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4.00 | 109 ratings | 9 reviews
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Album · 1981

Filed under Heavy Metal


1. Turn Up The Night (3:42)
2. Voodoo (4:33)
3. The Sign Of The Southern Cross (7:49)
4. E5150 (2:51)
5. The Mob Rules (3:15)
6. Country Girl (4:03)
7. Slipping Away (3:46)
8. Falling Off The Edge Of The World (5:05)
9. Over And Over (5:27)

Total Time 40:35


- Ronnie James Dio / vocals
- Tony Iommi / guitar
- Geezer Butler / bass
- Vinnie Appice / drums

- Geoff Nicholls / keyboards

About this release

4 November 1981
Vertigo, Warner

Reissued as Deluxe Edition in 2010 with the following tracklist:

Disc 1: Original Album (with bonus tracks)

1. Turn Up The Night (3:42)
2. Voodoo (4:33)
3. The Sign Of The Southern Cross (7:49)
4. E5150 (2:51)
5. The Mob Rules (3:15)
6. Country Girl (4:03)
7. Slipping Away (3:46)
8. Falling Off The Edge Of The World (5:05)
9. Over And Over (5:27)
10. Die Young (live) 4:04
11. The Mob Rules (demo version) (3:14)

Disc 2: Live At Hammersmith Odeon, London, December, 31, 1981 And January, 1-2, 1982

1. E5150 (1:17)
2. Neon Knights (4:37)
3. N.I.B. (5:16)
4. Children Of The Sea (6:07)
5. Country Girl (3:53)
6. Black Sabbath (8:24)
7. War Pigs (7:40)
8. Slipping Away (3:18)
9. Iron Man (7:05)
10. The Mob Rules (3:33)
11. Heaven And Hell (14:24)
12. Paranoid (3:21)
13. Voodoo (5:44)
14. Children Of The Grave (5:03)

Total Time 127:25

Thanks to Raff, Pekka, Lynx33 for the updates


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Specialists/collaborators reviews

“Mob Rules” remains one of my favourite Black Sabbath albums. It was Sabbath’s latest album when I first heard it. I was around 11 years old and already impressed with AC/DC and Van Halen. A friend let me hear the intro to the old classic, “Iron Man,” because Ozzy’s distorted voice and the bent guitar note sounded cool. Heavy metal music was filtering down to the boys of my age via the channel of older brothers (which I didn’t have) and so it was through another friend that I was treated to this “new” heavy sound. When I first heard the, “tss, tss, tss, tss” of the opening track, “Turn up the Night,” and the sudden thunder of guitars, I was in love. This was music to my ears.

“Turn up the Night” features some blazing wah-wah pedal solos by Tony Iommi and Ronnie James Dio’s gruff and powerful vocals. The song, a bit mainstream sounding I’ll admit, thunders on through from start to finish. Say what you will about it, I still love to listen to it. The second track changes the pace quickly with a mid-tempo, less heavy in tone number called, “Voodoo”. The contrast between the first two songs hints that this will not be all hellfire and thunder straight through the album. The soloing also shows a more stylistic approach in contrast with the sonic ray gun blasting of “Turn up the Night”.

The third track, “Sign of the Southern Cross,” remains as one of my favourite Black Sabbath songs ever. It features a pretty acoustic guitar intro with Dio showing off his skills as a talented singer, using smooth soft vocals and delicate falsetto. His delivery is impeccable. I remember my friends and I having a snicker over the line, “Vanish it to small,” because one friend liked to sing, “vanishshit”. Hey, we were 11 years old. After the intro, the song morphs with a monster slow and heavy riff. It has been said that heavy metal was originally slow and heavy and if you think of Sabbath’s own, “Black Sabbath” then you can imagine that we are back to a 1981 version of that slow heavy riffing. The song has a seriously haunting, doomy atmosphere about it with a touch of a spooky cosmic mood during the verses. In spite of the fact that there are some cool drum and bass fills and the guitar solo concludes with a little bit of finger action, the music for the most part is sparse but effective. And by now, Sabbath have offered up three distinct songs of differing mood and tempo.

“Sign” fades into the effects instrumental “E5150” which begins with some rather interesting effects but soon becomes neither here nor there. I read that the song title spells out “E-V-I-L” if you replace the numbers with Roman numerals. Sounds a little silly but it was probably someone’s good idea at the time. Then abruptly the fearsome assault of “Mob Rules” erupts and reminds you that this album started out with a balls-to-the-wall metal rocker.

Side two begins with another “Voodoo” mid-tempo song that opens with another cool riff. “Country Girl” gives Dio a chance to show off his vocal prowess once more. “Slipping Away” was an education in music for me because I was still a newbie to rock and metal having come from a background of Disney story book cassettes, the Smurfs, and my parents’ easy listening albums. In “Slipping Away” Messrs Iommi and Butler taught me the difference between an electric guitar solo and an electric bass guitar solo, thus initiating my long love for the bass guitar (though I only ever tried playing a bass once).

