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BLACK SABBATH

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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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ParanoidParanoid
Warner Bros. 1990
Audio CD$2.26
$0.01 (used)
Black SabbathBlack Sabbath
Rhino Warner Bros. 498 1990
Audio CD$2.58
$1.85 (used)
Master Of Reality (180 Gram Vinyl)Master Of Reality (180 Gram Vinyl)
Rhino Records 2010
Vinyl$14.42
$14.88 (used)
Mob RulesMob Rules
Rhino 2013
Audio CD$2.39
$1.20 (used)
Heaven & HellHeaven & Hell
Rhino Records 2008
Audio CD$6.90
$4.99 (used)
BORN AGAIN - BLACK SABBATHBORN AGAIN - BLACK SABBATH
Import
SANCTUARY 2015
Audio CD$4.81
$16.97 (used)
13 [2 CD][Deluxe Edition]13 [2 CD][Deluxe Edition]
Deluxe Edition
Republic 2013
Audio CD$7.10
$3.39 (used)
Black Sabbath, Vol.4Black Sabbath, Vol.4
Rhino Warner Bros. 498 1990
Audio CD$2.78
$0.99 (used)
SabotageSabotage
Warner Off Roster 1990
Audio CD$5.23
$2.49 (used)
Never Say DieNever Say Die
Warner Off Roster 1990
Audio CD$1.96
$0.98 (used)
Right Now on Ebay (logo)
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38m 52s
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4h 41m
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5h 28m
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6h 6m
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6h 8m
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6h 41m
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6h 46m
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8h 47m
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8h 48m
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9h 10m
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9h 35m
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10h 12m
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LP 13
BLACK SABBATH
~ USD $25.01
LP 13 (deluxe boxset - double lp, double cd, dvd etc )
BLACK SABBATH
~ USD $72.23


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BLACK SABBATH shows & tickets


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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)

4.20 | 657 ratings
Black Sabbath
1970
4.27 | 729 ratings
Paranoid
1970
4.02 | 566 ratings
Master Of Reality
1971
3.81 | 480 ratings
Volume Four
1972
4.09 | 575 ratings
Sabbath Bloody Sabbath
1973
3.96 | 431 ratings
Sabotage
1975
2.70 | 304 ratings
Technical Ecstasy
1976
2.90 | 295 ratings
Never Say Die
1978
4.02 | 431 ratings
Heaven And Hell
1980
3.45 | 298 ratings
Mob Rules
1981
2.68 | 237 ratings
Born Again
1983
2.55 | 165 ratings
Seventh Star
1986
3.17 | 160 ratings
The Eternal Idol
1987
3.22 | 181 ratings
Headless Cross
1989
3.19 | 163 ratings
Tyr
1990
3.06 | 213 ratings
Dehumanizer
1992
3.29 | 138 ratings
Cross Purposes
1994
1.77 | 135 ratings
Forbidden
1995
3.55 | 116 ratings
Heaven & Hell: The Devil You Know
2009
3.70 | 210 ratings
13
2013

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

2.93 | 67 ratings
Live at Last
1980
3.39 | 103 ratings
Live Evil
1983
2.90 | 22 ratings
Cross Purposes Live (CD + VHS)
1995
4.25 | 89 ratings
Reunion
1998
3.95 | 69 ratings
Past Lives
2002
4.16 | 27 ratings
Live at Hammersmith Odeon
2007
4.17 | 30 ratings
Heaven & Hell: Live from Radio City Music Hall
2007

