Friday Top 10: Black Sabbath albums

Black Sabbath… They pretty much invented Metal. They’re pretty much the greatest band, ever. So hence why the time has come for myself to count down the Top 10 Black Sabbath albums.

It wasn’t an easy task, but I believe I’ve come up with a list that successfully reflects Sabbath‘s 10 best albums, and lists them in order of their quality. You can disagree with my Top 10 if you like, or you can get pissed that I’m not limiting it to the Ozzy fronted albums, but you’ll be wrong to do so, as everything I say is always right.

So what are you waiting for? Make the jump for this week’s Friday Top 10.

#10 Headless Cross (1989)

Man do I feel bad for starting this top 10 with a non-Ozzy featured album. Even worse, I’ve chosen an album from a time as forgettable as the Tony Martin era, in which Tony Iommi was the only original member. Regardless, I still consider Headless Cross as a brilliant album, and the finest since the early 1980’s Dio albums. The previous record, The Eternal Idol (1987), was also great, but Headless Cross improved on it in almost every way. For the first time, Satanic and Occult themes ran through the entirety of the album. Tony Martin was a fantastic choice as a vocalist, and the opening track is a testament to this. The Headless Cross is chock-full of Iommi’s mighty riffs, killer hooks and phenomenal vocals courtesy of Martin. BTW, Iommi, if you’re reading this (and you should be), Headless Cross NEEDS a re-release now!

#9 Dehumanizer (1992)

Next up, another non-Ozzy fronted record, and the first of the Dio era albums to make the top 10. Dehumanizer was the “comeback” album for the band, but failed to reach many of the critic’s and fan’s high expectations. Considering how good Dehumanizer is, this is more just proof of how strong the band’s early work was. Let’s face it, it would have been difficult for them to top it. For these reasons, the album is pretty damn underrated. It may not be as good as the earlier albums, but it’s still one of the heaviest albums Sabbath have ever recorded, along with some doomy early era inspired riffs and aggressive style vocals from Dio. For these reasons, it easily has its place in their discography as well as earning its slot in this top 10, in the same way my penis has earned a slot in every woman, ever (similarly due to its sheer heaviness).

#8 Mob Rules (1981)

Another album with Ronnie James Dio on vocals, and a great one at that. It’s not quite as good as 1980’s Heaven and Hell, and definitely lacks something that made the predecessor so special, but it’s a damn decent record despite failing to reach the dazzling heights of the previous album. Regardless, the epic ‘The Sign of the Southern Cross’ and ‘Falling off the Edge of the World’, and of course the title-track, really help to make Mob Rules to be a great album, despite from being far from the band’s best. Hey, and at least the cover is fucking badass, which can’t exactly be said for all of Sabbath‘s albums…

#7 Vol 4 (1972)

So here it is, the first Ozzy album in the top 10. Vol 4 has one of the most gorgeous openings to an album ever. The opening solo, before entering the main riff for ‘Wheels of Confusion’ is fantastic, and transitions perfectly. The record is brilliant, with Sabbath experimenting more with their doom sound, but also with weird Psychedelic influences. I don’t know, there must have been a lot of weird ‘substances’ being taken during the recording of this album. The arrangements and music is bizarre, and it doesn’t always quite work as well as the first three albums (‘FX’ sucks and ‘Cornucopia’ is a bit odd too), but it still has some immense music present. ‘Tomorrow’s Dream’ and ‘Snowblind’ are great, but I can no longer listen to the awful ‘Changes’ without the image of a fat Kelly Osbourne wailing over the top, thanks to the craptacular duet release in the early 2000s.

#6 Sabotage (1975)

And here we have the second Ozzy album on the list. I feel bad ranking Sabotage this low, I really do. Believe me, it’s a phenomenal album. The riffs are still heavy, and despite being a later album, Ozzy still sounds fantastic.. Erm, well as fantastic as Ozzy ever had sounded. I can’t help that the album is perhaps slightly underrated (yes, I know, even I only ranked it at number 6), because it doesn’t seem to always get as much praise as some of the band’s other albums. Maybe it’s the gay sleeve, I don’t know, but the music is still awesome. ‘Hole in the Sky’ is a fantastic opening, and ‘Symptom of the Universe’ is one of my favorite Sabbath songs. Hell, it’s even cited as being one of the first Thrash Metal songs, and listening to it, it’s easy to see why. Is there anything Sabbath can’t play?

