When Black Sabbath‘s Bill Ward learned that 1970’s Paranoid, the band’s classic second LP, topped Rolling Stone‘s list of the 100 Greatest Metal Albums of All Time, he says he took the news in stride. “I just thought it was cool,” he told RS during a recent phone chat. “I can think of a lot of other metal bands. I’m grateful that Paranoid, which is one of the original albums to kind of kick this thing off, was put at number one. In that respect, I think that’s cool.”
As the conversation turned to the metal albums that mean the most to him, though, the drummer became considerably more animated. In the wake of the 100 Greatest Metal Albums list – and after polling icons of the genre including Rob Halford, Lars Ulrich and Ward’s former bandmate Ozzy Osbourne – Ward is the latest musician RS has asked to come up with a similar list of his own. And though he’s been there since metal’s early-Seventies inception, helping to define the style’s rhythmic approach with his hard-hitting yet loose, jazz-informed attack, Ward’s picks are surprisingly up to date, with selections stretching from 1971 through 2017.
The bands on his list span many subgenres, from thrash and the New Wave of British Heavy Metal to industrial metal, death metal and more. Ward says that rather than style, it’s a feeling that unites the metal that turns him on. “I can definitely feel it,” he explains. “If I hear a band, if it has that core, it’s gonna reach out, it’s gonna go to dangerous places, it’s gonna be controversial, and everybody’s putting their heart and soul into whatever they’re doing, I’ll make that instant contact. These guys put it all out, and I love that about them … I know what it’s like to put your heart and soul and leave nothing after the concert.”
Here are Bill Ward’s 10 favorite metal albums and his thoughts about each one.