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

3.35 | 12 ratings
The Black Sabbath Story - Volume 1 1970-1978
1991
3.73 | 11 ratings
The Black Sabbath Story - Volume 2 1978-1992
1992
1.65 | 21 ratings
The Last Supper
1999
3.67 | 12 ratings
Never Say Die
2003
4.50 | 2 ratings
Inside Black Sabbath with Tony Iommi
2003
2.65 | 8 ratings
Cross Purposes Live
2003
4.50 | 6 ratings
In Concert
2004
4.33 | 3 ratings
Total Rock Review
2006
3.74 | 20 ratings
Heaven and Hell: Live from Radio City Music Hall
2007
5.00 | 2 ratings
Children Of The Grave
2008
2.53 | 6 ratings
In Moscow
2008
4.75 | 4 ratings
Madman Alive in Athens
2008
3.80 | 5 ratings
Classic Albums: Paranoid
2010
3.00 | 8 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
4.67 | 3 ratings
Reflection
1975
3.07 | 32 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
5.00 | 2 ratings
Star Gold
1976
4.14 | 10 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
4.33 | 3 ratings
Iron Man
1992
4.67 | 3 ratings
Iron Man (Alternative Version)
1994
2.03 | 7 ratings
The Sabbath Stones
1996
4.60 | 5 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 | 17 ratings
The Best of Black Sabbath
2000
4.50 | 6 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
4.30 | 10 ratings
Black Box (The Complete Original Black Sabbath 1970-1978)
2004
5.00 | 3 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
3.65 | 18 ratings
The Dio Years
2007
5.00 | 2 ratings
Audiobiography
2007
4.83 | 6 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
3.89 | 9 ratings
Evil Woman
1970
4.00 | 8 ratings
N.I.B.
1970
3.83 | 6 ratings
Coleccion Underground N 3: Presentando Paranoid
1970
3.83 | 6 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
4.10 | 12 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
4.29 | 7 ratings
Die Young
1980
4.78 | 8 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 | 4 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
2.50 | 7 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

BLACK SABBATH Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Dehumanizer by BLACK SABBATH album cover Studio Album, 1992
3.06 | 213 ratings

BUY
Dehumanizer
Black Sabbath Prog Related

Review by Prog Leviathan
Prog Reviewer

2 stars Let's just get one thing clear right away: robotic grim reapers shooting lightning bolts out of their fingertips to transform victims in cyborgs is 100% awesome. If I were running for president I would make this the foundation of my political platform. There is no extreme that Dio's lyrics can go to that would make me lose interest; I love camp, absurdity, and genre niches in my heavy metal - but with that being said, metal that consists of bland chugging, repetitive song structures, and overly similar vocal delivery does get old in a hurry, which is exactly what holds Dehumanizer back.

This is not a prog-related Black Sabbath album. It's a straightforward heavy metal release indicative of the early '90's (in that it's pretty bad; the 90's are to heavy metal what the 80's were to prog rock). The Black Sabbath sound peeks its head up every now again, thanks to Geezer's upfront and fuzzy bass, as well as Iommi's signature guitar, but by in large this album sounds overwhelmingly similar to a Dio release, and unfortunately not one of his better ones. Dio's vocals sound as if they're stuck in the same register, and actually come across as sloppy. I'm a huge Dio fan but this is definitely him singing in decline.

Note that the lyrical content of this album has nothing to do with fantasy tropes that is clichely used to describe Dio's writing. These songs are about that nature of evil, self destruction, and robotic grim reapers shooting lightning bolts out of their fingertips to transform victims into cybogs, which as we've established, is awesome.

Dehumanizer will appeal only to dedicated fans of the musicians involved, and even those who have rated it highly here at ProgArchives have admitted that its not as good as the Black Sabbath + Dio classics Heaven and Hell and Mob Rules. Dehumanizer has a few good songs hidden in the mostly bland ones, but only fans will want to slug through to find them.

Songwriting: 2 - Instrumental Performances: 3 - Lyrics/Vocals: 2 - Style/Emotion/Replay: 2

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 Heaven And Hell by BLACK SABBATH album cover Studio Album, 1980
4.02 | 431 ratings

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Heaven And Hell
Black Sabbath Prog Related

Review by TCat
Prog Reviewer

3 stars The band says that Ozzy was too much into drugs and they kicked him out, but Ozzy says that he was sick of the experimental direction the band was taking after "Technical Ecstasy" and "Never Say Die" and wanted out of the band. Whatever the reason, it was Sharon Arden that introduced guitarist Tommy Iommi to Ronnie James Dio (previously the lead singer for the bands Elf and Rainbow). Sharon Arden would later become Sharon Osbourne....interesting how things work out. The move to put in Dio turned out to be a wise decision for both Dio and Black Sabbath. This revitalized Black Sabbath's sound and introduced the band to new fans, the type of fans that love the 80s style metal that Black Sabbath started to emulate instead of following their old doom metal sounding formula which also had more prog elements than the new sound did. It is also interesting that with Ozzy leaving that the "experimental period" also ended with the band making more accessible heavy metal than before.

So, this album was a huge success. People liked Dio's vocals because he was right in line with what was happening in the hair metal scene that was evolving. Dio's method of singing was much different from Osbourne's. Iommi said that Dio opened up new possibilities because he sang against the guitar hooks where Osbourne insisted on singing along with them. What I find interesting yet disheartening is that the days of the multi-movement songs that was prominent in Sabbath's music was also gone. This lost a lot of the dynamics that were previously a huge characteristic of Black Sabbath music up through the "Sabatoge" album. To reflect this, the songs on "Heaven and Hell" are a lot more commercial than before.

