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It is not unknown for a band to blow their creative load on their debut album by placing all their strongest songs on it and then suffer a sophomore slump with their next record, which ends up mostly filled with the lesser tracks in their repertoire. Conversely, some bands truly find their feet at the second time of asking and fully develop their original sound. 'Paranoid' is the quintessential example of this.
The record is a quantum leap forward from the debut, in terms of songwriting and cohesiveness. The whole band seems tighter, playing more as a single unit of interwoven energies. Gone are the uncertainties that affected the second side of the self-titled album - there is no blues-rock guitar solo showcasing here. Gone, too, are the cover songs. Here we have eight original compositions, fully formed and tightened up from their original drafts. Only 'Rat Salad' allows room for indulgence, being nothing more than a drum solo, but even so it's only a couple of minutes long - noticeably shorter and more to the point than Led Zeppelin's contemporary effort Moby Dick.
Sabbath's true power as a band emerges on this record. Nearly ever song has riffs that have become not so much well-known as legendary. While the songs aren't necessarily overly complex or played with an excessive amount of technicality, they are all well-constructed and memorable. 'War Pigs' opens the album with a monstrous dirge of guitars, the bass picking out a line through the murk, and then develops into a heavy yet jazz-inflected groove, with interesting drum work - Ward plays around the riff, jazz-style, instead of providing the back beat. Unusually, many of Sabbath's songs from the Ozzy era use the combined guitar/bass riff as their main underpinning, with the vocals and the drums dancing around the core sound that Iommi and Butler produce. 'War Pigs' is the best example of it. Although it's eight minutes long, the song doesn't drag and has a nice coda of rolling riffage which brings to mind a tank wading through a battlefield. The sudden speed up at the end [done by fast-forwarding the recording tape, maybe?] is a nice touch and a quirky way to bring the song to a close.
The other songs perhaps aren't quite as individually arranged as War Pigs - a lot of them follow a standard verse/chorus/faster bit/verse/chorus pattern - but they are all distinctive. 'Iron Man' in particular boasts a riff that levels everything in its path and has a really good slow grind to it. 'Electric Funeral' follows the same pattern and is even more dirge-like, a feeling enhanced by the bleak lyrics about nuclear war. 'Hand Of Doom' is more laid back, only really exploding into life at the chorus and the mid-section, but the slothful, lethargic pace of the opening and closing bass line and verses seem quite appropriate for a song where the lyrics starkly warn of the dangers of creeping heroin addiction.
Lyrically, almost every song deals with the darker aspects of the world - war, drug abuse, mental illness, gang violence and apocalyptic scenarios. While the lyrics on the debut were noticeably darker than what other bands were writing at the time, on 'Paranoid' Sabbath look at the human condition's darker corners with a relentless determination. Although the lyrics are simple, they get their message across very well and bring to mind fairly stark and honest images, and serve as a good reflection of some of the worries and concerns of the times that the album was recorded in. Interestingly however despite the gloomy themes the music is not overly off-putting or too numbingly downbeat to listen to - the sheer core energy of the riffs and the vitality they contain are life-affirming, and .
However, amid the bleak vistas and concerns about the world, Sabbath do find time to relax a little. While 'Sleeping Village' on the debut album had been little more than an eerie fragment of a song, 'Planet Caravan' not only expands the idea into a fully formed composition but serves as a welcome moment of escapism and reflection away from the riffage and darkness. It's very soothing and quiet, and works beautifully as a counterpart to the first two songs by being placed directly after them. Sabbath would use this tactic on subsequent albums, but not with quite such a calming effect as they managed here.
Finally [as it can't really be ignored] the album contains Sabbath's best known hit, 'Paranoid'. Originally written in about half an hour in order to fill up space on the album, it's a zippy little tune. For a hit single, it has pretty dark lyrics - in 1970, not too many other songs in the charts were tackling mental health issues so upfront and directly - but has a very catchy riff that's ensured its worldwide popularity down through the decades. However, in terms of overall sound it isn't entirely representative of the album [or indeed this period of Sabbath] as a whole, so anyone buying the album on the basis of knowing this one song should expect a few surprises.
Sabbath's debut is widely regarded [and rightly so] as a milestone in heavy metal. But for myself, Paranoid is where the band truly found their sound and fully developed into the colossal riff machine of legend. The songwriting is better composed, the sound is tighter, the extraneous flab has been trimmed down and what is left is a ferocious, mean, cohesive and precision-cut set of songs. Although there are a few minor complaints [the production is still somewhat thin, and doesn't totally do the heavier aspects of the music justice - these songs sound a lot heavier and more uncompromising live], 'Paranoid' marks a major step forward in Sabbath's career, and to this day is an album that should be in the collection of anyone who is interested in heavy music. And Sabbth were only just getting started....
You don't need any explanation as to who Black Sabbath is. As a matter of fact, I'm not so sure if I need to type an introduction to this review, 'cos chances are you're already coming up with one in your head. The presence of Black Sabbath in the history of metal is just as prevalent as the presence of Abraham Lincoln in American history. Everything that must be said about them has already been said.