I always felt that “Falling off the Edge of the World” was like a sped up version of “Sign of the Southern Cross”, perhaps because it too has a slow and very heavy riff. But the song rockets off and plays at a pace that would have inspired many young and upcoming thrash metal musicians. The final track “Over and Over” often gets mention by other reviewers but I’m afraid it has never appealed much to me and is the only track off the album that I usually don’t listen to. I find it drags on, and Dio's plaintive whimper (albeit a powerful whimper) doesn't thrill me either.

Many reviewers agree that this album is not quite as good as “Heaven and Hell” with some even going as far as saying that this is an inferior copy of the previous album. But I bought “Heaven and Hell” on cassette a year or two later and I loved only the first three tracks. After that I can’t remember anything else from the album and I am not yet tempted to purchase it on CD. “Mob Rules”, on the other hand, is one of my three-timers: an album that I have purchased once on cassette in the 80’s, once on CD in the 90’s, and a third time on remastered CD in the 00’s. Still these days I find myself keeping the album or at least favourite tracks on my iPod. For me, this album was a very important stepping stone to getting myself into heavy metal.
While this didn't reach the highs of their previous album "Heaven And Hell" it is more consistant with a slightly heavier and darker sound. So while there's not a lot to choose between the two i'll agree with the majority on rating "Heaven And Hell" slightly higher. Besides i didn't own this back in the early eighties like i did "Heaven And Hell". The big change between the two albums is having Ward leave and Vinnie Appice take over on the drum kit. Dio and Appice became great friends as both are Italians from New York. I must admit i've never liked the album cover but oh well. My top three tracks are first of all "The Sign Of The Southern Cross" which has some great contrasts and when it's heavy it's very powerful. "Country Girl" for the guitar early and the vocals throughout. And "Falling Off The Edge Of The World" is my final top three. It's almost doom-like at one point and the guitar solo later on is moving. Special mention to "The Mob Rules" for the energy. So two great albums from SABBATH greet us in the early eighties and both are essential. RIP Dio.
Conor Fynes
'Mob Rules' - Black Sabbath (7/10)

Sabbath's "Heaven And Hell" not only brought their music into a new decade, it also saved them from an inevitable death. The two final albums of the Ozzy era were a sharp boot in the face to the six albums prior that had built the band up as one of the most respected in hard rock and heavy metal. With a new singer and more upbeat sound, Black Sabbath were reinvigorated, and "Heaven And Hell" enjoyed the first sounds of inspiration Black Sabbath had felt in a couple of years. "Mob Rules" doesn't necessarily push this new sound any further, but it proves that "Heaven And Hell" was not a fluke. Although not quite as consistent as its predecessor, "Mob Rules" is a great way to wrap up the first Dio era.

As was the case on "Heaven And Hell", the addition of vocalist Ronnie James Padavona changes the band's sound more than I would have expected. Although Sabbath's style had fluctuated a bit during the Ozzy era, the songwriting had generally been based around thick, heavy riffs, courtesy of Tony Iommi and his distinct approach to the guitar. Although Iommi's trademark doom did peek its head up occasionally, it sounded more like Dio's future solo career than anything the band had done in the past. "Mob Rules" does not deviate much from this course, but a little more of the traditional Sabbath cracks through. "Country Girl" is fueled by an incendiary Iommi riff that wouldn't have sounded out of place on "Master of Reality". "The Sign of the Southern Cross" is another song where Sabbath harken back to their more downtempo roots. For the most part however, Sabbath go for faster-paced metal tunes; "Turn Up The NIght" and the title track "The Mob Rules" are both memorable exercises in fire and brimstone.

Although I would have thought Black Sabbath were defined by the riffs, it's remarkable how much the music has changed with replacement vocalist Ronnie James Dio. While I thought Ozzy Osbourne had some great pipes on some of their earlier albums, Dio's voice is notably more powerful, effortlessly pulling off operatic belts that would have made Ozzy cower. With that being said, I think Ozzy's drug-addled charm could have added something to these songs that Dio's flamboyant delivery does not. As far as skill is concerned, Sabbath have certainly benefited from the vocal replacement, but Sabbath sound less distinctive than they used to, and a little more like the horde of their contemporary metal bands.

