The 100 Greatest Metal Albums of All Time

The most headbangable records ever, from Metallica's Black Album to Black Sabbath's 'Paranoid'

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Black Sabbath, 'Vol. 4' (1972)
100
14/100

14. Black Sabbath, 'Vol. 4' (1972)

On their fourth album, Black Sabbath departed from the straightforward bludgeon that defined their early career and arrived at a sound that was somehow even heavier. Coked out of their minds (they even thanked their dealers in the liners), the group recorded in L.A. for the first time and allowed themselves to experiment musically. Tony Iommi had tuned his guitar lower to make it easier to play on 1971's Master of Reality, and on Vol. 4 the shift inspired drawn out, emotional riffs (the brilliant opener "Wheels of Confusion") and freewheeling hippie freak-out grooves ("Supernaut," "Cornucopia"), while making space for now iconic guitar solos ("Snowblind," an anthem to coke the way "Sweet Leaf" praised pot). They recorded their first piano ballad ("Changes," which Ozzy Osbourne revived for a live solo hit in 1993) and an acoustic guitar solo ("Laguna Sunrise"), and went full-on druggie with "FX" – 99 seconds of echoey bleeps and bloops that years later may have inspired artier bands like Neurosis to play outside the box. It was the sound of a band reborn, just two years after their debut, starting a new chapter that would inspire everyone from Trent Reznor, who covered "Supernaut" with Ministry's Al Jourgensen, to soul belter Charles Bradley, who took on "Changes." But Osbourne later said it was the "beginning of the end" of Black Sabbath. "Cocaine was the cancer of the band." K.G.

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