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BLACK SABBATH

Prog Related • United Kingdom


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Black Sabbath picture
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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ParanoidParanoid
Rhino/Warner Bros. 2016
$4.99
$4.45 (used)
Black SabbathBlack Sabbath
Rhino/Warner Bros. 2016
$4.99
$4.98 (used)
Paranoid (Deluxe Edition)(2LP 180 Gram Vinyl)Paranoid (Deluxe Edition)(2LP 180 Gram Vinyl)
Rhino/Warner Bros. 2016
$28.64
$72.32 (used)
Master Of RealityMaster Of Reality
Rhino/Warner Bros. 2016
$7.24
$7.23 (used)
Sabbath Bloody SabbathSabbath Bloody Sabbath
Rhino/Warner Bros. 2016
$5.00
$8.99 (used)
SabotageSabotage
Rhino/Warner Bros. 2016
$5.99
$6.40 (used)
Vol. 4Vol. 4
Rhino/Warner Bros. 2016
$5.00
$7.99 (used)
Mob Rules (Deluxe Edition)Mob Rules (Deluxe Edition)
Remastered · Extra tracks
Sanctuary 2010
$7.86
$10.80 (used)
Heaven And HellHeaven And Hell
Rhino/Warner Bros. 2008
$7.79
$7.78 (used)
Heaven and Hell (Deluxe Edition)Heaven and Hell (Deluxe Edition)
Remastered · Extra tracks
Sanctuary 2010
$6.75
$8.73 (used)
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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)

4.22 | 817 ratings
Black Sabbath
1970
4.30 | 903 ratings
Paranoid
1970
4.06 | 708 ratings
Master Of Reality
1971
3.83 | 596 ratings
Volume Four
1972
4.11 | 712 ratings
Sabbath Bloody Sabbath
1973
3.99 | 534 ratings
Sabotage
1975
2.78 | 373 ratings
Technical Ecstasy
1976
2.95 | 357 ratings
Never Say Die!
1978
4.03 | 532 ratings
Heaven And Hell
1980
3.47 | 377 ratings
Mob Rules
1981
2.77 | 302 ratings
Born Again
1983
2.58 | 212 ratings
Seventh Star
1986
3.16 | 206 ratings
The Eternal Idol
1987
3.25 | 226 ratings
Headless Cross
1989
3.23 | 204 ratings
Tyr
1990
3.11 | 269 ratings
Dehumanizer
1992
3.27 | 176 ratings
Cross Purposes
1994
1.91 | 174 ratings
Forbidden
1995
3.55 | 159 ratings
Heaven & Hell - The Devil You Know
2009
3.73 | 283 ratings
13
2013

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

2.94 | 88 ratings
Live at Last
1980
3.42 | 131 ratings
Live Evil
1983
2.93 | 28 ratings
Cross Purposes Live (CD + VHS)
1995
4.21 | 108 ratings
Reunion
1998
3.94 | 81 ratings
Past Lives
2002
4.16 | 34 ratings
Live at Hammersmith Odeon
2007
4.18 | 45 ratings
Heaven & Hell: Live from Radio City Music Hall
2007
0.00 | 0 ratings
Neon Nights . 30 Years Of Heaven & Hell . Live At Wacken
2010
3.63 | 8 ratings
The End - 4 February 2017, Birmingham
2017

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

3.42 | 14 ratings
The Black Sabbath Story - Volume 1 1970-1978
1991
3.79 | 14 ratings
The Black Sabbath Story - Volume 2 1978-1992
1992
1.78 | 27 ratings
The Last Supper
1999
3.50 | 16 ratings
Never Say Die
2003
4.50 | 4 ratings
Inside Black Sabbath with Tony Iommi
2003
2.85 | 11 ratings
Cross Purposes Live
2003
4.63 | 8 ratings
In Concert
2004
3.75 | 4 ratings
Total Rock Review
2006
3.87 | 27 ratings
Heaven and Hell: Live from Radio City Music Hall
2007
3.75 | 4 ratings
Children Of The Grave
2008
2.69 | 7 ratings
In Moscow
2008
4.60 | 5 ratings
Madman Alive in Athens
2008
3.88 | 8 ratings
Classic Albums: Paranoid
2010
3.46 | 19 ratings
Live. Gathered in Their Masses
2013
4.00 | 4 ratings
The End - 4 February 2017, Birmingham
2017