"Mob Rules" is not the remarkable statement that "Heaven And Hell" was, if only for the fact that "Heaven" did it first. Although it does sound as if Sabbath are trying to recall a little of their past sound here, it is for the most part a recreation of the previous album, albeit less consistent and powerful. Suffice to say, Ronnie James Dio brings a very different angle to Black Sabbath, and though I do not find this material to be as memorable as the Ozzy material, this era is a refreshing new sound for one of heavy metal's greatest bands.
Having released their most well-received album for some years in the form of Heaven and Hell, Sabbath can be forgiven for playing it safe with the next album, which is essentially a slightly darker take on the same general sound. Those who like one will like the other, but in my view Heaven and Hell is a notch better than this one - in particular, the second side here starts getting rather bogged down and samey. Still, it's got Dio on it, and any collaboration between Dio and Sabbath (whether it's under the name of Sabbath or Heaven and Hell) is worth a listen or two - and there's anthemic songs on here like Sign of the Southern Cross which I certainly wouldn't want to be without.
The Mob Rules continues with grown confidence on the path that Heaven and Hell carved the year before. The album is heavier and more consistent and the battle between Dio’s vocal chords and Iommi's power chords reaches its nadir.

"Turn up the Night" is a good opener but it isn’t till "Voodoo" that this record really kicks off. Classic groove on that one. "Sign of the Southern Cross" is the epic beast and even better then "Heaven and Hell". An instrumental interlude "E5150" with creepy distorted bass chords leads into the straight old school metal title track. Halfway through the album, "Country Girl" offers a first lighter flair on this ripping doom monolith. It's a folksy catchy tune with a beautifully tender middle section. "Slipping Away" is a solid heavy rock song but probably the least interesting on the album. Some enjoyable bass picking from mr Butler though.

After these two down to earth tracks, "Falling off the Edge of the World" takes us away into Dio's fairy land again. A gentle intro leads into a short brooding funeral march till things are stirred up around the two minute mark with a entrancing looping riff courtesy of mr Iommi. "Over and Over" is the final proof that this is a work from the days when artists still knew how to make an album. A slow emotional ballad rounds things up on a strong note and balances beautifully against all heaviness that preceded it.

There seems to be some bad vibes surrounding this album which kind of surprises me. Back in the day people seemed to find this every bit as good as "Heaven and Hell". An essential.
I had this on vinyl and used to thrash it in the 80s during the birth of the heavy metal revolution when the 80s Metal gods unleashed their hordes. Iommi, Butler, Dio, Appice, and some feller named Nicholls really were possessed to play any way they chose and they used to conjur up all sorts of demonic forces during their mainstay in the metal realm. I grew out of this type of music indefinitely after the initial excitement of new metal kicked in and ultimately died.

I guess the album still has some merit; notably the tracks Turn Up the Night, The Sign of the Southern Cross, E5150 and The Mob Rules but side 2 was a complete waste and rarely troubled my stylus. I remember the abum well for its audaciousness, the silly front cover and the tracks mentioned from side 1 but it was a tiresome effort really, packed with mediocrity and immature lyrics of demons and devils that never sat well with me. Dio's satanic hand signals were pitiful after a while and his voice drowned out the music too often - Iommi is always a sensation so shut up and let the man play! Once upon a long ago this album was the ants pants when it came to metal and was way ahead of its time before Metallica, Iron Maiden and Slayer transformed the metal genre and turned it into a force to be reckoned with.

Black Sabbath were metal pioneers and when they were great they dominated (first 4 albums especially) but when they were ordinary, they sucked. This album is only for collectors so tread carefully among the hallowed ruins of the early 80s metallution, for among the greatness there was so much mediocrity.
Time Signature
Turn up the volume...

Genre: heavy metal / doom metal

I always thought that "The Mob Rules" never quite made it, compared to "Heaven and Hell" and I never really was able to fully appreciate "The Mob Rules", but lately I'm finding myself gradually changing my mind about that.

Like "Heaven and Hell", this album is more of a straight heavy metal album, containing a number of straight uptempo hard rockers such as "Turn Up the Night", "The Mob Rules", "Slipping Away" and the typical 80s metal "Voodoo"(which are slightly heavier though), but these have been less captivating to me than their counterparts on "Heaven and Hell", but I find myself enjoying listening to them much more now than before, which is a very positive surprise to me.

Interestingly, this album also contains tracks that musically are slightly reminiscent of the very heavy and doomladen material of the early days of the Ozzy-era. For instance, "The Sign of the Southern Cross", while not as heavy as "Iron Man", "Electric Funeral" or "Black Sabbath", is still heavy enough to be considered a doom metal track of sorts. It opens out with a beautiful acoustic introduction with soft but impressive vocals by Dio before kicking into a heavy Iommi-style riff of the sort that can never go wrong. "Southern Cross" is one of my favorite os the album. "Country Girl" is another one, may because it contains another one of those Iommi-riffs, but also because of its melodic bridge section. "Over and Over" is another melancholic doom-laden track, and another favorite of mine, while "Falling Off The Edge of the World" is probably the best track on the album.

