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Getting Into: Black Sabbath: Part I


Written by: ScreamingSteelUS, nikarg, Starvynth, RaduP, musclassia, BitterCOld, X-Ray Rod, tominator, Netzach, omne metallum, Apothecary
Published: 04.04.2022


When we put together our collaborative "Getting Into: Iron Maiden" articles, we observed that it was perhaps a redundant venture, as there would surely be nobody perusing this website who is not already into Iron Maiden. The same largely holds true for Black Sabbath - they're a little hard to miss in these circles, considering that they have the most substantial claim to having started the whole heavy metal business in the first place, so perhaps we should consider this publication more of a historical record for archaeologists studying current civilization from hundreds of years in the future. If you've ever stood within 500 meters of someone wearing a black t-shirt or scowling slightly, you've heard "Paranoid," "Sweet Leaf," or the mythic tritone of the band's self-titled calling card echoing faintly through the fog, and if you've spent more than a few minutes cruising for music that sounds even vaguely unhappy, you've encountered Ozzy's leering orange silhouette from Volume 4 or the smoking angels of Heaven And Hell (and if you do happen to be reading this from the future, "music" was a form of cultural communication and entertainment that consisted of making people act like idiots through the use of coordinated sounds). For all we know, you're all halfway through Headless Cross as you're reading this.

Unlike Iron Maiden, however, a band whose least luminary works have generated more attention than the collective musical output of entire countries, Black Sabbath does have a few shadowed periods of its career that are less universally understood (though they will come largely in the second part of this overview). You may actually come away from this experience with a few legitimate recommendations. And, of course, it's not genuinely true that everybody is into Black Sabbath; innovators they may be, but they're still just a band subject to tastes, so perhaps you never caught their pitch or you just never sat down to give them a real shot. This is for your benefit, too. Finally, this is for our own excitement, for we here in Metal Storm Towers are dedicated fans of Black Sabbath, and if there's one thing we have all learned through years of writing for this place, it's that when you have music you love, you just need to talk about it. Even if the praises of Sabbath Bloody Sabbath and Mob Rules have already been sung from Ushuaia to John o' Groats, you can never get tired of slamming air guitar to "Iron Man" or weeping silently to “Solitude.” We keep talking about Black Sabbath because they are so legendary and likewise they are so legendary because we keep talking about them.

Black Sabbath arose at a time when rock and blues were getting darker and heavier all around, so they were not alone in pressing forward into possibility, but what propelled them to stardom then and what keeps their legacy strong to this day is the fact that they were so much more than another eccentric hippie jam band. Their lyrics dealt with horrors both real and imagined: alongside grim tales of death, war, drug addiction, and nuclear terror were fantastical stories of nightmares, the occult, and satanic hallucinations. Their imagery was morbid, creepy, and mysterious, with artwork dominated by dark shades and blurred images and a wardrobe famously including silver crosses, bushy mustaches, and triangular hairdos (and, on occasion, red tights). Each of the original lineup’s three instrumentalists – guitarist Tony Iommi, bassist Geezer Butler, and drummer Bill Ward – is regarded as a master of the craft, and Ozzy Osbourne became renowned as one of heavy metal’s quintessential frontmen; when Ozzy was eventually replaced, it was by Ronnie James Dio, the man who brought the devil horns to heavy metal and redefined its storytelling capabilities with his golden voice. Black Sabbath was not simply moved by evolution, it was at the epicenter – nay, it was the epicenter. Back when Judas Priest was still playing covers of The Jimi Hendrix Experience in pubs, Led Zeppelin was averaging one rock song for every three or four stolen folk covers, Alice Cooper was a whole band that played weird psych jams, Deep Purple was only just figuring out how to put an organ next to a guitar, Scorpions were still skiffling, Iron Maiden were still in school, and The Beatles still walked the earth, Black Sabbath was summoning evil with the world’s most crushing guitar tone and inviting fathomless horrors onto record. “Hand Of Doom” gave its name and its sound to doom metal; “Sweet Leaf” became stoner; “Symptom Of The Universe” became thrash; “Neon Knights” became power. From sludge to death to black to speed to groove to prog, half the metal subgenres out there owe their existence directly to Black Sabbath, and the other half are only another step away. No Sabbath, no metal; that’s all there is to it.

This particular article focuses on roughly the first half of Black Sabbath’s career: the legendary run of the first six albums, the slope into mediocrity, the revival under Dio, and finally a bit of an experimental album to cut us off at 1983 – plus a few odds and sods from the space around the band. This is probably the half that you’ll know better, but we hope you’ll scroll through and enjoy what we have to say anyway; it’s never a bad time to get into a Sabbath-y sort of mood, after all.





1970 - Black Sabbath

nikarg:


There is nothing that has not been said already for the album that started heavy metal. For a deep analysis, click here. I will keep it short. Black Sabbath came out at a time when many people really believed that one could watch a horror film and die of fright, or that saying the Lord’s Prayer backward could unintentionally summon Satan (I've tried it as a kid, it doesn't work, but I was still scared as hell). The story begins with four working-class lads from Birmingham who were blues fans, and set out to make music of the kind that had never been heard before. There is undoubtedly a swing feel and subtle jazz qualities in this debut, invoked by the rhythm section’s playing. But nothing in 1970 sounded this heavy or this evil. The title track is simply every doom metal song ever recorded. There are classic heavy metal songs such as “The Wizard” and “N.I.B.”, two of the greatest compositions of the band’s early catalogue. And it’s not just the songs; the artwork, the atmosphere, Ozzy’s sinister, untrained, and bluesy monotone, Iommi’s monolithic riffs delivered through his unique guitar tone… it all came together to create a musical phenomenon that far exceeded any expectation these four had when they started jamming together. Black Sabbath is not flawless; the second half of the album is not as compelling as the first, and the band had not perfected their style yet (that would happen a few months later with Paranoid), but no metal fan in their right mind would give any less than five stars to the album that gave birth to the music that still goes strong 50+ years later.


BitterCOld:

Duh-Duuuuh-Duuuuuuhhhh. Three notes from Tony Iommi, some great beat and spine by Bill Ward and Geezer Butler followed by some horrific vox from Ozzy and *Boom* ground zero for metal. Some hippie blues band doesn’t see a marquee for an old horror flick and alter their direction, we’re all on HippieStorm jamming to Phish. Thank Satam. And Boris Karloff. Beyond the title track there is a great mix of tunes which shows some of the old blues heritage mixed in with their new direction – “The Warning”, “Evil Woman”. “The Wizard” showcases a funky bit of a jam track with a killer main riff. And “N.I.B.” – well, that’s my fave Sabbath song bar none. BitterCYoung once plunked down in a guitar store test driving a Les Paul. The employee expecting this kid to blast out “Crazy Train to Heaven” was stupefied when I launched into “N.I.B.” before strongly encouraging my purchase then us celebrating jointly by setting fire to a poseur. Good times. Great album. Not their best, but still a must for any self-respecting metal fan.


