The best Black Sabbath songs with Ozzy Osbourne is also a discussion about the beginnings of heavy metal. This band established what heavy metal is and should be, especially considering the era they began in. Black Sabbath defined a lot of prizes of the genre and people are still influenced by them to this very day.
It’s also worth pointing out that the best Black Sabbath songs with Ozzy Osbourne can be quite challenging to measure. The 70s were a very prolific period for this band. Black Sabbath’s famous guitarist Tony Iommi and the lads came out with many amazing songs. However, there are some that naturally stand out above the rest.
This is a list of the best Black Sabbath songs with Ozzy Osbourne and is meant to celebrate the band’s career. And while Black Sabbath made another ton of great songs without Ozzy, this article is meant to celebrate this period of the band’s career.
The 12 Black Sabbath songs with Ozzy Osbourne
This list is not meant to define anything about Black Sabbath. It is just a fun exercise about the author’s perception of their catalog. Every Black Sabbath fan has his or her view about what constitutes their best songs, and this case is no different.
It is also worth pointing out that if a song or two is missing here, feel free to point it out. The comment section is there for a reason. And the songs are set in no particular order.
Which are the 12 best Black Sabbath songs with Ozzy Osbourne?
- Children of the Grave
- Symptom of the Universe
- War Pigs
- Lord of this World
- Sabbath Bloody Sabbath
- Wheels of Confusion
- Black Sabbath
- Into the Void
- Iron Man
Black Sabbath stormed the 70s with its debut. The great about the debut is that it comes out fully formed. This wasn’t a band learning its sound or something like that. They had a clear vision and “N.I.B.” is a great example of that.
Bassist Geezer Butler, the lyricist, had this to say about the song’s title in 2022:
“When I wrote N.I.B., I couldn’t think of a title for the song, so I just called it Nib, after Bill’s beard, which looked like a pen nib because it was pointy.”
The song itself has a great bass intro by Butler and a nice groove by drummer Bill Ward. This is also one of the best Black Sabbath songs with Ozzy because of that: the groove. It is a very catchy song and it stays in people’s minds from the first listen. And the lyrics, dealing with the Devil’s temptation, are very well-crafted.
Children of the Grave
1971’s “Master of Reality“, Black Sabbath‘s third album, was a huge turning point for them. This was the moment where the band, particularly Tony Iommi, started to experiment with their sound. Bill Ward agreed with that notion many years later:
“During Master Of Reality, we started getting more experimental and began taking too much time to record.”
In that regard, there is no denying that “Children of the Grave” is one of the best Black Sabbath songs with Ozzy Osbourne. The guitar work by Iommi is simply outstanding and heavy, adding a thick layer of sound to the song. It also has a major galloping approach, which definitely influenced Iron Maiden a few years down the line.
Symptom of the Universe
Black Sabbath was not in a good place in the mid-70s. The guys had been scammed by their manager, they were struggling with addiction, and not knowing where to go next. What did they do? Produce one of the best albums of all time in 1975’s “Sabotage“. And “Symptom of the Universe” is one of the best Black Sabbath songs with Ozzy Osbourne of all time.
It’s that opening riff. That sets the stage for what is going to happen. It shows Sabbath‘s massive musical evolution in just five years, especially regarding Iommi. His guitar playing became a lot more ambitious over the years and it shows greatly with this song. This is a track with a lot of rhythm changes and one of Ozzy‘s best vocal performances.
This is what Iommi said in 2021 about how the opening riff was made:
“Oh my god, it was a long time ago. I can’t remember, to be completely truthful. I imagine we would have probably been in rehearsal. Generally, yeah. Sometimes I’ve come up with stuff at home and taped it just to remember it, but I don’t really work things out as such.”
“Sabotage” was great for Black Sabbath in terms of growing as musicians. This was the peak of the band’s experimental period in the 70s. “Megalomania” is one of the best Black Sabbath songs with Ozzy Osbourne for a lot of reasons. These reasons include the rhythm changes, the slow buildup, Ozzy‘s great vocal performance, and the phenomenal guitar work.
It is a very strong composition and one of Black Sabbath‘s longest songs at 9:41 minutes. However, it doesn’t feel long at all and flows quite naturally. Iommi also throws a lot of great riffs and they all make sense within the song. Ozzy shows a lot more vocal diversity than usual in his songs, which is always a great thing.
Perhaps one of the band’s most underrated songs and also one of their most ambitious and progressive.
There is nothing that can be said about “Paranoid” that hasn’t been said before. It’s one of the best Black Sabbath songs with Ozzy Osbourne and by far the most popular. Not only with Ozzy but in general. “Paranoid” gave Black Sabbath the much-needed boost in popularity they needed in the early 70s and they never looked back.
