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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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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 | 787 ratings
Black Sabbath
1970
4.30 | 870 ratings
Paranoid
1970
4.08 | 676 ratings
Master Of Reality
1971
3.82 | 578 ratings
Volume Four
1972
4.10 | 685 ratings
Sabbath Bloody Sabbath
1973
3.98 | 516 ratings
Sabotage
1975
2.76 | 359 ratings
Technical Ecstasy
1976
2.93 | 345 ratings
Never Say Die!
1978
4.02 | 517 ratings
Heaven And Hell
1980
3.47 | 362 ratings
Mob Rules
1981
2.75 | 288 ratings
Born Again
1983
2.55 | 202 ratings
Seventh Star
1986
3.16 | 196 ratings
The Eternal Idol
1987
3.24 | 214 ratings
Headless Cross
1989
3.22 | 193 ratings
Tyr
1990
3.10 | 257 ratings
Dehumanizer
1992
3.27 | 168 ratings
Cross Purposes
1994
1.87 | 166 ratings
Forbidden
1995
3.53 | 151 ratings
Heaven & Hell - The Devil You Know
2009
3.70 | 270 ratings
13
2013

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

2.95 | 84 ratings
Live at Last
1980
3.42 | 124 ratings
Live Evil
1983
2.94 | 26 ratings
Cross Purposes Live (CD + VHS)
1995
4.23 | 101 ratings
Reunion
1998
3.94 | 76 ratings
Past Lives
2002
4.19 | 30 ratings
Live at Hammersmith Odeon
2007
4.26 | 39 ratings
Heaven & Hell: Live from Radio City Music Hall
2007

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
1.74 | 26 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
3.67 | 3 ratings
Total Rock Review
2006
3.84 | 26 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
4.75 | 4 ratings
Madman Alive in Athens
2008
3.88 | 8 ratings
Classic Albums: Paranoid
2010
3.38 | 17 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
3.12 | 37 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 | 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
4.60 | 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
4.71 | 7 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
3.79 | 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
4.50 | 14 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
4.00 | 3 ratings
Black Sabbath
2006
4.60 | 5 ratings
Greatest Hits 1970-1978
2006
5.00 | 2 ratings
Rock Giants
2006
3.72 | 20 ratings
The Dio Years
2007
5.00 | 2 ratings
Audiobiography
2007
4.88 | 8 ratings
The Rules of Hell
2008
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
3.33 | 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
3.24 | 10 ratings
The End
2016

BLACK SABBATH Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Black Sabbath by BLACK SABBATH album cover Studio Album, 1970
4.22 | 787 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
4.10 | 685 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
3.82 | 578 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
4.08 | 676 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.

 Paranoid by BLACK SABBATH album cover Studio Album, 1970
4.30 | 870 ratings

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Paranoid
Black Sabbath Prog Related

Review by Luqueasaur

5 stars The Band Who Progressed Beyond Prog Rock: 9/10

Following BLACK SABBATH's unexpectedly revolutionary debut (but harshly criticized by contemporaneous critics), the band crew wanted to continue exploiting their mojo releasing yet another state-of-art unpredictably heavy album only a few months later, PARANOID. Consequentially to Paranoid released as a single, it became a monstrous hit, cementing decisively the directions of the newly founded heavy metal genre. Of course, they weren't the only ones to bring up bone-crushing riffs and occultist lyricism ' LUCIFER'S FRIEND proves my point ' but their success made them the most influential act and consequentially the forerunners of the genre.

Worthy of note among all musicians is the guitarist Tony Iommi. He will not go down in history as a virtuoso player or amazing soloist; instead, his merit lies on his riff craftsmanship, manufacturing simple but outstanding licks that would remain in popular culture for years to come. To quote Ozzy Osbourne, '...Tony Iommi turned out to be one of the greatest heavy rock riff-makers of all time. Whenever we went into the studio we'd challenge him to beat his last riff ' and he'd come up with something like 'Iron Man' and blow everyone away.'

PARANOID also inaugurated BLACK SABBATH's creative method that would stick: Iommi would compose the riffs, followed by Ozzy's melody implementation, Geezer (bassist) providing lyrics and Ward (drummer) structuring the rhythm.