The riffs of this album, written by Tony Iommi, are somewhat basic and easy to play. The title track especially is an extremely simple riff that only consists of a few power chords. I'm giving that a free pass 'cos this was state of the art at the time of its release. Bear in mind that in 1970, heavy metal was pretty much unheard of. Black Sabbath was pretty much the only "real" metal band in existence at that time, and a simple riff like that in the title track could get away with being basic, since nobody else at that time would play something like that. If the album was released today, "Paranoid" would be considered one of the worst things ever since people have come up with even more basic riffs in this day in age. I guess it's probably why "13" never did so well, 'cos we've heard the riffs found in its songs so many times before. Had it been released in Black Sabbath's heyday, it would've been looked at as a masterpiece. Speaking of masterpieces, we also have the songs that would go on to influence doom metal. "Electric Funeral" with its plodding and ominous vibe is one of them.
"Paranoid" is also a step up from their previous self-titled debut, since the band has upped its game in so many ways. One way is that they decided to record separate tracks separately, as the previous album had different sounding tracks that combined to make one song (the famous "N.I.B" got paired with "Behind the Wall of Sleep" as one song for some reason). It kind of draws us away from the whole jam session feel of the previous album, which some people would probably lament the loss of, but to me I think it was necessary to get rid of. As a result, the longest song, "War Pigs", doesn't even make it past the 8-minute mark.
The band has also put some energy into some of the music. While they were pretty heavy, all of the songs on the previous albums seemed pretty slow and lethargic (not that that was a bad thing, mind you), perfect for any doom metaller out there. On "Paranoid", however, we get songs that have a lot more aggression and energy, even the slower songs. "Fairies Wear Boots" might not be super-fast by any means, but it has more crunch in it that gives it its status as a classic among Sabbath fans. The title track, despite being two minutes long, is pretty much the fastest thing the band had written at that time and it would be one of many tracks on here that would inspire many bands that aren't doom metal in the future.
Some influences of the first album still persist, however, but that's not really a bad thing, since the lethargy of the band's sound is basically its style. I have mentioned earlier the slow and sinister gloom of "Electric Funeral", but we've also got "Hand of Doom", which hearkens back to the days of the first album. It's pretty soft in some parts like many of the songs from that album and it has that plodding tempo, too. Surprisingly, there's one song on "Paranoid" that's completely soft all the way through - "Planet Caravan". It's just such a weird track that has a piano instead of guitars and vocals that use a special effect that produces a somewhat watery sound and its origin is pretty much anybody's guess. I suppose that a song such as this wouldn't sound out of place from an album released in the '70s, even if it was one of the first heavy metal bands. Much of the aggressive metal that we know and love didn't exist at that time, so Black Sabbath could totally get away with it.
Not only is "Paranoid" basically the cornerstone of heavy metal as we know it, but it's also a must-have for any metal fan out there. It's a classic that is to us as Shakespeare is to high school English teachers. Needless to say, there doesn't need to be much to say about it. It's an album that I'm pretty sure its title track is covered by every fifth grader just starting their band. This album has made its mark that much.
Paranoid was the first complete heavy metal album. As we all know, some credit Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple as the first metal bands, but Black Sabbath was the actual first. Now I know what you're probably already thinking, what about the first Black Sabbath album? Well that is a great album as well, and is definitely metal, but to me, every "first" to any genre is never the complete sound. For example, Possessed's "Seven Churches" is sometimes considered the first death metal album, but I believe that "Death" completed the death metal sound. "Black Sabbath" was the first metal album, but I believe "Paranoid" was what completed the sound. The first album has a lot of solos and heavy riffs, but to me, it's just a scary sounding album with a lot of blues, and doesn't have as much energy behind the sound as Paranoid.
That being said, focusing on this record itself, the intro track, "War Pigs" was what tied everything together. Ozzy has a lot of energy behind the vocals at the beginning, as well as the main riff that Tony Iommi uses throughout the rest of the song. So in a way, this is the song that completed the sound. If somebody who has never listened to metal before asked me a song that I recommend, this is probably the first song that I would show them. It has the powerful vocals, the heavy riff, a shredding solo, a hard drum beat, and uses common metal lyrics. Few know this, but the album was originally going to be called "War Pigs", and the cover art is supposed to go with that. The record company changed the title last minute, and the artwork was never changed. The track "Paranoid" was not originally even going to be on it, but the company insisted they write one more quick song to make it a little longer. Little did they know, that that would become the most popular song off the record and hit the radio.
Like most Black Sabbath songs, most of them are very slow and dark sounding. This is kept up through most of it, as well as darker lyric content. At the time, this was somewhat a shock, because it was a new thing in the year 1970. Though most of it s slow sounding, it still remains very catchy, as they are all very melodic and rhythmic. The song "Electric Funeral" is the best example for this, as it is slow, but it carries a catchy wave of sound, and is sang in a very dark and eerie pitch, as well as the content being scary. A lot of songs off of this record, including this one, start slow like that, and then can pick up part-way in. The solos are usually when the tempo picks up.
Overall, this album is what kicked off heavy metal. Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple provided influence, where the first Black Sabbath record invented the sound. This album, however, completed the sound. The only Black Sabbath album to top it would be "Master of Reality", and maybe "Sabbath Bloody Sabbath" depending on my mood. Overall, a great record, and if somebody who has never listened to metal before wanted to give it a whirl, I would hand them this one.
What can I say that hasn't been said already about Black Sabbath? Probably not much. Black Sabbath is (debatably) the first metal band, and clearly the most influential of the early metal bands. Their mix of blues and rock and making it very, very dark, was something that hadn't been done before (arguably), and truly made an impact. Any band that plays metal will tell you, Sabbath was an important and early influence. But for a band that has been releasing albums for 44 years now, some records have to be more important than others and some records better than others, and that leaves us with Paranoid.
