Best Black Sabbath Albums

Black Sabbath are one of the founders of heavy metal. Formed in Birmingham, England in 1969, they paved the way for all genres of metal. In the '70s they released a series of classic albums. There have been many lineup changes and reunions over the years, and their lead singer Ozzy Osbourne is known to the younger generation as a reality show dad instead of the legendary metal pioneer that he is.

The band released the album 13 in 2013, their first album with Ozzy on vocals since 1978's Never Say Die! Black Sabbath have also been inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame, cementing their legendary status. Here are our picks for the band's best albums.

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Paranoid (1970)

Black Sabbath - Paranoid
Black Sabbath - Paranoid.

Not only is Paranoid the best Black Sabbath album, it is one of the best heavy metal albums ever. It includes the legendary singles "Iron Man" and "Paranoid" and is a defining moment in the history of heavy metal.

Listen to this album and you will hear why every heavy metal band in history is descended from Black Sabbath. Tony Iommi's guitar style is unmistakable, the rhythm section of bassist Geezer Butler and drummer Bill Ward were impeccable, and Ozzy's vocals were very effective. They defined a genre, and this album defined them.

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Master Of Reality (1971)

Black Sabbath - Master Of Reality
Black Sabbath - Master Of Reality.

It's hard to believe that a band could release its two best albums in such a short time period, but that's exactly what Black Sabbath did. This was the follow up to Paranoid.

It was only eight songs long and two of those were brief instrumentals, but it showcased the brilliant guitar of Tony Iommi, most notably on the downtuned "Children Of The Grave" and "Into The Void." Album opener "Sweet Leaf" is another memorable track. Master Of Reality is also more complex than Sabbath's first two albums and shows a marked musical progression.

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Sabbath Bloody Sabbath (1973)

Black Sabbath - Sabbath Bloody Sabbath
Black Sabbath - Sabbath Bloody Sabbath.

Their fifth album Sabbath Bloody Sabbath has something for everyone. There's another one of Iommi's instrumentals ("Fluff"), and on the other end of the spectrum is the crushing title track. Ozzy's vocals are some of his best, and the production is also very good.

The addition of Rick Wakeman from Yes on keyboards got mixed reviews at the time, but he did add something different to the mix. Even though the musical result was good, behind the scenes tensions were increasing among band members and some of the lineup were struggling with substance abuse.

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Heaven And Hell (1980)

Black Sabbath - Heaven And Hell
Black Sabbath - Heaven And Hell.

It's pretty difficult to replace a legend like Ozzy Osbourne, but doing it with a vocalist the caliber of Ronnie James Dio was a great move. The band sounded rejuvenated and Dio's vocal range allowed them to do a few more things. Every song is really good, but the title track is exceptional.

Even without Ozzy, Heaven And Hell was still a commercial success, eventually going platinum. In addition to the title song, other great songs on Heaven And Hell include "Neon Knights," "Children Of The Sea" and "Lady Evil."

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Vol. 4 (1972)

Black Sabbath - Vol. 4
Black Sabbath - Vol. 4.

Sabbath's fourth album, the appropriately titled Vol. 4, showed both ends of the musical spectrum. On the softer side is the ballad "Changes," which had a lot of commercial success.

On the other side of the coin is "Supernaut," a really fast and intense song. It tells you just how good Sabbath was when this album is only their fifth best. It was also their first album that wasn't produced by Rodger Bain, with Iommi handling the lion's share of the production duties.