#5 Heaven and Hell (1980)

After the relatively odd, and fairly shit Technical Ecstasy (1976) and Never Say Die (1978), the band were dying. Ozzy had left once before the recording of Never Say Die when the band had recruited Savoy Brown of Fleetwood Mac to replace him. Ozzy did come back, but it was obvious he didn’t want to be there. So when he left for good, people assumed the band would end. However, enter Ronnie James Dio, and enter a new era for Black Sabbath. Should the band have changed their name? Perhaps. The vibe on this record is very different from that of previous releases, but my God, is the album fucking good. I hate comparing it to the Ozzy era records, or suggesting it’s any worse, because frankly, some of the band’s finest work can be found on this record. The old ‘Bluesy’ and gloomy sound isn’t so present, but there’s simply no arguing with perfect Heavy Metal anthems like the title-track, ‘Children of the Sea’, ‘Die Young’ and ‘Lonely is the Word’. The latter, or which, is one of the finest closing tracks on any album. Yes, Dio may have not been Ozzy. You’re right, Dio wasn’t Ozzy, Dio could sing.

#4 Master of Reality (1971)

By the time Master of Reality was released, Black Sabbath had more or less found their sound and had perfected the low-tuned, gloomy Metal music the band had become known for. The record begins with Ozzy coughing repeatedly, perhaps because he was already entering his transitional phase into a walking zombie. Who knows? Maybe it’s because the album opener, ‘Sweet Leaf’, is about smoking marijuana, I’m really not sure. As hard as it is to believe, I don’t know everything (I know, surprising right?). Another brilliant track is of course ‘Children of the Grave’, featuring some immense riffs. Softer tracks such as ‘Solitude’ are also great, with Iommi playing guitar, flute and piano on the song.

#3 Paranoid (1970)

Hey, I bet you thought this one would be number one, right? Well number three is still mighty impressive, and so is Paranoid. Ok, so it’s a very odd record cover (the album was originally going to be titled ‘War Pigs’), but hell the music is brilliant. The lyrics may be dodgy, but I love tracks like ‘Hand of Doom’ and ‘Fairies Wear Boots’ (perhaps the only time you will see the word ‘fairies’ in the name of a Metal song), and of course the incredible ‘Iron Man’. Let’s not forget ‘War Pigs’ either, possibly the greatest Sabbath song ever. ‘Paranoid’ is also home to one of the most famous Metal riffs of all time, and yet the song was written on a whim, as the album was too short and needed an extra song. There’s very little you can fault with Paranoid. Well, apart from that shit artwork.

#2 Sabbath Bloody Sabbath (1973)

And in at number two, is the band’s fifth album, Sabbath Bloody Sabbath. The record is dark, heavy, but yet is musically more ambitious than any Sabbath album that preceded it. The opening title track is so heavy and apocalyptic, it could put most of the “heavy” bands of today to shame with ease. Another highlight is the closing song ‘Spiritual Architect’ which features some fantastic orchestration and keyboard work courtesy of the mighty Rick Wakeman of Yes. The band pretty much reached their erectile musical peak with this record, and there’s only one other Sabbath album that beats it…

#1 Black Sabbath (1970)

So here it is; the greatest Black Sabbath album ever according to Dose of Metal (and let’s face it, our opinion is the only one that matters). It may have lacked some of the focus of later releases, at times, but the atmosphere on display is unmatched. This isn’t just the greatest Sabbath album, but perhaps the greatest Metal album of all time, so it’s no wonder that this has made the top spot. This is the album that started it all. It started the greatest Metal band of all time, and it started the whole fucking genre. That’s how important it is. From the haunting and down right evil opening track (it may have been released in 1970, but it still makes me shit bricks), to the groove laden ‘N.I.B.’, which features an incredible solo by Iommi, the album is near perfect. The cover art also is one of the greatest album covers, ever.

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