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

4.05 | 5 ratings
The Best Of Black Sabbath
1971
4.00 | 4 ratings
Attention! Black Sabbath
1973
5.00 | 4 ratings
Pop Giants: Volume 9
1974
5.00 | 3 ratings
Reflection
1975
3.12 | 38 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
4.10 | 12 ratings
Greatest Hits
1977
5.00 | 4 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
4.67 | 6 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
2.06 | 8 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
4.67 | 3 ratings
The Singles 1970-1978
2000
3.79 | 20 ratings
The Best of Black Sabbath
2000
4.57 | 7 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 | 15 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
4.60 | 5 ratings
Greatest Hits 1970-1978
2006
5.00 | 2 ratings
Rock Giants
2006
3.71 | 22 ratings
The Dio Years
2007
5.00 | 2 ratings
Audiobiography
2007
4.88 | 8 ratings
The Rules of Hell
2008
0.00 | 0 ratings
Greatest Hits
2009
0.00 | 0 ratings
Iron Man: The Best of Black Sabbath
2012
5.00 | 1 ratings
The Ultimate Collection
2017

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

4.38 | 13 ratings
Paranoid
1970
4.08 | 12 ratings
The Wizard
1970
3.91 | 11 ratings
Evil Woman
1970
4.11 | 9 ratings
N.I.B.
1970
4.00 | 7 ratings
Coleccion Underground N 3: Presentando Paranoid
1970
4.00 | 8 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
3.71 | 7 ratings
Hard Road
1978
3.67 | 9 ratings
Never Say Die
1978
3.67 | 6 ratings
Hard Road
1978
4.40 | 10 ratings
Die Young
1980
4.79 | 10 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
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 | 6 ratings
Call of the Wild
1989
4.14 | 7 ratings
Devil and Daughter
1989
2.56 | 8 ratings
Headless Cross
1989
3.67 | 9 ratings
Feels Good to Me
1990
4.00 | 3 ratings
Castle Gold Collection: Volume 22
1991
4.00 | 3 ratings
Kerrang! Four-Play
1992
3.86 | 7 ratings
Time Machine
1992
3.83 | 9 ratings
TV Crimes
1992
3.88 | 8 ratings
I
1992
3.57 | 7 ratings
Get a Grip
1995
3.75 | 8 ratings
Psycho Man
1998
3.50 | 2 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
3.33 | 14 ratings
The End
2016

BLACK SABBATH Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Master Of Reality by BLACK SABBATH album cover Studio Album, 1971
4.06 | 708 ratings

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Master Of Reality
Black Sabbath Prog Related

Review by SonomaComa1999

4 stars REVIEW #11 - "Master of Reality" by Black Sabbath (1971). 07/09/2018

Black Sabbath's first two albums were massively successful commercial hits, with the latter "Paranoid" being considered the greatest heavy metal album of all time in some circles. Over the course of one year the quartet of Ozzy Osborne (vocals), Tony Iommi (lead guitar), Geezer Butler (bass), and Bill Ward (drums) had gone from a local blue-collar rock act out of the West Midlands to the forefront of the burgeoning rock and roll scene alongside Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple.

1971's "Master of Reality", the band's third studio album, was also its shortest to date, lasting only thirty-five minutes and featuring six songs with two acoustic interludes. However, it would also stand as the band's most commercially successful album for over forty years, eventually being topped by the band's final album "13". This is one of the most influential albums in rock history, especially for heavy metal, alternative rock, and stoner rock; Iommi, who had lost parts of two of his fingers while working in a factory pre-Black Sabbath, had long struggled to find a technique which would allow him to comfortably play his guitar. He eventually was able to reduce the pressure on his fingers by downtuning the strings of his guitar to make them more soft and bendable. The result was an unintended stroke of musical luck as Iommi's guitar tone was now deep and roaring, a range that had only hardly been heard of by the dawn of the seventies. If heavy metal was not birthed by the band's self-titled debut, it had been chiseled out of stone and presented to an audience thirsty for blood.

Butler down-tuned his bass guitar in accordance with Iommi's new sound. The opening track "Sweet Leaf" exposes us to this once-radical maelstrom of noise. Although his simple guitar riffs mesmerized rock fans around the world on "Paranoid", they had a new edge which was unparalleled. Following the sound of the guitarist coughing after taking a draw of a joint, we are introduced to the formal beginning of the stoner rock genre. As the title may indicate, this song describes the bands love for cannabis. Ozzy's voice remains largely unchanged from "Paranoid", and still works very well with the rest of the music. Otherwise, this is a rather typical Sabbath rocker with a memorable riff, powerful lyrics, and a strong guitar solo. The band uses the same formula for the follow-up "After Forever", which is the album's track which discusses religion. One big misconception among the public (especially evangelicals here in the States) is that Black Sabbath was made up of "satanists." This could not be farther from the truth, as all four members of the band are self-proclaimed Christians; main lyricist Geezer Butler is a Catholic and wrote this song as a response to those who had falsely accused the band of worshiping Satan. The lone single off the album, it never matched the success of Sabbath hits such as "Iron Man" or "Paranoid" and consequently has gone under the radar despite being rather underrated. Following this piece, we are treated to a very short Iommi acoustic interlude titled "Embryo." Lasting only half a minute, it serves as a bridge to the classic "Children of the Grave". Considered by Butler to be "the most kick-ass song we ever recorded", it is hard to disagree as the thumping bass rhythm of this song is purely orgasmic. Throttling the bass, Iommi and Butler play alongside each other to create a sheer wall of noise which cannot be matched. While the lyrical themes of this song are not as overt as themes such as "War Pigs" or "Hand of Doom", this is another anti-war song penned by the band. This is one of the most iconic Black Sabbath songs, and is a staple of their live shows. The end of side one features a locked groove which repeats the album title in a whisper on the original LP; while this effect is obviously lost on CD and digital reissues, it is a cute little addition to finish off what is a very powerful first half of the album.