1970 - Paranoid

Radu:


There are two facts about me and this album that should illustrate how important this album is. The first is that one of the first non-local-band concerts I ever attended was Ozzy Osbourne in 2010, and he played four Black Sabbath songs, all of them from this album, with the title track being the staple concert closer (as it was for the band's final concert too). The second is that this is the first time that I'm writing the review without actually listening to the album in the meantime, not because I don't want to (I can't, I'm in a work meeting), but because I don't need to, because I know all the songs by heart. I only need to think about "Iron Man" and the buzzing riff is already in my head. The wah in "Electric Funeral". The dread inducing buildups in "Hand Of Doom". The dreamlike vocals and soft percussion in "Planet Caravan". The scathing politics of "War Pigs". Every "Alright now!" or "Oh Lord, yeah!". It was always weird to me how this album was released on the same year as the band's debut (even if they still have to beat CCR's three albums in 1969), because of how much this evolves their sound from heavier blues to proper heavy and doom metal. Simply put, this is the staple.


SSUS:

Not to oversell it or anything, but this is the single greatest metal album ever recorded. Yes, of course, you’ve got your Reign In Bloods, your Number Of The Beasts, your, uh, your Blackwater Parks… but Black Sabbath's second album sits aloft as the first truly definitive expression of what "heavy metal" is, undimmed by age and seldom equaled in its embodiment of heavy music credos; all subsequent artists in the sphere of metal operate within the shroud of Paranoid, if not necessarily within its framework. What, then, does Paranoid do or possess to make it so monumental? Certainly much of the album's legacy stems from Tony Iommi's strength as a riff-writer; his blunt, aggressive, and unforgettable compositions on this album yielded enduring influence on the shape of modern guitar-playing, transitioning to a structure in which the guitar riff was the main idea of the song and not merely a means to an end. Add to that a sharp, brutish tone that radiates malevolent spiritual energy and you've got one of the best guitar albums in the heavy music canon. But while "Iron Man" contains the world's best-known guitar riff that doesn't involve any combination of smoke and water, it is actually the opening and closing passages of the song that best summarize what Paranoid did for heavy metal: the bending, distorted drones of angry guitar strings, the vigorously pulsing bass stampede, and the rolling shocks of percussive hail aren't particularly "musical" according to the rules that then existed. Those passages aren't especially melodic or subtle; they are intense, designed to communicate the dreadful horrors of the song's story, and they achieve a synthesis of form and theme that had never before been so ably wrought in popular music. These were protest songs for a new generation, disillusioned musical tirades against warmongering, crippling addiction, depression, and Cold War anxiety combined with haunting echoes of morbid despair and some good, old-fashioned nightmares, presented with a heaviness in feeling, tone, and presence that no other early metal band could muster. Though Iommi is the first point of reference, he's hardly the only standout on this album; the creative and innovative melodies, patterns, and solos of Bill Ward and Geezer Butler contribute just as much to the apocalyptic atmosphere of Paranoid, and Ozzy's voice finds a perfect balance between confident condemnation and primal fear. It is difficult to describe Paranoid without resorting to cliche, but just listen to "War Pigs" and you'll learn everything you need to know about heavy metal.

Standout Tracks: "War Pigs," "Paranoid," "Planet Caravan," "Iron Man," "Electric Funeral," "Hand Of Doom," "Rat Salad," "Fairies Wear Boots"


1971 - Master Of Reality

Netzach:


Arguably laying the foundation for not only doom, but also stoner and sludge metal, Master Of Reality’s impact can to this day be heard far and wide in oh-so-much of the heavy music we all enjoy to listen to. Hardly sneaking about with the fact that it was fuelled by copious amounts of booze, weed, and god knows what else, “Sweet Leaf” opens up the album with the veritable template of stoner rock (and in case we don’t all know what sort of leaf the title implies, a wheezing cough starts it all off just to drive the point home). The repetitive main riff never gets old, and a blazing (sorry…) guitar solo breaks up the lurching swagger into a celebratory jam that always puts a smile to my face. The melodic guitars and sexy bass on “After Forever” show a more light-hearted side of the band, while being grounded in heavy power chords and centred by a bluesy guitar solo. I haven’t a clue what’s going on in “Embryo”, but thankfully it is a very short interlude, leading into “Children Of The Grave”. Really, do I have to argue for why “Children Of The Grave” remains one of the very best metal songs ever put to tape? No? Didn’t think so. I’ll do it anyway, of course: the filthy, tough-as-nails drive of its gallopy main riff is accented by a single, soaring guitar note that together with the orchestral backing introduced later in the song gives a gloriously rebellious and epic edge to the dark but hopeful lyrics, and is one of this band’s finest moments, if not one of the finest moments in all of heavy music.

“Solitude” is a beautifully lush, symphonic song similar to “Planet Caravan”, utilising spacey synths, piano, and flute to create an otherworldly vibe that arguably goes on for just too long, especially considering it is placed right after the throwaway interlude “Orchid” and plodding “Lord Of This World”, but the schizophrenic tempo shifts and psychedelic string-bending riffing of “Into The Void” ends the album on a once again exciting note. Yeah, Master Of Reality is damn influential, no, utterly vital, to the development of metal as we know it, but it can’t be overlooked that it is also a quite uneven collection of songs, that at its best moments, however, is Black Sabbath at their most iconic and entertaining.


X-Ray Rod:

ALRIGHT NOW!
Black Sabbath’s influence on extreme metal is undeniable. The dark and heavy tones were already well-stablished on the group’s first two albums. But if there is only one album to pick for having the greatest impact on many subgenres of extreme metal, it would be Master Of Reality. Black Sabbath’s third opus is not only the best produced album and heaviest record at this point in their career. It is also the most consistent in terms of style. It is clear the band is very confident in their heavy sound and fully embraces it. Oh boy is it heavy. “Sweet Leaf” has single-handedly created stoner metal with a thick, crushing sound. The bass alone would define the tunes of so many bands to come. “Lord Of This World” is also an impeccable example of proto stoner doom with the repetitive riffing pummeling the listener. In between all the heaviness, Master Of Reality tries to shift gears on a few sections. While “Embryo” and “Orchid” don’t exactly add a lot to the album, “Solitude” presents the band at its’ most intimate by releasing what one could describe as their first power ballad. But if you were to ask which are the true jewels that make Master Of Reality stand out, it would have to be “Children Of The Grave” and “Into The Void”. The riff of “Children Of The Grave” ranks easily among the top ten riffs the band has ever wrote. It is vicious, violent and dark. Add alarming and rebellious political lyrics to the equation and you have yourself a brilliant point of reference for thrash metal bands to look at. After the quiet and soft “Solitude”, Black Sabbath ends the album with “Into The Void”. A fantastic song for the man-made apocalypse. The heavy, slow and bluesy riffs are suddenly followed by such an aggressive and fast section only to return to the gloom of doom metal. This burst of speed almost verges on punk territory and the way it is implemented in this song will be imitated infinitely by today’s sludge metal bands. With such highlights, it is obvious that Master Of Reality should have a place in the dark heart of any self-respected fan of extreme metal.