Originally, the album was more a little more Satanic: War Pigs and its festival of doom was originally Walpurgis ' a reference to Satanists' 'Christmas' ' where Iommi wanted to express his concern over Satanists, 'these people who are running the banks and the world and trying to get the working class to fight the wars for them'. The band intended on making this track the title, but the record company perceived Paranoid's commercial potential (simple, hard rockin' riffs, how not?) and preferred it instead, a wise move. Electric Funeral, the nuclear apocalyptic omen, is an interesting track ' mostly lugubrious and prophetic, yet featuring an electric midsection jam. Rat Salad, apparently, had a 45-minutes-long drum solo' Ward just can't get enough of jammin'. Fairies Wear Boots tells the tale of Ozzy's terrible encounter with skinheads.

Planet Caravan is an astoundingly soothing and unfit track for the album's atmosphere, being a mixture of psychedelic and space rock that floats beyond conventions for the time ' distorted vocals, bongo playing and a jazzy guitar intersection ' and delves much further into the trippy portion than Pink Floyd ever had. Telling the tale of intelligent beings voyaging across the universe, they eventually glance upon Earth, 'the crimson eye / of great god Mars', a beautiful metaphor for humankind's incessant warmongering nature.

PARANOID is a musical milestone in every angle visible. Its subversive approach to music ruptured with the epoch's 'lightheartedness paradigm', giving prominence to heavier sonorities and themes unlike anything ever before. Not only this, but it also defied the ascending contemporaneous trend, progressive rock, being its opposite in many ways: sepulchral rather than theatrical; succinct rather than complex; conventional rather than purposely eccentric.

I urge anyone who didn't experiment PARANOID to do so as soon as humanly possible: not only it is a great heavy metal album, it is one of the foundational (great) heavy metal albums. In a certain way, you'd have to thank BLACK SABBATH whenever you listened to a metal band like, say, OPETH; well, thank them by listening to their magnum opus. I'm sure Iommi will be happy to know you're woke about the Satanists' true nature.

 Paranoid by BLACK SABBATH album cover Studio Album, 1970
4.30 | 870 ratings

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Paranoid
Black Sabbath Prog Related

Review by The Crow
Prog Reviewer

4 stars An essential album in rock music history!

But also not a perfect one, of course. For that the sound and production should be better, and the overall songwriting stronger. Don't get me wrong, there are true classics in here, but also a pair of fillers which not deserve the status or masterpieces.

Black Sabbath forgot a bit their blues-rock roots in this second release and they increased the importance and weight of the riffs, achieving this "heavy" and sound that together with albums like Deep Purple's In Rock would plant the seed of heavy metal.

War Pigs starts with sirens and heavy guitars, which introduce one hell of a riff and vocal melodies from Ozzy, who sings a critic and apocalyptic text with dark passion. The riffs salad towards the end of the song is just magnificent! Just like Paranoid, another milestone from this album despite its repetitiveness. Sadly Planet Caravan comes with its boring psychedelia, making a true setback, which vastly dismisses with Iron Man, maybe the best song in the whole record and with the riff in Black Sabbath's history. And there is a lot of riffs in Tommy Iommi's career!

Electric Funeral is together with the song Black Sabbath the birth of doom metal, mixed with some very heavy passages towards the end. It's also a pleasure to hear how the stoner rock was born with songs like Hand of Doom, despite being not so remarkable like other classics from this disc. Rat Salad is forgettable in my opinion, despite the grandiose Bill Ward's efforts on drums.

Fairies Wear Boots, like the previous track bring back the style of the debut album, constituting a solid ending for Paranoid.

Conclusion: Paranoid is one of the best albums from Black Sabbath. Is not my personal favorite, but I recognize the sheer importance of its heavy riffs, slow hard passages and accelerated rhythms in the creation of heavy metal, doom metal and stoner metal. It has three outstanding songs, three very good ones and two just passable. Excellent overall and maybe not so important for prog, but necessary to understand modern rock music.

Best Tracks: War Pigs, Paranoid, Iron Man, Electric Funeral, Hand of Doom.