The album's second acoustic piece leads off the second side. Titled "Orchid", it is a minute longer than "Embryo", while still retaining largely the same theme and purpose; to provide a soft entrance into what is a looming and heavy main track. This time we are treated to what I believe is one of Sabbath's most underrated songs in "Lord of this World." Starting off in similar fashion to "Children" this one more prodding and less frantic. I believe the stoner rock band Sleep made a fantastic cover of this song some time in the 1990's; in fact, many of the stoner rock bands have made covers of each song on this album (minus the interludes), owing to the fact that this album was responsible for the birthing of their genre. Given the breadth of the Sabbath catalog, "Lord" often gets passed over, but if you have never heard this piece despite listening to the band on a casual level, I advise you to give this album a quick run-through just for this tune. Sabbath brings forth next a mellow reprieve from the metal, something that would become a recurring theme in the band's early discography, in the form of "Solitude". Similar in style to the much-loved "Planet Caravan" from Paranoid in its psychedelic themes and the fact it is a love ballad, it is nowhere near as popular as its successor, despite finding itself onto an episode of the TV series Supernatural. I did not find any problem with this song, and actually quite enjoyed it among first listen. Sabbath does a pretty good job at track listings, namely in juxtaposing songs so that you are constantly kept on your feet. Finally we reach the grand finale in "Into the Void", another classic heavy metal tune. The band uses apocalyptic and science fiction themes for this one, detailing humanity's exodus from a destroyed Earth and its journey to a new colony on the Sun. I find it funny that songwriters often choose the Sun as the new home of humanity - the title track from Neil Young's "After the Gold Rush" album details humanity abandoning Earth for the sun as well - even though Mars or Venus, let alone an Earth-like planet in some distant galaxy, would be a better choice. All scientific gropes aside, this is a very heavy song, and is probably the most fitting track to conclude this very short album. It is also the longest at just over six minutes.

Let me set the record straight, if we were on metalarchives instead of progarchives, "Master of Reality" would get an easy five-stars, maybe somewhere bordering my fabled 100% review. However, this album is by no means progressive except in the sense it furthered the genre of rock in general. While an argument could be made for the band's first two albums to be included in the prog canon, there is simply no route for this one to fit in with the likes of Yes, King Crimson, or Rush. That being said, it is still a wonderful addition to your prog collection, as is the case with any of Black Sabbath's early work. While music critics lambasted "Master of Reality" upon its release, it has long stood the test of time, and now in the 21st century everything about it, from the musical content to the text on the album cover, has been immortalized and honored. Apart from the forgettable interludes, every track on this album is solid, from the much beloved "Children of the Grave" to the underrated "Lord of this World", and everything in between. In fact, even the album's short run time works well in its favor to avoid wearing the listener down. This album gets the highest rating it can get without being five stars, at a four-star (89% - B+) rating here in the prog community. Play this one loud, and under the influence of that "Sweet Leaf"!

 Sabbath Bloody Sabbath by BLACK SABBATH album cover Studio Album, 1973
4.11 | 712 ratings

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Sabbath Bloody Sabbath
Black Sabbath Prog Related

Review by SonomaComa1999

4 stars REVIEW #4 - "Sabbath Bloody Sabbath" by Black Sabbath (1973)

After doing three straight Zappa-related albums, I felt that it would be nice to switch over to another band and another sound. Progressive rock is a very diverse genre, and many people apply loose interpretations of it so that it can absorb other bands. Pioneering heavy metal icons Black Sabbath are a good example of that; while some will argue that Sabbath had progressive tendencies at some points over their existence, and others will say that their brand of metal inspired future progressive acts, the same cannot be said about the actual band. Nevertheless they are my favorite ROCK band and since they are featured on this site, I am more than eager to write a review about one of my favorite albums by the band, 1973's "Sabbath Bloody Sabbath."

