Black Sabbath: Every album ranked

 

 

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Black Sabbath will always be known for being the “first ever Heavy Metal band”. Now whether that is true or not, it is certain that Sabbath are incredibly influential and their status cannot be ignored. For having a staggering 19 albums, I was always interested to see what differed between all of them and see if there was any that perhaps didn’t receive the respect I feel they deserved. This is pretty much when I decided to rank every Sabbath release based on my thoughts. Not popularity, sales charts or any of that. This is based on how I have felt about these albums when I listen to them and whether the content on each really hits me. So without further ado, here is every Black Sabbath album ranked in my opinion from last to first!

19.Never Say Die!

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Never Say Die! is the final Sabbath album of the 70’s and the last featuring the original lineup for a long long time. After listening to it again after awhile I see why I never really came back to this album. It feels like a very cloudy album that has a few good riffs and a good title track but the majority of the album is filler material that never really hits home.

18.13

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We fast forward to 2013 for (mostly) an original lineup reunion for the extremely anticipated 13. At first when I heard this album, I loved it and thought it was a terrific return to form but after a long period of not listening to this album, those thoughts have steered very much so. This album is pretty much as paint by numbers as possible especially with tracks like “End Of The Beginning” and “Loner”. The track “Damaged Soul” was pretty much the only song I felt was worth going back to mainly for the solo.

17.Technical Ecstasy

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Technical Ecstasy is definitely when Sabbath showed their more classic rock sound and spawned a few good tracks like “Rock N Roll Doctor” and “Dirty Women” but is bogged down by the potentially good but weak “Back Street Kids” and the Beatles sounding “It’s Alright”.

16.Cross Purposes

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Cross Purposes is one of the Darkest slabs of material in their whole discography. One of the last albums featuring Tony Martin, this album opens with a real ripper “I Witness” and other highlights include “Virtual Death” as well as others. Unfortunately the production is a bit stale compared to a few albums before.

15.Forbidden

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Ahh Forbidden, the album Sabbath fans love to hate. Honestly this album I could never understand why people hated it so much. While the material isn’t exactly as powerful sounding mostly throughout, there are some great cuts here like “Guilty as Hell”, “Get A Trip” and the insanely epic “Kiss Of Death”.

14.Paranoid

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Honestly who doesn’t know Paranoid? The album and the title track are so undeniably recognizable they have become etched in rock and metal history. However, this album for me is a classic case of being burned out. While I get a kick out of hearing live versions of “War Pigs” and “Fairies Wear Boots”, I am just utterly tired of the studio versions of these songs. I know some may call it utterly blasphemous to have this album lower than some others but after going through the next thirteen albums, I found things in those that I found really enjoyable more than “Paranoid” has become to me.

13.Seventh Star

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Even though this album is suppose to be Iommi’s solo output, it has the Sabbath name on it thus it is etched in the bands history. While the sound of this album steers way harder toward melodic 80’s Hard Rock, it has a lot of really catchy tunes and features none other than the man Glenn Hughes! Opening with the high energy “In For The Kill”, this album goes right for the throat and is a great time all around. From killer tunes like “Turn To Stone” and “Danger Zone”, this album is one of the definitions of misunderstood!

 

12.Black Sabbath

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The album that started it all truly. It was really a triumph in the small amount of the time the band had to record this album in how well it turned out for them. However, while songs “N.I.B” the title track and “The Wizard” are terrific songs, this album always felt a bit disjointed to me for some reason. Compared to other records at the time it also doesn’t hit me as hard considering I heard most of this album via greatest hits albums so when I first heard the full release when I was younger, I never got that wow feeling I feel a lot of others got.

11.TYR

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TYR was the third album to feature Tony Martin on vocals and was a great addition to the more epic style the band had achieved on Eternal Idol and Headless Cross. The album definitely has more of a concept record feel to it which I believe Iommi was going for at the time as well. The opening track “Anno Mundi” is an epic six minute opener with keyboard riffs and vocal harmonies galore. “The Law Maker” is a glorious ripper of a song as well.. Other key tracks include “The Sabbath Stones” and “Valhalla” but unfortunately some tracks feel very filler as well.

10.Eternal Idol

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This album marked a new era for the band with Martin taking over vocal duties after lineup changes shifted once again. This was a perfect introduction to his inclusion with terrific cuts such as “The Shining”, “Born To Lose” and the epic “Glory Ride” which is one of my top Sabbath tunes of all time. The only songs that feel filler are “Ancient Warrior” and the title track.

9.VOL.4

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Sabbath go from weed induced to cocaine induced for Vol. 4. One of their most popular records, Vol. 4 takes the heaviness of Master of Reality and adds a bit more of a prog feel to it. The result is partially mixed with classics like “SnowBlind” “Tomorrows Dreams” and the crushing “Under The Sun”, there are still certainly a lot of fillers such as the needless “FX” and “St. Vitus Dance” which always felt undeveloped as well. This album certainly has always been a tad mixed personally but the good songs are REALLY good when they want to be.

