Ranking All 19 Black Sabbath Studio Albums

Black Sabbath

Black Sabbath is a band that many people listen to. In fact, they have been one of the most prominent bands in existence for the last 50 years. During that time, they released 19 studio albums (and several live albums), beginning in 1970 and ending in 2013. If you weren’t sure just how many Black Sabbath songs there are, take a look at these 19 albums.

19. Master of Reality (1971)

 

This was the album that nobody wanted, at least when it was first released. It was what many people consider an introduction into doom metal, something that was previously nonexistent. Critics hated it but fans loved it. Despite the negative reviews that the album received (and there were many), there were two million copies sold. This allowed the album to go double platinum. More importantly, it is still considered to be one of the best albums that has ever been released by this band or any other.

18. Vol. 4 (1972)

 

This was the band’s fourth studio album. More importantly, it was one that the band produced themselves. Instead of having their regular producer, Rodger Bain, the band decided to handle the duties themselves and guitarist Tony Iommi stepped up to the plate. This was a big step forward for the band. It’s also worth noting that they were still relatively new at the time, as they had only completed their debut album roughly two years earlier.

17. Paranoid (1970)

 

Their second studio album was released the same year as their first. That’s almost unheard of, but they managed to pull it off. Moreover, they also included their only Top 20 hit, “War Pigs,” on this album. As it turns out, this was an album full of some of their most memorable hits such as “Iron Man.” The album made the top of the charts in the UK, something that the band has only accomplished with one other album (13). Today, many people give credit to this album for helping to develop the heavy metal movement that has since become so popular.

16. Technical Ecstasy (1976)

 

The band recorded their seventh studio album in Miami. The album also marked a departure from the dark lyrics that had basically become part of the band’s trademark. In the six years since they had started, people had become accustomed to hearing these types of lyrics from them. Eventually, they began to slowly move away from such things, at least for a time. One of the band members (Iommi) even remarked that if people listed to their earlier stuff and then listened to this album, they probably wouldn’t even know it was the same band.

15. Black Sabbath (1970)

 

This was the album that started it all. It was released in the autumn of 1970 and is often considered to be the first example of what is now called doom metal. Much of that is because of their self-titled single, “Black Sabbath.” The song resonated with some fans and immediately turned others off of the band from then on. If their goal was to get people talking, they certainly managed to accomplish it.

14. Seventh Star (1986)

 

This was the band’s twelfth studio album. It marked the first album that was released without Geezer Butler, the band’s bassist and lyricist. He had made the decision to leave the band after 1984’s “Born Again” tour. As a result, there were numerous other musicians involved with the project. In addition, the Warner Brothers studio responsible for producing the album was putting so much pressure on the band that it was almost unbearable. Tony Iommi was supposed to have the album more or less to himself, practically as a solo album. However, the studio got nervous and started bringing everyone else onboard. According to the band members, it was not the most pleasant experience to cut the album because of all the studio pressure to do one thing and then another.

13. Forbidden (1995)

 

The band’s eighteenth studio album was one that raised more questions than answers. It didn’t feature popular vocalist Ozzy Osbourne, as he and Tony Iommi had endured more than their fair share of differences over the years. Those differences eventually caused him to walk away from the band. Tony Martin was brought in to do the vocals, and fans were less than pleased with the end result. In fact, there was so much backlash from the album that the band was close to dissolving completely soon after its release.

12. Headless Cross (1989)

 

The band’s fourteenth studio album also featured Martin on lyrics. This marked yet another tumultuous time for the band, as they had just been dropped from the Warner Brothers studio the previous year. It’s worth noting that this wasn’t the first time a studio had dropped them, as Vertigo records had also done the same thing. As a result, they signed with I.R.S. records because the record label agreed to let them write and record whatever they wanted without intervening.

11. Sabotage (1975)

 

This was their sixth studio album. The title of the album itself is something of a play on words referring to ongoing legal issues with Patrick Meehan, who had previously been their manager. The band members were not happy and they decided to let that feeling flow freely throughout the album. Apparently there was bad blood on both sides, as Meehan was also suing the band. Eventually, things got so tense that they had lawyers in the studio while they were actually recording in order to make sure that things didn’t get out of hand.

10. Mob Rules (1981)

 

This album may be better remembered for what went on behind the scenes than the album itself. The band members had purchased a house in Los Angeles with the idea of recording in their own studio. The problem was that they didn’t actually try out the sound out before they bought it. They ended up with a studio they couldn’t record in because the sound wasn’t any good.