Paranoid is the product of a real working band. It was their second album to come out in the year 1970, and two albums a year is no small feat, even back then when it was common for bands to quickly release albums. This makes the focus of Paranoid quite an oddity. The band sounds like they've had plenty of experience making albums and writing songs, two things that really aren't true. When compared to their debut, this almost feels like a band at the end of their career, not a band only now releasing their sophomore album. This is an album where the band knows what it wants to do, and they know how to do what they want to do effectively.
The first half of the album is pure classic material. War Pigs/Luke's Wall, Paranoid, Planet Caravan, and Iron Man. Three of these are classic rock radio staples, and the fourth, even if you haven't heard it outside this album, is a very important song in its own right. The song is basically about floating through the universe with ones lover and the songs sound reflects this. The song has been covered by Pantera on their 1994 disk, Far Beyond Driven.
The second side is where things start to drop a bit. Not that the songs are bad by any means, in fact 2 are real classics. Electric Funeral, Hand of Doom, Rat Salad, and Jack the Stripper. The first two are awesome and up to par with side A, it's really the last two where things fall off a bit. Two bad, and really these songs are bad either they just aren't as good as the other songs on side A, songs doesn't equal a bad album, but here it comes at the tail end of the record, leaving me with almost a bad aftertaste. This is too bad, as had those songs been else where it wouldn't feel that way.
Still, the album is focused. It's a fair improvement over Black Sabbath the album, and is also a large step forward in heavy metal history. The songs here are, bar the last 2, consistent and of good quality. Admitting, there isn't much variation here, and so the album can get a bit boring at the end, which when combined with the two lower quality songs at the end, make the album feel both longer and kinda boring. Still, if you call yourself a metalhead, but you don't own this, you aren't a real metalhead until you do.
How Black Sabbath managed to release their sophomore album 'Paranoid' the same year they released their excellent self-titled album is, in itself, rather amazing. The Brummies chose to go for a darker theme than the 'peace and love' charade at the time, and did so to great effect. While Black Sabbath used themes such as occultism, black magic and fantasy in their first record, they chose to use actual horror themes from real life for 'Paranoid', such as war and nuclear weaponry; something that's very evident in songs like "War Pigs", "Electric Funeral" and "Hand of Doom", but there are more fantasy-based songs on here, too, such as "Planet Caravan" and "Iron Man".
Apart from the lyrical themes, the music itself is somewhat different from the 'Black Sabbath' album. 'Black Sabbath' was heavily inspired by blues and it was the dominating element, but on 'Paranoid' the blues have taken a back-seat to a more wild and heavy approach. The song "Paranoid" is a great example of this. It's very simple, the beat is steady and the tempo remains on a relative fast note. There are of course strong blues moments present, too. "War Pigs" is essentially a heavy as shit blues rocker and features a mean solo by Iommi towards the mid-section of the song before it breaks into a part known as "Luke's Wall" which; needless to say, is awesome. And this is clearly a sign that Black Sabbath are becoming more and more progressive with their sound. Furthermore, "Fairies Wear Boots" is an even better example of this, as it's even bluesier than "War Pigs" and has got some strange, but very cool tempo changes. Speaking of new sounds, "Planet Caravan" is a trippy, spacey ballad about flying through space with your lover. Isn't that rad? It's a very good, relaxed tune nestled between the wild, bluesy metal fest.
There are other goodies on this album. "Electric Funeral" is evil. Just pure evil. "Hand of Doom" is mellow metal track with a bass opening and general formula that has been copied by countless of bands over and over again... some chill bass with laid-back drumming, somewhat quiet vocals, and then BOOM guitar crashes in loudly. "Rat Salad" is a brief instrumental where the focus shifts onto Ward's drumming. And then of course there is "Iron Man", whose opening riff is known to most people, be they fans of metal or not. Also, Ozzy's vocals seemed sharper and better than on their debut album, so that's also a plus.
Overall, 'Paranoid' seems more thought out and focused than its predecessor. Although, the band states that 'Paranoid' was written while on tour, they somehow managed to make it sound like something they had been concentrating on writing for much longer. Heck, the song "Paranoid" was written as a last-minute filler. It took them about 20 minutes to create and finish it, and it became one of the most famous heavy rock songs ever. Whatever the Sabs were doing during this time, it was working.
Released extremely quickly after their self-titled debut, Paranoid completes the one-two punch that Black Sabbath set out to deliver to the public in 1970. This is arguably Black Sabbath's most popular and most recognized album as it has garnered a reputation as a classic over the years and as one of the first metal records to hit it big. It's hooks have given Paranoid unparalleled rock radio staying power and It's more clever and innovative artistic moments make it a musical statement as praised in the underground as it is in the mainstream. Doom metal also seems to be in the fetal stage with Paranoid as slow, muddy riffs slog along in their misery and melancholy, creating an ominous picture that is described in Ozzy Osbourne's sometimes foreboding, sometimes strange, and sometimes epic lyrics. The innovative Sabbath style of sluggish, overwhelming, loud, distorted noise added to the mix of bluesy riffs and 60's rock hooks create an album that not only breaks ground, but stands it as well.
