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Every Black Sabbath Album Ranked Worst to Best

You. Yeah, you. You think you’re a badass huh. Well, here’s some news for you Walter Kronkite. You’re not. But you know who is a badass. Tony Iommi. A man who after suffering a potentially career ending injury via decapitation of two fingers in a factory accident, but went on to Completely change said game of bands with the invention of Heavy Metal guitar. Enter Black Sabbath. At first joined by lovable man-monkey Ozzy Ozbourne on vocals, the best argument for guitarists to switch to bass ever Geezer Butler, and brute skin-basher Bill Ward, Black Sabbath’s original incarnation was groundbreaking, stripping the blues out of hard rock and dressing it up in satanic glory, with dissonant, tuned down guitars, bass that could lead like a guitar, thunderous drums and Ozzy’s distinctive howling, and lyrics that covered everything from evil, to drugs, to the evil of drugs, spirituality, death, and evil. Did we mention Evil too?

By the mid-’70s, the band were international superstars and were contributing to a HUUUGE percent of Drug Cartel revenue, creating enough capital for them to fund the coke-fueled ’80s. While this may have been good for enterprising criminals, it was anything but good for the band, as album quality and band members all suffered, resulting in the sacking of Osborne at the end of the decade, for him to be replaced by the inventor of the devil horns himself Ronnie James Dio (RIP), for another selection of exquisite releases. By the mid-’80s, the band had officially become the Tony Iommi show, with a rotating cast of characters going into the void with the left hand of doom himself. After inevitable financial and fan pressures crept up, the original (sometimes original-ish) and Dio-era Sabbath lineups reunited, releasing an album with each. Following the release of “Thirteen, “the boys enjoyed a well-earned retirement, presumably with many tea and crumpets for the aged Birmingham men (Birmingmen if you will).

That leaves us with the seemingly impossible task of ranking every Black Sabbath Album from worst to best, which we attempted below (poorly). Feel free to tell us how wrong we are:

19. Forbidden (1996)

Forbidden indeed, and it starts out with what could have been an amazing duet with riff lord (Tony Iommi) and rhyme lord (Ice-T) going to battle, but these sonic shitwinds were a warning of the shitstorm to come. Unfocused riffing, terrible album art (even worse than “Born Again,” I WILL FIGHT YOU), and exhausted execution. So bad that people will pay you to take it from them on vinyl. This left Tony Iommi, and fans hungry for better days, leading to the original lineup reunion blessing us with the aptly titled live album “Reunion.” Not worth any more words from us.

Play It Again: It is Forbidden
Skip It: Since we cannot play it, we can’t skip it

18. Never Say Die (1978)

Recorded with some tracks written with another singer (Dave Walker) during one of Ozzy’s benders, “Never Say Die” is as disjointed as it sounds, with inconsistent songwriting, low energy due to drug-fueled burnout. Fused (not Iommi’s decent solo album) with strange, quasi-sci-fi dystopian cover art that would be imitated MORE successfully by future bands, a real low for a band who many have tried to imitate unsuccessfully.

Play It Again: Only if there is money for listening
Skip It: “Swinging the Chain”


17. TYR (1990)

We assume the band was just trying to spell tired, but didn’t have the energy or wherewithal to care, and that apathy leaks all over this middling, truly mid-Black Sabbath album, producing endless tears. It’s a true blessing that this album is not available on Spotify, with symphonic mish-mash garbage and inconsistent (but not bad) riffing creating a cringey attempt at staying relevant. Only indulge if you are into having the most annoying YouTube ads relieve you from its cornball crappery, and it’s less digestible than corn too.

Play It Again: “The Law Maker”
Skip It: “Anno Mundi”

16. The Seventh Star (1986)

Arguably not a Sabbath album, as it was originally supposed to be released as a Tony Iommi solo release, but since Sabbath owed another album to their record label, the album was rebranded as a fuck off to their corporate overlords. The first album without Geezer Butler, or any of the original members, but thankfully Glen Hughes gives a great performance and the songs are pretty kickass, even if they don’t sound like a true Sabbath record.

Play It Again: “Danger Zone” (suck it Kenny Loggins)
Skip It: “Heart Like a Wheel”

15. Technical Ecstasy (1976)

Presumably written to try and cheer the band up with its upbeat, surprisingly bright production for a Sabbath record, this was the first real misstep of a record for the Lords of Doom and Gloom. Black Sabbath were becoming less distinct as a band by this point, and if there weren’t some changes made, the band would surely become extinct. Unfortunately, it took them another misstep to seize that opportunity. Still great for what it is, but a step down overall.