By 1973, Sabbath was in full swing. Successful albums such as "Paranoid" and "Master of Reality" had cemented the band's reputation in the rock scene, and had already inspired several contemporaries. Even Frank Zappa claimed that the band's 1972 song "Supernaut" was one of his favorite songs. However, following the release of "Volume 4", the band found itself running short on ideas, while definitely not running short on the supply of drugs. Cocaine abuse was rampant in the band as evidenced on the track "Snowblind", but nevertheless Sabbath went on to release a few more good albums before Ozzy left. "Sabbath Bloody Sabbath" is perhaps the most technical of these albums, with the band experimenting a lot with various pitches, sounds, and instruments.

The album starts off with an absolute gem in the title track. The opening riff is absolutely brutal, and Ozzy's high- pitched and distorted vocals breach the wave of sound perfectly. The chorus is just as money, with some acoustic influences and the typical independent Sabbath lyrics. The band released a music video alongside this with the members wandering through the forests outside Birmingham in the UK, as well as some dreary shots of the West Midlands at the height of British industrialism. The band's working-class, heavy, and rugged sound matches the emotions of the area very well. The song's riff was considered the band's breakthrough during the recording process, it reinvigorated the group and motivated them to continue on through a creative dry spell. Midway through, we get our first solo, continuing on to a pseudo-progressive shift in rhythm and tempo with a bridge. So far there is definitely a lot more going on than in previous Sabbath staples, but the overall product is still simple. However, this is Sabbath's best attribute; they had the ability to take simple riffs and give them an edge the likes of which had never been seen in music until then. This motif continues into "A National Acrobat", which hammers down the point just as good as the opener. Another candy riff, with some more hard-hitting vocals. Sabbath's lyrical themes always struck me as particularly epic, especially in the rock scene. Early on in their careers, they spoke on the occult and the horrors of war, then as they moved into their Golden Age the concepts of religion, drug addiction, and philosophy seeped in. As far as I can tell, this piece is about the concept of unborn life and a creator, but there are several interpretations of this song. The classic Sabbath style of having bassist Geezer Butler follow the riffs of the legendary Tony Iommi continues, which really makes the melodies better on this one. The opening half of this song is pure gold, but it tapers off a little bit in the funkier middle section. Really, it's the first time so far in the album that I've even lost a little bit of interest, but fortunately the band returns with a very solid coda that includes a guitar solo which in my opinion trumps the title track.

The obligatory Sabbath calm and acoustic piece follows in what I perceive to really be the wrong moment. The first two songs create amazing momentum, and when we hit "Fluff", all of that momentum dies in its tracks given it's four minutes long. Nothing much to say about this one except that it's a cute Iommi acoustic showcase that would be a great lullaby song. Personally, I feel the band should have continued onto the following track, "Sabbra Cadabra" which brings us back to that typical Sabbath metallic edge. Now, for all the prog fans who are likely reading this, we get a little cameo appearance by the keyboard god Rick Wakeman himself! Yep, Sabbath was recording this album in the same studio as Yes during the symphonic prog staples infamous "Tales from Topographic Oceans" sessions, which eventually culminated in Wakeman pursuing a solo career. Bored from having to follow the creative will of Jon Anderson and Steve Howe, the keyboardist wandered over to where Sabbath was rehearsing and offered to do the keyboards on "Sabbra" for free beer after he rejected financial compensation. To make things even more interesting, Led Zeppelin were in the same studio as well, and the legendary John Bonham had desired to do the drums on this piece, but the band was busy rehearsing other material. What a shame - to have Ozzy, Iommi, Wakeman, and Bonham all on the same song would have likely produced something awe-inspiring. Nevertheless this is a very good song, another great guitar riff, and Wakeman's piano work stands out very well during the middle instrumental section. "Sabbra" grooves the best out of any of the material on this album, which serves as a testament to why it is such a popular song by the band. I would not say it is even top three given the breadth of material that "Sabbath Bloody Sabbath" serves up, but this is another great offering by the band. You can see why fans consider this album to be a work of progressive rock; the tempo changes, the prevalence of acoustic interludes, and the presence of Wakeman's keyboards make this a very musically challenging LP side, especially for a crude metal act such a Black Sabbath.