Paranoid features a heavier, tighter, and all around more refined sound than the self-titled had. It's also takes the long, drawn out jams of the first record and instead go for the route of writing more compact and coherent songs. The tracks go on for much longer and feature Tony Iommi playing around with his guitar techniques, crafting big, technical solos and building songs out of the jam rhythms to create a very tasty combo of songs. Paranoid also seems to ramble for less than their self titled due to the fact that the songs move much faster and have more catch, as opposed to Tony just showing off with massive jams. While that was somewhat entertaining on their debut album, here it's more streamlined, less fatty, and more appropriate. Paranoid is basically where Black Sabbath turns a lot of the rougher bits of their self-titled into something much more meaningful and memorable, and as a result we're given a classic and catchy, yet bizarre, rough, and overwhelmingly loud record that smoked nearly everything back then on terms of heaviness.
The mixture of Tony's guitar play, Geezer's dark and unorthodox lyrics, and Ozzy's haunting voice give plenty of musical density to this album as best exemplified by it's songs. War Pigs starts off with roaming guitars that give the impression of smoke over the battlefield just before the big fight. Then with a strike of the guitar and a steady pounding on the drums signify the fight has begun and it's time to charge in. Ozzy's narrative plus a kicking main riff do plenty to cement this number's classic status. These catchy characteristics are explored further on such radio staples as Iron Man and Paranoid. Iron Man and Hand of Doom end up building on the doom elements introduced into the first album and refining them to make them less like slapdash jams and more like well structured songs which enhances the memorability and mood conveyed by the murky, riff-heavy trudges that these two songs deliver to us. To fans of the old jamming, they need not despair for that hasn't disappeared completely for their sound, what with the jazzy Rat Salad and the incredibly soft, but brain-twistingly psychedelic Planet Caravan which relaxes and at the same time conjures trippy imagery in the mind. Bluesy riffs with jazz accents guide the listener through all of Paranoid's songs and welcome you to the bizarre realms inside the minds of Black Sabbath. With insane imagery, catchy writing, and just an enjoyable hint of crushing gloom, Paranoid definitely puts it's listener in for a satisfying experience.
In short, this is arguably one of the first true classics of metal ever. Paranoid improves markedly on it's predecessor to give us a memorable, high-quality album with a moderate portion of gloom to further enhance Black Sabbath's reputation for creating dingy yet catchy hard rock. For metal fans searching for a well known breakthrough for the genre, look no further.
The original roots of heavy metal can be found back in the early 70’s, bands that weren’t entirely part of it made an important contribution then, such as Zeppelin, Blue Cheer or Mountain. Metal was materialized definitely in 1970, when it really started taking form with Deep Purple In Rock and Black Sabbath’s homonym debut, a couple of records that didn’t have much to do with the romance and much bluesy style of Jimmy Page and co. That same crucial year, Sabbath put out one of those memorable albums that make history and offer an absolutely pioneer sound: Paranoid. It’s full of unforgettable anthems, side-A itself is always included on each greatest hits compilation of these guys and you know why…
This second release makes a difference from its predecessor by including a more distinctive sound, represented by the tremendous riffing exhibition and cool licks of both “Fairies Wear Boots” and “War Pigs”, which are lengthy and progressive in contrast with the others. Iommi leads the pack from the beginning, his talent and grace reach peaks defining those consistent lines, very heavy and rough, that vary necessarily during the numbers to introduce some versatility on their structures. In their own way, those 2 are intricate for the general musical concept of the band, their development is competent though not particularly clean or perfectionist. This was never intended to be technical, something that “Iron Man” and the legendary title-track prove with their clearly basic configuration of completely easy riffs anybody might be able to play but not everybody could’ve created such hard rock hits from primitive bases like those. It’s not difficult, it’s not advanced but their music has the continuity and sense to reach solidity. There’s no single dumb riff total control because they include rhythm changes and alternative sequences, which are limited and simple but contribute to make it consistent. Those surprising riff variations and dynamic licks determine a remarkable structure-diversity on “Hand Of Doom” and “Electric Funeral”, also constructed by technically discreet guitar lines, offering an admirable instrumental development and kinda unpredictable modifications in the tempo. On the contrary, the quiet ballad “Planet Caravan” denies variety and alterations with its constantly peaceful tone, conceived by Tony’s tenuous background support and Butler’s omnipresent bass, a fascinating exception whose distorted vocals and casual percussion break the album uniformity.
So it seems Black Sabbath have clearer intentions and determine characteristic schemes that get rid of the excessive presence of jazz/blues influence in their music which made it quite generic on the debut. Now riffs are better defined, more powerful and inspired, amazingly inventive at times with that low-tuned sound, although still there are many melodic parts that keep them from being as crude as they could. Iommi is even experimenting with pedal effects and combining roughness with casual licks. His talent is splendid but he’s not making use of his entire potential yet. After all, these tunes are still too primitive and lacking certain ambition, refinement, inevitably limited, though they contributed to the band’s sound evolution on this necessarily early phase. So once again I must insist on the fact that making good music doesn’t always require impossible skills and incredible complexity. For instance, Bill Ward might not be the greatest virtuoso, as the humble drum solo on “Rat Salad” demonstrates (it would be senseless to compare it with the 40 minute-long exhibition on stage by John Bonham on “Moby Dick”) but rhythmic bases are decently performed and Ward’s peculiar style became part of the group’s identity. Ozzy wasn’t either the greatest rock & roll singer, his charisma and attitude on other hand made his performance unforgettable, not an irresistible stage presence or an impressive wide vocal range. The compositions aren’t absolutely accurate or perfectly produced, rather scruffy and direct, that’s what made them so special and honest, representing the dark imagery and essence of these guys’ music in a time when everybody else was disciplined and inoffensive. Lyrics also escape from the topics of psychedelic unreal fantasy issues to talk about believable things, mostly.
