haze

Their third studio album, Master of Reality, was released in 1971. It opens with "Sweet Leaf" one of the definitive classics of [early] Heavy Metal. Low and slow but groovin', then rolling and hurried.

"After Forever" opens interestingly enough on a synth. Then it's immediately 'back to business'. This features some great basslines from Geezer BUTLER. One of Ozzy's weakest performances though, in my opinion.

"Embryo" splits the differences between the former and the next as interlude. Interesting choice... Not sure I understand it entirely. And it opens up into one of the other notable classics from this album, the trudging, Proto- Doom "Children of the Grave". Some great riffs in here and a solid duel-IOMMI solo. Not necessarily a favorite, though.

Another track that sets itself totally apart is the acoustic "Orchid". Really lovely reprieve, if anything. I just don't know how it functions as a part of the whole.

"Lord of This World" has a great Ozzy vocal performance. And the way it transforms into the second half is indeed proved necessary haha. A sure highlight.

"Solitude" is another reprieve from the norm, but really in a very different, unique tone. Low and slow it features Iommi on quieted and distant flute. Lovely, in the least, but perhaps unique at most.

And lastly "Into the Void", which has one of the strongest riffs on the whole. It's around 2:00 where the shift occurs. Very very nice. So heavy. So groovy. They do bring it.

True Rate: 3.5/5.0

 Paranoid by BLACK SABBATH album cover Studio Album, 1970
4.32 | 1138 ratings

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Paranoid
Black Sabbath Prog Related

Review by DangHeck
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Masters of Early Heavy Metal (quintessential, really, of course) and Masters of Groove. Exemplary, and just amazing, as this and the first album were forerunners to a movement of music that rapidly sprouted out of the acid, psychedelic and blues rock scenes. Just as Progressive Rock was coming about (out of notably similar scenes and genres), and as Psychedelic Rock and the Freak movements across the world were slowing in popularity and thrust, Heavy Metal was.

Really, as to be somewhat expected from these excellent musicians (in Tony IOMMI, Geezer BUTLER and Bill WARD), there are clear Progressive Rock elements throughout this album. I remember when I was looking for (early) Prog- adjacent bands and albums, Black Sabbath understandably came up plenty. I then of course think about Rick WAKEMAN's feature on Sabbath Bloody Sabbath, three years after this, on "Sabbra Cadabra". Plenty of true-blue Progressive songs throughout their catalog (but I'm excited now, years after hearing a lot of it for the first time, to hear it, I hope, with new ears).

Sure, we have the longform opener and Heavy Metal necessity/classic "War Pigs"; but we also have forays into Jazz Fusion on "Planet Caravan"; spooky, ominous and, to me, cosmic oddity on "Iron Man" (the warbled, distorted, creepy opening with "I am Iron Man" and the theme of a time-travelling killing machine(?)); and other forays into what I can only describe as a very dark, occultic Psychedelia (that Acid Rock inspiration). Another favorite track unmentioned thus far is "Rat Salad". And possibly the most progressive track on the album is the two-part closer "Jack the Stripper [haha] / Fairies Wear Boots"; not that it's a favorite of mine from the album though, really.

Near-essential Heavy Metal and Rock album. Prog-heads welcomed! Not quite as good, to me, as their debut.

True Rate: 4.5/5.0

 Paranoid by BLACK SABBATH album cover Studio Album, 1970
4.32 | 1138 ratings

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Paranoid
Black Sabbath Prog Related

Review by David_D

5 stars Looking from the perspective of 1970, Paranoid must be considered as (Heavy) Prog album, and according to what Ozzy Osbourne once said in a interview, that's how it was meant by the Sabs themselves. The music is not as complex as some other bands' from that year but it's surely very innovative and thus beyond the mainstream Rock - not to speak about Planet Caravan which influenced by Django Reinhardt, one of Tony Iommi's influences, is very jazzy. Heavy Metal as a genre was not established in 1970, even not really forming before Paranoid, so looking from the perspective of that year, the album can't be considered as a part of that genre. So historically speaking, Paranoid can't be seen as something else than (Heavy) Prog. And maybe the most correct thing to do is to consider the whole very early HM as a part of Prog. Ion Lord of Deep Purple had indeed Progressive ambitions as well, and what about Uriah Heep? - Anyway, 5 stars to Paranoid when playing the tracks (on programmable CDplayer) in the order: 2,1,4,3;;5,6,8,7.
 Never Say Die! by BLACK SABBATH album cover Studio Album, 1978
2.96 | 452 ratings

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Never Say Die!
Black Sabbath Prog Related

Review by Hiram

2 stars This album has received mixed reviews, mainly on the negative or average side, though. They're not all wrong, but Never Say Die! does have its few merits if you don't expect traditional Sabbath sound.

Title track opens the game and it's a good hard rock song. Not as heavy as classic Sabbath. Pre-chorus has very nice guitar. Overall, the album has very good guitar playing, including brief solo at the end of the track. "Johnny Blade" begins with cheesy keyboards but once it gets going, it's rather good "proto-stoner" with unusual drums. Second part recalls bands classic period and is a highlight here. Iommi's solo is very good once again and he has a real distinct lead guitar sound on the album as a whole. Kind of filtered and maybe with a ring modulator? "Junior's Eyes" has a cool drum and bass groove. Ward & Butler were such a great rhythm section. Nice sparse wah-guitar adds to the funk. Chorus aims at fist-pumping hard rock but doesn't quite get there. Guitar solo does, though. These first three tracks are my favourites of the album and unfortunately it's mostly downhill from here. "A Hard Road" is unoriginal boogie shuffle that goes on forever. "Shock Wave" has a good groove, but to me it sound like a leftover track from Sabbath Bloody Sabbath. "Air Dance" is a softer song. Session member Don Airey gets to show his piano skills and does a good job. There's something about the songs multi-part proggy arrangement that reminds me of Queen. Faster ending, especially its first part, is just excellent but fades out too soon. Another highlight track. "Over to You" sounds like another SBS leftover. Instrumental tracks have in my opinion been the most questionable parts of earlier Sabbath albums, but "Breakout" here takes the cake! A kind of poor man's version of a slow doomy Sabbath riff and horn section playing along with it and soloing. You'll just have to hear it to believe. Whew! It segues straight to the last song "Swinging the Chain" that's sung by Bill Ward! What the...? It's a decent hard rock song and Ward isn't bad singer but of course doesn't get nowhere near Ozzy's force and charisma. Not a good way for the original classic line up of the band to go.