I feel that had the band put the opener to side two "Killing Yourself to Live" on the A-side, it would have qualified it for one of the greatest album sides in rock history. Seriously, this is a criminally underrated song that performs just as good as anything that Sabbath was really well-known for. It brings back the theme of drug abuse which had been experimented with on previous albums ("Snowblind", "Hand of Doom", "Sweet Leaf") but this one speaks volumes regarding the current state of the band. I feel that if you had to give a phrase to 1973-1978 Black Sabbath, it would be the title of this song. I'd go a bit far and say the riff is a little bit weak to start off this one, but Ozzy's vocals make up for it in terms of power, and the chorus is absolute ecstasy. Following a reprise, we get what I consider to be the best guitar solo of the album; it builds off the rhythm like the title track's, but this one is infinitely more powerful and rich. I'm serious - the fact that this song is not regarded more in the band's catalog is tragic. I do know that Metallica guitarist Kirk Hammett has given "Killing Yourself" the respect it deserves in an interview.

Unfortunately, after this masterpiece, the quality of the music begins to decrease pretty steadily. This begins with the synth-driven "Who Are You?". In this piece, Ozzy literally went out and bought a synth (because they were all the rage back then as Wakeman could attest to) and played it on an actual studio album without any prior keyboard experience. As a result, the synth is very simple, and as is the case with most synth, it sounds very dated in 2018. I'll give the band props for taking an experimental and progressive approach with this song, but after all that good stuff to put us into a state of euphoria, this one brings us back down to earth. "Looking for Today" isn't that much of an improvement; it comes off as the most forgettable song of the LP, obviously given it reuses all the previous motifs the band already showed off to the listener. The guitar sounds flat, and the riff comes off a little bit too generic, but there is a really intriguing melody part with some toned down noise, various forms of percussion, and even what I think is a flute which reminded me of Jethro Tull for a moment. Ozzy's work here salvages the song a little bit, but midway through I am already awaiting the closing track "Spiral Architect." After a prolonged intro, we get our first taste of the guitar riff, and so far I am definitely more interested than on the previous two tracks. This piece relies heavily on what is a pretty good riff and solo combo, and lyrically the band returns to the themes seen on "Acrobat" about life. As the title entails, this one is about the mysteries of DNA - a pretty progressive lyrical theme if I may say so. An orchestra makes itself known in the middle section of the song, but ultimately it is rather forgettable and the band doesn't really use it to their full advantage until the closing bit where they play over Ozzy's vocals. The slow build up works just fine, and while the conclusion features a corny outro applause, the album ends on a rather positive note, even if I may have not been struck by "Spiral."

Had the momentum kept going after "Killing Yourself to Live", I would have likely unveiled my first five-star review. Seriously, the first half of this album is absolute gold, as the band barrels into your head with various new sounds and strategies to further the genre of heavy metal with a tinge of prog. Wakeman's appearance is cool to see, but in the end it really doesn't have such a profound impact on the album as Ozzy and Iommi do, which is a good thing because it shows that Sabbath could still make original music without having to lean on external influences. Both Ozzy and Iommi consider this album to be the peak of the band's first generation, and while I am hesitant to agree with them given how much I like 1975's "Sabotage", I will give this album its due credit. It is strong, it features memorable and seminal works by the band, and Sabbath is not relying on the sounds that helped them attain popularity in the first place. It is a shame that this would be the turning point of the band however, as drug abuse and constant infighting exhausted the four members of the band.

The gems on this album are obvious. The title track, "A National Acrobat", and "Killing Yourself to Live" are obvious standouts, while "Sabbra" deserves an honorable mention. Most of side two's offerings are what failed to give this album five-star status, but even then "Spiral Architect" is a fine song while "Who Are You?" and "Looking for Today" are more mediocre than horrible. Any rock/metal fan should consider giving this album a listen if they haven't heard it already based on the frontline tracks alone. In terms of a rating, I'm gonna get as close to 90% as possible with a four-star (89% - B+) rating; very favorable thanks to prog influences and strong offerings.

 Master Of Reality by BLACK SABBATH album cover Studio Album, 1971
4.06 | 708 ratings

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Master Of Reality
Black Sabbath Prog Related

Review by martindavey87

2 stars Released in 1971, Black Sabbath's third album, 'Master of Reality', much like their previous efforts, is today regarded as a classic of the genre. Which means that for some inexplicable reason, I don't like it.

I kid. I kid.

Of course, I've given this album plenty of runs, but much like 'Black Sabbath' and 'Paranoid' (which I only gave a blasphemous one star), I just really struggle to get excited about any of this. Now, I respect the band and their contributions to the music world, but there's just countless other things I'd rather listen to.

Being optimistic though, 'Master of Reality' does sound more polished than its predecessors, despite the short time span between them (their third album in two years, a near-impossible feat these days). While I don't really care for Tony Iommi's "fuzzy" distortion, the songwriting is sounding a lot more confident than before, and at a stretch, I don't mind the songs 'Children of the Grave' and 'After Forever'. But for the most part the doom-laden riffs kind of plod along uninterestingly, and while I still find Ozzy's vocals mostly annoying, there are moments when he does actually shine. In particular, 'Solitude' shows a mellower, softer side to his voice, which I find actually works for him.