This is not to say that "Heaven and Hell" is a bad album though. For Dio, this was probably his least commercial album that he was involved with, but it was also Black Sabbath's most commercial album to this point. While with Rainbow, Dio would dabble a little with prog elements, but for the most part, his overall sound was the same. So Dio brought commercialism to Black Sabbath, and the band brought popularity to Dio's name. For this album, the change in the vocals is welcome and it is a good mix of heaviness and commercialism that did rise above a lot of the hair band sound that was out or coming out at the time. "Neon Knights" and "Heaven and Hell" are staples of Black Sabbath and both excellent tracks, and some of the secondary songs are even great rockers, but they are not progressive at all, and unfortunately to me, become less interesting faster. Still, it's a worthy album and a great on for the Black Sabbath discography. Besides the obvious highlights, "Lady Evil", "Wishing Well", and "Die Young" are all better than most of the heavy metal being made at the time and "Lonely is the Word" is actually my favorite highlight of the album, so yes this is a Black Sabbath album that deserves to be in your collection.

The next album "Mob Rules" also featured Dio as vocalist, but also fell to being more commercial than ever, and suffered for it. In the meantime however, this album is not quite up to the standard of the best Ozzy era albums, but it is still great enough to get 4 stars. The part that bothers me is that it really isn't a prog album, so for the purposes of this site, it must get 3 stars.

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 TV Crimes by BLACK SABBATH album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1992
3.81 | 7 ratings

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TV Crimes
Black Sabbath Prog Related

Review by thwok

4 stars I try to review music that hasn't already been reviewed 25 times at Prog Archives. My mind about most of Yes' albums, for instance, has already been made up, and more reviews are probably not going to change it. I suspect that a lot of people agree with me. So, I found the "TV Crimes" single on the "Unreviewed Albums" list and decided to write the first review. I also picked this single because I haven't listened to their music after the masterpieces of the early 70's, so I wanted to listen to what they produced after Sabbath Bloody Sabbath.

According to other reviews here at Prog Archives, "TV Crimes" was the first hit song Black Sabbath had in years. Opinions about Dehumanizer, the album that these two songs came from, seems greatly divided; I like both "TV Crimes" and "Letters from Earth" a lot. "TV Crimes" sounds, to me, a lot like Megadeth-style speed metal. It's a reminder (not that we need one} that Black Sabbath has been at the forefront of most developments in heavy metal for the past 40 years. Of the two songs on this single, I do like "Letters from Earth" a little bit more. I love Butler's almost threatening bass playing, even if the lyrics are a little ridiculous.

I realize that we're on a progressive website here, and so the amount of progressiveness in the music has to be a consideration in reviewing it. "TV Crimes" doesn't break any new ground for Black Sabbath, but I think the band has done more than their fair share of groundbreaking. Both of these songs are really good, and I'm giving them four stars.

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 Cross Purposes Live  by BLACK SABBATH album cover DVD/Video, 2003
2.65 | 8 ratings

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Cross Purposes Live
Black Sabbath Prog Related

Review by HunterD

2 stars I've always had a keen interest in Black Sabbath's back pages, the days without Ozzy or Dio, when it was a chaotic line-up from album to album with Tony Iommi at the eye of the storm. For awhile, Iommi found a stable presence in the form of singer Tony Martin, who served behind the mic during many thankless years. It's true that Martin was a bit of a poor man's Ronnie James Dio, but the guy was a good singer. He cleaned up well on "Eternal Idol" and "Tyr" went on to be unexpectedly influential in Nordic metal circles.

What the "Cross Purposes" live video reveals, though, is how deficient he was as a stage presence with Sabbath. Dio always looked a bit silly in his medieval elf outfits, but he had such a way of owning it that his charisma won out and made us love him as he pointed the horns at the audience. Martin just doesn't seem to know what to do, and his hair makes matters worse.

Still, I always enjoy seeing how Sabbath's rogues gallery of singers handle the classic songs over the years (Ian Gillan in particular was a scream). Getting to hear Martin handle the classic material is what makes this a "fans only" affair. He's best, though, when handling his own songs, like "Anno Mundi" and "Psychophobia," which are both fantastic tunes. In the end this video may have been better with more of his material, but you can't do a night of deep cuts from "Eternal Idol" and "Headless Cross" at a Sabbath show without expecting to incite a riot. The book has been shut for awhile now on this era, and some of the records are tough to come by these days, but it's an interesting look at a show during Sabbath's lean years, which judging by the crowd, would probably make most bands fat.