8.Sabotage

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Ozzy has never sounded so damn angry than this album. The band really go for an aggressive approach here and for what I felt was the last terrific Ozzy era album. From the terrific opener “Hole In The Sky” to the proto speed metal feel of “Symptom Of The Universe” to the epic “Megalomaniac”, this album is terrifically written. The only song that felt totally out of place for me was “Am I Going Insane?” which kind of derails the album near the end before “The Writ” picks things back up.

7.Headless Cross

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Easily the Martin era’s crowning achievement, Headless Cross I feel has always deserved so much more credit than it has ever received. From the title track that could rival the epicness of “Heaven and Hell” to songs like “When Death Calls” which features Brian May of Queen, to the epic fist pumping “Devil And Daughter” to the really catchy “Kill In The Spirit World” and pretty much every song on. The band truly were on a fantastic streak with this undiscovered classic.

6.Dehumanizer

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Dehumanizer is one of the more interesting Black Sabbath albums as it reunited the “Mob Rules” lineup with Dio back at the helm and pretty much revitalized Sabbaths popularity overnight. It didn’t last long as after this album we received more Martin sung material but holy hell the album we received here was magnificent. While definitely more doom oriented than the first two more NWOBHM inspired Dio albums, this album still has the riffs and magic in spades. With crushing opener “Computer God” to “After All/ The Dead” to my favorite “TV Crimes” and even tracks later in the album such as “I” and “Buried Alive, this was a terrific reunion album.

5.Sabbath Bloody Sabbath

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This is where 70’s Sabbath really came into the more creative songwriting and what a monolith of an album this is. Some of my favorites include the eternal ground shaking title track to the heavy and dark “National Acrobat” to the swaggering “Sabra Cadabra” and the almost hypnotizing “Who Are You”. However, the whole album is a great listening experience.

4.Heaven And Hell

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The first album Dio recorded with Black Sabbath and showed a shift in sound to straight forward Heavy Metal. This is the part in this list where every album here is pretty much flawless so I will keep it short by saying this album is one of the greatest comebacks for any band period.

3.Mob Rules

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Sabbath go for round two in the early eighties and come out with an album arguably heavier than the last. The style is similar to the first album but the production feels a bit more crisp and the bass oh the bass on this album is devilishly good. Top notch!

2.Master Of Reality

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This is the essential Ozzy era album as it pretty much defined the sound for what would become “Stoner Metal”. This was the most solid collection of songs the band had and was in my opinion miles ahead from the first two albums in terms of what the band was capable of in such a short amount of time. Plus we got “Into The Void” one of the heaviest songs to ever grace the earth and for that alone this album deserves to be this high.

1.Born Again

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And number one goes to Born Again! A controversial pick for sure but for me this is the heaviest yet catchiest Sabbath ever got. Featuring the one time gig for my all time favorite vocalist Ian Gillan, he lets out some of his most ear shattering and impressive vocal performances here more than anywhere else. Opening with the classic “Trashed” going into the very dark “Disturbing The Priest” paired with the epic “Zero The Hero” and into the last half of the album featuring some prime cuts like “Digital Bitch” and “Hot Line”, this album hits you in the face and never lets go. The production also never really bothered me in fact it always enhanced it for me for how just different it sounds I suppose. Especially when the solo’s hit it feels like such an assault with the guitars being super distorted it sounds like Iommi going straight for the throat. All this combined has made this my favorite Sabbath release in recent times to go back to over and over and I always have a good time doing it!

Show Review: Saxon live at Reggies, Chicago IL 04/01/18

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Banging drums, soaring guitars and…..Candy? That’s exactly what we got at the Saxon show on Easter Sunday in Chicago! First of all this goes with saying, this show was already going to be killer from the start. Considering two of my favorite Chicago bands were included along with one of my all time favorite bands of all time, this was an easy show to say yes to.

Shokker

Opening the show was Chicago’s own Shokker. They were definitely a good band to open up the show with their powerhouse sound that recalls the classic era of Heavy Metal. Casey Tremont’s hard hitting guitar playing was terrific along with vocalist Rachl Quinn’s soaring vocals. Easily one of the best female vocalists I’ve seen live in terms of range and charisma. The whole band overall was very tight and energetic pulling songs from their terrific debut “III” and even a blistering faithful cover of “Bark At The Moon”. I honestly would have loved to see them higher on the bill and hope to see them many more times.

