Why Black Sabbath’s ‘Never Say Die!’ Was Doomed to Fail

When Black Sabbath released the doomed-to-fail Never Say Die! in 1978, the irony of the title was lost on nobody including the band. The metallurgists had revolutionized heavy music at the dawn of the ’70s with classic albums like their self-titled debutParanoid and Master of Reality. But years of rampant substance abuse and dwindling album sales had left them a worn-out husk of a band. Black Sabbath struggled to complete 1976’s messy, freewheeling Technical Ecstasy, and by the time they commenced work on Never Say Die! in early 1978, they could barely stand, let alone play.