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 Paranoid by BLACK SABBATH album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1973
4.10 | 12 ratings

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Paranoid
Black Sabbath Prog Related

Review by thwok

4 stars I have a theory about why no one has reviewed this release. Is it because this one's so hard to track down? There are at least four different singles/EP's under the title "Paranoid" released in the early 1970's by Black Sabbath. And that doesn't even include the possibility that there are other versions that we're not aware of. Talk about confusing! This EP (too long to be a single in my book) is a collection of four songs from 3 early Black Sabbath records. This Paranoid EP was released by the record company that released the Volume Four album.

I think this is a terrific EP containing some of Sabbath's finest and best known songs. "Black Sabbath" and "Changes" are beyond reproach as far as I'm concerned. I know that EP's are not everyone's cup of tea. I have a hard time listening to an hour or more of any band, even the ones I love, so I listen to a lot of EP's. So, if a smaller dose of Black Sabbath is not what you're looking for, I think this is a perfect choice.

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 Volume Four by BLACK SABBATH album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.81 | 480 ratings

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Volume Four
Black Sabbath Prog Related

Review by Jeff Carney

5 stars The Seth Man, one of my favorite reviewers from Julian Cope's web site, once cited something truly important about Black Sabbath: Their ability to "make the simple complex, and the complex simple." It is that extraordinary gift combined with a desire to expound upon their sound which begins to take the band to new heights here.

Vol. 4 is a feast for the heart and mind at once. New depths of melodic innovation are on display from the opening moments, and the level of musicianship is now in the territory of the utterly stunning. There are things happening on this album which I have only begun to understand after years of musical study myself. Things I wouldn't have even recognized during years when I felt my own musical "chops" were at their peak. Cerebral attributes and tricks unique to these four individuals that accomplish things which transcend individual showmanship.

It's teamwork. It's musicians telepathically connecting. It is Black Sabbath becoming so confident in their unique musical visions that a certain looseness begins to set in, experimentation begins to reach new heights and yet it is all tied down with brute force. Discipline remains a core principle of their musical endeavors. I would argue that this fundamental aspect of Black Sabbath; discipline, is one of the most important components behind their continued success. Why these albums recorded so long ago continue to astound and amaze when so many from this genre eventually became caught up in who was playing the "fastest," who could play the "most notes," who could "scream the highest" and so forth ...

Author, speaker and blogger Sean Murphy once described "Wheels of Confusion" as "an electric guitar symphony in less than eight minutes." A better and more on point description of its musical content I have not encountered. It opens with what must be the saddest lick in the history of ever, laid on top of minor chords yielding to a major chord which eventually launches into a riff that immediately confirms Bill Ward was without peer. This verse riff is heavy yet different from Iommi's previous work. It has a deep sense of sparseness to it and leaves room for Osbourne's melodic shouts from the sky. The key, however, to the success of this idea is one William Ward. Where nearly every drummer on the planet would have found a "beat" for this riff, Ward plays like a jazz drummer in some experimental classical ensemble. Loosely propelling it forward with swing, yet fully locked and ready to strike. Osbourne is singing Butler's lyrics from some Reality Moon as yet untapped. "Innocence and love was all I knew. Was an illusion." It is here that the band give their first taste of one of the greatest riff syncopations in their history. Ward syncs it up the first time, then lets that loose, jazzy feel allow it to begin to pass by the second, then finds a variation on his original idea to lock it back down into the second verse, only to loosen things up again so that the jazzy feel of this straightforward chord chugging remains in play for the second verse.

Osbourne's voice has attained a new level of beauty here. It is this voice which would ultimately "sell millions." But the debut of this vocal style for him is here, and the organic quality to his singing is positively stunning. Not overproduced, clear and high in tone. The band then launch into Round 2 of the greatest synchronized riff ever conceived. Ward and Butler now lock down a bit tighter. The riff is played through twice again but this time in complete sync from Ward both times through. Incredible, tight drum fills wedge between a dark, descending chordal motif which seems to indicate the arrival of something new. And then ...

Space.