So all the elements in this album make it distinct, advanced and original from everything the classic rock scene offered by that year. This is where the rules of heavy metal were set, where its roots can be found, where it all changed from predictable bluesy rock to something alternative, never conceived before. Both big British bands, Black Sabbath and Deep Purple, changed that old-fashioned rock concept of the 70’s into something absolutely new and challenging. It’s obvious without records like this, the subgenre wouldn’t be as we know it now, it would’ve never existed in fact and maybe we would be listening to The Carpenters, Vanity Fare or Mungo Jerry instead.
Ah, Paranoid. Black Sabbath's best-selling album and debatably their best album. It has a certain charm that will never be matched, not even by the most brilliant of metal artists. It's probably the best traditional heavy metal album made. The riffs that have that nice bluesy feel, Ozzy's dark doom metal vocals, and Bill Ward's complex but rhythmic and soulful drumming form a satisfying and unique work of art.
The riffs from the songs are probably most worth noting. Eg: The opening riff from "War Pigs". It's amazingly atmospheric while containing what I consider nearly a perfect melody. On the other hand, the other, more bluesy and energetic riffs mix in nicely with the darker ones. Another thing definitely worth noting is the variety of song structure in the album. You have the darker, doom metal heaviness present in songs like "Hand Of Doom" and "Electric Funeral" while you have the faster, more hard blues-rock feel in songs like "Paranoid" and "Fairies Wear Boots". I would say my favourite riff is the opening riff for Electric Funeral. I love how they can put a dark riff and add a "wah wah" sound to it.
Another factor that really adds to this album is Bill Ward's drumming. He actually makes good use of the cymbals, something a good number of drummers fail to do. He also has the ability to do decent quieter drumming during the more low-key passages, such as in the intro to Hand Of Doom. This shows that he is a drummer who is willing to try different things and experiment.
How could I forget? I don't think metal genres like gothic, doom, or sludge would be the what they are without Ozzy's atmospheric vocals. He practically pioneered the usage of gloominess in singing during the early 70s (keeping in mind goth rock wasn't invented yet). He sounds like a lost child crying out loud in despair for help. It fits perfectly with the instrumentation of this album. Both his voice and the riffs carry the same emotion.
Overall, this is a great album and really shows what Black Sabbath has to offer. I recommend getting it, especially if you enjoy older, traditional heavy metal. Probably my only complaint about this album is that it's only 42 minutes long, in other words the fun doesn't last forever. Still, you're probably missing out if you don't have it and if you get it, It will surely make it's way into your heart. No doubt.
I was twelve. I had a little-VERY little-experience with metal (four Metallica albums) but I had never gone any further. I came across a copy of Paranoid at a local used-CD store and got it even before having heard any material, just because its reputation preceded it. I was NOT disappointed.
Production is pretty awful by today's standards, but when you think about the year it was released, the short time it was recorded over and the ridiculously low budget, that's certainly excusable. It's not as well-done as some of Led Zeppelin's work, or Sabbath's next few albums, but the lackluster production doesn't hinder the music terribly. (Well, except the bass. Practically inaudible.)
The music itself is absolutely awe-inspiring. Back Sabbath's self-titled debut was inconsistent, but there's no fucking around here-with the exception of Planet Caravan, every track here is pure metal, and every song (except the strange, polarizing Electric Funeral and the shamefully underrated Hand of Doom) is a legend. The atmosphere is consistently dark, it just varies in different levels of darkness. Even the least eerie song (Paranoid) is pretty damn heavy. Songwriting is guaranteed to satisfy, dealing with subject matter such as greed (War Pigs) mental instability (Paranoid) and at times, seemingly nothing in particular (Electric Funeral).
Ozzy Osbourne's voice is, as even the most die-hard fan will tell you, fucking terrible. Raspy and annoying, this man can truly grate on your nerves-which is why he was PERFECT for this album. The lyrics could not fit his high, nasally voice any better. Tony Iommi's sludgy guitar work amazingly compliments the dark lyrics and slow tempos that most of the songs adhere to. Tony is the best kind of guitarist-simple, yet brilliant. The riff on Iron Man is unforgettable, rivaled only by Smoke On the Water (which I think is a horribly overrated song, but that's another story) in terms of influence. Geezer is a great bassist-too bad that slightly shitty production drowns him out on several of the songs. However, his work on the tracks where it is actually noticeable (Hand of Doom, Paranoid, War Pigs) is stellar.
Song structure does, at times, seem formulaic-for better or for worse. Slow, heavy opening riff, two verses and two choruses, then the tempo speeds up and Tony plays his solo. This is certainly a winning equation, but only works so much. About half the songs use this format, just barely the right amount that it isn't overused. Paranoid is the only consistently up-tempo song on the album, and is reminiscent of some of Led Zeppelin's songs-especially Communication Breakdown. Planet Caravan is very "stoner", with light guitar, a catchy little "riff", unusual lyrics, and a whispered delivery by Ozzy. Rat Salad and Jack the Stripper are out of place but not awful, though they are hardly memorable compared to some of the album's other tracks.