It’s funny to think that this ended up becoming the title track of the 1970 album when it was a throwaway song. The guys of Black Sabbath only made it to fill album space and because the label wanted a single. But it was thanks to this song that they became extremely famous and also helped to influence a lot of young musicians all over the world.
Geezer Butler even said many years later that he didn’t want the song to be released. His reason was that it sounded way too much to Led Zeppelin:
“We always loved Zeppelin in them days, sitting round on the floor smoking dope and listening to that first album. So when Tony came up with the riff to ‘Paranoid’ me and Ozzy spotted it immediately and went: ‘Naw, we can’t do that!’”
“In fact we ended up having quite a big argument about it. Guess who was wrong? The fact that it became such a big hit for us—and is now probably our best known song—says it all, really.”
Lord of this World
Another juggernaut of a song from “Master of Reality“. Ozzy‘s vocals are on point but is Tony Iommi who carries the song. It could be argued that the entire “Master of Reality” album shows Iommi at his heaviest, downtuning his guitar and everything.
The song itself is one of those that has had a great influence on doom metal. It is slow, with powerful riffs, and a very delicious bass line by Geezer Butler. Black Sabbath had a lot of groove during this era of the band and it was a key element in their sound.
Sabbath Bloody Sabbath
The mid-70s were a great period for Black Sabbath in terms of experimentation. The guys, mainly Iommi, knew that they had to branch out musically and do different kinds of music. This is how they manage to do albums like “Sabotage” and its predecessor, “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath“.
The title track is one of the best Black Sabbath songs with Ozzy Osbourne. No fan is going to dispute that. It shows that the band reached a level of musical maturity that they didn’t have before. They were all accomplished musicians but this was something special.
The most amazing part was that the band headed to the studio with a writer’s block. And it was simply playing in a castle that helped them, according to Tony Iommi:
“We rented an old castle in the Forest of Dean [Clearwell Castle]. And it was just us there. What we did was we set up the equipment in the dungeons of the castle, to try and get some vibe going. And then that was it – we came up with Sabbath Bloody Sabbath, and the rest came fairly shortly afterwards. The block had gone.”
Wheels of Confusion
It can be argued that “Vol. 4” is where Sabbath‘s addiction problems began to creep in. However, at least during these years, the band was still working. And this was proven with songs such as “Wheel of Confusion.”
While it doesn’t have such a big legacy compared to many of the best Black Sabbath songs with Ozzy, it is still quite special. This is mainly due to perhaps being the first “epic” in the band’s catalog. That song was their first attempt at writing a longer, more complex composition. It actually worked and paved the way for things people would enjoy in “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath” and “Sabotage“.
This is the one that started it. The song that created heavy metal. It’s amazing that Black Sabbath created an entire music genre with just the band’s first-ever song. However, that is exactly what they did with the title track of their 1970 debut.
The song itself is a doom metal masterpiece. It’s dark, the riffs are extremely heavy, and Ozzy‘s vocals are haunting, fitting the track to a T. It has one of the best atmospheres in the band’s catalog and flows extremely well, which is saying a lot considering their body of work.
It is a historical piece of music. That’s not hyperbole. The entire metal landscape would be very different if it wasn’t for Black Sabbath and this one. One of the best Black Sabbath songs with Ozzy Osbourne and arguably the most influential.
Into the Void
There are two words to describe “Into the Void“: “heavy” and “groove”. It is one of the best examples of how powerful the Iommi/Butler combo was. The combination of Tony‘s riffs with Geezer‘s bass was a deadly combination that paid a lot of dividends. “Into the Void” is also one of Iommi‘s greatest moments as a guitar player.
It is amazing to think that this song came out in 1971. This is a very good example of how Black Sabbath defined heavy metal. It is also quite interesting to see how this is one of the best Black Sabbath songs with Ozzy Osbourne and the latter doesn’t sing that much here.
However, when it comes to the guitar work, this is next-level stuff. The dark, crunchy feel of the guitar is breathtaking. There are also some excellent rhythm changes that add to the experience.
This song arguably has the most iconic riff of all time. Tony Iommi crafted one of the best riffs and a song that lives up to the hype. “Iron Man” sticks in people’s minds from the get-go and never lets go. Ozzy‘s vocals are also a major element in that regard as he sings really well here. His charisma, along with his voice, adds to the dramatic and darksome feel of the song.
There is very little that can be said about “Iron Man“. It is not only one of the best Black Sabbath songs with Ozzy Osbourne but also one of the most popular rock songs of all time. It is that great and is that successful. One of Black Sabbath‘s achievements.
What Black Sabbath songs with Ozzy Osbourne are your favorite? Let us know in the comment section!