The band are absolutely in deep space here and even Hawkwind and their tone generators couldn't go much deeper. Iommi introduces the greatest middle section in a rock song this side of Never Happened. Background guitars drop in not as guitars but as meteors which spark through the sky as the Sabs are on a freaking rocket ship being driven by Butler and Ward; who are swinging on one note. Let me state that again: Butler and Ward are swinging on *one* note. Find that in your musical library! The simple becomes complex. UNREAL brilliance. Iommi soon takes the wheel and says: "I'm landing this baby." The guitar descends and the bass and drums fall into line as the backdrop. Osbourne and Iommi co-pilot through a melody which enables this spaceship its final descent to Earth, but not before the trio crash through the riff synced up again as visions of smoking gasses and rocket lava abound.

Like any good story, it's time for the finale. Osbourne's vocals remind of the point at hand. "So I've found that life is just a game. But you know there's never been a winner. Try your hardest you'll still be a loser. The world will still be turning when you've gone." It's the "blues" as conceived of not via the usual tales of love and heartbreak, but by a sense that most people feel betrayed by early references to tranquillity and simplicity. That life, in the final analysis, is really two lives. One of innocence and one of harsh reality.

That synchronized riff is back for the song's conclusion. It's locked and ready for its resting place. One of those uncanny Sabbath moments sits at the very end, where it almost seems as if each member stops for just a quarter second in mid air, then all three crash down in unison. Extraordinary.

Is it over?

Duh Dah ... it's Wheels' next movement, "The Straightener." Here is where that unique Sabbath discipline comes into play. A fairly straightforward drum and bass groove ensues. There are great players and then there are great musicians. Great musicians know when to get out of the way. Butler and Ward lock into a positively beautiful backdrop and allow Anthony Frank Iommi to take the reigns. What ensues are two tracks of some of the most mind numbing guitar improvisations ever laid down on tape. Very slowly he builds an introductory theme. And then, like explorers searching for the same planet on different paths, the two solos break off to explore the night on their own. Their paths intersect at times, even stopping to converse, and each seems to somehow play off the other. This is truly some of the most brilliant lead guitar work I have ever heard. Fast trills attack as jazzy phrasings run rampant. There are a couple of bends which are so "in the pocket" that they will practically pierce your left amygdala. I could quite comfortably listen to this soloing go on for ten minutes, but as is so often the case with Sabbath, they allow it to run free for what seems like the perfect length before fading to black.

That's the first song.

"Tomorrow's Dream" kicks the production up a notch. While "Wheels of Confusion" was a sort of sonic mud bath (Hey! Recording on Mars ain't easy!) and only served to come to true sonic life during the opening chords of "The Straightener," "Tomorrow's Dream" comes crashing out of the gate with incredible production and a guitar tone which Ronnie Montrose must have borrowed for his band's entire debut album. Thick, heavy molasses riffing ensues under a vocal melody that is to die for. Osbourne is reaching new levels here. Ward's double bass drum work is brilliant. It serves rather than overtakes. During the verses Butler is using a little trick here which is one of his greatest. Namely, during the verses, he sometimes allows the bass line to lag just about a half beat behind the riff, then syncs it up for the conclusion. And here, on that conclusion, he sometimes quickly adds a root and octave not once but on both the final two chords in the progression. Extremely effective because it pulls and then pushes the feel of the groove. This song is positively electric as a result. After a bridge from the Garden Of Melancholy, the band shift into a simple, fully intertwined and upbeat middle section which I can guarantee you could never be pulled off like they pull it off by anybody. It's got that "Sabs groove" fairy dust all over it. Back into the power break utilized after the first verse and then the last verse comes on strong. The trio sync up again for that power section and close with lawnmower space guitar fading into the night.

"Changes" was always a misunderstood track. "Down under" they got it straight away, and it was so successful there that the band even played it live on their January '73 tour of New Zealand and Australia. This is interesting in the sense that the Sabs never seemed to warm to idea of devoting a portion of their live shows to acoustic numbers. But then a Sabbath concert was usually a "get up, clap and dance your behind off" party, not a "sit back in your seat, sleep is half approved" gathering. My guess is that they simply felt those types of experiments were best left to the albums. But live, it's clear that the experiment could have worked. Osbourne's vocal delivery was excellent, Iommi's piano more than competent and Butler's mellotron sufficient. Still, the track was at its most powerful in the studio and Osbourne's vocal is breathtaking. It should be noted that Iommi's piano accompaniment is wonderful. Apparently this was really the first thing he came up with on piano, having only recently begun to play! In that respect, it is interesting how many people assumed Rick Wakeman performed on this track, when Tony was just a beginning piano player trying to further develop Sabbath's voice for ballads. The main riff has a playful, innocent quality which fits the lyrics. It's a simple blues at its essence. I think people miss this aspect. The lyrics in each verse are really connected to the "My baby left me" mentality but instead of a boogie woogie or blues back drop it's approached as a pop ballad. Quite innovative. The chorus sections are absolutely haunting. Iommi's piano and Butler's mellotron gently gliding and allowing Osbourne's voice to soar above them in the dark skies of lost love.

