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BLACK SABBATH

Prog Related • United Kingdom


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Black Sabbath biography
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 this was not really emphasised by the group itself: Geezer's lyrics (and to a lesser extent Ozzy's) were es...
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PARANOID [Vinyl]PARANOID [Vinyl]
Rhino Records 2004
Vinyl$15.28
$11.21 (used)
Vol. 4 (180 Gram Limited Opaque Orange Vinyl)Vol. 4 (180 Gram Limited Opaque Orange Vinyl)
Limited Edition
Rhino/Warner Bros. 2016
Vinyl$19.84
Paranoid (180 Gram Blue Colored Vinyl)Paranoid (180 Gram Blue Colored Vinyl)
Limited Edition
Rhino/Warner Bros. 2016
Vinyl$19.84
Master Of Reality (180 Gram Limited Opaque Green Vinyl)Master Of Reality (180 Gram Limited Opaque Green Vinyl)
Limited Edition
Rhino/Warner Bros. 2016
Vinyl$19.84
Black Sabbath (180 Gram Limited Opaque Red Vinyl)Black Sabbath (180 Gram Limited Opaque Red Vinyl)
Limited Edition
Rhino/Warner Bros. 2016
Vinyl$19.84
Black Sabbath, Vol.4Black Sabbath, Vol.4
Rhino Warner Bros. 498 1990
Audio CD$3.40
$2.69 (used)
SabotageSabotage
Warner Off Roster 1990
Audio CD$5.15
$5.17 (used)
Sabbath Bloody SabbathSabbath Bloody Sabbath
Warner Off Roster 1990
Audio CD$4.81
$4.76 (used)
13 [2 CD][Deluxe Edition]13 [2 CD][Deluxe Edition]
Deluxe Edition
Republic 2013
Audio CD$10.97
$5.84 (used)
Mob RulesMob Rules
Rhino 2013
Audio CD$2.19
$1.98 (used)
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BLACK SABBATH - Cross Purposes CD (2001, EMI-Capitol) USD $1.95 [1 bids]
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54m 31s
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54m 32s
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56m 34s
BLACK SABBATH "7" SINGLE USD $3.91 [0 bids]
1h 9m
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OZZY OSBOURNE (Black Sabbath) - 1991 Double Page Magazine Poster USD $5.89 Buy It Now 4h 21m
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4h 30m
Black Sabbath "Lausanne 1970" Japan's 1CD only 100 copies Ozzy Osbourne USD $29.00 [0 bids]
4h 31m
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Black Sabbath, Vol. 4 [LP] by Black Sabbath (Vinyl, Aug-2011, 2 Discs, Warner Br USD $16.99 Buy It Now 4h 48m
Black Sabbath BLACK SABBATH CD 1996 (1970) Castle ESM CD 301 USD $6.08 Buy It Now 5h 9m
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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 | 736 ratings
Black Sabbath
1970
4.28 | 814 ratings
Paranoid
1970
4.04 | 631 ratings
Master Of Reality
1971
3.81 | 540 ratings
Volume Four
1972
4.09 | 645 ratings
Sabbath Bloody Sabbath
1973
3.96 | 484 ratings
Sabotage
1975
2.75 | 336 ratings
Technical Ecstasy
1976
2.93 | 324 ratings
Never Say Die
1978
4.01 | 487 ratings
Heaven And Hell
1980
3.46 | 337 ratings
Mob Rules
1981
2.73 | 269 ratings
Born Again
1983
2.55 | 185 ratings
Seventh Star
1986
3.17 | 177 ratings
The Eternal Idol
1987
3.24 | 201 ratings
Headless Cross
1989
3.22 | 181 ratings
Tyr
1990
3.09 | 240 ratings
Dehumanizer
1992
3.29 | 155 ratings
Cross Purposes
1994
1.87 | 152 ratings
Forbidden
1995
3.55 | 135 ratings
Heaven & Hell: The Devil You Know
2009
3.71 | 248 ratings
13
2013

