32. Black Sabbath, 'Sabotage' (1975)
Black Sabbath were in rough shape by early 1975, ravaged by substance abuse and in the midst of an arduous legal battle with their ex-manager. "We were literally in the studio, trying to record, and we'd be signing all these affidavits and everything," bassist Geezer Butler once said of the making of their inauspicious sixth LP. "That's why it's called Sabotage – because we felt that the whole process was just being totally sabotaged by all these people ripping us off." Strangely, the band's haggard, decadent state only gave their music an added psychological depth. Although it lacks the clarity of their early classics, Sabotage captured a desperation unmatched by any of their other Ozzy-era LPs. The frontman holds nothing back, shredding his throat on lumbering opener "Hole in the Sky" and perfectly embodying the mentally addled narrator of "Megalomania." Tony Iommi steps up with some of his all-time nastiest riffs on "Symptom of the Universe" – a clear thrash-metal precursor – while suite-like epics such as the synth-accented "The Thrill of It All" and litigation-inspired "The Writ" find the band putting its own demented twist on prog. In hindsight, Sabotage's weird sprawl forecasted the original Sabbath's eventual decline, but it just might be the most darkly engrossing full-length they ever made. H.S.