Regardless, Black Sabbath's third record is hailed as a classic, and while my review isn't out to deliberately tarnish that (rest assured that the albums status is under no threat), nor am I trying to deter anyone from listening to it (as if a simple review in this day and age would cause that), this is merely my review of an album I'm not all too keen on, from a band I'm struggling to get into.

 Mob Rules by BLACK SABBATH album cover Studio Album, 1981
3.47 | 377 ratings

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Mob Rules
Black Sabbath Prog Related

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.

 13 by BLACK SABBATH album cover Studio Album, 2013
3.73 | 283 ratings

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13
Black Sabbath Prog Related

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Butler, Iommi and Ozzy reunited at last to construct what they were acutely aware may be the final Black Sabbath studio album, and perhaps under such circumstances it's understandable that they decided to take a long look backwards. Compare the structure of album opener End of the Beginning and the title track from the debut, for instance, and they're really rather similar, and final track Dear Father fades out into the sounds of a rainy thunderstorm just as the debut album faded in on one, tying the whole saga up in a blow.

In between those bookends, the boys deliver an album which, whilst I don't think it will ever rank on the same level as their early-1970s classics, is a more than appropriate swansong, taking the traditional metal style they originated and making it sing one last time and proving that they can still play slow, crushingly doomy metal which wouldn't sound out of place in a mix with Electric Wizard or Warning. If this truly is the end, it's not a bad way to go.

 Black Sabbath by BLACK SABBATH album cover Studio Album, 1970
4.22 | 817 ratings

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Black Sabbath
Black Sabbath Prog Related

Review by Prog Leviathan
Prog Reviewer

4 stars If I were a young person in 1970, listening to Black Sabbath would have made me lose my mind. As a sort-of young man in 2017, listening to Black Sabbath makes me feel like I missed out on something great. The musical transformation of the "classic" era is unlike anything experienced in my generation (autotune included), and Black Sabbath's music is a significant part of that. This album, their debut, remains a seminole work that backs up the band's epic legacy in the rock landscape. It's very dark, very heavy, and very, very good.

It's reputation and influence aside, Black Sabbath is quite interesting and enjoyable. The opener is bleak, ominous, and menacing, with dire desolation giving way to savage riffing and a proto-metal guitar chug. One of the first lyrics is "Satan's sitting there, he's smiling. Watches those flames get higher and higher." If that doesn't make a statement, I don't know what does! Ozzie sings his heart out, for what it's worth, because, you know ... it's Ozzie, and while his voice is mediocre, his delivery is not.

Then, how about some blues-inspired hard rocking about a wizard banishing those same demons the first song just summoned up? "The Wizard's" off-kilter riffing and take on the conventional rock sound of the time is yet another example of the group's creativity. Side note, the recording quality remains outstanding--even after all these years. Geezer's bass lines shine through perfectly, despite the fact that the band's playing in general is definitely rough around the edges. His work and soling is a standout for me. How wonderful to listen to an album where each member can be listened to without struggling because of poor production.

The nearly 10 minute combination of "Wasp/Behind the Well of Sleep/Bassically/NIB" has a variety of twists and turns that ends too soon, while "Wicked World" throws muck on any remaining vestiges of the peace movement (and sort of makes me glad I wasn't young in the '70's now ... sorry guys).

The songs aren't masterstrokes--they're creative, for sure--but for Sabbath it's all in the delivery and tone. The band goes for something unique, and nails it.

Add to that a monstrous, solo-filled grand finale, and Black Sabbath makes a powerful impression. This album legitimately belongs in every rock fan's library. If you're younger than me and wishy-washy about picking up a classic rock work from when your dad was a kid: don't be a jackass. Black Sabbath is the real deal from an era when rock bands actually rocked. Give me a single tuned-down Iommi power chord over every one of Page's ripped off riffs.

Songwriting: 3 - Instrumental Performances: 4 - Lyrics/Vocals: 3 - Style/Emotion/Replay: 5

 Black Sabbath by BLACK SABBATH album cover Studio Album, 1970
4.22 | 817 ratings

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Black Sabbath
Black Sabbath Prog Related

Review by martindavey87

2 stars Music fads come and go so quickly that it's hard to keep up with a lot of them. That's why when Black Sabbath firmly established the genre of heavy metal (whether they solely created it or not is a different debate for another time) back in 1970, it's amazing that's it's stood the test of time and is still going strong today as one of the most popular genres of music in the world.

With that said, I'm not a massive Black Sabbath fan. I respect their achievements, and rightfully so, as the genre I hold so dear wouldn't exist without them, but that doesn't change the fact that their music just doesn't quite "do it" for me.

