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YMMV / Black Sabbath

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The band

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  • Awesome Art: Sabbath Bloody Sabbath, originally designed by Drew Struzan, which is often seen as one of the greatest album covers, period!
  • Big-Lipped Alligator Moment: "Supernaut" starts off as a typical heavy number before going off, without warning, into a Caribbean flavored acoustic shuffle, then going back to the main riff as if nothing had happened. Despite, or even because of this, it's a favorite among fans. Justified when you consider they were on a nonstop cocaine binge when recording Vol. 4.
  • Broken Base:
    • Ozzy vs. Dio.
    • Born Again & Seventh Star, the only albums they recorded with Ian Gillan and Glenn Hughes singing, are either liked or disliked.
    • Not so much the quality of the album itself, but some fans can’t seem to agree on whether or not The Devil You Know should count as part of either the Black Sabbath or the Heaven & Hell moniker. note 
    • The Devil You Know vs. 13 over which was the better Sabbath reunion album.
  • Covered Up: Not many fans remember who wrote and performed "Warning" and "Evil Woman" before Sabbath. For the record, they were Aynsley Dunbar's Retaliation (he is a drummer who played with Frank Zappa, David Bowie, Whitesnake, Journey and many more) and Crow (a late-'60s / early-'70s band from Minnesota), respectively.
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  • Crazy Awesome: Ozzy Osbourne. Is he crazy? Yes. He has done enough drugs to kill a horse and infamously once bit the head off a dove, then a bat. (In his defense of the latter, he thought it was a rubber bat rather than a real one.) But is he awesome? Also, yes.
  • Critical Dissonance: During the 1970's Black Sabbath managed to become very popular among rock fans, but they were generally loathed by critics.
  • Dork Age:
    • Technical Ecstasy and Never Say Die consist mostly of typical 1970's rock with lots of keyboards and very few metal elements. Indeed, the only song off either album the band still plays today is "Dirty Women" from Technical Ecstasy. The only on-stage acknowledgement Never Say Die gets is that the flight mask from the album cover is sometimes on the bass drums. The mask also frequently appears in promotional materials and merch.
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    • And then there's any Tony Martin-era albums that aren't The Eternal Idol or Cross Purposes.
  • Epic Riff: So many. "Iron Man", "Paranoid" from Paranoid, "Sweet Leaf", "Into the Void", "Children of the Grave", "Supernaut"...
    • Rob Zombie once said that any metal band ever is ripping off Black Sabbath, because any good metal riff out there, Sabbath wrote it first, either in a slightly different key, or faster, or slower. Most metal guitarists will say this is pretty much true.
  • Face of the Band: Ozzy, though guitarist Tony Iommi is the only constant member.
  • Fanon Discontinuity: Many examples of this:
    • There are no albums between Sabotage and Heaven and Hell.
      • There are no albums after Sabotage, period (13 may be an exception).
    • There was no Sabbath when Ozzy left the band.
    • There are no more albums after Dio left.
      • There were no albums before Heaven and Hell.
    • Basically the only thing that absolutely everybody can agree on is that Forbidden doesn't exist — even fans of the Tony Martin era disown that one.
  • First Installment Wins: According to a readers' poll published by Kerrang! magazine, Sabbath's debut LP isn't just the best Sabbath album, but the best British rock album.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • The song "Iron Man" was specifically written in a way to avoid a lawsuit from Marvel Comics, creator of Iron Man. Today the song's opening riff is happily used by Marvel Studios as the de facto theme of the superhero. Tony Stark even wears a Black Sabbath T-shirt throughout The Avengers. Even more funnily enough, the song's lyrics even correctly predict the plot of Avengers: Endgame, where Iron Man (as well as the other Avengers) "traveled time, for the future of mankind".
    • The band's name in the cover art for Never Say Die! has a bunch of Triforces. Is this where they came from?
  • Hype Backlash:
    • The band’s status as the "greatest metal band of all time" has been met with ire by some metal heads who are baffled by how they still get this status, especially after other bands have come and redefined the genre. Not helping matters was that statement was being used when promoting their The End tour.
    • Song wise, two of their most famous tracks, "Paranoid" and "Iron Man", have been unfavorably compared to "Stairway to Heaven" by some in terms of what's considered the most overplayed songs from the band's whole discography. Making matters worse is that they're the only two songs ever played on mainstream radio stations, plus they're off the same album.
  • Mondegreen:
    • A rather infamous one, the lyrics to Paranoid often sound like "I tell you to end your life" when they're actually "I tell you to enjoy life". Even reputable sources like music lyrics websites repeat the mistake.
    • In-universe example: Ozzy misheard the lyrics in the original version of "Warning" and sings "I was born without you" rather than "warned about you".
    • "Computer God" from Dehumanizer has the lyrics "new clear vision", which could easily be mistaken for "nuclear vision".
    • The repetition of the title of "What's the Use" eventually start sounding like "watch the news".
    • Within the beginning of "Hole In the Sky" off Sabotage, the lyrics "I’m seeing no one through the eyes of a lie" has been interpreted by some as "I’m seeing Noah through the eyes of a lie".
  • Narm: The original treatment of "War Pigs" ("Walpurgis") overshoots the mark a bit when it comes to shock value. Any lyrics that include the words "See them eating dead rat's innards" are bound to inspire at least a few giggles.
  • Narm Charm:
    • For those who like Born Again, Ian Gillan's Metal Screams and Evil Laughs tend toward this.
    • The music video for "No Stranger to Love". It's hard not to love how cheesy it is.
