Black Sabbath’s Best Songs: The 40 Greatest



More than half a century has passed since Black Sabbath inaugurated the art of darkness.

Tony Iommi, Ozzy Osbourne, Geezer Butler and Bill Ward have combined to create sound that is as unholy as it is supernatural, changing rock music forever and providing a sound model that has been copied, adapted and embellished by generations of musicians since but never before. , never improved.

The queues may have changed. Ozzy came and went, and came and went again. Nearly 30 members crossed the ranks of the group, some for brief visits. And yet the songs, gloriously, have remained the same. These riffs. That threatening sound. Black sabbath. Has a band ever been better named?

These are the 40 greatest Black Sabbath songs.


40. Changes

“A song rather than a screamer of frustration” is how Ozzy billed Flight. 4‘s ballad, written about Bill Ward’s separation from his first wife. Ironically, there is no input from the drummer on the track.

39. Zero the hero

The seven-minute stand-out on the hapless, Ian Gillan-fronted Born again album. A favorite of Tony Iommi, who believes his central riff inspired Guns N ‘Roses: “When I heard city ​​of paradise I thought, “Damn, that looks like one of us!”

38. Warning

This 10-minute jam cover of Aynsley Dunbar’s 1967 single Retaliation originally featured an 18-minute Iommi solo, but it was cut by producer Roger Bain. With only 12 hours to record the entire album, there was no time to chat.

37. Never say die

By his own admission, Ozzy had “given up” by the time the band recorded their eighth album, though the bitingly humorous title track sounded adrenaline pumping. In addition, he restored the Sabbath Top of the pop.

36. The brief

Ozzy’s acerbic open letter to former manager Patrick Meehan (‘Are you Satan, are you a man?‘), expressing the singer’s fury at legal “bullshit”. “I have at least one song of it,” a cooler Ozzy later mused.

35. dirty woman

In 1976, Black Sabbath was looking for direction. For the fence track of Technical ecstasy, inspiration came from the prostitutes on the streets of Miami, resulting in a “tribute” to the healing properties of “women to take away for sale”.

34. Headless Cross

Title song from Sabbath’s 14th album Headless cross, and their best since Heaven and hell.There’s no escaping the power of Satan‘Tony Martin sang, making a convincing case for Sabbath to enter the’ 90s as a reborn band.

33. Spiral architect

“It’s a wonderful piece of music, mainly based on Ozzy’s voice, Iommi’s acoustic guitar and Will Malone’s string arrangements. It’s also the last on the record – a place of honor, as everyone in vinyl knows. -Mikael Åkerfeldt, Opeth

32. God is dead?

Inspired by a magazine headline, Black Sabbath’s return in 2013 made Ozzy reflect on the existence of a Higher Power in the wake of terrorist atrocities committed in the name of religion. From the album 13.

31. Wheels of Confusion

The opening track on Flight. 4 telegraphs Sabbath’s experimental state of mind. Maybe they were, but the interaction between Iommi, Butler, and a brilliantly skillful Bill Ward is sheer joy.

30. Sabbra Cadabra

This bluesy hymn to Geezer’s then-girlfriend had its lyrical origins in Ozzy’s rehearsal of a pornographic dialogue, much to the amusement of his bandmate. Rick Wakeman billed Sabbath a “fee” of two pints of director’s bitter for his glowing piano playing.

29. Caravan of the planet

A sparkling and crazy psychedelia, which betrayed the jazz influences of Tony Iommi. Included on Paranoid “to make the heaviest songs ring [even] heavier ”, according to the guitarist.

28. After forever

Featuring mocking anti-religious lyrics from lapsed Catholic Geezer, the antics After forever is one of the most musically sophisticated songs from the first canon of Sabbath, and is the result of the quartet feeling the pressure to follow the # 1 hit of Paranoid with a more ambitious sound.

27. The hand of fate

“It’s funky, riffy, sinister and uplifting all at the same time. It’s like two songs for the price of one, really. I have a tape of Paranoid from a friend when I was in seventh grade, and I started, like everyone else, to learn all these amazing riffs. Secretly I wanted to be a drummer so I could play that funky drum lick Hand of misfortune. “Charlie Starr, Blackberry Smoke

26. Electric funeral

Loaded with austere and apocalyptic images of nuclear annihilation (‘Robot Slave Robot Spirits / Leading Men to Atomic Tombs‘) and souls burning in hell, Electric funerals sounds like the ultimate bad trip, although the awesome turnaround at two minutes 17 seconds is inexplicably uplifting.

