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Rock - Released June 10, 2013 | Virgin EMI

Distinctions 5 étoiles Rock and Folk
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Rock - Released June 10, 2013 | Virgin EMI

Distinctions 5 étoiles Rock and Folk
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Hard Rock - Released December 29, 1970 | Rhino - Warner Records

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Paranoid was not only Black Sabbath's most popular record (it was a number one smash in the U.K., and "Paranoid" and "Iron Man" both scraped the U.S. charts despite virtually nonexistent radio play), it also stands as one of the greatest and most influential heavy metal albums of all time. Paranoid refined Black Sabbath's signature sound -- crushingly loud, minor-key dirges loosely based on heavy blues-rock -- and applied it to a newly consistent set of songs with utterly memorable riffs, most of which now rank as all-time metal classics. Where the extended, multi-sectioned songs on the debut sometimes felt like aimless jams, their counterparts on Paranoid have been given focus and direction, lending an epic drama to now-standards like "War Pigs" and "Iron Man" (which sports one of the most immediately identifiable riffs in metal history). The subject matter is unrelentingly, obsessively dark, covering both supernatural/sci-fi horrors and the real-life traumas of death, war, nuclear annihilation, mental illness, drug hallucinations, and narcotic abuse. Yet Sabbath makes it totally convincing, thanks to the crawling, muddled bleakness and bad-trip depression evoked so frighteningly well by their music. Even the qualities that made critics deplore the album (and the group) for years increase the overall effect -- the technical simplicity of Ozzy Osbourne's vocals and Tony Iommi's lead guitar vocabulary; the spots when the lyrics sink into melodrama or awkwardness; the lack of subtlety and the infrequent dynamic contrast. Everything adds up to more than the sum of its parts, as though the anxieties behind the music simply demanded that the band achieve catharsis by steamrolling everything in its path, including its own limitations. Monolithic and primally powerful, Paranoid defined the sound and style of heavy metal more than any other record in rock history. ~ Steve Huey
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Hard Rock - Released July 27, 1971 | Rhino - Warner Records

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The shortest album of Black Sabbath's glory years, Master of Reality is also their most sonically influential work. Here Tony Iommi began to experiment with tuning his guitar down three half-steps to C#, producing a sound that was darker, deeper, and sludgier than anything they'd yet committed to record. (This trick was still being copied 25 years later by every metal band looking to push the limits of heaviness, from trendy nu-metallers to Swedish deathsters.) Much more than that, Master of Reality essentially created multiple metal subgenres all by itself, laying the sonic foundations for doom, stoner and sludge metal, all in the space of just over half an hour. Classic opener "Sweet Leaf" certainly ranks as a defining stoner metal song, making its drug references far more overt (and adoring) than the preceding album's "Fairies Wear Boots." The album's other signature song, "Children of the Grave," is driven by a galloping rhythm that would later pop up on a slew of Iron Maiden tunes, among many others. Aside from "Sweet Leaf," much of Master of Reality finds the band displaying a stronger moral sense, in part an attempt to counteract the growing perception that they were Satanists. "Children of the Grave" posits a stark choice between love and nuclear annihilation, while "After Forever" philosophizes about death and the afterlife in an openly religious (but, of course, superficially morbid) fashion that offered a blueprint for the career of Christian doom band Trouble. And although the alternately sinister and jaunty "Lord of This World" is sung from Satan's point of view, he clearly doesn't think much of his own followers (and neither, by extension, does the band). It's all handled much like a horror movie with a clear moral message, for example The Exorcist. Past those four tracks, listeners get sharply contrasting tempos in the rumbling sci-fi tale "Into the Void," which shortens the distances between the multiple sections of the band's previous epics. And there's the core of the album -- all that's left is a couple of brief instrumental interludes, plus the quiet, brooding loneliness of "Solitude," a mostly textural piece that frames Osbourne's phased vocals with acoustic guitars and flutes. But, if a core of five songs seems slight for a classic album, it's also important to note that those five songs represent a nearly bottomless bag of tricks, many of which are still being imitated and explored decades later. If Paranoid has more widely known songs, the suffocating and oppressive Master of Reality was the Sabbath record that die-hard metalheads took most closely to heart. ~ Steve Huey
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Hard Rock - Released June 30, 1970 | Rhino - Warner Records

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Metal - Released December 1, 2017 | Eagle Rock Entertainment

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Hard Rock - Released February 3, 2017 | Rhino - Warner Bros.