Never Say Die! lacks heaviness and above all catchiness of the bands early stuff. Rhythm section shines on groovier parts and Iommi's playing is excellent, but unfortunately his riff-writing is not this time. Two stars. Worth a listen or a couple, but approach with an open mind.

 Headless Cross by BLACK SABBATH album cover Studio Album, 1989
3.25 | 283 ratings

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Headless Cross
Black Sabbath Prog Related

Review by TCat
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin

3 stars After the release of the poorly received "The Eternal Idol" of 1987, and a tour that saw lackluster ticket sales, Black Sabbath took the year 1988 off and tried to figure out what was going wrong. In the meantime, Warner Brothers had dropped the band and Tony Iommi was trying to find another label. After I.R.S. promised him that since he was good at putting a record together, that he would pretty much have free reign at it, so he signed on with them. Needless to say, things were looking quite dire for the band at this time, but Iommi wasn't ready to give it all up. He was ready to rethink everything.

The first bright thing that happened is that drummer Cozy Powell had been asked if he wanted to join the band, and he agreed. It also looked like Geezer Butler was going to come back as bassist and Iommi wanted to also bring in Dio again for vocals. As we know, since the departure of Ozzy Osbourne, Black Sabbath had become another classic band that had become a revolving door of members, and since there had been quite a bit of success with Dio, he had hopes that he could establish some stability. However, Powell talked Iommi into bringing Tony Martin back, who was the lead singer for "The Eternal Idol". This would also show some stability as he would be the first returning vocalist since Dio. As we know, Martin would eventually end up being the most stable vocalist in the band after Osbourne. Not only that, Martin's vocals were similar enough to Dio's that it wouldn't really change their sound that much anyway. At the last minute, Geezer Butler pulled out of the project to opt to playing in Ozzy Osbourne's band, so now they had to find a bassist. They were able to quickly recruit Laurence Cottlewho would end up not being an official member, but more like a studio musician for the album with Neil Murray (Whitesnake, Gary Moore) being the bassist for the tour to follow. So, with the usually unsung Geoff Nichols as keyboardist, the band was finally set.

One thing the band tried to help drum up more interest was the return to the occult and Satanic themes that they hinted at from time to time in the past. Thus, the new album, "The Headless Cross" would become the first album to totally be dedicated to that theme. Unfortunately, for the band, the public wasn't quite trusting of them yet, and the album once again suffered in sales. This was blamed on I.R.S. for not distributing the album very effectively. Iommi had visited a record store in Toronto, where the band was still generating interest, and discovered that there was issues with the album's availability. Of course, he was quite upset about this.

We can't really know for sure if that was the real reason for the unpopularity of the album or not. The album itself shies away from any progressive traits, though the songs, at least on the first side, have a very dark and heavy atmosphere to them which is a partial return to the classic sound of the band, but they were much more straightforward than they were in the 70s. They do have to be commended from turning away from the poppy, hair- metal sound at least. The first half of the album shows very strong hints of a band at least trying to make a heartfelt come-back. "Headless Cross", "Devil & Daughter" and "When Death Calls" are solid Sabbath songs and probably the best that the band had done for a while, at least since the "Heaven and Hell" album. Martin can hold his own with his vocals and Iommi's guitar work is quite good and a bit more inventive, plus Brian May from Queen makes a guest appearance on "When Death Calls".

The sad thing is, the 2nd half of the album sounds more like filler. The songs are a bit more lackluster and Martin's vocals are starting to lose their appeal as these songs sound too much the same, mid-tempo and more like filler. Even "Black Moon", which was originally written for an earlier album, which they re-recorded with Martin's vocals, sounds just like the rest of the songs on this side. They close the album off with the slower "Nightwing", but this doesn't help either. Most of the songs on this album fade-out at the ends with Martin doing his annoying improvisational singing which always leave a bad impression. There was an outtake that was used as a B-side for "The Headless Cross" single called "Cloak and Dagger" that was left off the album and this is added as a bonus track to the picture disc edition of the album. This song is actually better than any of the songs on the 2nd side and why they decided to leave this off while retaining some of the other less than interesting songs is beyond me.

Anyway, in summary, we have an album that starts out as a decent "approach" to normal (not really a return to normal) with some songs that generate interest and a 2nd half that sounds like half-hearted attempts that are overwashed in Nicholls background keyboards. This manages to get 3 stars for the album at least, and that is all because of the first side. It's too bad that following albums would for the most part follow the filler-type song pattern than the interesting songs making them even weaker at times. However, if you are looking for progressive metal, you won't find it here at all, nor would you among Black Sabbath albums to come after for quite a long time.

 Sabotage by BLACK SABBATH album cover Studio Album, 1975
4.06 | 672 ratings

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Sabotage
Black Sabbath Prog Related

Review by Hector Enrique
Prog Reviewer

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 Dont 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.

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

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