Pipe

Pipe were up next and definitely had the most “interesting” stage setup with bong props and marijuana flags draped over their equipment which I felt was a bit overkill. The overall sound of the band was very simplistic hard rock akin to 90’s groups like Godsmack. However, I feel like they didn’t fit with this bill much and personally, I feel they played way too long. They just had a somewhat dull sound to me it just didn’t have the energy every other band clearly had in spades. Just not a good fit to the bill in my opinion.

Scars of Armageddon

This was my third time seeing these guys rip it up on stage and they never disappoint. their brand of epic progressive metal is done so well in the sense that it doesn’t get too repetitive or dull live and they know how to keep the energy up. However, the only thing that sucked about this performance was that they were only able to play three songs but I feel they made their point perfectly as much as they could in that short time slot.

Saxon

And finally, it was time for the Brits to invade Chicago once again. I have seen Saxon twice before in a large venue and small venue and I have to say this was the best they’ve sounded and played thus far. The sound even up front was super crisp with Nigel Glocklers tight drumming blending perfectly with both guitarists as well as Biff who was in top form singing every high and low note with ease. The only casualty was Paul Quinn bleeding almost the whole set all over hist strings but he played it off all night quite well even if he was more focused on playing than anything. Nibbs Carter I will always consider Saxon’s second front man as he is just as energetic as Biff perhaps more. The band played a wide range of songs with the new album being a large focus with I believe at least half of it being played. Where with some bands this can be way over doing it, Saxon are not afraid to let new songs shine and every song sounded as classic as the classics themselves. One of the biggest highlights was the band doing “Predator” with Nibbs handling the death metal growling vocals it was great to see them bring that one to stage. The band of course played all the classics (Power and The Glory, Dallas 1PM, Wheels of Steel” etc.”) and played an impressive two hour set that only they could match. The best moment personally was watching Biff wear my vest during Denim and Leather. It was just one of those moments as a fan that I’ll personally never forget.

Overall, this was a no brainer show for me personally and easily the best show i’ve seen them put on as well as the bands mentioned above(well mostly). Saxon always put on the great live show and even if you aren’t a huge Heavy Metal fan, they are just a great band musically to see live. The energy, the history and the whole vibe that carries on through their performance spanning forty years of hard hitting music really is worth it. Even when the band throws candy into the crowd at the end as a little easter joke, it is just a funny memory that adds to a great evening of music.

Top 20 albums of 2017

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2017 was a fantastic year for Hard Rock and Heavy Metal music. Albums were released left and right this year and as much as I wanted to include every album I heard this year as they mostly had a good level of quality to them, I narrowed it down to twenty. At the bottom I give my short list of honorable mentions of albums you should still check out but here is my top twenty of 2017.

 

                                               1. Night Demon- Darkness Remains

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-What can I say that I haven’t already said about this album. This to me is as good as a traditional Heavy Metal album can be in 2017. The chemistry between Jarvis, Armand and Dusty cannot be understated and are a trio to be reckoned with.

                                                     2. Mythra- Still Burning

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An album nearly forty years in the making and it delivers on all fronts. With Vince Highs rough rock n roll vocals still in tact and the instrumentation being very tight and memorable, this is a modern day NWOBHM classic.

                                         3. Night Flight Orchestra- Amber Galactic

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This album was my biggest surprise of the year. This album takes the sound of 80’s FM radio AOR and makes a modern classic out of that sound. This was my ideal summertime album and doesn’t have one bad song on it.

                                                               4.Venom Inc- Ave

-For many the return of the real Venom. This album boasts two thirds of the original line up with Tony Dolan of the underrated “Prime Evil” line up. The album balances more modern heaviness with the more raw sound the band was known for at the start. An album that doesn’t disappoint on getting your old school Black Metal mix

                                                      5. Stallion- From The Dead

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Another modern day Traditional Heavy Metal album that has power and guts. Stallion took the sound from their first album and made it even better somehow. With more speed, progression and just an overall fun atmosphere, this is another album that should be in your stereo!

                                             6.Crystal Viper- Queen Of The Witches

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Another excellent Traditional Metal release this year with solid writing with heavy songs and more somber emotional takes as well. Also look for some very cool guest appearances as well!

                                                         7.Tytan- Justice Served!

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Another long awaited NWOBHM release is the sophomore effort by Tytan. A great fun album with a lot of high points that will leave fans of the band satisfied.

 

                                                                    8.Shokker-III

shokker-3Chicago’s own Shokkers first debut and its still a very hot release. The albums has a bit of old school and new school thrown in for a good fun experience. Fans of Y&T and that older Hard Rock style will appreciate this album.

 

                                                      9.Hexx- Wrath Of The Reaper

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Hexx’s long awaited reunion album sort to speak. Alot of great songs are presented here and a very raw and lively production make this a must listen metal album.