I feel the need to identify two tracks on the album, for very different reasons. One is Electric Funeral, a song that garners some praise-not quite "legendary" praise, mind you, but some-and for the life of me I CAN'T FUCKING UNDERSTAND WHY. I even have a friend who claims this is Sabbath's best song. (This same friend fiercely defended St Anger in an argument, though, so......anyway, that too is another story.) This song, to me, sounds like a CARBON COPY of the excellent War Pigs, but with retarded lyrics; it doesn't follow a similar format to the one I mentioned above, it abuses that formula. This is the only truly weak song on Paranoid, and ultimately drags the score down a bit. The other track that warrants an Honorable Mention is Hand of Doom. This song is brushed off by many as-and there is no possible explanation for this-the WORST SONG on Paranoid. This track starts out with a great, memorable bassline, and MUCH better lyrics than Electric Fuckery. One part of why people seem to dislike Hand of Doom is the tempo change, and admittedly it is VERY jarring. The first time I listened to the album, I thought it was a completely different track. But that's not enough to ruin the song. It doesn't "become crappy", it just "changes abruptly". I find it to be incredibly fun to listen to and jam to, and it is my personal favorite on the album.
Ultimately, as far as albums go, this one is about as close to flawless as they come. Only one bad track, and plenty of classics to make you forget that one. This is REQUIRED LISTENING for all metal fans, along with such other classics as Number of the Beast, Master of Puppets, Ace of Spades, and Painkiller. In fact, this album is BETTER than any of those in my humble opinion. It will be remembered through the ages as an indispensable gem of the metal genre.
Barring the fact that the album was released a damned decade before metal was in full swing, Sabbath's 'Paranoid' was, and is as solid an album as they come. Although the self-titled debut may have had more of an immediate impact, Iommi and company would focus in on their doom innovation, a decision setting them further apart from the hordes of UK blues rockers. It's not often that an album is still relevant forty years after its release.
Considering how iconic 'Paranoid' is, it seems redundant to dwell on general information regarding the album. Suffice to say, taking into consideration that 1970 was the same year Deep Purple recorded 'In Rock' and the year after Led Zeppelin recorded 'II', Black Sabbath took a more downtuned, heavier approach to rock music. British rock was opening itself up to a more distorted sound in general, but Sabbath weren't afraid to sound ugly. A familiar blues style can be heard in Iommi's crunchy lead work, but the use of tritones, or 'evil' sounding riffs was what gave the band their then-unique take on rock music. The lyrical content somewhat fittingly either contends with the concept of war, or nightmarishly drug-fuelled adventures. As a respite from the doomy riffs, 'Paranoid' is fleshed out with some sounds of 60's era psychedelia, as best exemplified by the spacey, jam-oriented 'Planet Caravan'.
The first side of the album is a hit parade of some of the band's best-known tracks. 'War Pigs' sets up the rest of the album perfectly; a gloomy overture introducing Iommi's gritty guitar tone and some of the best riffs on the album. 'Paranoid' and 'Iron Man' are both instantly memorable tunes that have earned their due as rock radio staples. My favourite cut from the record would have to be 'Electric Funeral' however, opening the second side on an even darker note. From its signature psych-doom riff to lyrics about the apocalyptic existence of mutants in a post-nuclear city, it perfects the heavy darkness explored on the first side. The rest of 'Paranoid's later half doesn't feel quite as memorable as the first, however. The musical tightness never lets down, but 'Hand of Doom' and instrumental afterthought 'Rat Salad' feel a little less vital than the rest. Luckily, 'Fairies Wear Boots' wraps things up on a rocking note, closing with an epic lead melody that seems to foreshadow the future sound of Iron Maiden.
'Paranoid' is not quite perfect, but it's fairly close, especially considering that the sound of heavy metal was still so young. At the very least, it deserves its status as a classic. With memorable songwriting, evocative lyrics and some of the best riffs ever written, who could ask for more?
Sometimes, words can't describe something you really like. Like, if something is really good, and there is a strong personal factor to it, it's really something that will make that thing really special. And actually, there is nothing more to be said about this album that hasn't already been said. I have known almost every single song from this album my entire life. My father would play this record numerous times when I was a kid, so it grew up on me, and even now, when my personal taste has been almost fully developed, and stretches to way heavier music, this is still a classic, and never will stop being one.
Where to begin? How about those beautiful guitar licks from the beginning of War Pigs? Or those grandiose lyrics which also makes this song not only a transcendental musical masterpiece, but also the best anti-war song ever? Yeah, Ozzy's vocals may be pretty crappy (let's admit it, he was never a good singer and never will be, but his vocals are a trademark and have lots of spirit), but he manages to deliver the goods. Besides, can you imagine anyone else singing Paranoid or Iron Man? I mean, there are some live versions with Dio, a better singer by a thousandfold, but I never listen to it because this is the way these songs are supposed to sound, and this is the only true Sabbath.
Now, let's talk about the songs. There are 8 songs on here, and not a single one short of a masterpiece. The aforementioned War Pigs is simply breathtaking, from that immortal riff to Ozzy wailing while cursing politicians and generals that use ordinary small people as cannon fodder while they wait at their tents in security for that same people to win their wars. Of course, let's not forget that freaking Geezer's distorted bass, or Bill's insane tom rolls. The title track is a well known song to almost anyone who has anything to do with rock and metal music. Yes, it's overplayed. Yes, it fucking rules. Planet Caravan sounds as if it's been recorded by a bunch of high cannabis users. Oh wait, it IS recorded by a bunch of high cannabis users! This is so charming and calming, and I like it. Iron Man starts with all too familiar 4 bass drum hits before bursting into one of the most instantly recognizable riffs in all of metal. Seriously, whoever doesn't know that one has been officially living under a fucking rock. It's another epic masterpiece, this time about an abandoned war veteran whom everyone rejects. And don't forget that robot that goes: 'I AM IRON MAN!'. Electric Funeral is a very groovy track, and Hand Of Doom is a slow and droning track with an epic riff, lead by bass during quiet parts and by guitar during loud parts with lyrics about how drugs destroy your body and spirit. Rat Salad is actually some kind of an interlude leading into Fairies Wear Boots. Now this one is a real winner, riff-wise and vocally. Oh, and it's about hallucinations (guess because of what).