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

2.94 | 76 ratings
Live at Last
1980
3.40 | 113 ratings
Live Evil
1983
2.91 | 23 ratings
Cross Purposes Live (CD + VHS)
1995
4.22 | 94 ratings
Reunion
1998
3.94 | 71 ratings
Past Lives
2002
4.18 | 28 ratings
Live at Hammersmith Odeon
2007
4.23 | 35 ratings
Heaven & Hell: Live from Radio City Music Hall
2007

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

3.38 | 13 ratings
The Black Sabbath Story - Volume 1 1970-1978
1991
3.69 | 13 ratings
The Black Sabbath Story - Volume 2 1978-1992
1992
1.69 | 24 ratings
The Last Supper
1999
3.50 | 14 ratings
Never Say Die
2003
4.33 | 3 ratings
Inside Black Sabbath with Tony Iommi
2003
2.65 | 8 ratings
Cross Purposes Live
2003
4.50 | 6 ratings
In Concert
2004
3.67 | 3 ratings
Total Rock Review
2006
3.80 | 22 ratings
Heaven and Hell: Live from Radio City Music Hall
2007
3.67 | 3 ratings
Children Of The Grave
2008
2.53 | 6 ratings
In Moscow
2008
4.75 | 4 ratings
Madman Alive in Athens
2008
3.83 | 6 ratings
Classic Albums: Paranoid
2010
3.15 | 11 ratings
Live. Gathered in Their Masses
2013

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
4.50 | 4 ratings
Pop Giants: Volume 9
1974
5.00 | 3 ratings
Reflection
1975
3.10 | 35 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
4.13 | 11 ratings
Greatest Hits
1977
5.00 | 3 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
4.20 | 5 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
4.67 | 6 ratings
Under Wheels of Confusion 1970-1987
1996
3.80 | 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
3.78 | 18 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
4.46 | 13 ratings
Black Box (The Complete Original Black Sabbath 1970-1978)
2004
5.00 | 4 ratings
Selections From - Black Box: The Complete Original Black Sabbath (1970-1978)
2004
4.00 | 3 ratings
Black Sabbath
2006
4.60 | 5 ratings
Greatest Hits 1970-1978
2006
5.00 | 2 ratings
Rock Giants
2006
3.68 | 19 ratings
The Dio Years
2007
5.00 | 2 ratings
Audiobiography
2007
4.86 | 7 ratings
The Rules of Hell
2008

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

4.33 | 12 ratings
Paranoid
1970
4.09 | 11 ratings
The Wizard
1970
3.90 | 10 ratings
Evil Woman
1970
4.00 | 8 ratings
N.I.B.
1970
3.83 | 6 ratings
Coleccion Underground N° 3: Presentando Paranoid
1970
3.94 | 7 ratings
Paranoid
1971
2.76 | 8 ratings
Iron Man
1971
3.33 | 3 ratings
Rock Power
1971
3.50 | 8 ratings
Snowblind
1972
3.14 | 7 ratings
Tomorrow's Dream
1972
3.50 | 8 ratings
Snowblind
1972
3.86 | 7 ratings
Wicked World
1972
3.75 | 4 ratings
Black Sabbath/Status Quo split PROMO
1972
3.71 | 7 ratings
Paranoid
1972
4.05 | 11 ratings
Paranoid
1973
4.14 | 7 ratings
Sabbath Bloody Sabbath
1973
4.22 | 9 ratings
Sabbath Bloody Sabbath
1973
2.66 | 10 ratings
Sabbath Bloody Sabbath
1973
3.75 | 8 ratings
Hole in the Sky
1975
3.50 | 8 ratings
Gypsy
1976
3.29 | 7 ratings
It's Alright
1976
3.67 | 6 ratings
Hard Road
1978
3.63 | 8 ratings
Never Say Die
1978
3.60 | 5 ratings
Hard Road
1978
4.38 | 8 ratings
Die Young
1980
4.79 | 9 ratings
Neon Knights
1980
4.00 | 8 ratings
Mob Rules
1981
4.20 | 5 ratings
Turn Up the Night
1981
4.00 | 7 ratings
Paranoid
1982
4.00 | 7 ratings
Paranoid
1982
4.00 | 7 ratings
Paranoid
1986
4.00 | 3 ratings
Seventh Star Sampler
1986
3.80 | 5 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
3.75 | 8 ratings
Feels Good to Me
1990
4.00 | 3 ratings
Castle Gold Collection: Volume 22
1991
4.00 | 3 ratings
Kerrang! Four-Play
1992
4.00 | 5 ratings
Time Machine
1992
3.81 | 7 ratings
TV Crimes
1992
3.83 | 6 ratings
I
1992
3.60 | 5 ratings
Get a Grip
1995
3.50 | 6 ratings
Psycho Man
1998
2.00 | 1 ratings
Paranoid
1998
3.75 | 4 ratings
Reunion
1998
4.14 | 7 ratings
Black Mass
1999
4.20 | 5 ratings
The Best Of Black Sabbath
2000
4.14 | 7 ratings
Paranoid
2000
4.00 | 7 ratings
Paranoid
2004
4.25 | 8 ratings
The Dio Years (Sampler)
2007
4.00 | 4 ratings
The Devil Cried
2007
3.80 | 5 ratings
Heaven and Hell (Radio Sampler)
2008
3.21 | 9 ratings
The End
2016