 

                                      10.Jack Starr’s Burning Starr-Stand Your Ground

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Jack Starrs Bunring Starr have returned with another fine release to add to their catalog of old school Power Metal. Featuring some nice surprises even with an old outtake of the legendary Rhett Forrester included in one of the songs.

 

TOP 11

11. DUEL- Witchbanger

12. Air Raid- Across The Line

13. Savage Master-Creature of the Flames

14. Tbunderstick- Something Wicked This Way Comes

15. Ignitor- Haunted By Rock N Roll

16. Road Rash- Thunder In Paradise

17. EVO- Warfare

18. Vulture- The Guillotine

19. Resistance- Metal Machine

20. Gravedigger- Healed By Metal

 

And finally, here are just some of my albums I couldnt fit on the list but definitely deserve to heard and recognized.

Satans Hallow- S/T

Sleazer- Fall Into Disgrace

Hellwell- Behind The Demon’s Eyes

Mothership- High Strangeness

 

And there are my top albums of the past year. It really was a great year for new artists and fresh releases from the old guard as well. Here’s to a just as good 2018!

Site update: End of year reviews, lists and plans for 2018…

With the holidays approaching or in some eyes already here, some have noticed a slow down on my site. Dont worry, im not hanging it up however yes I have been spending less time writing reviews and such more or less because of work and family and personal life that has been both positive and negative. However, I am here to basically give a little update on what exactly is coming soon here in the next coming months.

-I have a few reviews for the bands Resistance, Toxik, Road Rash and a double review of the Heaven and Hell Records releases of the Ask For  A Stranger and White Boy and Average Rat Band albums(that name will never not be a mouth full).

-I am already starting to work on my top 30 list for the year which could sprout into a top 50 but I am trying to make sure it is not but there were releases left and right this year so it will definitely be a big list.

-In terms of plans for next year i am going to do besides the normal reviews, two band retrospectives. One will be on the Heavy Load reissues as they come out and simultaneously I will be looking at every Riot album which could take up the whole year but I am going to try and make sure it doesn’t and only leads up to a possible new Riot V album(depending on when it is released, the reviews may not be in order).

-I want interviews to become a bigger factor here in 2018. I was only able to fit in two this year which is a shame and I hope to fit in more next year as well. Also, Legions of Metal will once again be a large article but a bit simplified and broken up into days as well as Frost and Fire 2018 if it happens and I am able to secure funds for it.

So far, that is what I have going for next year. A but ambitious but I am confident it will be worth it. Thank you for the support up to this point. With you guys the site will roll on.

Album Review: OZ- Transition State

 

I don’t think any album title this year pertains to a band quite like Finnish Heavy Metal act OZ’s new full length album “Transition State”. With the band essentially rising from the ashes after a reunion slowly fading away, Original drummer Mark Ruffneck brought together a whole brand new lineup for this album. Now as I’ve seen in the past, sometimes new blood can really ignite an older band with energy and possible more original ideas. We’ve seen this with bands like Diamond Head and Tygers of Pan Tang and damn good results come from them. So how about OZ?

With opening track “Bonecrusher”, The band hits hard with a very upbeat fist pounding track. The guitars have that same vintage-esque distortion that was present on early OZ albums with a higher production of course showing the band still has some of their original sound in tact. New vocalist Vince Kojvula definitely shows his worth on this track alone with a ferocious hard rock feel and some impressive high notes. The second track “Restless” continues the more traditional and catchy feel on the album. The chorus of this song is one of my favorites as well. “Heart of a Beast” definitely has a more Power Metal feel and is a bit of a different pace compared to the first two songs but is well written along with “Drag You To Hell” having a similar style. One of my favorite tracks on the album “The Witch” definitely has some of the most energetic segments on the album and some of the more infectious riffs present as well. The only issue I have with parts of the album is that it seems a bit inconsistent. It isn’t a major album ruiner but with Melodic more hard rocking songs mixed with full out heavy metal songs makes it unfortunately lose a bit of identity with the abundance of many ideas coming out on each song. Also, I found it strange how there was a bonus track inserted in the middle of the album I didn’t understand why it was exactly there instead of with the extra tracks on the tail end of the album. However, the tail end of the album does have it’s standouts like “In a Shadow of a Shotgun” and the more emotionally toned “The Mountain”. It is songs like these that show the album although a bit at a cross roads at what it exactly wants to be, is still a fun time to be had.

Overall, I give this album a solid 7.5 out of 10. Although it is nice to see OZ return in an energetic and fresh way, this album shows the band still gelling with new ideas balanced with the core sound that makes OZ still stand a part from the rest. As this is the bands first album with original songs since 1991, it is understandable that the album isn’t as solid as some had hope with some more generic songs unfortunately being toward the middle. However, with a few bumps the road becomes smooth again with some high energy and more monumental songs toward the end of the album that still show even though most are new faces, they are keeping the band alive and hopefully continue to do so.