The production is also another highlight. I mean, this was apparently recorded in 1970, and since I am a big fan of old hard rock music, I can say that no one had production this guitar-accented. I mean, Zeppelin were a pretty heavy band for its time, so were Purple and Uriah Heep, but this is really something different. Maybe this is where you draw the line between hard rock and heavy metal. But still, no matter how you classify it, you do need this album. It's an essential piece of music no matter how you look at it. Heavy metal fans need apply. Hard rock fans need apply. General good music fans need apply. Enough said.
Favorite tracks: War Pigs, Iron Man, Hand Of Doom.
Favorite moments: Start of the first verse of War Pigs, Paranoid solo, the part when Iron Man speeds up, chorus of the closing track.
I have never heard a extremely good heavy metal album until I clapped eyes on Black Sabbath's "Paranoid", one of the most legendary heavy metal releases ever made. Honestly, this is a work of pure art, an album that has inspired many other artitsts to do the same, but unable to replicate. It has some really good production and recording quality, some of the best and most legendary musicians to date and the quality of the music is just unbelieveable! Listening to this, even now, brings the 70s metal scene back to life.
There are some songs that are just plain amazing and heavy (ie. War Pigs, Paranoid, Iron Man) and then there are other songs that are so soft and trippy (ie. Planet Caravan, Electric Funeral, Fairies Wear Boots). Words can't describe how great and legendary this album truly is. There are so many words to describe it, so many names, but really all you can say is amazing. Ozzy's vocals and the guitar playing of Iommi are the best parts of the entire piece because they both play along together wonderfully. Bill Ward's drumming and the bass playing by Geezer Butler are also truly mind blowing. Because of their skill level and for the fact they've created an extraordinary album such as this, we can all proudly call them the great grandfathers of heavy metal.
When I said the word "trippy" earlier in this review, I meant it. When I listened to "Planet Caravan" after headbanging to "War Pigs" and "Paranoid", everything went mellow and calm. Ozzy's vocals chiming into the sound of bongos and Geezer's soft bass riffs playing in the background made everything relaxing and easy to listen to. After "Caravan" ended, the intensity just bounced in when "Iron Man", "Electric Funeral" and "Hand of Doom" came blasting through my speakers. It's a great transition from loud to calm to loud again.
When songs like "War Pigs" started playing, it amps up your mind and energy, you feel obligated to bang that head no matter what the circumstance, you feel the true power of heavy metal with this release. You won't hear speed metal riffs from bands like Megadeth or Metallica, you won't hear open string tremolo picking from Dying Fetus or Cerebral Bore and you definitely won't hear death vocals on this album either. However, because of this band, they made all of those musical techniques and styles made possible, without this album it's safe to say that metal would never have occurred. If it had happened without Sabbath to take the reigns, metal would sound and be named differently. This album is basically like reading a history book, it's like reading about our neanderthal ancestors, however it's music related, instead of primitive men we have Sabbath. Just like when primates evolve and change into human beings, Sabbath creates metal and the genre evolves into different branches.
There are absolutely no flaws with this piece at all, let's keep it that way. Everything is a solid gold pentagram in my books. Some may not share the same views as me or my other metal brothers and sisters, but then again if they don't then they're not ready to accept the fact that this band brought the genre we love to our world. We have Sabbath to thank for creating such powerful and raw music fit for any metal head young or old, we hope they have a reuinion soon.
Black Sabbath's second album of 1970 still heavily features the doom metal sound that they had already perfected on their debut - unleashed with devastating effect in War Pigs and Hand of Doom - but the selection of songs this time around are more varied, proving that the group weren't just a one-trick pony. Never has a quickie throwaway single been as influential as the title track, which set a precedent for speed metal in proving that crunching heavy metal riffs could be played fast to good effect. The trippy space blues track Planet Caravan proves that the band were paying attention to the experiments then underway in the progressive rock genre, and also acts as an interesting interlude between the speed metal of Paranoid and the doom metal of Iron Man.
The band even prove they have a sense of humour on the closing track, Fairies Wear Boots, which as well as taking a pop at skinheads who'd hassle the band for having long hair also prefigures the more light-hearted odes to weed and other illegal substances that would make appearances on Master of Reality and Volume 4. The inclusion of this song at the end of the album is actually an inspired choice - after treating the listener to doomy visions of war, nuclear holocaust, and heroin addiction, perhaps something to lighten the mood is essential. And I don't think the band were ever more adept lyrically speaking than on this album; Hand of Doom, in particular, is an insightful and eloquent look at the end of the hippy era and the effect this disillusion had on many at the time.
On balance, it's hard to say which of the Sabbath albums from 1970 is the superior one. If I absolutely had to choose one, some days I'd probably go for the debut, simply because it chooses a particular mood and then nails it perfectly. Then again, other days I'd go for Paranoid, simply because it is more varied. Both, I'd say, are equally essential to any metal collection, unless you are absolutely averse to slow playing in your metal.
