The Top Ten Ozzy-Era Black Sabbath Songs That Aren't "Paranoid" or "Iron Man"

Black Sabbath circa 2013 (L-R: Tony Iommi, Ozzy Osbourne, Geezer Butler)
Black Sabbath circa 2013 (L-R: Tony Iommi, Ozzy Osbourne, Geezer Butler)
Courtesy of Black Sabbath

Tonight, Black Sabbath plays L.A. behind 13. This recently released LP is the band's first album with Ozzy Osbourne on vocals since 1978. Let's be honest though; while 13 is a solid addition to the Sabbath catalog, the majority of people going to the show will be there to hear old favorites from these heavy metal pioneers.

While it's likely that even Sabbath neophytes have heard the band's biggest hits through video games, movies and commercials, the hit catalog goes way deeper than radio play singles "Iron Man" and "Paranoid". Here are the top ten Ozzy-era Black Sabbath tracks that aren't these two songs.

See also: Black Sabbath Is Back! Ozzy and Company Discuss Their New Album

10. Sabbra Cadabra

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From: Sabbath Bloody Sabbath (1973)

This track is proof-positive that even the most evil sounding band on the planet can still write a fantastic blues-rock boogie about being "so happy since I met this girl, when we're making love it's something out of this world!" Everything is just spot-on here; from Ozzy's vocals to the band's musicianship. And as if those performances weren't enough, Rick Wakeman of Yes jumps in with haunting '70s prog-rock synth work that lends an otherworldly air to a simple blues song about being in love.

9. Supernaut

From: Vol. 4 (1972)

This hard-rocker steers clear of the slower leanings of many Sabbath songs and just features jam outs from every musician in the band. Tony Iommi's riffs are boogie-tastic. Bill Ward's hypnotic drum breakdown in the middle of the track reaches tribal trance levels of awesomeness, and Ozzy singing about seeing the future and leaving it behind lends a futuristic sci-fi flair to the proceedings.

8. After Forever

From: Master of Reality (1971)

The entire genre of heavy metal has long had the spectre of Satan hanging over it. Much of this is due to how purely evil Black Sabbath sounded when they began concocting their wicked brew. But "After Forever" re-affirms a faith in a Christian God, and manages to be a kickass rock song on all levels on top of that. This castigation of those who judge on flimsy grounds is one of the greatest flip-the-script moments in rock history.

 

7. Snowblind

From: Vol. 4 (1972)

This cautionary tale about excessive cocaine use was especially prescient considering how closely Ozzy teetered on the edge of drug-induced mania throughout much of his career. This track's slow pace never really picks up much in tempo, but, once again, Bill Ward's primal thrashing of his drums and cymbals -- especially his cymbals -- make this jam just as heavy as faster paced Sabbath tracks.

6. Children of the Grave

From: Master of Reality (1971)

The folksy Ren-Faire opening of this song gives way very quickly to one of the greatest sets of riffs in the history of metal. Bill Ward (once again!) kicks in with tribal drumming to add another layer of chaos to the proceedings. This track also uses the Vietnam War as a horrific real-life lyrical backdrop, which gives extra weight to the power of the music behind it.

5. Electric Funeral

From: Paranoid (1970)

The distortion of Tony Iommi's guitar work at the beginning of this song sets up one of the most purely ominous tracks in the entire Sabbath catalog. Echo effects on Ozzy's vocals keep up the feeling of foreboding as he shouts about everyone dying of radiation and fire. Halfway through the song, a badass blues freakout ensues when Iommi's guitar work mimics the sound of someone frantically shouting "electric funeral!" The song then slows back down with an outro as equally menacing as the song's start.

4. War Pigs/Luke's Wall

From: Paranoid (1970)

We strongly considered including this in the "Iron Man/Paranoid" school of overplayed Sabbath songs, but the horrific nature of the real-life goings on of the time period lend a gravitas that makes this song somewhat less accessible than the aforementioned classics. The Vietnam War sets the backdrop as Ozzy shouts about the rich leaving the fighting "to the poor", and Tony Iommi's guitar work towards the end is some of the most enduring of the entire band's career.

 

3. Symptom of the Universe

From: Sabotage (1975)

This may be the most hardest rock track in the entire Sabbath catalog, due in part to Bill Ward contributing the most powerful drumming performance of his entire career. He borders on the edge of jazz-drumming freakouts at almost every lyrical and guitar break in the song. Ozzy also puts in one of his most frantic vocal performances of his career, screaming as if his life depended on the urgency with which he spits out the words. And just when you're exhausted by the pure heaviness, an acoustic flamenco jam breaks out to gently bring you down from the high.

2. The Writ

From: Sabotage (1975)

For us, this is eight-and-a-half minutes of everything that truly represented Black Sabbath during the glory days of the Ozzy years. The haunting laughter at the beginning and the building of Geezer Butler's bass line followed by Ozzy screaming at full-blast sets the stage for the metal-as-fuck lyricism of "Are you Satan/ Are you man?" "The Writ" is music's most badass revenge tale of a band calling out its shady management. An acoustic interlude followed by a hard-rocking outro combines with the weight of the real-life drama for what is, in our opinion, the most evil sounding Sabbath song in existence.

 

1. Black Sabbath

From: Black Sabbath (1970)

The track that started it all. Track one off of side one from the album that many credit with the commence of heavy metal. "Black Sabbath" is the track that set the blueprint for a formula that the band would follow with many of their best songs. Here, creepy sound effects of a rainstorm combine with church bells to set the mood for one of the most ominous riffs in the history of the genre. Ozzy's vocals are that of a protagonist trembling in pure terror at the "figure in black that stands before me." All of this leads into a bluesy jamout where the "figure in black" wins. More than forty years later, this is still one of the heaviest songs of all-time.

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