1972 - Black Sabbath Vol. 4

musclassia:


The first five Black Sabbath records are held by many in extraordinarily high esteem; Scott Ian even said "I always get the question in every interview I do, 'What are your top five metal albums?' I make it easy for myself and always say the first five Sabbath albums." Of those five records, however, Black Sabbath Vol. 4 is something off an odd one out. In contrast to the consistent doomy tone of Master Of Reality, Vol. 4 is quite eclectic; “Wheels Of Confusion/The Straightener” opens the record with a surprisingly bright tone, as well as a legitimately progressive structure. It's a great bold step by Black Sabbath; however, some other examples of that eclecticism doesn’t work quite as well for me. “Changes” is a morose piano ballad, and one that I’ve never clicked with, while “FX” feels too long for what is an experimental collage of random guitar effects. I also don’t think the strength of the ‘album tracks’ here matches up to those on its immediate predecessor and successor; “Cornucopia” has great moments but is a bit too scattered, and “St. Vitus Dance” has never made much of an impression on me. On the flip side, Vol. 4 does contain two of Black Sabbath’s greatest tracks in “Supernaut” and “Snowblind”, giving the record an awesome boost around the middle of its tracklist, a tracklist that is bookended by two quality ‘combination’ songs.


BitterCOld:

Coming off the heels of their two best albums (IMBO), Volume IV starts to showcase the beginnings of the decline of the core line-up. They were pumping out albums left and right – V4 was their 4th in just three years… for comparison, Wintersun has released three albums in 18 years. They were overworked, stressed and strung-freaking-out. (“Snowblind” isn’t about an Arctic expedition if you didn’t catch the memo.) That said, even a B-Tier Black Sabbath album is something most bands can only aspire to. “Wheels Of Confusion”, “Tomorrow’s Dream”, “St. Vitus Dance” are all very solid tracks, “Cornucopia” is underrated and “Supernaut” is brilliant. “FX”, “Changes” and “Laguna Sunrise” show off the band’s range is beyond Ozzy’s wails over Iommian power chords.


1973 - Sabbath Bloody Sabbath

Netzach:


Struggling to recreate the drive and atmosphere of Vol. 4, Black Sabbath relocated from L.A. to take up residence in a medieval castle in England. Allegedly, it was haunted, the band mentioning at times spotting a dark-cloaked figure sneaking about the corners and ends of its stony hallways. As soon as they sat down in the rehearsal space they’d set up in the castle basement, inspiration struck sure as rain; Tony Iommi in an instant coming up with the main riff to the excellent title track opening up the album, and the rest of Sabbath Bloody Sabbath following soon after. Thank the powers that be for haunted castles, eh? It’s naturally tough to choose between any of the band’s first five releases, but if pressed on the matter, I’d say that Sabbath Bloody Sabbath is possibly my favourite Black Sabbath album, and the final truly great album recorded by the original lineup. It is a wonderfully versatile collection of songs that ventures far beyond the confines of the doom metal sound they are famous for inventing. “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath” is a mid-paced doomy hit song that towards the end picks up the pace in a highly exciting manner, setting the bar high for the songs to follow. It quickly becomes clear that the frightening environment it was composed in inspired a very wide range of emotions, with the following “A National Acrobat” developing into technical, fast-paced blues and ends with a bluesy, rocking guitar hook that I can only describe as timeless, and the minimalistic “Fluff” comprising little more than acoustic guitars and a tasteful use of sparse piano tones.

Where to go next from this excellent trio of songs by a band at their height of inventiveness? Astonishingly, the answer turns out to be “as high as possible”, because “Sabbra Cadabra” is the best song Black Sabbath ever made, if you ask me. The band’s use of keyboards is the only really inconsistent aspect of the album, as the overuse of mostly improvised Moog (which the band at the time says they really had no idea how to work with) turns “Who Are You” into the only really dull moment on the album. However, Rick Wakeman’s (Yes) ripping boogie-woogie piano wizardry and sweeping synthesizers make the risky “Sabbra Cadabra” an unforgettable blend of heavy blues and progressive rock; a danceable, life-affirming, joyous piece of music. “Spiral Architect” ends the album on a string-backed, experimental note that fortunately pays off immensely, and leaves a lush, natural afterglow that just begs for the album to be replayed. Sabbath Bloody Sabbath ultimately blows Vol. 4 out of the water. Mandatory listening.


X-Ray Rod:

While good, Vol. 4 feels to me like a lukewarm and somewhat uneventful album. Perhaps releasing so many albums so quickly started to take a toll on the band’s songwriting skills? Who knows. What I do know is that Sabbath Bloody Sabbath completely revitalizes the band with an expanded sound palette and instruments. It’s no wonder Mikael Åkerfeldt from Opeth calls it his favorite Black Sabbath record as this is by far their most progressive record. Ozzy’s vocal performance is worth mentioning as it might be his best performance at this point. His vocals soar through with outmost confidence and maturity as he hits those high notes. Combine it with the opening track’s triumphant first riff and you get the stuff of legends. Sabbath Bloody Sabbath is an album that changes voices constantly. There is the bluesy and groovy tone of “A National Acrobat” and “Killing Yourself To Live”, the sweet-sounding “Fluff”, the strange psychedelia of “Who Are you?” (featuring Rick Wakeman from Yes on keyboards), or the fun, catchy as rabies rock love song that is “Sabbra Cadabra”. Final song “Spiral Architect” was probably the band’s most ambitious track at the time with acoustics and orchestrations elevating the band’s powerful riffs and influencing a ton of progressive metal bands in the future. Such an experimental album even by today’s standards. Sabbath Bloody Sabbath is a daring album with a lot on its plate to offer and you’d be hard-pressed to find a single metalhead that doesn’t find at least one song to enjoy.


1975 - Sabotage

omne metallum:


Often credited as both a great album but the odd stepbrother of the classic albums that preceded it, Sabotage occupies an odd middle ground between being great but not great enough to play with its older brethren; this is an unfair reputation for what is a brilliant album in its own right. With the band in the midst of a legal battle, they take their rage out in their music with the likes of Ozzy nigh on barking the lyrics to the trailblazing opener “Hole In The Sky” to the anger fuelled “Megalomania” and “The Writ”. Sit these rabid dogs straining on the leash tracks next to Sabbath’s best work “Symptom Of The Universe” and solid as a rock cut “Thrill Of It All” and you have a record that wears its credentials on its sleeve. Admittedly the record is bloated by its two needless instrumentals in “Don’t Start (Too Late)” and “Supertzar”, Sabotage is able to carry these tracks with no sign of strain.


BitterCOld:

And this was the last of the OG Sabbath studio albums I owned. The occasional odd ball or change of pace moments in Volume IV accelerate with Sabotage. See the factors I noted with that album, factor in they are now on their 6th album in six years. “Hole In The Sky” is yet another kick-ass opener and the follow-up “Symptom Of The Universe” is fantastic as well, great riff, great fills and remains interesting even when it slams on the breaks and goes acoustic. And then it drops off. “Thrill Of It All” is decent, and while “Am I Going Insane” is a pop song for this band, it still must have sounded like grindcore on the radio compared to the supersoft hits of the day. “Megalomania”, “The Writ” and “Supertzar” though made me wish Ye Olde Walkman had a skip button as I didn’t want to waste precious batteries fast forwarding the track.