BLACK SABBATH Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Mob Rules by BLACK SABBATH album cover Studio Album, 1981
3.46 | 337 ratings

BUY
Mob Rules
Black Sabbath Prog Related

Review by Prog Leviathan
Prog Reviewer

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

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

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

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

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

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

 The End by BLACK SABBATH album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2016
3.21 | 9 ratings

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The End
Black Sabbath Prog Related

Review by UMUR
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars "The End" is an EP release by UK heavy/doom metal act Black Sabbath. The EP was released through Vertigo Records in January 2016. "The End" features 4 unreleased studio tracks, recorded during the sessions for "13 (2013)", and 4 live tracks recorded on the tour ("The Reunion Tour") supporting the album (recorded between April 2013 and April 2014). So while the EP was released to coincide with Black Sabbath final farewell tour ("The END Tour"), and was only available for purchase at shows on that tour, it actually doesn't feature material recorded live from said tour.

Stylistically the studio tracks pretty much follow the same heavy/doom metal formula as the band also played on "13 (2013)". Quality wise it's not necessarily obvious why these four tracks were left off "13 (2013)", as they are generally as memorable and powerful as the material featured on the album. Especially "Season of the Dead" is quite a brilliant track. The sound production resembles the one on "13 (2013)", which is again natural as these tracks were recorded during the same sessions as the material on "13 (2013)". The sound production is powerful, dark, and organic, although the drums could have prospered from a more organic tone.

The live recordings feature a professional sound quality, and the instrumental part of the performances is of high quality throughout. Ozzy Osbourne's performances are a bit more up and down. He for example sounds great on "Under the Sun" (from "Vol 4 (1972)"), while his performances on the three tracks off "13 (2013)" ("God is Dead?", "End of the Beginning", and "Age of Reason"), vary a bit more in quality. He generally sounds alright when he sings loud anthemic parts, but he has a hard time hitting the right notes when he sings more mellow, and occassionally it even borders the embarresing. Overall the live tracks are pretty great though.

So while "The End" is not a perfect release, it's certainly a release that fans of the band should find a worthy purchase, and especially those who enjoyed "13 (2013)" should find a lot to like here. A 3.5 star (70%) rating is deserved.

 Never Say Die by BLACK SABBATH album cover Studio Album, 1978
2.93 | 324 ratings

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Never Say Die
Black Sabbath Prog Related

Review by Progresearcher

5 stars This review is dedicated to the fathers of heavy metal, the pioneers of prog-metal, the most innovative band of the genre(s), Black Sabbath. They have at least four full-blooded works of progressive metal, namely "Sabbath Bloody Sabbath", "Sabotage", "Technical Ecstasy" and, of course, "Never Say Die" (1978). All of them were created long before the appearance of the now well-known term. One of the most commercially unsuccessful Black Sabbath albums, "Never Say Die" is a revolutionary work, failed to be properly appreciated. In fact, however, this is a brilliant creation, the first progressive jazz-metal album ever. At first, the title track 'Never Say Die' sounds like, say, a merely driving metal with unswerving heavy riffs, but soon, in the refrain, you can hear unusual guitar arrangements and excellent fast solos over Ozzy's voice, leading the song toward the next part. After the second refrain, the main theme suddenly falls into an unexpected atonal piece with improvisations of the classical guitar. This promising opener ends with a long, rapid and magnificent guitar solo.