My rating: ****

 Heaven And Hell by BLACK SABBATH album cover Studio Album, 1980
4.02 | 517 ratings

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Heaven And Hell
Black Sabbath Prog Related

Review by Chicapah
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Sometimes I'm pleasantly surprised to find that my snooty, know-it-all assumptions about a classic band are unfounded. For decades I brushed off Black Sabbath as being nothing more than a one trick pony that made a name for themselves by merely being loud, brash and controversial. I didn't give them much credit for being all that talented because all I ever heard on the radio was 'Iron Man' and 'Paranoia' and neither song did anything for me. (Ironically, when I finally got around to listening to the LP those tracks are part of I realized there was a lot more going on than I anticipated hearing and I felt obligated to give it a favorable review. Who'd a thunk it?) While my taste in prog still leans heavily toward the symphonic and jazz fusion ends of the spectrum and always will, there's a part of me that enjoys high-quality hard rock quite a bit. Especially when there's plenty of creativity and imagination tossed into the mix. 'Heaven and Hell' fits that description to a tee.

According to what I've read, the boys in Black Sabbath (despite their own share of destructive hang-ups) got their fill of Ozzy Osborne's dreadful habits after making eight albums with him commandeering the mike and kicked him out the door. It just so happened that singer Ronnie James Dio was unemployed and pleased as punch to step in when the invitation was received. Within the first few seconds of the opening cut, 'Neon Nights', one can tell it was a near-perfect, serendipitous match made in, well, heaven. The tune features a driving Deep Purple-ish, Highway Star-like motivating riff that doesn't waste time making a bold statement of purpose. When Dio opens his mouth it's a done deal. He pours uncompromised energy and excitement into the song that announces the group's timely resurrection from the doldrums of burn out mediocrity. But what shocked me most was Tony Iommi's guitar solos. They sizzle and pop like wet bacon on a hot skillet. I wasn't expecting that at all. 'Children of the Sea' is next. Its subtle opening leads to a weighty progression that might've grown tiresome if not for Ronnie's awesome vocal tour de force. And, once again, I was knocked silly by Tony's blazing guitar lead. They also display admirable arrangement skills by letting the track die down a tad in order to set up a power-packed ending. 'Lady Evil' sports a more traditional, straight-ahead rock & roll vibe that does a fine job of keeping the momentum ball rolling at this juncture. The lyrics are pretty lame but who cares? This foursome sounds like a band that's firing on all cylinders. 'Heaven and Hell' follows and, while it starts off like a throwback to their earlier minimalist productions, Ronnie jumps into the fray and gooses it with a freshness and vitality that can't be denied. They rev up into speed metal mode for a spell and then finish with an unanticipated Spanish guitar segment that I found delightful. Overall, this terrific number shows off a great deal of maturation in their songwriting acumen.

'Wishing Well' is a tight rocker from the get go. I get the feeling Mr. Dio brought some of what he learned from fronting Rainbow into the sessions as far as how to structure tunes like this one in a way that isn't overly predictable or patronizing. 'Die Young' benefits from sideman Geoff Nichols' dreamy keyboard contributions and the contrast they add keeps the proceedings from turning stale. (I'm a big fan of variety so the fact that each cut has its own character is a major plus in my book.) The middle section is nice and proggy, too. Gotta say it's hard not to be constantly blown away by Ronnie's incredible range and intensity. The man was one of a kind. 'Walk Away' is next and Iommi's switch to a slicker guitar tone comes at just the right time. It distinguishes this tune from the others right off the bat. It erects a much more radio-friendly aura yet it doesn't detract from the album's central mojo at all. Instead it demonstrates efficiently the versatility that helped keep them relevant in that era. They conclude with 'Lonely is the Word'. Tony, bassist Geezer Butler and drummer Bill Ward combine to present a knock-down-the-walls, bang-your-head arena rock riff that could satisfy any crowd of rowdies anywhere and Dio's voice slices through the din without any difficulty whatsoever. I really like that they tossed in a brief jazzy interlude along the way. Humbly I find it necessary to reiterate that, to my amazement, Iommi had by this time turned into a monster guitarist that I would've bragged about to my friends had I been paying attention. A little late now.