Even still, it’s Black Sabbath. And still worth a listen or five… as the Beastie Boys repeatedly shout at you in one of their biggest tracks, "Listen Volume IV and Sabotage… Listen Volume IV and Sabotage… Listen Volume IV and Sabotage… Listen Volume IV and Sabotage…"


1976 - Technical Ecstasy

nikarg:


The situation between the band members had been taking a turn for the worse a couple of albums before Technical Ecstasy, but the decline that personal conflicts caused in Black Sabbath’s music output first appeared in 1976. While I would scold anyone rating any of the first six albums with fewer than five (ok, I will maybe accept four and a half) stars, this one does not come close to matching the quality of what came before it. It is the combination of the four members being entirely dysfunctional at the time, due to the insane amount of substance abuse, and their intention to release a radio-friendly, rock album. I mean, “It’s Alright”, which is sung by Bill Ward, is more a Beatles song than a Black Sabbath one. Still, Technical Ecstasy is not a bad release; it is bookended by its two best songs, “Back Street Kids” and the amazing “Dirty Women” (check out this live version from the Reunion album), and also features other pretty decent compositions in between, especially “You Won’t Change Me”. With the exception of the horrendous, godawful, and utterly stupid “Rock ‘N’ Roll Doctor”, the album is totally listenable. It is a bit all over the place, as it is depicted by the cover art (two robots on an escalator, ejaculating on each other’s heads, from the head?), but if this is your first ever encounter with the band and you play it having no expectations at all, you will probably enjoy it.


SSUS:

It takes only a few seconds of Technical Ecstasy to divine what the drugs and stress had done to Black Sabbath by 1976; Ozzy’s wavering, intoxicated first notes on “Back Street Kids” tell of a great toll being inflicted on the band even as they hurry through the sickly buzz of Technical Ecstasy. The band’s streak of self-producing their albums was yielding steadily less and less compelling results: Tony Iommi’s guitar cranks up to a crunchy punk tone here and there, but by and large it is a flabby approximation of its former self, lacking its usual muscle and finding very few actual riffs to bite into. Ozzy’s performance is wild and raw – not disastrous, but obviously less collected than on prior albums and never powerful enough to sell the artifice of evil that always powered Sabbath before. Technical Ecstasy suffers the inescapable feeling that the band is not functioning quite as much in tandem as it should be (see the sloppy garage jam on “Rock ‘n’ Roll Doctor”) and most of Black Sabbath’s trademarks are in short supply; the album carries on some of the experimental songwriting of previous albums in a looser, slightly progressive rock context, yielding something that works rather like a full-band rock’n’roll album akin to Black Sabbath but with none of the musical tightness and only sparing smidgens of inspiration. Sitting at the end of Sabbath’s historic first run after the last doomy declaration of Sabotage, Technical Ecstasy’s dismal, keyboard-heavy downer rock often makes the band feel sadly anemic compared to just a few years prior. It’s a better album than its reputation might indicate, however. The British Invasion rock ballad “It’s Alright,” sung by Bill Ward, is a bit of an odd feature, but a fresh and calming tune; the dramatic and downtrodden lament “She’s Gone” makes for a gripping high point; lingering hints of Sabbath’s metallic credibility shine through on tracks like “Gypsy” and “You Won’t Change Me” and make up for the album’s overall weak presentation. Technical Ecstasy may never escape its banishment to the ranks of lesser Black Sabbath albums – it’s nowhere near the six albums that preceded it, at the very least – but taken as a one-off anomaly in the band's discography, it earns some proper consideration.

Standout Tracks: “She’s Gone,” “You Won’t Change Me,” “Gypsy,” “It’s Alright”


1978 - Never Say Die

Radu:


If there's one good thing that this album did was that the cover art with the two pilots became significant Black Sabbath iconography, being much more recognizable than any song from the album. Because Never Say Die is a mess. Ozzy had already left the band for some time prior to this, being temporarily replaced by Dave Walker, and you can already hear some versions of songs from this album with Walker on vocals, and they sound much better than what ended up on the actual album. You have "A Hard Road", the only song to feature vocals from all four members, and it's all the more embarrassing for it. You have "Johnny Blade", which has some cool keys from Don Airey, that immediately loses it once the keyboard section ends. You have "Swinging The Chain", a song so awful that Ozzy outright refused to sing on it, leaving vocal duties to drummer Bill Ward. Never Say Die is not awful beyond redemption, as there's still some competent songwriting, underrated songs like "Air Dance", some great soloing from Iommi, Ward's drumming and Airey's spacey keys still stand as definite highlights, but it's the clear result of a band that had no idea what they wanted to do, with a vocalist so unenthusiastic about the whole ordeal. To the point where you're better off just listening to other bands cover songs from this album, namely Karma To Burn for the title track and Black Label Society for Junior's Eyes. Still, don't let the low rating keep you from checking it out eventually.


tominator:


I remember listening to this for the first (and only) time years ago and being utterly disappointed in it. Overall, I felt it was very unmemorable. So, when it got down to writing the article, I picked this one. Why? Because I’m that nice guy who wanted to save the others from having to do this one. Nah, I’m just kidding. I wanted to give this another chance after so many years, and this article was a good incentive. And well, it’s exactly as forgettable as I remember it to be… Yeah, remembering something forgettable may sound like it doesn’t make any sense. But trust me, in this case it makes perfect sense. I assume they wanted to experiment with their sound, but it results in an overall ok, but quite generic album. A lot of the engagement factor you would expect from a Black Sabbath just isn’t here. There’s not a lot of mystique or atmosphere here. Something that added a lot to Sabbath’s appeal. Don’t get me wrong, “Air Dance” and “A Hard Road” are enjoyable tracks that offer some good moments on Never Say Die!. But those are the only ones that really sound like something I’d listen to again in the future. And in the end, this is record as a whole feels rather generic and underwhelming.