Many years ago, after a few listenings to the second track 'Johnny Blade' I, already a great admirer of Genesis, King Crimson, Van Der Graaf Generator and Yes, realized that this metal band had too intricate, composite structures to make a widely available album out of "Never Say Day". 'Johnny Blade' is one of the most progressive tracks on album, together with 'Shock Wave', 'Air Dance' and 'Breakout / Swinging the Chain'. Opening with a massive futuristic keyboard intro, 'Johnny Blade' rapidly moves into the heavy realm with regular changes of themes and tempos. With excellent complex arrangements, skilful playing and singing, this song has all the ingredients of the true prog-metal. The guitar seems to be a prominent instrument, but I need to say that each of the other instruments doesn't play only supporting roles; on the contrary, all the parts are different here, those of a varied and dynamic bass, teeming keyboards and strong vocals.

'Juniors Eyes' is a pretty unusual song for Black Sabbath. Mostly led by the bass, nearer to the end it surprisingly transforms into a real progressive rock jam with excellent interactions between guitar and keyboards. At the time, Tony Iommi was the most versatile guitar player. The drumming is also outstanding, and Ward never works with his arsenal in a straightforward manner. 'Hard Road' is the only disappointing track here. With the exception of a decent guitar solo somewhere in its middle, it is the most easygoing song on the album. So that's why, of course, it was reissued as an "A" side for the single a few weeks later.

But then the first track on LP's side "B", 'Shock Wave', turns out to be the most complex and manifold composition on the album, consisting of several various themes, none of them being repeated until the end. Yes, the music is ever-changing, and therefore it is more diverse than probably anything by Threshold (who are clearly influenced by Black Sabbath, aren't they?). 'Air Dance' is not even a prog-metal song, but a highly innovative sympho-prog piece, very successfully combined with elements of jazz-rock. More than half of the composition is a delightful, very original, instrumental fusion with jazzy guitar solos and authentic symphonic keyboards arrangements. Generally, Tony Iommi's guitar work on this album is simply incredible. Never have I heard such inventive and masterful leads from the "best rock guitarists" of the '70s, Ritchie Blackmore and Jimmy Page.

Unlike the previous track, open jazzy piano solos sound all over the next mid-tempo 'Over to You'. Amazing! 'Breakout' is a long instrumental intro for 'Swinging the Chain' with a powerful horn section, finely crossed by masterful jazzy sax solos. The band works effectively with the musical intervals so as to create a rich, complex and adventurous sound. Fast and quirky, purely jazzy improvisations of sax lead 'Breakout' into 'Swinging the Chain'. With Bill Ward singing, this composition takes Black Sabbath back into a heavier domain. 'Swinging the Chain' is a true prog-metal composition with some highly complex arrangements. With rapid changes of various themes, so typical for progressive rock in general, there are quirky guitar parts continuously crossed by improvisations of wind instruments. Ward's voice is quite pleasant. It is now well-known, that since then Bill could not do regular drumming for the band due to his illness. It's a hard job, clearly. But I suppose, it could have been possible to use Bill's talent for lead singing after Ozzy's departure?

"Never Say Die" is simply a phenomenal heavy metal album, probably the most important work that has contributed to the forming of progressive metal as a separate genre. Most, if not all, of the metal, prog-metal and related bands of the past and the present are followers of the great innovators of Black Sabbath. The early structures are taken by doom and extreme metal combos, while the band's progressive period (1973-'78) showed the way to go for the outfits like Mercyful Fate / King Diamond, Candlemass / Abstrakt Algebra, Fates Warning, Threshold, Tiamat and many others. It's a pity that the lack of support and the pressure on the part of the major labels forced Black Sabbath to stop exploring deep prog-metal realms after their most innovative work ever.