Black Sabbath was either fortunate beyond belief or extremely wise to recruit Ronnie James Dio when they did because together they made a damned good record. The musical landscape was changing rapidly as the 70s came to a close and a lot of their contemporaries were deteriorating into starving dinosaurs as Punk and New Wave were fast becoming the rage. By bringing new blood into their band and letting him contribute and blend his unique artistry into their foundational sound they were able to give their reputation a huge boost as they entered the 80s decade. 'Heaven and Hell' reached #9 in the UK and a respectable #28 in the States, no small feat for an established-but-aging rock outfit in that uncertain era. Sadly, the Dio/Black Sabbath marriage didn't survive past their follow-up LP together but they can be super proud of this one. I can't find a darn thing wrong with it so I give it a solid four-star rating. This is how sledgehammer rock is supposed to sound, kids.

 Technical Ecstasy by BLACK SABBATH album cover Studio Album, 1976
2.76 | 359 ratings

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Technical Ecstasy
Black Sabbath Prog Related

Review by Aussie-Byrd-Brother
Special Collaborator Rock Progressivo Italiano Team

3 stars Recorded around a blur of drugs, alcohol, spiralling ego, gruelling touring schedules and draining legal battles, Black Sabbath's seventh album `Technical Ecstasy' from 1976 is not the complete dud it's often reputed to be, although it's undoubtedly the poorest release from the classic Ozzy Osbourne-fronted line-up of the defining heavy rock group. It does have an admirable eclectic and diverse approach with ambitions of offering something a little more than just the usual sludgy heavy-metal riffs and doomy lyrics as well as a more sophisticated production, but it sadly doesn't deliver too much in the way of quality material, even if it still offers a few gems here and there.

Opener `Back Street Kids' is a reliably brash heavy chugger with Tony Iommi's galloping riffs, Geezer Butler's pumping dirty bass and a screeching Ozzy vocal that also throws in a few whirring synths courtesy of Gerald Woodroffe and Bill Ward's busy drumming. But it's the longer and dramatic `You Won't Change Me' that proves to be a real Sabbath classic - a defiant and blunt vocal from Ozzy delivering a confronting lyric that holds traces of the dark romance and despairing hope that permeates so many great Sabbath songs, backed to snarling evil riffs over gloomy synths and frantic guitar soloing from Iommi, all topped off with a cracking chorus. The much despised `It's Alright', sung by Ward, is a softer piano tune with traces of a Beatles-esque sound is fairly forgettable, but repeated listens reveals a harmless time-passer at worst. After quite an upbeat intro of skittering drums and buzzsaw guitars `Gypsy' tears through a multi-sectioned range of moods and ideas, but despite it not being the most memorable song, the slick studio production really goes to town to make it at least sound interesting and dense.

Side two's misogynist-blasting `All Moving Parts (Stand Still)' is a funky bluesy romp that still remains just a little bit dull, and despite a shrieking vocal and stomping drumbeat, the throwaway `Rock 'N' Roll Doctor' seems lethargic and can't even offer a punchy memorable chorus. Downbeat ballad `She's Gone' is strangely elegant and melancholic with its gloomy orchestration and reflective acoustic guitars behind another tortured romantic lyric and genuinely passionate vocal from Ozzy, and closer `Dirty Women' is one of the more overtly `proggy' moments due to its lengthy instrumental runs with constant organ, melodic reaching guitar strains (and Tony's solo in the climax seems to go on forever!) but still finds time for a roaring vocal and plenty of ballsy chugging riffs.

Along with the band feeling the pressure of the emerging punk bands of the time and the pressure to remain relevant and vital, `Technical Ecstasy' found Black Sabbath in something of a no-win situation - deliver a more typical heavy-metal album and be accused of merely repeating themselves, or experiment with their formula and annoy the metal purists by shifting too far from their signature sound. Time and perspective actually reveals a perfectly OK album that sadly especially suffers when being compared to the classic run of the first six Sabbath albums that stretched from the self-titled debut in 1970 through to '75's `Sabotage', but seriously, what wouldn't?

Three stars.

 Paranoid by BLACK SABBATH album cover Studio Album, 1970
4.30 | 870 ratings

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Paranoid
Black Sabbath Prog Related

Review by ProgMirage1974

5 stars REVIEW #11 - "Paranoid" by Black Sabbath (1970)

After achieving success with their debut album, Black Sabbath immediately got back to producing a new album. With very little material at their expense, the songs on their second album were either quickly written, or built off of improvisation. Still as ambitious as the first album, and more cohesive as a whole, the band would ultimately release what has come to be known as the greatest heavy metal album of all time - instrumental in inspiring subsequent acts. The lyrics on this album are far more serious than those on their debut, with topics ranging from the ongoing Vietnam War to drug addiction, and a change in vocalist Ozzy Osbourne's voice brings an edgier sound to the album , as opposed to the more bluesy-orientated vocals from before.

