The Top 10 Black Sabbath Songs

The British-born rock band, Black Sabbath, formed in 1968, changed the way people think about the genre. Perhaps better said, the group, founded by guitarist Tony Iommi, drummer Bill Ward, bassist Geezer Butler, and iconic frontman Ozzy Osbourne, expanded the genre, even creating a new subsection: heavy metal.

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With their self-titled debut LP released in 1970, the group began to make waves with their deep, dark, aggressive rock. Following their initial offering, the group released Paranoid in 1970, and Master of Reality in 1971 and has continued to release records until their dissolution in the 21st century in 2016.

[RELATED: 5 Deep Cuts From Black Sabbath That You Should Be Listening To]

The group landed on their name after a few failed attempts at other monikers, including Polka Talk Band and Earth, both of which seem hilarious today. But with songs like “War Pigs” and “Iron Man,” it doesn’t matter what you call them. Greatness abounds.

Though there have been some ups and downs and bumps in the proverbial road, including a stint without Osbourne at the helm after he was temporarily fired in 1979 for substance abuse issues, the group soldiered on, then bringing back Ozzy with his signature wailing vocals in 1997 (after he endeavored into his own solo career). To date, they’ve sold more than 70 million albums, solidifying the genre of heavy metal.

Here, we wanted to dive into the group’s 10 best songs of all time.

1. “Iron Man”

Released on the group’s second studio LP, Paranoid, in 1970, this song has become one of Black Sabbath’s signature songs. At first, the song was called “Iron Bloke,” by the members, after Ozzy heard Iommi’s guitar riff. According to band lore, Osbourne said it sounded “like a big iron bloke walking about.” Then, after the band finished writing the tune, they changed the name to “Iron Man,” a term that’s in the song, too.

2. “War Pigs”

A protest song from the 1970 LP, Paranoid, “War Pigs” is an anti-war song. But that motive wasn’t necessarily of the band when the song came to be. Originally, the song was called “Walpurgis,” which is, according to Butler, “sort of like Christmas for Satanists.” The song wasn’t political at first, but when they brought it to the record label, the execs there thought it was too satanic, so they changed the name. The lyrics, though, remained the same. And while they may not have been political to start, they resonated as such during a time when mandatory army service, which had just ended, was still in the minds of many British folks.

3. “Supernaut”

From the 1972 album, Vol. 4, “Supernaut” is a fan favorite, with artists like Beck, Frank Zappa, and John Bonham all previously and publicly singing its praises throughout history.

4. “Symptom of the Universe”

From the group’s 1975 album, Sabotage, this frantic song helped to define the early stages of thrash metal. It was created mostly by guitarist Iommi with lyrics from Butler and it includes an in-studio jam that was written off the cuff in a single session. History almost by accident.

5. “Black Sabbath”

Off the band’s self-titled debut album, “Black Sabbath” is born of tension, almost from the beginning. It builds and builds. Written in 1969, the tune helped to define the vibe, style, and even the band name from its outset. Three guitar notes, a drum fill, and the rest is history.

6. “Fairies Wear Boots”

Another frantic track, “Fairies Wear Boots” comes from the band’s 1970 album, Paranoid. Opening with an electric guitar-driven instrumental, the drums push the listener and the song forward, crescendoing with Osbourne’s signature banshee voice, howling from the darkness.

7. “Paranoid

From the band’s 1970 album of the same name, this track marked the first single from the LP. It hit No. 4 on the U.K. Singles Chart and 61 in the United States on the Billboard Hot 100. “Paranoid” drives and is one of the group’s most signature songs, harkening even to previous U.K. legendary rock acts like Led Zeppelin.

8. “Children of the Grave”

From the 1971 album, Master of Reality, “Children of the Grave” is another anti-war song, similar to “War Pigs.”

9. “God Is Dead?”

Who doesn’t love a song title with a question mark? “God is Dead?” comes from the band’s nineteenth studio LP, 13, released in 2013. It was that LP’s lead single, dropped officially on April 19. It also marked the first Black Sabbath song release with Osbourne since the 1998 album, Reunion.

10. “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath”

The opening and title song for the group’s 1973 album, “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath” includes what many refer to as “the riff that saved Black Sabbath.” At the time, Iommi, who wrote much of the band’s music, was experiencing writer’s block. To remedy this, the group went to such lengths as renting out the allegedly haunted Clearwell Castle to spark his dark inspirations. Many since have praised the single, including Slash from Guns N’ Roses, who told Guitar World in 2008, “The outro to ‘Sabbath Bloody Sabbath’ is the heaviest shit I have ever heard in my life. To this day, I haven’t heard anything as heavy that has as much soul.”

[RELATED: Behind The Meaning of Black Sabbath’s “Paranoid”]

Photo by Gus Stewart/Redferns

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