 Tyr by BLACK SABBATH album cover Studio Album, 1990
3.22 | 181 ratings

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Tyr
Black Sabbath Prog Related

Review by Sergey Slenkoff

4 stars One of the most closest to prog albums by Sabbath. The central concept compostion consits of 3 parts - "The Battle of Tyr" (short Wagnerian instrumental for keyboards), "Odin's Court" (ballad), "Valhalla" (heavy epic). It is devoted to Scandinavian mythology and to the beliefs of the Vikings. Album was produced by Tony Iommi and Cozy Powell and probably it was Cozy who made acsent on drums and keyboads in the mix. I suppose that Cozy had "Stargazer" by Rainbow as a model of sound in his mind. Tony, Cozy and Leif Masses had made very contrast album. You are either listening to heavy metal riffs or to acoustic or ballad guitar sound. Heavy epics in the start ("Anno Mundi") and the middle of the album, real ballad (do you remember "Changes"?) and official single hit "Feels Good to Me", two dynamic tracks "Law Maker" and "Heaven in Black" (potential hits). Real hit (without single and video) "Jerusalem". What's not to like? Probably the most impressive record and most impressive lyrics by Tony Martin ever. It seems that album impressed mostly Scandinavian bands - you can listen to the albums by Tiamat, Bathory from 90s and they frequently used same manner of contrast sound.
 Forbidden by BLACK SABBATH album cover Studio Album, 1995
1.87 | 152 ratings

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Forbidden
Black Sabbath Prog Related

Review by Sergey Slenkoff

4 stars Give this album a second glance. Start to listen to it with the bootleg "Forbiden. Rough Mixes" with instrumental versions of the songs before producer Ernie C changed the sound having in his mind "Cop Killer" by Body Count as a model of sound. It could be great Sabbath album. Ernie C blurred guitars in his mix and added hollow wooden sound of drums - I suppose his idea was a kind of ethnic drums with Sabbath riffs. Result is rough doomish unpolished sound. Result is questionable but interesting. It didn't work back in 1995, but it works now. Negative reviews are based on comparings with previous Sabbath albums. Don't compare - simply relax and listen. Believe the album works for the listener and it grows with each listening. It's real Sabbath sound.
 Volume Four by BLACK SABBATH album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.81 | 540 ratings

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Volume Four
Black Sabbath Prog Related

Review by FragileKings
Prog Reviewer

4 stars "Volume 4" was the second Black Sabbath album to join my cassette collection, back in 1983, and it happened as a matter of economy. I was 12, had recently become hooked on heavy metal, and had only a weekly paper route supplying me with $25 a month, most of which my mother insisted I save in a bank account. Cassettes in those days were on average $8.99, and "Volume 4" was priced at only $6.99. My first Black Sabbath album was "Mob Rules" and so for me this album had a very different sound to it, especially in the vocals (chronologically speaking, it should be the other way around). I was used to Ronnie Dio singing and had only heard from a friend that Ozzy had started the band, which I took to mean that he had gotten the guys together and said, "You guys will make a great band". I was 12, remember.

This album was a big step for Black Sabbath. They had been making each album heavier than the last and now found themselves at a very important point in popular music history. The heavy guitar sound that grew into popularity in 69/70 was starting to undergo a transformation. Many bands were going more commercial, or more funky, or more in a roots rock direction and meanwhile hard rock was really coming to the fore. Still others were catching the prog wave as progressive rock had reached its zenith. Black Sabbath approached their fourth album with new directions in mind. Though the signature heavy riffs were in place for songs like "Wheels of Confusion" and "Under the Sun", there were other ideas that made it to the vinyl. Ozzy had a piano ballad with Mellotron (or were they real strings?), Iommi had a classical guitar instrumental piece with strings, too. In fact, no fewer than three tracks include strings or Mellotron. Then there was the effects piece called simply and aptly "FX". On another personal note, "Born Again" was my third Black Sabbath album, so with "FX", "E5150" and "Stonehenge" I was under the impression that every Sabbath album had such a track. "Supernaut" features a (is that calypso?) percussion solo, and "St. Vitus' Dance" sounds like country metal. Those last two songs are also danceable, unlike the serious tones of "Snowblind", a song about cocaine.