I can appreciate how revolutionary this was back in the day, nothing as heavy, dark or doom-laden had come before. However, by the time I came around to owning this CD, it sounded rather dated and didn't quite measure up to a lot of the stuff I was listening to at the time (I was born in 1987 to put that into context). Ozzy Osbourne's vocals are very primitive and somewhat annoying to listen to (story goes that he was only invited to join the band as he owned a PA), and Tony Iommi's guitars were never quite heavy or interesting enough for me.

That being said, there are one or two decent tracks, most notably 'N.I.B.' and the title track, but in all honesty I could think of thousands of other songs I'd rather listen to.

When it all comes down to it, it's just a matter of taste. While this is arguably one of the most influential albums of all time, I respect it for that, it's just not something I enjoy listening to. The record's status as a classic is certainly not in any danger due to my opinion, and hell, if you think this is blasphemous, you should check out my review for 'Paranoid'...

 Sabbath Bloody Sabbath by BLACK SABBATH album cover Studio Album, 1973
4.11 | 712 ratings

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Sabbath Bloody Sabbath
Black Sabbath Prog Related

Review by The Crow
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Maybe the most progressive Black Sabbath's album... But also their best? I don't think so.

Heavily dealing with drug abuse, the band decided to make a more symphonic and progressive approach for their songs. In addition, with the band fully stablished as one of the strongest rock bands of their time they had enough money to make a lavish and rich production.

However, I think they lost some of their charm in the process and this raw power that their first albums had. The guitars are not so hard this time, Iommi's solos are not so good and Ozzy incorporated his typical synthetized and filtered vocals that would become his trademark from this record till now. Bill Ward and Geezer maintained their typical and powerful sound nevertheless.

Let's talk about the songs!

Sabbath Bloody Sabbath is the best track of the album, introducing a very hard and splendid riff which leads to a more psychedelic chorus. The second riff is even better and it has surprising high-pitched vocals from Ozzy. This song is, like Wheels of Confusion in Vol. 4, a successful attempt to broaden the musical range of the band this time even more progressive than before.

A National Acrobat starts in a very Vol. 4 style, but with the aforementioned synthetized vocals. It is a sort of diabolical hard rock with great wah wah guitars and a very progressive part after the fifth minute. Very good! Sadly, Fluff is a letdown in the album. A song in the style of Laguna Sunrise but less inspired despite its good keyboards.

However, Sabbra Cadabra raises the mood with a very rock n' roll feeling. It's an accelerated and funny song with Rick Wakemann keyboards and lot of progressive influences. In addition, it also contains a great piano improvisation towards the end. A fine surprise! Killing Yourself to live starts with a weak riff, but after that the song gets better with good melodies and doubled guitars in the solo. Nevertheless, is a sort of lackluster.

And another lackluster is Who Are You?, a strange and dark song driven by synthesizers which is a bit boring despite its obscure lyrics. Looking for Today is better, despite being a bit too positive and festive in comparison to previous Sabbath's releases. The psychedelic influences appear again in the chorus in the form of mellow acoustic guitars and flutes. Fine song.

Spiral Architect is another interesting moment of this album, because it has surprising orchestral arrangements. It starts with precious acoustic guitars which lead to a riff which reminds me to The Who every time a hear it. After that we have a soft hard rock song again very festive and happy, with unfitting lysergic lyrics. Strange and not really brilliant, but interesting anyway.

Conclusion: tons of keyboards, mellotron, synthetisers and even orchestral arrangements.... Black Sabbath evolved their sound thank to the influences of the successful symphonic and progressive rock at the time Sabbath Bloody Sabbath was recorded. Sadly, the songwriting was not so outstanding this time, and they lost a bit of strength in their guitars and riffs too.

This album has great songs and very good intentions. And it's also a capital and influential record for the developement of heavy metal and hard rock. But as a whole, I think it was their less stellar release since their debut.

Best Tracks: Sabbath Bloody Sabbath, A National Acrobat, Sabbra Cadabra.

My rating: ***1/2, rounded up to four stars.

 Volume Four by BLACK SABBATH album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.83 | 596 ratings

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Volume Four
Black Sabbath Prog Related

Review by The Crow
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Vol. 4 is an album of a band going through changes (and dealing with sever drug abuse) But they managed to create another milestone for hard rock and heavy music!

This fourth effort is a bit less heavy than Master of Reality and it has a muddier and darker production. I really don't know if this dirty sound was deliberate or not, but it had a capital importance through the years. After 45 after its release, we can check that Vol. 4 and its special and distinctive sound inspired bands like Kyuss, The Obsessed, Sleep, Cathedral and many more.