1980 - Heaven And Hell

SSUS:


Under the old regime, Black Sabbath at its best was a dark, doomy, and macabre giant lumbering through molasses-thick blues bends. On Heaven And Hell, all of that changed: the occult mysticism turned into fantasy and wonder, the ominous drudgery became fleet-footed adventure, and the thin-stretched malaise of the late '70s burst into a renewed sense of purpose and vigor. This was a time of new sounds for Black Sabbath: legendary producer Martin Birch rescued the album from the flat, arid plains of the previous few records, imbuing the band with majesty and depth that they so greatly deserved, while longtime keyboardist Geoff Nicholls made his first contributions to Black Sabbath with coruscating starscapes to back up Ronnie James Dio's sorcery. Tony Iommi's guitar tone underwent another transformation of its own; no longer the groaning, double-tracked harbinger of distorted death that brought doom to life and life to doom, his sound on Heaven And Hell is glittery and ethereal, his solos made up of skyward gazes and glassine wails. And in the riffs, some of the most memorable of his entire career, his tone is full and rich with distortion, an excellent balance of muscle and mobility. But of all the changes that the band underwent in the shift from '79 to '80, the greatest was the transition in frontman from Ozzy Osbourne to Ronnie James Dio, a vocalist with an entirely different voice, style, and personality. Where Ozzy sang in a tinny, mischievous narration like a drug-addled figure in a Bosch painting, Dio was a full-blown storyteller with potent pipes and a spellbinding delivery; under his command, Black Sabbath became theatrical and exciting in a way that they had never been before. Musically, Heaven And Hell saw Black Sabbath turn away from the disjointed experimentation of prior albums to embrace a leaner, cleaner, and purer take on heavy metal, one that set a new standard for what the genre could do as it entered its second decade, and although it is unfortunately not without its filler tracks, it boasts one of the all-time great openers in "Neon Knights" and some of the best riffing you'll find in any genre. It endures today as one of heavy metal's most stellar comeback albums (and albums in general).

Standout Tracks: "Neon Knights," "Heaven And Hell," "Children Of The Sea," "Die Young"


Apothecary:

1979 found metal godfathers Black Sabbath at a pivotal crossroads. Having just fired founding member Ozzy Osbourne, they were in need of a new singer. But who could possibly match the characteristic tone and gloomy themes of the Prince of Darkness?

As things turned out, neither was necessary. All the better, for as fate would have it, Osbourne was replaced by the powerhouse Ronnie James Dio. Coming off the heels of his days in Rainbow, where he'd been singing tales of stargazing, men on silver mountains, and the gates of Babylon, Dio's higher vocal range and fairytale - esque lyrics were something of a 180 for Sabbath, but they ended up being just the 180 the band needed to revitalize after the Ozzy departure. Plus, let's not kid ourselves: Dio did have a bit of an elfish appearance about him, which served as a nice complement to the more wizardly looks of Tony Iommi and Geezer Butler.

To make matters even more interesting, the entrance of Dio came with a bit of a musical revolution for Black Sabbath as well. Heaven And Hell is not the same band that wrote "N.I.B.", "Electric Funeral", and "Into The Void", not by a long shot. Iommi's guitar is brighter, far more inviting, and carries an airy ambiance to it, in a style that would serve as an important reference for power metal down the line. The vocals don't follow the same melody as the music as often, and the rhythm section of Geezer and Bill Ward has morphed more to suit the broader range of guitars and vocals. A watershed album for Black Sabbath, Heaven And Hell proved that the band could not only carry on fine without Ozzy, but could also change musical style considerably and still be quite impressive as well.


1982 - The Mob Rules

musclassia:


The second album Black Sabbath released with Ronnie James Dio was almost as successful as its predecessor. It does live slightly in the shadow of Heaven And Hell at times; it lacks a song as iconic as that record’s title track, and the opening song “Turn Up The Night” is a bit too similar in style to “Neon Knights” (not to mention the rhyming last words of each track title) to avoid unflattering comparisons. At the same time, while The Mob Rules is a step or so below Heaven And Hell, it has plenty of material to write home about. The title track is a fun energetic cut, “Voodoo” has a slick mid-tempo groove and “The Sign Of The Southern Cross” is a perfect vehicle for Dio’s trademark storytelling style, from the acoustic introduction and through the electronic undercurrent of the verses, right up until the emphatic final chorus. Standing out above all other songs on the record, however, is “Falling Off The Edge Of The World”, which starts similarly to “The Sign Of The Southern Cross” before kicking into a rampaging juggernaut of a second half. It’s a shame that this was the last collaboration between Dio and Black Sabbath for a decade, given how successful the first two records that came from this venture were.


Radu:

Following one of the most successful vocalist changes in metal history, Black Sabbath had reinvented themselves with Heaven & Hell. Even if Dio's stint in Black Sabbath was pretty short, he's often the first other Black Sabbath vocalist to come to mind other than Ozzy, so it's no surprise that he would reunite with the band for another album on two more occasions. However, in retrospect, Heaven & Hell eclipses the rest of the stint, making it impossible to talk about Mob Rules without comparing it with its predecessor. That is to say that Heaven & Hell has some higher highs, and Mob Rules has a bit of a similar structure in opening with an upbeat song, even if the longer doom songs and the ballads and the rest of the upbeat songs are arranged differently. Finding matches in songs between the two records is no fun, because most of the time I prefer the Heaven & Hell candidate; instead ignoring the slight highlight margin between the two reveals a lot of highlights on Mob Rules, from the energetic title track, the epic "The Sign Of The Southern Cross", the melancholic "Over And Over", to the galloping "Falling Off the Edge of the World". Dio's vocals have obviously brought a new dimension to Black Sabbath's music, but Iommi really gives the solos a lot more attention than just the riffs, Nichols' keyboards and Butler's bass all have moments to shine, and while new drummer Vinny Appice might not have the primitive punchiness of Ward, but a different kind of technical prowess that would make him the drummer that Dio would take to start his solo Dio band, as well as the drummer for the reunion Heaven And Hell band, even if he didn't play on the namesake album.


1983 - Born Again

SSUS:


In changing singers again, Black Sabbath underwent another change of identity - but where Ronnie James Dio's magical mystique blended perfectly with the band's newfound rejuvenation, Ian Gillan wedged in at a strange angle. Though in his own right one of the genre's most accomplished vocalists, Gillan sings more like a rambunctious tramp than an enchanting warlock, and the lyrical content of this album is decidedly more mundane, even sleazier, than the high-fantasy adventures and philosophical ruminations of recent recordings. To some extent, the songwriting around this period accommodates him quite well, with "Trashed," "Digital Bitch," and "Hot Line" adopting a punky, aggressive style that strikes a half-decent balance between Gillan's cheeky hard rock background and the darker dimensions of metallic extremity, and none of Sabbath's many singers could have been better suited for the cackling madness of "Disturbing The Priest"; when he finds spaces to let loose, Gillan wields his unearthly shrieks to magnificent effect. The partnership is not altogether unsuited. It's a collaboration that reflects the Black Sabbath sound with odd proportions, however, and the unusual songwriting and dreadful production result in an album that can be challenging to break into. The famously garish cover art foreshadows the album's thin, noisy, and disjointed sound, which is one of the foremost causes of Born Again's still-divisive reception - after Martin Birch got it so right for two albums, it's a bit of a shock hearing something so dirty and gritty that it could have been recorded in an alleyway. On the other hand, that nauseating sound is kind of prescient of extreme metal in its own bizarre way: Geezer's bass rumbles like a thunderstorm, Bill Ward's drumming is mechanical and voluminous, and the combination of metallic tones, strange song structures, and nightmarish atmospherics makes Born Again feel like an unexpected precursor to a lot of new developments in metal. "Disturbing The Priest" prefigures the metropolitan prog/power of Queensrÿche with its polyrhythmic shuffle and Gillan's unhinged screams, and the ugly chugging of "Zero The Hero" whispers some Florida death metal through its grimy glamour. Born Again has its devotees and its detractors and it maintains well-deserved notoriety as one of Black Sabbath's most controversial releases, but if you can get past its admittedly terrible presentation, it offers a fairly unique experience.