The cocaine factor played a heavy role in the making of the album. The band had gone off to California and landed in a veritable river of the stuff. They had it delivered by the soapbox according to one member in an old interview, and Iommi once reflected that the band just lied around crashed out and waiting for Iommi to get them motivated with a musical idea. It's hard to imagine these accomplished and talented musicians lying about like junkies trying to find a new way to butter toast, but the resulting music shows that the band was very willing to move into new territory. Many of the tracks feature songs or instrumental sections within songs. After the first or second chorus, a new riff, rhythm, and melody will come in before going back to the original musical theme of the song. Bill Ward's drumming still had its jazz roots showing through in places, but he also contributed some trickier, non-standard beats and maintained his usual fills.

What makes this album so interesting for me is mostly the slightly more complex song structuring and variations in a single track. "Under the Sun" is heavy and ponderous at first but the middle section called "Every Day Comes and Goes" is a hurried song with some short and speedy drum solos to connect the gaps in the rest of the music. I've always loved "Wheels of Confusion" with its mellow rock introduction and slow simple riff which then gives way to a slightly spacey instrumental section that leads to a very heavy riff, a frantically busy part that then drops back to the simple heavy riff again. The song wraps up with an instrumental entitled "The Straightener", which has a nice melody accompanied by heavy riffs and a lead guitar duet thanks to overdubbing. "Tomorrow's Dream" and "Snowblind" also feature additional parts in the middle of the song.

Though this album's singles don't stand up to those from the other first five albums, I've always enjoyed "Volume 4". Perhaps the band learned from their adventures which ways were the best to pursue. I feel "Sabbath Bloody Sabbath" and "Sabotage" didn't pack as much variety as "Vol. 4" though that might be a good thing for most Sabbath fans. And while I'm okay to skip "Changes" and "FX", I usually enjoy listening to the rest of the album.

When I first discovered that Black Sabbath were on PA, my immediate thought was, "Volume 4! Of course!" I can see how this album has helped make the band worthy of inclusion.

 Born Again by BLACK SABBATH album cover Studio Album, 1983
2.73 | 269 ratings

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Born Again
Black Sabbath Prog Related

Review by Pastmaster

5 stars Black Sabbath - Born Again

"Born Again" is the eleventh studio album by heavy metal band Black Sabbath. By 1983, Dio and Vinny Appice had left the band due to disagreements and misunderstandings over the making of the live album "Live Evil", so the rest of Black Sabbath had to find a new vocalist and drummer. Original drummer Bill Ward rejoined for Born Again, and they recruited Deep Purple's Ian Gillan to be on vocals. Ian Gillan plus 3/4 of Black Sabbath sounds like a perfect match, and unlike most, I certainly find it to be a perfect combination.

"Born Again" is one of Black Sabbath's darkest and doom-filled albums to my ears, but with a perfect balance between driving songs like opener 'Trashed' and the dark dirges of other tracks. The beginning of 'Disturbing the Priest', which I assume is a play-on-words of disturbing the peace, definitely fits the cover with it's terrifying shrieks and Iommi's signature sludgy guitar. The short opening for 'Zero the Hero', the dark ambient sounding 'The Dark', sounds like it came straight out of a horror movie soundtrack. Finally, 'Digital Bitch' opens up with one of the nastiest sounding guitar riffs I've heard, and I mean that in the best way possible. It really gets you ready for the rest of the fast and catchy song.

While this is unmistakably Black Sabbath, with Ian Gillan on vocals it's hard not to hear some elements of Deep Purple within the album. The best example of this is in my favorite song from the album, 'Zero the Hero'. When Gillan sings the name of the song, it sounds right out of a Deep Purple song. The song maintains a constant dark driving riff and a haunting chromatic walk down the scale. While I'm talking about this song, I may as well mention Iommi's amazing guitar solo in the middle of the song. The guitar really sings, and just enhances the sound mixed with the haunting notes being played. For a little bit of trivia, the short 'Stonehenge' has an interesting live performance story that may sound familiar. The band wanted a Stonehenge replica for the Born Again tour, but the replica was accidentally too big. This is what most likely inspired the famous scene in "This is Spinal Tap", where they get a Stonehenge replica that is too small.