Play It Again: “You Won’t Change Me”
Skip It: “It’s Alright” (just skip all of the songs where Bill Ward Sings!)

14. Born Again (1983)

The ’80s were a weird time, man. Good time rock’n’roll was in, same with heavy metal and gloom and doom global politics. And during one fateful evening at the pub after six hundred and sixty six pints too many, Ian Gillian and three of the original members of Black Sabbath decided to join forces for what could have been the collaboration of the decade. Unfortunately the elements could not be combined in the right portions, leading to some good results, and some bad, but what could have been still makes us think late at night.

Play It Again: “Zero the Hero” (an all time Sabbath Classic)
Skip It: (And Definitely take the measurements right when building the set for the live show) “Stonehenge”

13. Dehumanizer (1992)

Because “TYR” was so terrible, and probably because Geezer and Dio needed a stable paycheck, the “Heaven and Hell” Era Sabbath reunited to reach former glory. “Dehumanizer” sounds like every era of Sabbath ran through a computer, decades before AI art had been invented, and it’s better than every piece of AI art ever created. So let it be known, computers may be able to mimic notes on a scale, but they can’t replace the human soul, no matter how corrupt said soul is.

Play It Again: “After All (the Dead)”
Skip It: “Master of Insanity”


12. The Eternal Idol (1987)

The first of several runs with who some refer to as dimestore Dio (Tony Martin), the late ’80s saw Tony Iommi take the band in a more symphonic direction to sometimes mixed results, but “The Eternal Idol” has just enough of that sweet Sabbath Magic, and riffs to compete with both the Dio and Ozzy years, and SURPRISINGLY good lyrics from Tony Martin, Sabbath were sounding like Sabbath Again after “Born Again” and “Seventh Star” failed to recapture that black magic.

Play It Again: “The Shining”
Skip It: “Born to Lose” (you should live to win)

11. Cross Purposes (1992)

The only Sabbath studio album of the ’90s to feature the return of longtime Bassist Geezer Butler alongside Iommi’s all-stars, and he even takes the lead on “Virtual Death”. Although all the parts of this album are good, very few are great since very little sticks out in particular about this record. Not that it’s bad, just forgettable, which for a band who defined a genre and era. But even on a bad day, Sabbath are still better than most bands on a good day.

Play It Again: “Psychophobia”
Skip It: The YouTube ads that play through it (put this thing on Spotify)

10. Mob Rules (1981)

Synergizing with the early ’80s thrash and hard rock movements, enshrining true mob rule by number. This is also the first Sabbath album to feature the criminally underrated Vinny Appice on Drums, the energy and vibe on this album is that of some old dogs still learning new tricks. And when old dogs band together, there is less of a chance to “Die Young,” and you can look no further than the title track for such evolution.

Play It Again: “Turn Up the Night”
Skip It: “E5150”

9. Headless Cross (1989)

The first of two cross-themed albums, some may call it a cheap ripoff of Heaven and Hell, but Black Sabbath perfected their sound with Tony Martin on this disk, and that’s not to mention the rest of the band giving performances that would gain a standing ovation in the netherworld (RIP Cozy Powell). Not just once, but twice had Tony Iommi assembled a team of musicians capable of summoning the antichrist, and if it weren’t for the painfully mediocre “TYR” ending the Martin Era hot streak, we may very well have seen an apocalypse.

Play It Again: “Headless Cross”
Skip It: Nah, the Tony Martin Era is underrated

8. Thirteen (2013)

Black Sabbath’s partial reunion album saw Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler, and Ozzy collaborating for the first time in almost thirty years, bringing the band full circle in the cycle of evil they started almost FORTY years earlier, minus Bill Ward, who had since become a geezer himself. As the prophecy had foretold, the prodigal sons of Birmingham had reunited to finish what they started, ending their illustrious career on an absolute high, with all the doom, gloom, and boom that is the Sabbath sound, a crowning achievement fit for the factory workers of the industrial town to unite to.