"FX" is what happens when drugs and what I suspect was some level of interest in the experimental avant garde combine forces. Iommi messing about on acoustic guitar using his jewelry or some such. It serves it's purpose, I guess, as it gives one a chance to mentally prepare for arguably the greatest tour de force in heavy rock for its time or since; "Supernaut."

"It don't mean a thing, if it ain't got that swing." The Sabs are in full flight here and swinging like no rock band before or since. The main riff beats the output of entire genres, and the verses have a level of jazz-influenced swing which should make even the jazz purist blush. Ward is on this like a snake on a handicapped rat. And Osbourne is on fire! Yelling each line in perfect tone from the skies again. It's easy to understand why Frank Zappa rated this song so highly and I dare say it takes a pretty accomplished musician to understand some of the intricate interplay going on here. Butler again uses his "trick" of dragging the beat through the verses ever so slightly with a variation on the riff, then as each verse concludes, walks down the scale with a sort of jazz sensibility only to come up for air in perfect unison for the stop. The riff of the century comes in again. Butler slides up a bass that must have a hundred frets, and we're off to Verse 2. This song would be a gem if that's all there was to it, but after a guitar solo with trills that are actually lightning bolts in disguise, the band are suddenly a house band in Trinidad playing Calypso with some guy who is juggling forty things with hands and feet posing as a drummer. Ward is unstoppable here! The double bass drum work is remarkable because it is so rhythmic and not based prominently on force. The snare break gives way to Iommi allowing that sliding run to ring open for one bar instead of muffled. He then palm mutes and it's back to Osbourne's hollering: "Got no religion. Don't need no friend. Got all I want and I don't need to pretend. Don't try and reach me 'cause I'd tear up your mind. I've seen the future and I've left it behind." Geezer Butler, ladies and gents. Geezer Butler.

"Snowblind" was always one of my favorite Sabbath tracks There's a "snap" to it which I've frankly never heard any other band attain and it's mostly down to Bill Ward, who had the foresight to know that breaks don't always have to run through entire bars. They can be used briefly to great effect. The way his drums work through this song is absolutely, positively brilliant. His hi-hat work is extraordinary, and the way his snare breaks up the riff is just out of this world. The song has incredible dynamics. It's yet another example of what The Seth Man talked about. In this song, Sabbath take a set of simple ideas and execute in a manner that is highly complex. No matter how many bands cover this song, none of them will likely get it to sound like it does here. It's magical. And I must point out that Osbourne's vocal works against the riff just beautifully.

"Cornucopia" introduces yet another guitar tone and this one is a real mess of sonic sludge yet somehow seems cleaner on top. I suspect Iommi's obsession with guitar tones by this point was guiding him to every corner of the fuzz universe, so he figured this idea had to be explored. The opening riff is pure Iommi, which then yields to what one might describe as verses of Sabsjazz. The beat which Ward accomplishes here should be applauded by every musician on the planet. It swings like a mother but syncopates beautifully to bring out the textures of the riff. So difficult was this track that Ward apparently became frustrated with the patterns to the point of fearing he might quit or be fired. The final result stands as a testament to his musicianship. Not only did he get it right in the end, he absolutely brings it with a truckload of energy and yet never overplays. Drumming on live versions of this track is off the edge of the planet. Frankly, I'm not sure any other drummer could play this stuff. It's just too specialized. Too unique.

"Laguna Sunrise" is a gorgeous acoustic piece. The thing I always enjoy about Iommi's acoustic work is that I can never really trace it to anything. Certainly the case here. Is it from folk music? Eh, not really. Classical? Well, a bit ... but in the end it is a highly original idea, executed well. Not my favorite acoustic work of his, but solid nonetheless.

"St. Vitus Dance" is a catchy little gem of a tune for which I've always held a soft spot. It sounds like something they probably put together fairly quickly and it serves its purpose well. Basically, setting the mood for a closing number by getting your mind up and moving again. It's a twisting little riff and the power chord verses spin it back into a sound that is purely Sabsland.