The album starts with Wheel of Confusion, which contained a rather complex riff and structure if compared to previous records. It is a long song, which shows a worthy attempt to reach new levels for the band. Tomorrow's Dream confirms the dirty and sloughy sound of the album, with a typical Sabbath riff and great verses.

Changes is a weird attempt to create an intimate song, and despite not being really memorable, it has the best vocal interpretation from Ozzy. It can even sing in this song! In addition, the mellotron is pretty good. Sadly, FX is just forgettable. An experimental piece of trash that last 1'43'' too long.

Supernaut retrieves the energy with another powerful riff and a great psychedelic interlude with great drums. Snow Blind brings back the style of Master of Reality and it talks about the drug abuse that the band was suffering at this time. A classic with impressive keyboards towards the end! And Cornucopia is another hit which starts with a doom rhythm and continue with a melody with rock and roll influences but filtered with the ultra-heavy and dirty guitars from Iommi.

Laguna Sunrise is a beautiful surprise, because it demonstrates that this band was able to create competent orchestral arrangements and it shows a wider musical range. The good keyboard work of this song and others from this album give a good advance of what the band would do in Sabbath Bloody Sabbath.

St. Vitus Dance is maybe not so memorable, but it is a short and funny track, which mixes wisely heavy riffs with blues-rock influences. Moreover, Under the Sun / Every Day Comes and Goes is another classic from this album. The energetic and powerful ending that this album deserves.

Conclusion: Vol. 4 is one of my Sabbath's favorites. It is not so groundbreaking as the first two albums and not so damn good as Master of Reality, but apart from FX it's almost a flawless album, which shows a band succeeding in their attempt to expand their sound with keyboards and orchestral arrangements. In addition, it has a dirty and muddy production, which professed a capital influenced through the years, especially for Stoner Metal bands.

However, if you are searching the more Heavy Metal side of Black Sabbath, I recommend you to start with albums like Sabbath Bloody Sabbath or Heaven and Hell.

My rating: ****

 Master Of Reality by BLACK SABBATH album cover Studio Album, 1971
4.06 | 708 ratings

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Master Of Reality
Black Sabbath Prog Related

Review by The Crow
Prog Reviewer

5 stars In my opinion Master of Reality is Black Sabbath's true masterpiece!

A (almost) flawless album with thunderous bass, incredible guitar riffs, an Ozzy in his best moment and great drumming too. The bass in the mixing of the album is almost too loud, but I love bass oriented bass so I just love the Geezer playing in this one.

The style of Master of Reality is more coherent and cohesive than the two previous efforts, achieving a very solid collection of songs with no real letdowns. They wanted to make a groovy yet heavy album, and they made a real milestone for stoner and heavy metal. Even more than Black Sabbath and Paranoid.

Sweet Leaf has a catchy, very groovy riff that together with its lyrics talking about smoking drugs defined the terms of stoner rock and stoner metal. The final part is great and the bass playing is really strong. A real classic!

After Forever starts in an ominous way, introducing a dynamic melody which ends in another anthological riff. The bass sounds even stronger than guitars! And I just love it. Just like a love Embryo, a little yet terrifying instrumental which leads to Children of the Grave, where Heavy Metal was really born in my opinion (together with Speed King and Bloodsucker from Deep Purple's In rock) It's incredible to hear a song which generated so much amount of influence through the years. A big part of the 80's heavy metal was already in this 1971 track!

Orchid is another good instrumental song, obviously very influential for bands like Opeth (the first album of the Swedish band was named just like this track and the acoustic sections sound similar) and Lord of this World introduces another great riff. The whole discography of bands like Sleeps come from this song! It's really difficult to measure this album's influence through the following decades, and Lord of this World is another good example.

Solitude is similar to Planet Caravan from Paranoid, but very much better in my opinion. An intimate and sad song with beautiful vocals from Geezer. And then comes Into the Void! Another incredible song which starts with a very groovy and funny guitar melody which soon derivate in a brutal riff, which also give way to another heavier and faster riff. And after the solo comes another different but also splendid guitar riff! The songwriting is really good, and so much improved since Paranoid... Just the best moment of this musician's career.

Conclusion: if songs like Black Sabbath supposed the birth of doom metal and other songs like Paranoid gave way to heavy metal, it's adequate to say that Master of Reality is the true birth of stoner metal. A bit of psychedelia, great and variated riffs and songs that talk about drugs and other obscure themes. And with such a great quality! Maybe Master of Reality lacks hits like Paranoid or Iron Man, but as a whole is the better album of the band. Just eight very influential songs which aged very well and a true pleasure for the ears.

Best Tracks: all of them (Ok, maybe Embryo and Orchid are not top notch, but also very good)

My rating: ****1/2, rounded up to five stars and masterpiece status.

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

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