Standout Tracks: "Disturbing The Priest," "Trashed," "Zero The Hero," "Born Again"


Radu:

Hey, do you know that one Black Sabbath album they did with Deep Purple's vocalist? No, not Seventh Star, the other one. I have to preface this write-up by saying that I love this album, yet I can't get over two of its worst qualities: the cover art, often considered one of the worst in metal, and which supposedly had Gillan puking the first time he saw it; and the mixing, which takes some time to get used to. The latter one might get fixed eventually, but in the state the album is currently in, you can tell that some of its potential has been squandered. A lot of it is more awesome in concept than it execution, with some songs like "Thrashed", "Hot Line" and "Keep It Warm", being less than ideal. However the combination of Iommi's riffing and Gillan's shrieks creates some of the heaviest moments of 1983 in "Disturbing The Priest", which is an achievement in a year that also had Show No Mercy, Satanic Rites, and Detestation. Ward's performance is so thunderous despite, or maybe due to the, weird production, that it's pretty sad that this is his final performance on Black Sabbath record. For how heavy a lot of this album's moments are, a lot of it is also steeped in 80s tropes that worked better in combination with Martin's vocals on future albums. You'd almost be curious what this would've sounded like if they settled on any of the other vocalists they considered, like Robert Plant or David Coverdale, or... uhh... Michael Bolton? In any case, maybe even better than the album itself are the numerous live bootlegs that resulted from Gillan's time in the band, showcasing his insane shrieks on some of the Sabbath classics.

And Now Some Extra Sabbath On The Side:




Ozzy Osbourne - Diary Of A Madman (1981)

musclassia:


When talking about Ozzy Osbourne albums from the 80s, there’s two obvious choices to pick between. Certainly, most people would likely have been tempted to pick Blizzard Of Ozz, and with good reason; “I Don’t Know”, “Crazy Train” and “Mr. Crowley” all deserve ‘classic song’ status. Nevertheless, even if it’s not quite as strong overall, I have a softer spot for the second record from the original Ozzy Osbourne line-up, Diary Of A Madman. The final outing with Ozzy for Randy Rhoads before his tragic demise, Diary Of A Madman features Rhoads at his best during the solos on emphatic opening song “Over The Mountain” and the irresistibly cool main riff of “Flying High Again”. After these two fantastic songs, the record does dip slightly for the rest of its runtime, even if the energetic “S.A.T.O.”, stompy “Believer” and delicate “Tonight” are solid album tracks. Still, the main reason to pick Diary Of A Madman over Blizzard Of Ozz is its title track, the closing song on the album and probably the peak of Osbourne’s career as a solo artist. Between the haunting opening acoustic guitar, brilliant main guitar hook, fragile midsection, evocative strings and choirs, and explosive solo, “Diary Of A Madman” is an undebatable masterpiece, and testament to Osbourne’s ability to thrive as a musician outside of the confines of Black Sabbath.



Deep Purple - In Rock (1970)

Radu:


The one band that has most direct and indirect connections to Black Sabbath, it's Deep Purple. Though none of what we consider Black Sabbath's core members were part of Deep Purple, both Ian Gillan and Glenn Hughes have served as Black Sabbath vocalists on one album, Ritchie Blackmore formed Rainbow, and you can find multiple degrees of separation for other members as well. But other than the sharing of members, what Deep Purple and Black Sabbath share most in common was finding music in one state in 1969 and leaving it a completely different one in 1970. In Rock marks the transition from Mark I's progressive psych rock to Mark II's loud hard rock, further cementing 1970 as the birth year of metal. Deep Purple's credentials as a metal band were never as absolute as Black Sabbath's, but their heaviest achievements lie within In Rock. The guitar solos and Gillan's screams in "Child In Time". The galloping guitars in "Hard Lovin' Man". Blackmore's playing in "Speed King", "Bloodsucker" and "Into The Fire" setting the standard for all proto-metal guitar playing. Paice and Glover providing a strong backbone, with Paice especially showcasing some amazing drumming in "Flight Of The Rat". And Lord's highlights are also too many to count, but basically taking Vanilla Fudge's early experiments and showing how organ and heavy music can mix together perfectly. And seriously... it's still hard to believe that "Child In Time" was released in 1970. Also make sure to listen to a version of the album that also has "Black Night". Deep Purple and Black Sabbath were far from the only bands operating between the late 60s and early 70s to help birth metal, but they're two of the most major and the most closely related ones.



Rainbow - Rising (1976)

musclassia:


Black Sabbath wasn’t the first time Ronnie James Dio fronted a British band; before Heaven And Hell, he already had three albums with Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow under his belt. All three are generally considered to be the ‘definitive’ Rainbow albums, but when tasked with covering just one of them, Rising is the obvious choice. After a dazzling early display from the keyboards, “Tarot Woman” makes for a perfect opening to the album, a top-notch hard rock track elevated further by Dio’s emphatic vocals and fantasy lyrics. After three more short songs (out of which the bouncy “Starstruck” arguably stands out the most), the real meat of the album is found in the form of two 8-minute classics. “A Light In The Black” is 8 minutes of pure energy, never once slowing down as it goes through verses, choruses and solos, but even it is slightly overshadowed by “Stargazer”, a simply phenomenal tale of an evil wizard and his obsession in building a tower. Opening with a brilliant drum solo and never letting up afterwards, “Stargazer” is one of the greatest hard rock songs of all time, and is a must-listen for anyone who somehow hasn’t encountered it yet.



Quartz - Quartz (1977)

Radu:


Quartz is a pretty interesting band for two reasons: its connections to Black Sabbath and its place in the emerging NWOBHM movement. 1977 would be the year that would bridge the gap between the 1970's hard rock and proto-metal and what would eventually become the NWOBHM explosion, sitting in the same sweet spot as Motörhead and Judas Priest. With their debut album produced by Tony Iommi of all people, Quartz here sound more akin to early Judas Priest and a slightly dated version of the heavier side of hard rock, though the band would get a bit heavier on future records. There's still plenty of moments that feel worthy of a "metal band", particularly on the opener "Mainline Riders", whose melodies sound eerily similar to the ones on Black Sabbath's "Heaven And Hell", which only makes sense once you consider that the main Black Sabbath connection that this album has is that keyboardist Geoff Nicholls would end up as Black Sabbath's main keyboardist starting with that 1980 album. Pretty much starting the trend of metal bands recruiting keyboardists midway into their career and overlooking them, Black Sabbath had also worked with Rick Wakeman and Don Airey before, and with Adam Wakeman since, but it was Geoff Nicholls that lend his hand in the studio and on the stage between 1979 and 1994, and since we didn't give Michael Kenney his dues in the Iron Maiden articles we did, we're making up for it with Nicholls. For what it is, Quartz' 1977 debut sits on a sweet spot between T-Rex glitz ("Street Fighting Lady"), proto-metal muscle ("Devil's Brew"), and Rocka Rolla-esque hard rock ("Hustler"). For as legendary of a guitarist as Tony Iommi is, his production here makes Quartz sound way too thin for its own good, but it more than makes up for it with great songwriting and performances.