Play It Again: “End of the Beginning”
Skip It: “The Loner”

7.  Self-Titled (1970)

Recorded off the floor over two days shortly after the band had changed their name from Earth to Black Sabbath, as per the instruction courtesy of the ghost on the album cover, who appeared to Geezer Butler in a hash-fueled dream apparently. Infamously commencing with the triply self-titled Black Sabbath (Band, Album and Song) inventing the Heavy Metal Riff Via the Tritone (devil’s interval for you nerds), killing off that dirty hippie bullshit of the ’60s and replacing it with something just as thoughtful, but much darker.

Play It Again: “NIB”
Skip It: “Warning”

6. Sabotage (1975)

By the time this album rolled around, the band had all developed SERIOUS drug issues, and as with all in active addiction, existed in the chaos that surrounded them. While there are still classics on this album’s first half (“Symptom of The Universe” was pivotal in the invention of thrash metal), the back half of the album is filled with all the messy, supposedly “Cool” ideas you think of when you’re coked out, short of a 5-year plan to open a business, which if we’re being honest, would pay good money to hear from the original lineup.

Play It Again: “Symptom of the Universe”
Skip It: “Am I Going Insane “(Radio)

5. Heaven and Hell (1980)

Deciding there was simply too much partying going on and with none of the members ready to look in, the band fired the admittedly pretty wild Ozzy Osbourne and replaced him with the inventor of the Metal Horns/lovable yank Ronnie James Dio. A reinvention over a rebirth, “Heaven and Hell” featured a more technical, symphonic sound compared to the doom and gloom of peak Sabbath, it helped to have a singer who could also carry a melody and the unsung contributions of longtime keyboardist Geoff Nichols (RIP) serving as the icing on the cake, proving to the world that the metal is eternal.

Play It Again: The Title Track (Bassline Specifically courtesy of Geezer Butler)
Skip It: Nope

4. Sabbath Bloody Sabbath (1975)

After a bad case of writer’s block, Tony Iommi retreated to a haunted English castle to steal some riffs presumably from the ghosts of its former inhabitants in a forward-thinking, anti-colonial form of protest (unlike many guitarists of his generation, who stole from the colonized), and this forward-thinking drove the rest of the album. Generally regarded as the last of the classic Sabbath era, you can hear the band starting to get a little too high on their own colossal supply, with some synth-laden tracks dragging instead of crushing, like a good Sabbath should.

Play It Again: “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath”
Skip It: “Laguna Sunrise”

3. Snowblind (aka “Vol. 4”) (1972)

Usually mistakenly referred to as their regular coke order by the kilo at the time, “Snowblind” was the first big-budget Black Sabbath record. Even though half of the budget was spent on the second most popular South American stimulant, the band still made ample use of the rest of the budget to put down some of their best work, with the only misstep on the album being “Changes,” which was made even worse decades later thanks to its inclusion as the theme song for “Big Mouth.”

Play It Again: “Supernaut”
Skip It: “Changes”

2. Paranoid (1970)

Though let’s be honest, this could have easily been first if it wasn’t due to personal bias (no such thing as true, unbiased journalism anyways). “Paranoid” toned down the Blues influences of the first album and injected a dose of dark, stark realism. Just listen to ‘War Pigs” mocking the nascent Military Industrial Complex with lyrics that would have been just as refreshing if they were written during the Rock Against Bush era, and the instrumental prowess of each member so good that it makes you want to pick up an instrument and play. It was official, though there had been rumblings of heavy metal before, scientists, musicologists, and sociologists could all agree that this was the moment Heavy Metal was born. The legitimate article, Accept no substitute.

Play It Again: “War Pigs”/”Luke’s Wall”
Skip It: “Iron Man” (playing the main riff in guitar center is a federal crime and a capital offense)

1. Master of Reality (1970)

Beginning with Tony Iommi smoking and coughing on what has to be some of the strongest weed ever grown (in the archaic ’70s nonetheless), this album perfected Black Sabbath’s blend of psychedelia, evil, and political consciousness, not to mention the revolutionary down-tuned sound of the guitar influencing EVERY guitarist since. This was everything the nascent band had been working towards, hazy, dark and most of all, METAL as fuck. And that’s not to mention the use of double tracking on the guitars for extra heaviness, pre-dating Judas Priest for that immersive wall of sound guitar and bass. With “Master of Reality,” Black Sabbath arrived as a musical force.

Play It Again: “Into the Void”
Skip It: “Solitude”