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Hard Rock - Released January 21, 2014 | Rhino - Warner Records

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Released to coincide with the group's international tour in support of their 2013 album 13, this clamshell box set from Rhino houses some awfully powerful stuff. Black Sabbath's eight-album run with Ozzy Osbourne has received the box set treatment before from the label (Black Box: The Complete Original Black Sabbath 1970-1978), and this new set, which omits the four-track Live at the Beat Club DVD, offers up much of the same. The Complete Albums 1970-1978 includes the band's 1970 eponymous debut and multi-platinum follow-up Paranoid, 1971's Master of Reality, 1972's Vol. 4, 1973's Sabbath Bloody Sabbath, 1975's Sabotage, 1976's Technical Ecstasy, and 1978's Never Say Die! in their entireties. ~ James Christopher Monger
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Hard Rock - Released April 15, 1980 | Rhino - Warner Records

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Many had left Black Sabbath for dead at the dawn of the '80s, and with good reason -- the band's last few albums were not even close to their early classics, and original singer Ozzy Osbourne had just split from the band. But the Sabs had found a worthy replacement in former Elf and Rainbow singer Ronnie James Dio, and bounced back to issue their finest album since the early '70s, 1980's Heaven and Hell. The band sounds reborn and re-energized throughout. Several tracks easily rank among Sabbath's all-time best, such as the vicious album opener, "Neon Knights," the moody, mid-paced epic "Children of the Sea," and the title track, which features one of Tony Iommi 's best guitar riffs. With Heaven and Hell, Black Sabbath were obviously back in business. Unfortunately, the Dio-led version of the band would only record one more studio album before splitting up (although Dio would return briefly in the early '90s). One of Sabbath's finest records. ~ Greg Prato
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Hard Rock - Released August 29, 1972 | Rhino - Warner Records

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Vol. 4 is the point in Black Sabbath's career where the band's legendary drug consumption really starts to make itself felt. And it isn't just in the lyrics, most of which are about the blurry line between reality and illusion. Vol. 4 has all the messiness of a heavy metal Exile on Main St., and if it lacks that album's overall diversity, it does find Sabbath at their most musically varied, pushing to experiment amidst the drug-addled murk. As a result, there are some puzzling choices made here (not least of which is the inclusion of "FX"), and the album often contradicts itself. Ozzy Osbourne's wail is becoming more powerful here, taking greater independence from Tony Iommi's guitar riffs, yet his vocals are processed into a nearly textural element on much of side two. Parts of Vol. 4 are as ultra-heavy as Master of Reality, yet the band also takes its most blatant shots at accessibility to date -- and then undercuts that very intent. The effectively concise "Tomorrow's Dream" has a chorus that could almost be called radio-ready, were it not for the fact that it only appears once in the entire song. "St. Vitus Dance" is surprisingly upbeat, yet the distant-sounding vocals don't really register. The notorious piano-and-Mellotron ballad "Changes" ultimately fails not because of its change-of-pace mood, but more for a raft of the most horrendously clichéd rhymes this side of "moon-June." Even the crushing "Supernaut" -- perhaps the heaviest single track in the Sabbath catalog -- sticks a funky, almost danceable acoustic breakdown smack in the middle. Besides "Supernaut," the core of Vol. 4 lies in the midtempo cocaine ode "Snowblind," which was originally slated to be the album's title track until the record company got cold feet, and the multi-sectioned prog-leaning opener, "Wheels of Confusion." The latter is one of Iommi's most complex and impressive compositions, varying not only riffs but textures throughout its eight minutes. Many doom and stoner metal aficionados prize the second side of the album, where Osbourne's vocals gradually fade further and further away into the murk, and Iommi's guitar assumes center stage. The underrated "Cornucopia" strikes a better balance of those elements, but by the time "Under the Sun" closes the album, the lyrics are mostly lost under a mountain of memorable, contrasting riffery. Add all of this up, and Vol. 4 is a less cohesive effort than its two immediate predecessors, but is all the more fascinating for it. Die-hard fans sick of the standards come here next, and some end up counting this as their favorite Sabbath record for its eccentricities and for its embodiment of the band's excesses. ~ Steve Huey
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Hard Rock - Released November 27, 1973 | Rhino - Warner Records

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With 1973's Sabbath Bloody Sabbath, heavy metal godfathers Black Sabbath made a concerted effort to prove their remaining critics wrong by raising their creative stakes and dispensing unprecedented attention to the album's production standards, arrangements, and even the cover artwork. As a result, bold new efforts like the timeless title track, "A National Acrobat," and "Killing Yourself to Live" positively glistened with a newfound level of finesse and maturity, while remaining largely faithful, aesthetically speaking, to the band's signature compositional style. In fact, their sheer songwriting excellence may even have helped to ease the transition for suspicious older fans left yearning for the rough-hewn, brute strength that had made recent triumphs like Master of Reality and Vol. 4 (really, all their previous albums) such undeniable forces of nature. But thanks to Sabbath Bloody Sabbath's nearly flawless execution, even a more adventurous experiment like the string-laden "Spiral Architect," with its tasteful background orchestration, managed to sound surprisingly natural, and in the dreamy instrumental "Fluff," Tony Iommi scored his first truly memorable solo piece. If anything, only the group's at times heavy-handed adoption of synthesizers met with inconsistent consequences, with erstwhile Yes keyboard wizard Rick Wakeman bringing only good things to the memorable "Sabbra Cadabra" (who know he was such a great boogie-woogie pianist?), while the robotically dull "Who Are You" definitely suffered from synthesizer novelty overkill. All things considered, though, Sabbath Bloody Sabbath was arguably Black Sabbath's fifth masterpiece in four years, and remains an essential item in any heavy metal collection. ~ Eduardo Rivadavia
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Hard Rock - Released January 21, 2014 | Rhino - Warner Records

