Black Sabbath have long been considered one of the heaviest heavy metal bands. After 40 years, his monstrous riffs still echo in the brains of hard rock fans around the world. Sabbath was always much more than a heavy rock band; acoustic interludes, jazzy phrasing, pop melodies, and bluesy riffs are just a few of the textures that can be found in his music. Still, their overall sound has always been pretty unforgiving.
Here’s a list of some of the songs that I think cement Sabbath’s well-deserved reputation as the heaviest in the country.
1.) “Into the Void” – from Master of Reality, 1971
If I had to pick just one song to justify Black Sabbath’s unmatched heaviness, it would be this. This single song has more top metal riffs than most guitarists have in the course of a career. As is often the case, Tony Iommi leads the pack here with a tone and attack that make listening to this song feel like you’re slowly encased in molten iron (um, in, you know, in a good way). However, the band’s chemistry shouldn’t be discounted here; without Ozzy’s voice crying in the desert and the inimitable rhythm section of Bill Ward and Geezer Butler working and swaying simultaneously, the track’s heaviness would be less than half. Advances in technology have naturally made it easier to get heavy, heavy guitar tones or production sounds, but the key to why these things still sound alarmingly heavy even today lies in the crazy hand vibrato. of Iommi, along with the chemistry with the rest of the band.
2.) “Iron Man” – from Paranoid, 1970
Exaggerated? Maybe. Still, despite the fact that this classic riff is one of the first things every rock guitarist learns (along with Deep Purple’s “Smoke on the Water”), and it’s burned into the brains of rock fans, rock from all over the world, it never sounds as heavy in your head as it does when you actually listen to it. This is heavy almost to the point of parody and therefore awesome.
3.) “War Pigs” – from Paranoid, 1970
Another big hit, and from the same album, but “War Pigs” also demands its inclusion. The opening chord alone qualifies this song for the heaviness hall of fame.
4.) “The Writ” – from Sabotage, 1975
Some of Sabbath’s heaviest songs come from this underrated album, like “Hole in the Sky,” “Symptom of the Universe,” and “Megalomania.” They all probably belong on this list, but “The Writ” turns out to be the heaviest of the bunch to my ears, if only for the harrowing emotional punch it packs. It’s often overlooked just how much Ozzy’s vocals add to the actual heaviness of the Sabs’ denser material.
5.) “Falling Off the Edge of the World” – from Mob Rules, 1981
It had to include something from the Dio era and it was a mix between this and “Follow the Tears” from the 2009 album, “The Devil You Know”. That album, however, although it was recorded by the same personnel as “The Mob Rules”, was released under the band name Heaven & Hell, not Black Sabbath. So, I call this difficult choice on a technicality here. However, any one of these tracks is overwhelmingly heavy and makes a strong argument for Iommi and Butler’s ability to dish out world-class heaviness even with two very different musicians on drums and vocals (Vinny Appice and Ronnie James Dio, respectively). Another strong contender would be “I” from 1992’s “Dehumanizer.”
In the end, it’s really hard to pick five as the ultimate heavy moments for these guys. However, I think if you listen to these five songs in a row, you’ll see why people consider Black Sabbath one of the heaviest bands of all time.