The main complaint that I've seen for this album is the production. The production is definitely not the best I've heard, but I personally find the muffled raw sound benefits the dark and raw sound of the album. The album cover is also another part of the album that is often seen as a negative. I personally think it has some sort of charm to it. The evil devil-baby featured on the cover looks like a still of a puppet from a stop-motion short.

Overall, the album is definitely an acquired taste and perhaps a love-it-or-hate-it album. If you don't have an issue with muffled productions and are a fan of Black Sabbath and Deep Purple, then I highly recommend giving it a try.

(Originally written on www.MetalMusicArchives.com)

 Technical Ecstasy by BLACK SABBATH album cover Studio Album, 1976
2.75 | 336 ratings

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Technical Ecstasy
Black Sabbath Prog Related

Review by Progresearcher

5 stars Black Sabbath's "Technical Ecstasy" is probably the most underrated prog-metal creation ever. With this album the founders of progressive metal move into a faster and heavier direction and, for the first time, 'in company' with incredible polyphonic keyboards, playing here not a supporting role at all. Unlike "Never Say Die" ('Hard Road'), there are no fillers here, and even the most conventional composition, 'It's Alright', contains some fine prog-tinged arrangements. 'She's Gone' remains up to now one of the most magical prog ballads, having a glaring progressive feel throughout. The level of complexity on tracks like 'Dirty Women', 'You Won't Change Me' and 'Gypsy' is quite comparabale to many songs from the works of Genesis, Yes, Van Der Graaf, etc, released at the same time. The 'problem' is: nobody is able to appreciate "Technical Ecstasy" at its true value upon the first spin. Repeated listenings are required... That being said, "Technical Ecstasy" left a very pleasant taste in my consciousness, and Black Sabbath is one of my all-time favorites - along with Genesis, Pink Floyd, Yes, King Crimson, Van Der Graaf Generator, Jethro Tull, Gentle Giant and ELP! Do you really think I have a bad taste? :-)
 Sabbath Bloody Sabbath by BLACK SABBATH album cover Studio Album, 1973
4.09 | 645 ratings

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Sabbath Bloody Sabbath
Black Sabbath Prog Related

Review by Ghost_of_Prog

4 stars The world's first progressive metal album?

Every subculture has it's universal truths, and the heavy metal genre has quite a few: Metallica sold out with "The Black Album", Dimebag Darrell is a martyr of the genre, Dio is a god among men and above reproach, metalcore insults the genre, saying Slipknot is even decent is tantamount to heresy, and Black Sabbath is responsible (directly or indirectly) for every sub-genre in heavy metal. In regards with that last gospel truth, there is some genuine truth to that. Nearly every metal band under the sun has cited Black Sabbath as an influence. There first two albums laid the foundation for the entire genre and their next two albums extended the genre even further and indirectly influenced sub-genres such as doom, sludge, and stoner metal. So after laying such foundations, where else can they go?

Their answer was their fifth album, Sabbath Bloody Sabbath. When it was initially released, fans, critics, and even the band themselves, weren't too sure what to think about it. It received acclaim for sure, but it was vastly different in comparison to its predecessors with its use of synthesizers and cleaner production values. Some fans were put off by it and the band even commented that this was the start of when album's cost more to make due to studio influence. However, in hindsight, this album was the first instance seen of the two genre's of progressive rock and heavy metal fusing together.

The album opens with the title track, which is dubbed "the riff that saved Black Sabbath", and that claim is not unfounded. I've noticed that the reason many prog-heads gravitate towards this album because of Rick Wakeman's presence (despite the fact that he only appears on one song). Even if he played on every song, the focus on Wakeman takes away the attention from Black Sabbath's true star; Tony Iommi. Not only could the man churn out heavy riffs like a factory, but he was also the leader of the band's creative process. Without him, Geezer could not write his lyrics and Ozzy could not sing. Tony also took a lot of elements from jazz and psychedelic rock, allowing him to create unique pieces such as "Wicked World" and "Fairies Wear Boots." Sabbath Bloody Sabbath is another weapon in his unique arsenal which shows the roots of a popular style in progressive metal; alternating between heavy and soft on a regular basis. Tony plays a heavy and catchy riff while Ozzy sings his typical fashion but then Tony switches to an acoustic guitar while Ozzy sings more smoothly. A guitar solo transports us to the last part of the song which is heavier and tonally different than the first half, another prog-metal style. This amazing song, this genesis of prog-metal, is 99% the work of Tony Iommi. Let's give credit where credit is due.