    • The last few seconds of The Writ gives us Blow On a Jug. It’s a ridiculous moment of the band screwing around that doesn’t fit with the overall tone of the song, but it’s too much fun to hate.
    • Much like his solo career, anything from the Dio era is this. The lyrics are as cheesy sounding as can be, but his booming vocals make them sound as epic as ever.
  • Replacement Scrappy:
    • Generally averted by Ronnie James Dio, but played straight by every singer who came after him. Even big names like Ian Gillan weren't able to avoid this - hell, Ian Gillan was probably considered the worst. Not because he was a bad singer, but because he was considered a bad match. Deep Purple and Black Sabbath are two very different things.
    • Subsequently, all bassists and drummers that came after Geezer Butler and Bill Ward left can be seen as this, although much like Dio it’s generally averted by drummers Vinnie Appice and maybe Brad Wilk.
  • Sacred Cow: The Ozzy era, in particular the first 3 albumsnote  are particularly renowned amongst rock and metal enthusiasts as being the earliest forms of metal, and is unwise to say anything negative about them.
  • "Seinfeld" Is Unfunny:
    • Black Sabbath was pretty much the first heavy metal band and are often cited as being the pioneers of everything heard in the genre today. At the time there was nothing else on the market quite like them; while they certainly weren't too far removed from most of the heavier British rock acts, their blend of blues-rock sensibilities, jazz-rock and progressive rock dabblings, and grinding, often dirge-like tempos with a vocalist who had the style of a blues wailer, but came off as more of a doomsday preacher delivering fire-and-brimstone sermons about dark and frightening topics was something wholly new and exciting. While still universally beloved and respected by music critics and metal fans alike, some newer listeners have found it hard to fully understand their impact and what made them so groundbreaking (and controversial) at the time.
    • The change in vocalist from Ozzy to Dio was controversial at the time as Sabbath was known for their themes of doom and chaos, something that many felt was missing once Dio joined the group (especially considering Dio was only known for Rainbow at the time, a rock group leaps and bounds different from what Black Sabbath was known for). Nowadays, in no part thanks to arguably more controversial lineup changes from not only Sabbath but other famous bands, plus the popularity of Dio’s solo career and his era of the band being as widely accepted as the Ozzy era for many fans, a lot of newer listeners don’t see what the big deal was at the time.
  • Signature Song: Between "Black Sabbath", "Paranoid", and "Iron Man". "Children of the Grave", "War Pigs" and "Sweet Leaf" are all honorable mentions.
    • From the Dio era, it’s between "Heaven and Hell", "Neon Knights", "Children of the Sea" and "The Mob Rules". "Voodoo", "Computer God", "I", "Bible Black" and "Lonely Is the Word" being honorable mentions.
    • Regarding the Deep Purple-era Sabbath, Ian Gillian has "Trashed", with "Disturbing the Priest", "Zero the Hero" and "Born Again" coming close, Whereas Glenn Hughes has "No Stranger to Love" with "In for the Kill" as a runner up.
    • Tony Martin has "Headless Cross" with "When Death Calls," "The Shining," "Anno Mundi," "Psychophobia," and "I Witness" not far behind. He even named his solo band "Tony Martin's Headless Cross."
  • Stoic Woobie: Tony Iommi. His life sucked when he was a kid. His life still sucked slightly less when he grew up. You will never see him complain about it. Not even in his book, when he talks about his emotionally abusive childhood with parents that were constantly fighting, watching his beloved Papa (grandfather) die, losing his fingertips, being beaten up by kids in gangs, etc. Then he grows up and gets swindled out of a lot of money, still gets beaten up by adults in gangs, management screws him over repeatedly (see swindling except a little worse), watches his dad die, etc. etc. Then he gets lymphoma. Poor guy.
  • Surprisingly Improved Sequel: Seventh Star was a definite improvement over Born Again due to Glenn Hughes being a better fit for the band, and the album is a solid mid '80s hard rock album. The only reason it gets so much flack is due to a few filler tracks and its In Name Only aspect thanks to Executive Meddling.note 
    • Similarly, 13, both to the previous album with Ozzy Osbourne on vocals (Never Say Die!) and to the band's last album in general (Forbidden).
    • Both Dehumanizer and The Devil You Know are this for coming out after two lackluster Tony Martin era albums (TYR for Dehumanizer and Forbidden for The Devil You Know) and for bringing back not only Geezer Butler, but also Ronnie James Dio and Vinnie Appice as well.
    • Cross Purposes was an improvement compared to the past Tony Martin era albums, Headless Cross and Tyr, for having a greater focus on darker lyrical themes and more complex guitar and bass riffs. Having Geezer Butler back helps.
  • Tear Jerker:
    • "Headless Cross", which is based on an event that happened during the time of Pestilence in England where a bunch of people suffering went to a headless cross on a hill to pray so they could survive. They didn't.
    • "Changes", inspired by Bill Ward's breakup with his first wife. Ozzy himself described the song as "heartbreaking".
      • "She's Gone" has a similar tone.
    • Just try not to cry while listening to "Solitude" or "Too Late."
  • Vindicated by History:
    • They fared much better critically in hindsight than upon their initial success.
    • For a long time Born Again made frequent appearances on "Worst Albums Ever" lists, and it still does, but more recently it's started to show up on "Most Underrated" lists as well.
    • When they get past the fact that it is a Tony Iommi solo album all but in name, many fans find Seventh Star to be a decent mid '80s hard rock album.
    • While it's still largely ignored, the Tony Martin era has definitely gained a fair amount of popularity in recent years, although even people who liked him before this surge in popularity still despise Forbidden.
  • WTH, Casting Agency?:

The Film

See also

  • Uncanny Valley: The dead body in The Drop of Water is clearly a dummy, but that only makes it more terrifying.


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