"Under the Sun" is yet another guitar tone from the city of Never Been Done. By this point, Iommi was printing the maps of the future to much of rock guitar. Nobody was going to catch him. He had fully branded this sound and to this day any guitarist who tries to sound dark and heavy will be traced to him. The lyrics here are sensational and it's evident that Sabbath weren't buying into any one philosophical concept except self-empowerment. Heck, this was like self-help before the term was officially coined! The tricky arpeggio runs from Iommi that break things up between verses are yet another example of an idea for which I'm uncertain of the influence. The song's abrupt change into the "Everyday Comes and Goes" section is perhaps not one of their best ideas but Ward's drumming makes it all interesting. The closing section is utterly gorgeous as the descending melody takes shape while a second guitar with an ascending melody works its way into the proceedings. This last section was actually pulled off live very well in '72 (listen to the Hollywood Bowl show from that year as one example) but for some reason dropped when the song reappeared on the most recent tour. It's very tricky to do without the additional guitar overdub but they pulled it off beautifully. After some restrained, melodic soloing takes place, the riff is then stripped down to its core harmonic component via power chord riffing and slowed and slowed again. This culminates in possibly the most resounding "thump" of a note to ever grace an album. Heavy not just in concept, but in execution.

In my view, Vol. 4 is the album where the fans who really get what this band are about begin to fall totally and completely in love with the sound which these musicians were able to coax out of their collective musical souls. It is at once of space and the earth. A freight train moving too fast around a corner yet never leaving its tracks. The album has a certain looseness about it. A certain organic musical authenticity where the music sounds fresh and exciting, yet it's often tight and focused to the point of musical rigidity. It will never be repeated. Probably couldn't even be properly copied. It is a band playing with fire and confidence, but as it relates to the serving of an innovative musical philosophy. A team of musicians striving for a collective sound.

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 Born Again by BLACK SABBATH album cover Studio Album, 1983
2.68 | 237 ratings

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Born Again
Black Sabbath Prog Related

Review by TCat
Prog Reviewer

4 stars I am ashamed to say that I have ignored this album all of these years. I have listened to the bad reviews and written this album off as a mishap of the 80s and the hair bands of the time. After hearing Mob Rules which was released just before this one (with Ronnie James Dio as the lead vocalist), I figured Black Sabbath had taken the next logical step from that album and made "Born Again" from the same cookie cutter pattern as all the other hair bands that were storming the pop charts at the time. Boy was I ever so wrong.

Ian Gillam (Deep Purple) takes the lead vocalist spot on this album. Ian's had some great performances and some not so great, so I am happy to say that this is one of his better gigs and his vocals fit right with the atmosphere and evil feelings of this album. Now, as other reviewers have said, this is not their best album and it doesn't quite reach the 5 star quality of most of the Osbourne era albums, but it comes closer than many of the other non-Ozzy albums. Too bad that things didn't work out between Ian and the band, but this is the only album with Ian on it. The stories go that Ian broke all of his records that he received from the recording of this album and that he threw up when he saw the album cover. Maybe if he had stayed, the sound might have suffered, we will never know. But at least this line up of the band released a very good album here.

The music is hard, the first side of the album is the best and most progressive with songs that should be considered classic Sabbath and should be considered some of their best. The second side suffers from a little sameness, especially from the last two tracks, but don't skip over the title track because it is also one of their best, sounding a lot like the hard dark blues of the first album. Don't make the same mistake I did, give this one a chance. If you don't like it, then it's not like you are out much, but if you do like it, you will discover like I did that you are in for a nice surprise. Congrats to the band for not falling to the corporate heavy metal that was around at the time and for not compromising their sound, at least for this album. This one is and hopefully soon will become an excellent addition to my prog rock collection, preferably on vinyl. 4 stars.

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 Technical Ecstasy by BLACK SABBATH album cover Studio Album, 1976
2.70 | 304 ratings

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Technical Ecstasy
Black Sabbath Prog Related

Review by GruvanDahlman
Prog Reviewer

2 stars For an astonishing six years, between 1970 and 1975, Black Sabbath released six albums. Ever progressing from the first blues rock helping of the first and eponymous album to the perfect blend of prog and metal on Sabotage from 1975, they offered a very unique, never really matched set of albums. That is truly a feat. Knowing full well of their excessive use of substances, alcohol and grueling tour schedule, one realise that something had to give. And it did. When Technical Ecstasy was released in 1976 one felt and knew that something had happened and by the looks of it, that wasn't good.