9. Never Say Die! (1978)

 

Out of the nineteen studio albums released by the band, this was the eighth one. Surprisingly, it was also the last album to feature vocalist Ozzy Osbourne until the very last of the 19 albums that the band released. While most people consider him to be the lead singer associated with the band, he only performed on roughly half of their albums. The rest featured various lyricists throughout the years.

8. Tyr (1990)

 

This was an album that caused quite a lot of controversy. Both its title and a number of songs seem to point to issues related to Norse mythology. As such, it was largely referred to as a concept album, something that the fans seemed to agree with as well. However, the band members themselves said that people were reading too much into things and that the album was never intended to be anything more than a regular album. They strongly dispelled the idea that it was a concept album in any manner, telling their fans that they should simply enjoy the music and stop trying to create theories that were never intended to begin with.

7. The Eternal Idol (1987)

 

This was number thirteen for the band, an album that marked a great deal of controversy. It went straight to the top of the charts and spent two weeks there. At the same time, it also marked the last album to be associated with both Vertigo records and Warner Brothers, as both dropped the band soon thereafter. In short, it marked a real turning point for the band that forced them to do some serious soul searching.

6. Heaven and Hell (1980)

 

There was a different sound on this album, and for good reason. Ozzy Osbourne was out and a new vocalist, Ronnie James Dio, was in. As it turned out, he would be one of many vocalists that would eventually sing with the band. Many of them only stayed around for one or two albums. In fact, many fans believed that the lead vocalist position for the band became something of a revolving door. It was a trend that continued until Osbourne eventually returned for the band’s nineteenth and final album, released in 2013.

5. Cross Purposes (1994)

 

This album was recorded in Wales and featured a song that was written about an event that rocked the United States, David Koresh and the Branch Davidians at Waco, Texas. However, the song (entitled “Psychophobia”) wasn’t so easy to understand. As a result, band members took to explaining the meaning of the song at concerts. This is not something that is unique to this particular song. In fact, the band members have found themselves explaining the meaning (or lack thereof) of various songs throughout the years.

4. Born Again (1983)

 

In the eleventh studio album from the band, there was yet another lead vocalist featured, Ian Gillan. It also marked the last studio album from drummer Bill Ward. Geezer Butler was also on his way out. For the most part, people were starting to wonder why so many people were choosing to leave the band. However, the perceived internal problems they were having didn’t seem to translate to any issues with the songs themselves. As such, this album has become one of the most beloved pieces from the band. Of course, it’s important to remember that music, like every other form of art, is subjective. While some people did really love this album, that was not exactly the consensus across the board. Fortunately, you have the opportunity to use the accompanying YouTube link and find out for yourself whether or not this album is up to par with the rest.

3. 13 (2013)

 

This marks their nineteenth and last studio album. The title is fairly self-explanatory, as it was released in 2013. It is said that the album was delayed in order to allow Osbourne to have a solo career. As such, there have been comments that the album was delayed by as much as a full decade. It’s hard to believe that anyone would delay an album by more than 10 years, especially when you consider the fact that all they had to do was get Osbourne in the studio long enough to cut an album. Whatever the cause may be, it did indeed take them a very long time to get this album made.

2. Sabbath Bloody Sabbath (1973)

 

The band members genuinely wanted to do things their way with this album and for the most part, that is exactly what they decided to do. They recorded the album in London and produced the entire thing themselves. That’s largely because they started in Los Angeles and couldn’t think of a single thing to write. The band members claim they were all exhausted, although there have been many comments that substance abuse was also a major factor. Eventually, Iommi collapsed during a performance and had to be hospitalized. Once he was well enough to travel, they went back to their roots and produced this album.

1. Dehumanizer (1992)

 

The album was recorded in Wales and once again featured the same artists that had been featured for another of the band’s albums, “Mob Rules.” There are a number of songs on the album that are similar to other fare the band had become well known for, such as questioning the very foundation that many people hold so dear about the Afterlife. At the end of the day, it was an album that was either loved or hated by the fans, which is apparently exactly what the band wanted. According to the band members themselves, they were trying to make something that was divisive. If nothing else, they certainly achieved that goal. However, the album rests at the number spot because the fans who love do so with a great deal of passion. In addition, the rather eclectic selection of songs meant that there was something for a lot of different fans. Even if the entire album didn’t resonate, there was a better than average chance that at least some of the songs would.

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