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Hard Rock - Released July 8, 1975 | Rhino - Warner Records

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Hard Rock - Released October 27, 1981 | Rhino - Warner Records

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1981's Mob Rules was the second Black Sabbath album to feature vertically challenged singer Ronnie James Dio, whose powerful pipes and Dungeons and Dragons lyrics initially seemed like the perfect replacement for the recently departed and wildly popular Ozzy Osbourne. In fact, all the ingredients which had made their first outing, Heaven and Hell, so successful are re-utilized on this album, including legendary metal producer Martin Birch (Deep Purple, Whitesnake, etc.) and supporting keyboard player Geoff Nichols. And while it lacks some of its predecessor's inspired songwriting, Mob Rules was given a much punchier, in-your-face mix by Birch, who seemed re-energized after his work on New Wave of British Heavy Metal upstarts Iron Maiden's Killers album. Essentially, Mob Rules is a magnificent record, with the only serious problem being the sequencing of the material, which mirrors Heaven and Hell's almost to a tee. In that light, one can't help but compare otherwise compelling tracks like "Turn Up the Night" and "Voodoo" to their more impressive Heaven and Hell counterparts, "Neon Knights" and "Children of the Sea." That streak is soon snapped, first by the unbelievably heavy seven-minute epic "The Sign of the Southern Cross," which delivers one of the album's best moments, then its segue into an unconventional synthesizer-driven instrumental ("E5150") and the appearance of the roaring title track. Side two is less consistent, hiding the awesome "Falling off the Edge of the World" (perhaps the most overlooked secret gem to come from the Dio lineup) amongst rather average tracks like "Slipping Away" and "Over and Over." Over the next year, the wheels fell off for Black Sabbath, and Dio's exit marked Mob Rules as the last widely respected studio release of the band's storied career. ~ Eduardo Rivadavia
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Hard Rock - Released March 23, 2010 | Rhino - Warner Records

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Hard Rock - Released January 21, 2014 | Rhino - Warner Records

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Hard Rock - Released September 26, 1978 | Rhino - Warner Bros.

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After going their separate ways for a brief period following the emotionally taxing and drug-infested Technical Ecstasy tour, Black Sabbath and singer Ozzy Osbourne reconciled long enough to record 1978's Never Say Die! -- an album whose varied but often unfocused songs perfectly reflected the band's uneasy state of affairs at the time. Even the surprisingly energetic title track, which seemed to kick things off with a promising bang, couldn't entirely mask the group's fading enthusiasm just beneath the surface after a few repeated listens. The same was true of half-hearted performances like "Shock Wave" and "Over to You," and there were several songs on the record that sound strangely disjointed, specifically "Junior's Eyes" and the synthesizer-doused "Johnny Blade" -- as though their creation came in fits and starts, rather than through cohesive band interaction. But when it came to wild, stylistic departures, one's disappointing realization that the lurching, saxophone-led "Breakout" came from -- and then went back to -- absolutely nowhere was easily offset by the stunningly successful oddity that was "Air Dance." Arguably the most experimental song in Black Sabbath's entire canon, this uncharacteristically mild-mannered and effortlessly evocative ballad saw Tony Iommi's normally bullish guitar giving way to simply mesmerizing piano flourishes performed by leading session keyboardist Don Airey. If only it had represented a bold new direction (albeit one that die-hard fans would never have accepted) rather than just another sign of the band's quickly fraying sense of identity, Black Sabbath's original lineup may have found a way to save itself -- but Never Say Die!'s incoherent musical aggregate in fact betrayed the harsh reality that it was indeed too late. So even though those same die-hard Black Sabbath fans and completists will likely find some redeeming value in Never Say Die! after all these years, the original lineup's final gasp will hold little interest to the average heavy metal fan. ~ Eduardo Rivadavia
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Hard Rock - Released September 28, 1976 | Rhino - Warner Bros.

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Hard Rock - Released March 23, 2010 | Rhino - Warner Records

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Metal - Released April 2, 2007 | Rhino - Warner Records