Rarely in music do bands come around that are as amazing and important to a single genre as the Birmingham based Black Sabbath. Many people consider Led Zeppelin to be the cornerstone of the hard rock movement of the 1970s, but for me there could never be a band that would take precedent over an act called Black Sabbath. Everything about the name screams heavy and evil in a way that was hard to understand during that time. Today we’ll be discussing the period of time with Osbourne as the lead, because let’s be honest. the others don’t really hold a candle. The last installment of “Metal March,” The Top Ten Black Sabbath songs. Enjoy!
10. Tomorrow’s Dream, Vol. 4
Even today, the sounds coming from the speakers don’t really sound like much that’s happening in modern music. The Black Sabbath sound as a whole is a sound that is stuck rightfully so in the decade they came to prominence. The guitars by Iommi are skillfully crafted, and a warm element surges over the entire track. Much of Osbourne’s lyrics are introspective and also representative of what it must have been like to grow up in that area, and they play very well in context. On the top ten Black Sabbath songs, “Tomorrow’s Dream” is a great starting point for fans who love the vocals and warm guitar parts, but aren’t sure if some of the heavier elements in the band are for them. Trust me, it’s all pretty good.
9. Electric Funeral, Paranoid
Maybe one of the most sinister guitar arrangements with evil vocals ever to be recorded, this sound just reeks of heavy metal. Much of the bands work can be considered doomsday music, and even now the music has an element of darkness and evil to it that many bands today simply can’t touch. The lyrics and ideas presented on “Electric Funeral” are pretty easy to latch on to, even if you’ve never heard the music before. The world is doomed, and even in the 70’s the band seemed to know it. There’s just something about these guys. Everything works well, and in this song they unleash a steady stream of great instrumentation that make the song worthwhile.
8. The Wizard, Black Sabbath
I don’t throw around this word too often, but this song has always just been really keen and hip to me. It has this rockin’ rollercoaster vibe to it, and it’s more upbeat and jam oriented than some of their other songs. The vocals also play a vastly important part in the story of “The Wizard.” You just imagine a cloaked figure walking down the street. The song implies that he’s probably up to no good, but I’m sure even the most good natured of wizards are sometimes involved in murky deeds. Butler’s bass work here also makes the song pretty memorable just because of how tight the rhythm section here is. Number eight on the “Top Ten Black Sabbath songs, “The Wizard.”
7. Iron Man, Paranoid
Obviously, the importance of this song can’t be understated, and even decades after it’s release, it’s creation and recording is one of the most important tracks to ever be presented to the masses. You could not even mention the song but instead just discuss the massive influence it has, but I won’t go too deep into it today. Musically though, the guitar part and vocal style play exceptionally well against the other, and the imagery of a person cast out by humanity is something that is still prevalent in today’s metal scene. I don’t know what happened to this “Iron Man” for him to unleash his rage on today’s society, but they should have gone easier. Aside from that though, the guitar solo and breakdown in the halfway point of the song is well placed and moves the song along to the next logical step. It’s a great song, and more than likely one of the tracks that made their status that much more legendary.
6. War Pigs, Paranoid
Even from the opening of our number six track, you can imagine the world, barren and hopeless, and see the havoc that has been caused by these gluttonous “War Pigs.” The sirens over the song warn of more doom to come, and Osbourne’s story unfolds into one of the most gloomy demonstrations of what humanity is capable of. The lyrics here are so important, simply because they perfectly paint a picture of a world I’d say we still currently live in. You feel the tension when you hear the word’s of that warning that you should “wait till judgement day comes.” The song, at nearly eight minutes long, is epic, and soaring in it’s musical ideas, but it’s also just a kick ass song that draws you in quickly and doesn’t let go.
5. Snowblind, Vol. 4
At number five of the Top Ten Black Sabbath songs, “Snowblind” sneaks in gives out a more classical hard rock sound than some of the other tracks on this list. It’s a steady track,and the use of metaphors in relation to drug use are subtle and really make you wonder where the band was at this time. One of the best parts of the song for me has always been “My eyes are blind but I can see.” That whole section with the pure singing from OO is one of the few times I feel like his vocals hit a level of otherworldliness in regards to him actually singing. It’s just hypnotic to my ears, and it elevates the song to a whole other level in regards of musical instrumentation and how effective vocals can propel the other concepts within a song.
4. Paranoid, Paranoid
You can’t really do a top ten Black Sabbath songs list without discussing this incredibly popular and brilliant song, so here we go. “Paranoid,” even today is ridiculously cool and influential. This to me is the perfect expression of Osbourne as a performer, and in this track he’s very much the central entertainer. “Occupy Brain” spills out over the driven guitar beats, while Bill Ward’s drumming take the song on the quickly placed road it’s supposed to be on. The song just works, in every way it’s meant to. It’s not a super long song, but when a track gets the ideas out as well and clear as “Paranoid” does, it doesn’t really need to be lengthy. It’s a modern heavy metal masterpiece, and still one of the most influential songs ever.
3. Sabbath Bloody Sabbath, Sabbath Bloody Sabbath
The opening guitar part has always reminded me of a wolf howling into the night, and the vocal strength here is the representation of a transformation happening in the musical sense. The track takes you on a steady journey of thick, dirty guitar work, and the juxtaposition of the vocals make the song an interesting piece of music. Sections of the song are slower and more introspective, but other areas make the song a signature of the decade it was created in. It’s a great song, but for some reason it doesn’t get the attention it should. It’s natural though, when a band is this important and perfect, naturally people are going to latch onto certain songs above others. Maybe that’s what happened here. The song has all of the great elements of 70’s heavy metal, and to this day, “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath” is a perfect example of the heavy metal ideals that make the band so worthwhile.
2. Black Sabbath, Black Sabbath
An evil song that ominously approaches, like a “Figure in Black” hovering over souls he seeks to torment, “Black Sabbath” as a track is full of mystical elements, and to this day it’s one of the darker, more closed up songs I’ve ever heard. When Osbourne’s voice is released, the sense of dread is palpable and forces you to face your demons head on. They’ve likely already won, but you have to try something. Everything here is played to perfect effect, and the creepiness of the track as a whole is used to create an incalculable sense of fright. The song is the literal presentation of what hell seems like to me. It’s not fast and over quickly. It’s buries itself into the deepest realms of the soul, and attaches itself to you. I mean, even now the name Black Sabbath is still one of the darkest, most evil names I’ve ever heard of in terms of band names. It doesn’t have to be gory, or gimmicky, but “Black Sabbath” as an idea is personified in this incredibly heavy, evil song that proclaims that your soul now belongs to Satan himself.
1. Children of the Grave, Master of Reality
From the second I heard this song it stayed with me. It’s easily one of the heaviest songs I’ve ever heard, and to this day you can feel the inspiration it had for many rockers growing up. Where to begin really… The drums by Bill Ward are spot on, and they ramble and thrive on in perfect anticipation of the forthcoming vocals, while the vocals themselves exude a tale in which the future of the world fights valiantly to overthrow the evils in the world and allow the time in which “Love comes flowing through.” Again though, “Children of the Grave,” which comes at number one on the best Black Sabbath songs, is an example of how Tony Iommi is god. The guitar work is effortlessly cool and moving, and as an entity, I truly believe Black Sabbath was never better than on this track. The song is landmark and well orchestrated, and rocks you to the core. There are certain songs that make you want to bounce, and “Children of the Grave” is very easily on the best examples of that element. I could listen to this thumping rocker all day and never get tired of, but I’ll let you have some too. My number one Black Sabbath song, the massively awesome, “Children of the Grave.”