25. Supernaut

“When I listen to songs like Supernaut I can pretty much taste cocaine, ”Ozzy noted about it. Flight. 4 piledriver in his autobiography. Fiercely funky, with an earworm Iommi riff, Supernaut is the supercharged sound of a gifted band at the peak of their powers.

24. Committing suicide to live

The ejaculation in the middle of the song to ‘Smoke it! Take height!‘gives a clue to the source of this anxious song about a soul adrift in a world of’ pain, suffering and misery ‘. Ozzy later noted that the hash the band smoked at Morgan Studios during the album sessions was “phenomenal.”

23. Crowd rules

The title track from singer Ronnie James Dio’s second album with Sabbath, a warning about blind acceptance of authority, was written at John Lennon’s home, Tittenhurst Park, originally intended for the film’s soundtrack. ‘animation. Heavy metal, just days after Lennon’s murder in New York. The movie was crap, the song is a Sabbath classic.

22. The sorcerer

“At the time, we were doing a lot of dope”, this is how Tony Iommi prefaces his explanation of the origins of The assistant, the second track from Sabbath’s debut album, inspired by both Tolkien and the band’s ‘magical’ drug dealer. Ozzy dubs Iommi’s main riff on harmonica – an inspired touch, which showed that Sabbath was not the music of the Neanderthals they were meant to be by the music press.

21. Megalomania

Almost 10 minutes, layered over the studio trickery and featuring some of Tony Iommi’s most hook-laden riffs, Megalomania is a gloriously overdone exercise in labyrinthine excess. Bonus points are awarded for exemplary work by Bill Ward in the bell.

20. Falling from the edge of the world

With its magnificent orchestral intro, scorching Iommi riff, and whisper-to-scream dynamics, the centerpiece of the Crowd rules The album laid out a plan that Metallica’s sidekicks would eventually bring to the bank. Sabbath biographer (and Classic rock writer) Mick Wall calls this “metal trip” a most apt description of the ebb and flow of the song.

19. Hole in the sky

Keeping in mind how besieged Sabbath was at the time they recorded Sabotage, his opening track is a metal masterclass straight to the point. The Sabbath really swings here, displaying a lightness of touch that few of their contemporaries – or followers – could emulate.

18. Soft leaf

“It’s heavy and super funky. I first heard it from my friend David Santana around 1975. His older brothers were playing tons of Sabbath. Soft leaf was a favorite – his brothers were Latino stoner musicians from El Salvador. I remember one of them trying to play his black Ovation electric guitar which was shaped like a bat. – Robert Trujillo, Metallica

17. The sign of the southern cross

A slow-burning epic of Crowd rules, The southern sign of the cross has Ronnie James Dio everywhere, with his references to crystal balls, sailboats and ‘a rainbow that will sparkle at the end of summer‘.

16. A national acrobat

Tony Iommi called Sabbath Bloody Sabbath “a great leap forward”. With dueling guitars and Ozzy’s double voice, A national acrobat is a little-known example of the group’s burgeoning confidence.

15. Die young

With Dio on board, Sabbath truly sounded born again the Heaven and hell. Tony Iommi claims that Die young was guided by an invisible “fifth member”. The fact that he also says that there was “drugs galore” in Miami during the sessions could undermine such mysticism, spirit.

14. Snowblind

“My favorite Black Sabbath song is Snowblind – the perfect song to be a teenager of any age. Nikki Sixx, Motley Crue

13. Children of the sea

First attempt, with different lyrics, while Ozzy was still in the band, Children of the sea was ultimately achieved with Dio vocals. Iommi envisioned a full chorus in the grandiose midsection of the album; in the end, he had to settle for a singing monk. “We were in the stitches,” admitted the Dark Lord.

12. Fairies wear boots

“It has so many elements of a classic Sabbath song – killer instrumental passages that evolve over time, that swing feel and the monstrous riffs of the great Mr. Iommi. And it’s so much fun to play. How can you go wrong? »Mike Bordin, Faith No More

11. Neon knights

This Sabbath has gained new life with Dio is evident from Heaven and Hell ‘roaring album opener. With Ronnie singing ‘circles and rings, dragons and kings‘, Iommi delivers a fake riff that lifts the song skyward. The Sabbath hadn’t sounded so alive or so vital in years.

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