Dio - Holy Diver (1983)

Starvynth:


It's hard to imagine the immense pressure that must have weighed on Ronnie James Dio's shoulders at the beginning of his solo career. Who can claim to have left his own personal mark on heavy metal milestones such as Heaven And Hell, Mob Rules and Rainbow's masterpiece Rising with his unmistakable voice, only to start almost from scratch again? The special thing about Dio's debut album, however, is that you can't make out this pressure at any time. Instead, RJD delivers probably the best vocal performance of his amazing career of more than 50 years and the pure joy of being able to give his multifaceted voice free rein on his own compositions is reflected in each of the nine timeless tracks.

Thus, the vocals are clearly the focus of Dio's debut, but Holy Diver would not be the essential classic it is considered today if the other musicians involved had only stood in the large shadow of the little man from Portsmouth. With Vinny Appice (also of ex-Black Sabbath fame) behind the drum kit and Jimmy Bain (with whom Ronnie James Dio had already worked in Rainbow) on bass, Dio could boast a rhythm section that could be described as a supergroup rather than a project of beginners even in 1983. The lineup was completed by the then still quite unknown but soon-to-be-famous ex-Sweet Savage guitarist Vivian Campbell (Def Leppard), who enriched each song with the necessary bite through his riff-heavy, razor-sharp guitar work and aggressive soloing and is therefore, along with the "Voice of Metal", the secret star on this absolute highlight of Dio's discography.

Standout Tracks: "Stand Up And Shout", "Holy Diver", "Don't Talk To Strangers", "Rainbow In The Dark"






Written on 04.04.2022 by I'm the reviewer, and that means my opinion is correct.


Comments

Comments: 27   Visited by: 164 users
04.04.2022 - 09:42
Bad English
Tage Westerlund
Another good ms team work, and it's cool. Good to read, good work lads
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Life is to short for LOVE, there is many great things to do online !!!

Stormtroopers of Death - ''Speak English or Die''

I better die, because I never will learn speek english, so I choose dieing
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04.04.2022 - 09:58
AndyMetalFreak
The Nice Guy
Great article
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04.04.2022 - 10:06
JoHn DoE

Born Again rated better than Vol. 4 is a bit ridiculous TBH.
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I thought the two primary purposes for the internet were cat memes and overreactions.
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04.04.2022 - 11:16
Dylan 1974

Nice article. I agree with the bulk of this except a few ratings: 'Technical Ecstasy' and 'Born Again' should be lower; 'Vol 4' and 'Master Of Reality' should be higher, but these things are subjective.

I loved the inclusion of Quartz, Rainbow and Dio!

I'm looking forward to you guys covering the next phase as it contains two of my all time Sab favourites from the much under-appreciated Tony Martin era: 'Headless Cross' (partly recorded in my home town of Leeds) and 'Tyr'.
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04.04.2022 - 12:12
RaduP
CertifiedHipster
Written by JoHn DoE on 04.04.2022 at 10:06

Born Again rated better than Vol. 4 is a bit ridiculous TBH.

Vol. 4 doesn't have "Disturbing The Priest".
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Do you think if the heart keeps on shrinking
One day there will be no heart at all?
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04.04.2022 - 13:06
JoHn DoE

Written by RaduP on 04.04.2022 at 12:12

Written by JoHn DoE on 04.04.2022 at 10:06

Born Again rated better than Vol. 4 is a bit ridiculous TBH.

Vol. 4 doesn't have "Disturbing The Priest".


Born Again does not have...basically any song on Vol. 4
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I thought the two primary purposes for the internet were cat memes and overreactions.
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04.04.2022 - 16:08
Rage10000

You had me at "Getting Into".
Seriouslly though, awesome opener. Really well written. Like you said, I know most of this stuff quite well. Then again, other than Heaven and Hell, there are few Sabbath albums that I've listened to from start to finish (mostly just the hits on We Sold Our Soul for Rock n' Roll, an album I basically wore out from heavy play in the 80s). I'm going to really enjoy taking the time to go through this and revisit these old records. And by the way, that clothing choice for the cover of Sabotage has still got to be one of the most bizarre things in rock history. And it's not just the tights either. There's something that seems almost.....oh I don't know.....disproportionate? Cheers.
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05.04.2022 - 10:12
Lord Slothrop

Stupendous article, so great job staff.

Born Again has always been a favorite of mine and mainly because of ' Disturbing the Priest' and the title track. Most of this album still hold up with me today, especially with Gillian's unmatchable vocals.

I'd also place Never Say Die a little higher, but only because I've always loved Junior's Eyes, Air Dance and Johnny Blade, although in retrospect they don't hold up compared to the cannon. And the production is pretty terrible.

As for Diary of a Madman... I still think that the title track is one of the greatest songs ever written.
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06.04.2022 - 03:52
F3ynman2000
Nocturnal Bro
I have big respect for Black Sabbath - not only for establishing heavy metal, but also for introducing me to metal.

Around late 2018/ early 2019, I got into metal because of Judas Priest and Black Sabbath (mainly Dio's work). Some of the first metal songs that I fell in love with were "Planet Caravan", "Holy Diver", "Heaven and Hell", "Sign of the Southern Cross", and "Into the Void". These still remain as some of my personal favorites of all time.

For Ozzy-era Sabbath, Master of Reality is by far my favorite album. As for Dio, it's pretty much a tie between Heaven and Hell, Holy Diver, and Rising

Thanks for paying tribute to the masters of metal
Their 52-year-old debut song "Black Sabbath" still gives me chills - it will live on forever!
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06.04.2022 - 12:57
Callisto

Why do you guys always make a "Getting into..." when I need to concentrate at work????
Jeeeesh
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06.04.2022 - 21:33
Tom Muller

Nice article. Heaven and hell will always stay one of the greatest albums ever.

At least for me
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On The Road To Asa Bay
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06.04.2022 - 21:46
ZeroTheHero

Written by RaduP on 04.04.2022 at 12:12

Written by JoHn DoE on 04.04.2022 at 10:06

Born Again rated better than Vol. 4 is a bit ridiculous TBH.

Vol. 4 doesn't have "Disturbing The Priest".

Born Again doesn't have Snowblind..
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07.04.2022 - 00:07
nikarg
Mod
I cannot for the life of me understand how anyone can prefer Born Again over Vol.4, but taste is subjective.
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07.04.2022 - 00:15
musclassia

Written by nikarg on 07.04.2022 at 00:07

I cannot for the life of me understand how anyone can prefer Born Again over Vol.4, but taste is subjective.


Problem of different people doing different albums - if I was doing both I wouldn't have allowed it haha
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07.04.2022 - 09:40
JoHn DoE

Written by nikarg on 07.04.2022 at 00:07

I cannot for the life of me understand how anyone can prefer Born Again over Vol.4, but taste is subjective.


