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Black Sabbath: An Honest Ranking

After almost a year of sifting through their massive back catalogue, and then a further couple months procrastinating this list, here is my ranking of the classic metal band through and through.
19Black Sabbath
Born Again

If “Trashed” doesn’t immediately convince you to stop listening, I don’t know what will. I won’t act like there’s nothing redeemable about the album, as there a couple songs that come close to being good, like “Disturbing the Priest” and “Zero the Hero,” but atrocious production and unlistenable vocals make everything decent about this just not worth bothering with. 3.5/10
18Black Sabbath

While the hate for this is a bit overblown, it’s easy to see why someone would utterly despise this album. The majority of the songs are just plain boring, and even when it takes risks they never pay off. Even with a couple of really solid ballads like “I Won’t Cry for You” and “Can’t Get Close Enough,” the album is so forgettable I honestly thought the name was “Forgotten” for the longest time. 4/10
17Black Sabbath
Seventh Star

While it’s not a bad album by any stretch of the imagination, it certain doesn’t do the discography any favors. At its worst its simply uninteresting and at its best its a fine culmination of the most recognizable glam cliches of the 80s. There are a couple songs off of here worth an ear, but not much more can be recommended. 6/10
16Black Sabbath
Never Say Die!

The end of the original Ozzy era was easily foreseeable by the end of this album. Everything good about Technical Ecstasy was squandered in this outing, and while there are a surprising number of good tracks to be found, such as “Airdance” and the Bill Ward voiced “Swinging the Chain,” the lows are achingly low, and change needed to happen before progress could be made. 6/10
15Black Sabbath
The Eternal Idol

While the rest of the album might not live up to its surprisingly great opener, this album was the sound of a band finally on the right track. Tony Martin lended stability to the band once again, and the quality of his albums would grow steadily from now on. 6.5/10
14Black Sabbath
Headless Cross

We’re getting there, folks. There’s honestly not a song on here that isn’t good, even if there’s only one I would call great in “When Death Calls.” It’s a surprisingly consistent record, and only proved Tony Martin to be a respectable and reliable frontman. 7/10
13Black Sabbath

The Martin albums just keep getting better and better, there’s three in a row right there, chronologically improving bit by bit. This one is arguably the most singular Sabbath had released in a very very long time, and the great opener is definitely worth checking out even if you’re planning on ignoring the majority of their back catalogue. 7/10
12Black Sabbath

The band unexpectedly got back together with Dio after years with Martin in hopes for coming back to the greatness of past. While they didn’t quite achieve it, there’s a handful of great songs off of here, and one incredible ballad, “Too Late,” which is likely their best song since the previous Dio album they put out. 7.5/10
11Black Sabbath
Mob Rules

Speaking of, running up the next position is their previous Dio album. Not as successful as Heaven and Hell in quality, there are still many winner to be heard from this record, including “The Sign of the Southern Cross” and “Over and Over.” If there’s one thing that the Dio albums benefit from, its a singular vision and tone, something that for all its faults can be felt very clearly on this album. 7.5/10
10Black Sabbath
Vol. 4

Argued by many to be one of the best Black Sabbath albums out there, I can’t help but wonder why. It’s definitely a good album, and there are some standouts that arise when they try new sounds, but even the best of it sounds complacent. They’re treading water here, and its as if they know it. 7.5/10
9Black Sabbath
Cross Purposes

After being callously tossed to the side by the band after the hand the opportunity to work with Dio again, Martin ended up fronting his best Sabbath album before the fall that was “Forbidden.” That aside, Cross Purposes is a really good metal album across the board, and one that needs to be heard by any Sabbath fan around. It’s got a great mix of the heavy riffs of old and the engaging vocals and deep mood that have always been a staple of Martin’s era. A hugely underrated record. 7.5/10
8Black Sabbath
Technical Ecstasy

Speaking of hugely underrated, this album here gets a ridiculous amount of hatred. Some of Sabbath’s best ballads are on this album, including the surprisingly proggy “You Won’t Change Me,” and another Ward great in “It’s Alright.” I’ll admit that this record has its faults and is a bit scattershot, but they’re trying new things and genuinely sound like they’re enjoying themselves. And that’s what it’s all about isn’t it? 7.5/10
7Black Sabbath

One of the craziest and most schizophrenic Black Sabbath albums out there, Sabotage takes the metal Sabbath and crashes it with the experimental Sabbath to make what’s generally accepted by all fans to be one damn fine album. Also, Megalomania is awesome.
6Black Sabbath

A genuine surprise comeback after a terrible album and years and years of no releases, Black Sabbath regains (most of) the original lineup and miraculously recaptures what made them great in the first place. You’ve got some great blues jams (“Damaged Soul”), some surprising sequels (“Zeitgeist”), and otherwise just some solid and surprisingly modern metal jams from the legends of all that is heavy. 7.5/10
5Black Sabbath
Heaven and Hell

I will admit that I don’t consider this to be the absolute classic that many do here, but it certainly is a great Sabbath album and serves as a much needed comeback from the mess that was Never Say Die. What we’ve got is a new, full sound that sounds fresh just as it does sound eternally Sabbath, and I have a feeling it’ll grow on me more as time goes on. 8/10
4Black Sabbath
Black Sabbath

With the thunderous hell of the breathtaking opener, heavy metal was born. While it may not be as refined some of their later material, its pure ingenuity and enjoyable nature (i.e. “The Wizard”) make it more than simply a curiousity in the history of music, and a genuinely great staple of heavy metal even today. 8/10
3Black Sabbath
Master of Reality

What can I say? It may be slightly overrated in the grand scheme of things, but I’ll be damned if “Sweet Leaf” isn’t a fucking jam. The riff is absolutely brutal and crunchy, and Ozzy’s vocals are among the best he’s ever done here. “Children of the Grave” is a ridiculously good slice of atmosphere and heaviness, and marks up as one of their greatest works ever. And “Solitude” is just absolutely lovely. The rest on here is pretty great too I guess. 8.5/10
2Black Sabbath
Sabbath Bloody Sabbath

After a rut of faltering direction with “Vol. 4,” Sabbath surprisingly hit a home run with a mix of the heaviness they’ve always called home and surprising artist merit in boundless energy and experimentation throughout this truly great album. “A National Acrobat,” “Fluff,” and “Sabbra Cadabra” form a weird and delicious 1-2-3 punch that’s probably the best Sabbath have ever achieved. 8.5/10
1Black Sabbath

An elaboration of the potential that their debut promised, Black Sabbath release one of the first and best metal albums of all time, infusing depth and variety to a genre that was barely born yet. Music, and probably, would be forever changed, and with cuts like “Iron Man” and “War Pigs,” its definitely for the best. 9.5/10
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