The progressive rock elements are peppered throughout the rest of the album but do not come together with the heavy metal was well as the title track does. A National Acrobat, starts off with a riff similar to the title track (albeit a bit softer) before delving into fantasy-like lyrics and Tony's extended guitar solos. An enjoyable track, but it kind of meanders on.

Fluff is an excellent piece that shows Tony can write beautiful compositions on instruments other than the electric guitar. However, the instrumental sounds remarkably out of place. This is not because it is a soft song on a heavy metal album. Black Sabbath has done it before with "Planet Caravan" and "Solitude". These two songs came after some extraordinary heavy material (the former after "War Pigs" and "Paranoid" and the latter as the penultimate final song on it's album) and sounded like something Black Sabbath would do (a psychedelic journey and a mournful song). I don't detract any points because of it because a good song is a good song regardless.

The prog-head's interest peaks at Sabbra Caddabra where Rick Wakeman makes his appearance. However, the keyboards and pianos sound like something Tony could have easily handled and don't show the skill Wakeman is capable of. He recorded his parts while Yes was recording Tales of Topographical Oceans, an album which Rick hated. He even asked to be paid in beer rather than money for his contribution. I don't say any of this to insult Wakeman or his fans, but simply to show how little involvement he had and how little he cared about it (it was something more he did for fun). The song itself is like that, fun, but really nothing too memorable.

Killing Yourself to Live is a typical heavy metal song, but that's not always a bad thing. Tony still shows that he is the king of the riff even when he decides to dabble into other things.

The two songs I've seen most picked on by both metal and prog-heads are Who are You? and Looking for Today, the former relying a synth melodies while the latter attempting to be a "hit" song. While I do agree with the criticism towards the latter (I've listened to it multiple times and can't remember a single thing about it), I must confess I have a soft spot for the former. It's more of an experiment on Ozzy's part and the song does have a heavy feel in line with the Sabbath style.

The album closes with Spiral Architect, which opens with Tony playing an elegant melody on the acoustic guitar before the hard rock and the orchestras break out. A very interesting experiment that Sabbath has never done before, but manages to pull off very well.

Despite being a little rough around the edges, I believe I can (without a doubt) give this album four stars. It's an excellent addition to any prog-rock music collection and an essential to heavy metal listeners. Just as they did before, Black Sabbath sowed the seeds for another sub-genre in heavy metal, but also for a genre they originally had very little to do with.

 Black Sabbath by BLACK SABBATH album cover Studio Album, 1970
4.22 | 736 ratings

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Black Sabbath
Black Sabbath Prog Related

Review by Magnum Vaeltaja
Collaborator Eclectic Prog Team

3 stars Black Sabbath's debut is influential, no doubt; pretty much every metal artist around today will cite the title track as an inspiration. Unfortunately, I think that the album doesn't have a ton going for it beyond that characteristic, its influence.

Black Sabbath is hailed as being the first distinctly metal album but personally I believe that, the first track aside, it fits more in the camp of dime-a-dozen dark, heavy blues bands that were popping up around the start of the 1970's. Songs like "The Wizard" and the first side's medley are really just heavy blues songs and Tony Iommi's solos are typical blues rock fare. The album's redeeming feature, in my opinion, are the songs on side two. "Wicked World" is slightly more progressive than the rest of the album, while still keeping in the heavy spirit, and the second side's medley features some of the best work by all the band's members.

"Black Sabbath" laid out a blueprint for the band, and countless others, to follow but there's a lot of fine-tuning (and Tony Iommi de-tuning) that would have to happen before their magnum opus "Paranoid" could be achieved.

Thanks to Sean Trane for the artist addition.

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