The iconic intro of the opener "War Pigs" (5/5) greets the listener. A slow bluesy opening with sirens gives way to the lyrics - a protest of the authoritarian figures who dictate war; politicians and generals, who send off innocent people to die doing their bidding. Inspired by the highly unpopular war in Vietnam, this song is one of the most famous protest songs ever created, and one of the most well-known Black Sabbath songs. The song features a slow groovy vocal section, then an extended instrumental section titled "Luke's Wall" that ends the album with a great Iommi guitar solo. The eight-minute song is followed by the shorter and more commercially-viable "Paranoid" (5/5), recorded very quickly as it was intended to be a filler track. Considered to be one of the greatest heavy metal songs of all time, it charted as high as #61 on the Billboard Hot 100. A very fast song and with a distinct, catchy riff, this song still receives extremely heavy radio airplay and is generally the song used to introduce people to the band. Next, in the spirit of the track "Sleeping Village" from their first album, is the calm, psychedelic "Planet Caravan" (5/5). The most "proggy" song on the album due to its unique sound and distortion - it is simply a love song about a couple floating through space. A captivating song, it also adds a science fiction touch to the generally dry concept of love songs - which in turn makes it unique. The album returns to heavy metal with the closing track of side one, the iconic "Iron Man" (5/5). With one of the most recognizable riffs in rock, this song would ultimately be Sabbath's most commercially successful song, peaking at #52 on the Billboard Hot 100 despite receiving almost no radio airplay. A story about a time traveler who tries to warn Earth of an incoming apocalypse, but is ignored and ultimately brings forth the destruction that he saw in the future, it is one of the seminal pieces of rock history which cannot be understated in terms of musical genius and relevancy. Through and through so far, a great album - no flaws and impressive musicianship/subject matter.

In side two, you are greeted by the grimy riff of "Electric Funeral" (5/5), a song about the doom brought forth by nuclear war. With a heavier guitar tone, this is a great example of an inspiration to the doom and stoner metal genres. With ominous lyrics of destruction, this song goes well with videos of the Bikini Atoll Nuclear tests, or any other nuclear event. The dark lyrics continue with the following song "Hand of Doom" (5/5), this time about heroin-addicted returning Vietnam War veterans in England. With a quiet bass intro, this song shifts tempos very well. Considered by many to be the best and heaviest song on the album, and an underrated masterpiece, it is a favorite among fans of the band. Next up is the short instrumental piece "Rat Salad" (3/5), a drum showcase for Bill Ward and the precursor to a drum solo at live shows. The only real blemish on the album, it simply does not strike me as an interesting track, although there is nothing wrong with this drum-oriented track. The album finishes off with the solid "Fairies Wear Boots" (5/5), with its solid instrumental intro titled "Jack the Stripper". A song believed to be critical of the skinhead subculture, it has a great chorus and Iommi's guitar is on point as usual. A solid finisher to a great album.

There is no understating the importance of this album to heavy metal. It is an amazing album nonetheless - nearly perfect. Despite not being a true prog rock album, it has its moments (like the debut album) of progginess, and the themes of this album can certainly be described as "progressive" for the time. With multiple famous songs, this album is considered to be the band's best, and launched Black Sabbath into the mainstream. Ranked #131 on Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Albums of All Time list, it has garnered critical acclaim, save for the outlying critic or two. It would ultimately become the band's highest-selling album of all time. Black Sabbath would go in an even heavier direction following this album's release - and continue on their journey towards rock and roll immortality. A must-listen album for any rock fan, for it appeals to both the casual and the seasoned rock fan.