I think that fans of traditional heavy metal and hard rock will appreciate this album, and some doom metal fans might like it too for its heavier tracks.

Members reviews

Over and over, but not slipping away!

Mob Rules is Black Sabbath's tenth album and for the first time in their career they seem to follow a formula. Say what you want about albums like Technical Ecstasy and Never Say Die, but they showed a band willing to change and try out new things. Mob Rules followed on the heels of the successful Heaven And Hell album, and maybe they thought 'why divert from a successful formula?' Personally, I am prepared to forgive the formulaic approach here and for me Mob Rules is about as enjoyable as Heaven And Hell is!

With the sound of the band remaining constant, the line up, however, did not. Vinnie Appice takes over the drum stool here. He is a very competent replacement for Bill Ward. The album opens with Turn Up The Night which is this album's Neon Knights. This is a powerful opening number. The Sign Of The Southern Cross is this album's Children Of The Sea and is actually my favourite Dio-era Black Sabbath song. It starts out with lovely acoustic guitar and an excellent vocal performance from Ronnie. This is every bit as good as Children Of The Sea, in my opinion!

One difference between the two albums is that Mob Rules is slightly more diverse. The instrumental E5150 does not have any representative on Heaven And Hell. It is much better than FX from Volume Four, but hardly great. This inclusion of E5150 might signal keyboardist Geoff Nicholls' increasing importance in the band. Nicholls was never recognized as a full member, but he contributed to every album from Heaven And Hell onwards plus following them on tours.

Falling Off The Edge Of The World and Over And Over are excellent heavy songs in the style of Lonely Is The Word. Again, these have excellent vocals by Ronnie. Voodoo, Country Girl and the title track are, on the other hand, Hard Rock songs that resemble Lady Evil, Whishing Well and Walk Away from the previous album. These are the least good songs from these albums, in my opinion. I can't help thinking that had they discarded these straightforward Hard Rock songs and put the longer, more elaborated and heavy songs from both albums onto a single album, it would have been an excellent one!

As it stands, Mob Rules is a fine album that will undoubtedly appeal to anyone who enjoyed the previous album. While some songs have interesting bits, particularly the excellent The Sign Of The Southern Cross, the Dio-era albums are among Black Sabbath's least inventive and progressive albums. But this is what it is and as they stand both Heaven And Hell and Mob Rules are fine albums in their own right.
Released one year after the monumental "Heaven and Hell", "Mob Rules" enjoys the less than complimentary reputation of being a sort of clone of its illustrious predecessor. While I would never dare to state that it is on the same level as H&H, I nevertheless believe MR is a much better album than it usually gets credit for. Though, in a way, it does reproduce H&H's structure, that does not mean it is not a good album in its own right. As a matter of fact, some of the tracks on MR number among the best ever written by the band.

The second Sabbath album without Ozzy Osbourne also sees the temporary departure of original drummer Bill Ward, replaced by Vinnie Appice, brother of legendary drummer Carmine (of Vanilla Fudge, Cactus and a hundred other bands' fame). Appice, who would later join Ronnie James Dio's eponymous band, though not a particularly creative drummer, is certainly no slouch behind the kit, and his no-nonsense approach to his craft is quite well suited to the album's heaviness.

The album kicks off with "Turn Up the Night", a song whose intro is somewhat reminiscent of "Neon Knights", though with a distinctly more radio-friendly approach. The following track, "Voodoo", is a classic Dio-era, bass-powered mid-tempo, where RJ's awe-inducing roar gets a chance to shine. On the other hand, "Country Girl" is BS's take on a romantic ballad, which Dio sings in a smoother, more melodic, less aggressive way, reminding the listener of his vocal style on Rainbow's debut album.

As good as the above-mentioned songs are ("Slipping Away" is in my opinion the only really throwaway track, like the similarly-titled "Walk Away" on H&H), the album features three killer tracks that can be easily numbered among the best material the band has ever produced. The album's standout track is undoubtedly the crushingly heavy "The Sign of the Southern Cross" - one of the high points of Dio's career, which he still performs live with his own band. Clocking in at almost 8 minutes, it starts out slowly and poignantly to develop into a monstrous, atmospheric, doom-laden ride dominated by Dio's mesmerizing vocal performance. "Falling Off the Edge of the World" begins in much the same way, but then unfolds into an energetic, fast and furious hard rocker, which seamlessly blends with album closer "Over and Over" - another slow-paced, moody number enhanced by Tony Iommi's absolutely blistering guitar, a perfect foil for Dio's vocal intensity.

"Mob Rules" is an album that, in my opinion, is worth having even if only on account of the previously- mentioned three songs. Not a masterpiece by any means, but a very enjoyable effort by a great line-up - which, luckily for us, has recently made a stunning comeback as Heaven and Hell.

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