Technical Ecstasy is perhaps the hardest album to warm to of all the albums during the classic years. Repeated listens haven't changed my point of view and the probability is that it never will. The problem lies in the lack of memorability in the material itself. No, this is not a stinker of an album. The songs are not awful. They are simply not that "catchy" as they used to be, on previous albums. There are songs that are great. "Back street kids" is a good opener. High spirited but gloomy. The disco type stuff represented on "All moving parts stand still" is equally good and that may be, funnily enough, my favorite. "Dirty women" is not half bad either. But when the album has spun, what remains? Not much, really. It is one of those albums you sort of enjoy when spinning but you can't really remember what you've just been through. Apart from a couple of tracks. "Rock'n'roll doctor" is terrible.

I believe in judging any and all albums for what they are, not in comparison to others. If you do I think you miss the point. On basis of that, I look at this album as an individual, not bothering about what came before or even after. Still, little can save it from my judgement. Compared to other albums during the 70's this one is the weakest and the most lacklustre, bleak and gloomy of the lot. Not that Sabbath ever was a joyous band but there was always a vibrant, lively tone to it all. This is not the worst album ever made and it is really not you typical bad one either. It is a downfall due to obvious reasons. As far as I am concerned they bounced back on the next album, Never say die which is one of my favorites. It is, however, less spirited and involved.

I would not say that Technical Ecstasy is purely for collectors but it is not really a three star album. While not being essential it is not something to shy away from either. It is part of the Sabbath history and as such it is an interesting piece of history. Take a listen with an open mind but do not expect it to be anything like Paranoid or Vol.4. Because it is not.

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 Never Say Die by BLACK SABBATH album cover Studio Album, 1978
2.90 | 295 ratings

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Never Say Die
Black Sabbath Prog Related

Review by aglasshouse

4 stars After two great SABBATH hits, SABBATH BLOODY SABBATH and SABOTAGE, the band seemed to want to take a temporary different direction with their music, by going at it with a more jazzy feel then the former. They released TECHNICAL ECSTASY to horrible reviews. The album shocked many people that BLACK SABBATH would release such a mediocre recording such as this (seeing as they hadn't before now). BLACK SABBATH did definitely get a generally bad rep in that year.

Two years later, however, they decided to come back with their 8th studio album, NEVER SAY DIE. The album certainly did better than it's earlier sister album, but definitely not by much.

The album still had pop-like notes and composition, however it was obvious they were trying to make a comeback from the last album. They concentrated more on putting heavy chords into the composition to make it sound more like their old music, yet also combining it with this new found feel Ozzy and the band discovered. To be honest, it doesn't sound bad. Yes, there are some slower parts that definitely don't hold much water, but it other circumstances they can retain some enjoyability. A lot of the time, Ozzy's vocals and lyrics support the album through some rough patches, and seem to give new light to the said medium, allowing for it to come back with a much more solid and steadfast feel.

Many people say that this was a poor way for Ozzy to leave the band to let Dio take his place for a few albums, which may be true. However, it is true that many people expect too much out of these early perfect-record bands such as DIO, or BLACK SABBATH. To that, I say give it a chance, and you may happen to like the faster SABBATH.

(Originally written for the Metal Music Archives on 9/3/14)

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 Paranoid by BLACK SABBATH album cover Studio Album, 1970
4.27 | 729 ratings

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Paranoid
Black Sabbath Prog Related

Review by arthuredson

5 stars Everybody is bloody good in this album! I mean, the riffs are so dark and strong, the bass and the drum have an awesome chemistry, letting Tony float in the solos and letting Ozzy sing the powerfull lyrics. War Pigs is a piece were we see the dynamics that are going to apear in every song on the album. Paranoid, the title track, is a little bit weaker than the rest of the songs in the album, but, along with Communication Breakdown, is a important proto-punk/bang-your-heads song. Planet Caravan is an interesting piece, kind of dark ambient song, with the vocals that seems to be influeced by the delta blues singers. Iron Man has catchy riffs and... need I say more about this masterpiece? Electric Funeral transfer awesomely the felling of the lyrics through the intrumentals. Hand of Doom is my personal favorite, with all the dinamics, the solo, the lyrics. All fit so well together in this song. Rat Salad is a mini jam, power trio-wannabe, which contains awesome riffs, guitar and drums solo. Fairies Wear Boots is a decent ending for one of the best albums ever made in all the heavy metal.

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Thanks to Sean Trane for the artist addition.

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