OVERALL: 4.75/5 (A+)

 Black Sabbath by BLACK SABBATH album cover Studio Album, 1970
4.22 | 787 ratings

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Black Sabbath
Black Sabbath Prog Related

Review by ProgMirage1974

4 stars REVIEW #10 - "Black Sabbath" by Black Sabbath (1970)

It is a fact that Black Sabbath is one of the most influential bands that shaped the genre of heavy metal. Considered by many to be the first ever "true" heavy metal album, their eponymous debut is a unique mix of blues and psychedelic rock with a never-before heard level of darkness, gloominess, and raw power. Whether it be the unique voice of vocalist Ozzy Osbourne, or the powerful guitar riffs by Tony Iommi, this album despite not being vehemently prog, still would go on to inspire many prog rock bands, and therefore deserves recognition as part of the genre.

Opening up the album is the added sounds of a thunderstorm, deep in bass and ominous in nature - a foreshadowing of what is to come in the opener track "Black Sabbath" (5/5). Suddenly the listener is hit hard by a loud, slow, heavy guitar opening. Utilizing a simple tritone riff inspired by Gustav Holst's "Mars: Bringer of War" movement (the same piece that inspired King Crimson's "The Devil's Triangle" on their second album released the same year), it sets the tone - dark and forbidding. A reprieve opens up to Osbourne's vocal strength - lyrics based upon a supernatural encounter by bassist Geezer Butler coupled with the vocal emotion makes the song even more haunting. The song goes from fast to slow before hitting a climax with an Iommi solo before abruptly ending. A simple song in scope, yet immensely influential. Next up is "The Wizard" (4/5), a Tolkien-inspired song utilizing harmonica and a faster paced tempo. With a good groove, this song is solid, and the harmonica is a great addition to make the song unique in comparison with the other material on the album. Then comes the heavier "Behind the Wall of Sleep" (4/5), a shorter piece which establishes the tone for the final song of the first side, the hefty "NIB" (5/5). Beginning with a bass guitar solo titled "Bassically" on American releases of the LP, this goes on for about a minute before ending and giving way to an infectious, powerful Iommi riff. With first-person lyrics from the point of view of the devil falling in love, the verses are followed by the same epic Iommi solo - elaborated upon in the song's final hoorah. A six- minute wall of metal, this is the highlight of the album, and one of the band's many classics.

Side two differs depending on the UK and US releases of the LP. In the band's native UK, the listener was given the band's first ever single, a cover of the band Crow's "Evil Woman (Don't Play Your Games with Me)" (2/5) which, despite being historically significant, falls extremely short to the other material on the album, due to its inherently commercial nature. Recommended to the band for being a radio-friendly song, the band was not very excited about recording a cover of the song, but went ahead with the wishes of their producer. On the American release however, the listener is given the far superior "Wicked World" (5/5) from the B-side of their first single. A song with cynical lyrics of the world (a sign of what would come on the band's second breakthrough album), the brutal riff coupled with the lyrics make this song a classic, although it is far less known in the Sabbath catalogue. The next track, "Sleeping Village" (5/5) offers a calm reprieve from the action on the album, with ominous lyrics that utilizes great imagery before opening up into a raw Iommi riff that segues into the closing track of the album "Warning" (4/5). An extended ten-minute cover of the Aynsley Dunbar Retaliation song, this is the only real example of prog you will find on the album. A much heavier touch on the original, coupled with a very long improv showcase with wild drums and guitar riffs, it is not a great closer to the album, but certainly ambitious and raw.

Black Sabbath's debut introduced the world to what would eventually become the diverse genre of heavy metal. Panned by critics, it also drew criticism to the band for "Satanic imagery", stemming from the lyrical content of some of the songs, as well as the inverted cross featured in the LP's gatefold cover (a decision by the cover artist, not the band). Over the course of the band's history has this criticism existed, despite the fact that every member of the band is a Christian. As a huge Sabbath fan myself, I am very happy with the content on this album - except the Crow cover. Everything else on this album is gritty, rough, and ominously beautiful - from the opener to the closer. It may not necessarily be an example of prog rock, but there is no debate as to whether this album was monumental in giving rise to the modern prog bands we see today. Many rock bands cite Sabbath as their inspiration, as the band, along with other pioneers such as Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple, brought rock and roll into a new era, one which is considered to be a golden age. Any rock fan should give this album a listen out of historical significance alone.

OVERALL: 4.42/5 (B+)

Thanks to Sean Trane for the artist addition.

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