Obviously taste is subjective, I don't understand how anyone can prefer Born Again to any 70s work I even dare say. The album broke up the band in the end, at least for a while. I always found confusing hearing Ian Gillan in BS, like " what is this I'm listening to?" It remains to this day my least favorite BS album, along with Forbidden (and I like a few songs on both albums).
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I thought the two primary purposes for the internet were cat memes and overreactions.
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07.04.2022 - 21:01
Nejde
Philosoraptor
I'm surprised it took this long before we got a Getting Into: article about Sabbath

And why is no one talking about Sabbath Bloody Sabbath in the comments? The title track is one of the best album openers ever made and Sabbra Cadabra is amazing. Hell, the whole album is just amazing from start to finish!

(I agree that Vol. 4 is better than Born Again btw)
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"You have the right to believe in what you want. I have the right to believe it's ridiculous." - Ricky Gervais
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07.04.2022 - 21:26
BitterCOld
The Ancient One
Regarding Volume IV vs Born Again, it's also worthy of note you have four different people scoring the albums. Some of us might be a little more stingy than others in scoring.
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get the fuck off my lawn.

Beer Bug Virus Spotify Playlist crafted by Nikarg and I. Feel free to tune in and add some pertinent metal tunes!
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07.04.2022 - 22:10
musclassia

Written by Nejde on 07.04.2022 at 21:01

And why is no one talking about Sabbath Bloody Sabbath in the comments? The title track is one of the best album openers ever made and Sabbra Cadabra is amazing. Hell, the whole album is just amazing from start to finish!

(I agree that Vol. 4 is better than Born Again btw)


Yeah, I kinda drew the short straw getting Vol 4 rather than either of the ones before or after it; for me, SBS is their best album, at least with Ozzy. That 1-2-3 of the title track, A National Acrobat and Sabbra Cadabra is fantastic
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08.04.2022 - 08:19
RaduP
CertifiedHipster
Written by BitterCOld on 07.04.2022 at 21:26

Regarding Volume IV vs Born Again, it's also worthy of note you have four different people scoring the albums. Some of us might be a little more stingy than others in scoring.

Also most of us agree that Vol. 4 is the least interesting of the first five albums, whereas Born Again wins a lot by being "that Black Sabbath album with Deep Purple's singer"
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Do you think if the heart keeps on shrinking
One day there will be no heart at all?
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08.04.2022 - 09:20
M C Vice
ex-polydactyl
Written by nikarg on 07.04.2022 at 00:07

I cannot for the life of me understand how anyone can prefer Born Again over Vol.4, but taste is subjective.

My biggest question is how Never Say Die is lower than Technical Ecstasy.
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"Another day, another Doug."
"I'll fight you on one condition. That you lower your nipples."
" 'Tis a lie! Thy backside is whole and ungobbled, thou ungrateful whelp!"
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08.04.2022 - 18:48
nikarg
Mod
Written by M C Vice on 08.04.2022 at 09:20

Written by nikarg on 07.04.2022 at 00:07

I cannot for the life of me understand how anyone can prefer Born Again over Vol.4, but taste is subjective.

My biggest question is how Never Say Die is lower than Technical Ecstasy.

As Bitter said above, there are different people rating different albums. My comment on Vol.4 vs Born Again had to do with people preferring the latter over the former, not the ratings provided in the write-ups. In that sense, I myself also prefer Technical Ecstasy over Never Say Die but, in this case too, there are four different people writing about - and rating - these two albums.
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08.04.2022 - 23:38
Vinther1991

Vol. 4 has for some reason become an underrated album. It is easily as good as any of the other early Sabbath albums, but still get shat on. I mean it has f**king Supernaut, Tomorrow's Dream, Wheels of Confusion, Under the Sun, Cornucopia etc.
Technical Ecstasy on the other hand does not deserve more than 1½ stars, it is different, yes, but the album does not even have a single great song. The experimentation (if you can call it that) is just laziness, it sounds like a band that doesn't know what they were doing, which they probably didn't, given their drug abuse at the time.
Never Say Die at least has a good title track, and the band sounds better.

Born Again is a good one to end on. The album is obviously flawed, but also a lot of fun, different in a fascinating way. I probably prefer it over the rather overrated "The Mob Rules". Born Again also marks a turning point for Sabbath, up unto and including this the qualities in the band's material far dominated the negative (only Technical Ecstasy and Never Say Die being subpar). After Born Again, Sabbath mainly released bad to average material, exceptions being the solid Headless Cross and Dehumanizer, as well as the "Black Sabbath in everything but name" album, The Devil You Know, which is frankly excellent.
Too bad the three last albums to carry the Black Sabbath name, Cross Purposes, Forbidden and 13, are also arguably three of the worst albums in metal history.
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12.04.2022 - 10:19
Zap

Quote:
as the Beastie Boys repeatedly shout at you in one of their biggest tracks, "Listen Volume IV and Sabotage… Listen Volume IV and Sabotage… Listen Volume IV and Sabotage… Listen Volume IV and Sabotage…"

Fuck, that one really got me
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30.04.2022 - 20:52
Rage10000

Thoroughly enjoyed listening to Vol. 4. First time listening to it from start to finish. I was surprised how good it is. Under the Sun/Everyday Comes and Goes came out of nowhere for me. Great to hear these songs I've always missed.
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23.05.2022 - 08:20
RazMan

Thanks for great articles, both part I and II. The six first albums are to me the epitome of music. I really can't put them in any ranking order. They all stand out on their own and to this day I haven't found an album that I could say that is better than any of these. There are albums that are equally good, but not one that is better! One thing that has always baffled me is how I have never heard another band accurately replicate the sound, and there has been countless tries, some good, some not so good. Can you think of any band that has done this successfully?
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23.05.2022 - 10:51
nikarg
Mod
Written by RazMan on 23.05.2022 at 08:20

Thanks for great articles, both part I and II. The six first albums are to me the epitome of music. I really can't put them in any ranking order. They all stand out on their own and to this day I haven't found an album that I could say that is better than any of these. There are albums that are equally good, but not one that is better! One thing that has always baffled me is how I have never heard another band accurately replicate the sound, and there has been countless tries, some good, some not so good. Can you think of any band that has done this successfully?

Thank you for reading. I agree with everything you say, obviously. I don't think any band has ever reached the sound and quality of these six albums, even though a lot have tried, as you say, and some were actually very good (Saint Vitus, Count Raven, Trouble, for example), but Black Sabbath are in a league of their own. Only Judas Priest can touch them in terms of quality and influence.
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23.05.2022 - 13:19
RazMan

I fully agree about Judas Priest. All the bands you mentioned have their own solid albums, and a lot of other Wino stuff, aside from Saint Vitus also has a few similarities. They resemble Sabbath, but there is a core element missing somehow. I think the Ward - Butler combo is probably the part that is really hard to replicate. I am not sure there even is a reason too, just thinking out loud.
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