It warms my heart to think back and remember that even as a stupid child that did not care for music, I was into Sabbath. Their most definitive work, “Paranoid” from 1970, was the first true heavy metal album that I have ever purchased, and the most amazing Black Sabbath album that I will ever hear. The sound from this album has been, and always will be, one of the most unique displays of the most dynamic and extreme offshoot of rock and roll. Beginning with the song “War Pigs”, a typographical error from the intended title, “Walpurgis”, this opening song shows so much animosity to warfare and political gerrymandering all the while continuing with the supernatural element as Ozzy Osbourne describes the politicians’ torments in Hell. Tony Iommi displays his talents throughout the entire song, especially during his solo six minutes in where the echoes created by the over-dubbed guitars are both melancholic and melodic to the point that it becomes an impressive display of raw emotion. The guitar becomes the main focus in “Paranoid”, something that these metal gods ensured would be emulated for generations to come.
Featuring three of Sabbath’s most enduring hits, “War Pigs”, “Paranoid”, and “Iron Man”, “Paranoid” is already a legendary album, but compared to those three enduring tracks, the rest of the album is completely overlooked. Everyone knows that “Iron Man” has the heaviest riff ever written, “Paranoid” is a mind-blowing fight against insanity featuring an almost Led Zeppelin sound to it, and “War Pigs” is an enduring social commentary that resonates in so many cases today, but what of “Planet Caravan”, “Electric Funeral”, “Hand of Doom”, the instrumental “Rat Salad”, or “Faeries Wear Boots”?
“Planet Caravan” is an obviously substance-inspired trip through time and space. Featuring some of the trippiest sounding vocals and an interesting percussion section using bongos, piano, some different sound bites, a slower tempo, a quieter mix, and Iommi’s constant guitar riff, the song is very calming compared to the rest on this album. The guitar playing in this song becomes a solo at 2:30 which breaks the quiet feel of the song to become a calming solo. It is obvious that a lot of work was put into this song, but because of its trippy feel rather than heavy and doom tones; it seems that it didn’t have a place between “Paranoid” and “Iron Man”, but when the low, growling “Iron Man” riff kicks in after a few drum beats from Bill Ward, it seems even more powerful after the calming “Planet Caravan”.
“Electric Funeral” creates the most forbidden atmosphere of any song on this album. Iommi’s whining riff begins the song with a creepy tone introducing Osbourne’s voice, which sounds even creepier with the backing of Iommi’s continuing riff. This song, concerning nuclear warfare is definitely the most brutal song in “Paranoid”, from the descriptive gory lyrics to the riffing and drums, this song is the epitome of heavy. There is a lot more cymbal from the drums on this song than in the other songs,, which seems more appropriate as Iommi’s riff is much lower than normal and the snare and cymbals create a nice balance of high and low notes in the song. The chorus is intense to say the least. High shrieking guitar, Ozzy yelling at the top of his voice, cymbals crashing, and the chant of “Electric Funeral” overpowers the band until they continue with the song that they began earlier. “Electric Funeral” is a haunting song, and again progresses with the motif of modern elements of society meeting the supernatural when Ozzy’s lyrics describe the afterlife in the wake of the destructive force of the nuclear bomb.
“Hand of Doom” is another haunting song. Though slow in tempo and calm to the ear at the beginning, it is actually a very doom oriented song about drug abuse. The choruses kick in with such power compared to the early, quiet guitar and bass lines that they awaken the listener to the reality of the results of substance abuse. This, like many songs on “Paranoid” resonates today, some thirty-nine years later as even harder and more addictive drugs have come to make the drugs of yesterday look like cough medicine. Again the lyrics are superb descriptions of doom and death, pain and suffering, addiction and disillusion, and really show where the influences for so many musicians came from.
“Rat Salad” is an interesting instrumental. Showcasing the abilities of both Iommi and Bill Ward, the instrumental has both a bluesy and a modern (1970s) rock feel, and it provides a good intermission between the first few songs and the final song of the album as well as gives the album a more up tempo feel as the final song, “Faeries Wear Boots” would be a major bluesy clash between the doom oriented “Electric Funeral” and “Hand of Doom”. “Faeries Wear Boots” threw me off the first time I heard it, mainly because of the above, but after a few times listening to it, and listening to Black Sabbath’s self-titled debut, I have come to enjoy its blues sound as it is a throwback to Sabbath’s first album and shows that though they have musically moved in a different direction during the recording of “Paranoid”, they still retain respect for their musical roots, as many metalheads today retain respect for Black Sabbath though they may listen to death metal or black metal.
Black Sabbath’s “Paranoid” deserves all the acclaim it has ever gotten, the problem, though is that the acclaim rests with three of the first four tracks and many in the mainstream, though they can identify “Iron Man”, “Paranoid”, and “War Pigs”, have no idea what the rest of the creators and gods of heavy metal had to offer in 1970. Of the two releases by Black Sabbath in that year, four songs remain in the mainstream consciousness of classic rock radio, and the rest of the songs, songs that had capture as much emotion as “NIB”, “War Pigs”, “Paranoid”, and “Iron Man”, have been forgotten by them. I only hope that the true metal underground will continue, as we always have, to look more into Black Sabbath’s works and not scratch the surface, as should be done with every band in the Encyclopedia Metallum and understand that the singles and hits aren’t even half of what the band has to offer.
This is the album that truly put Black Sabbath in the map. Despite the fantastic debut, people just began to look at them with this piece. Anyways, the influence and different elements that Paranoid carries it incredible. Almost EVERY metal sub-genre was born thanks to this record and why? Because of its variety. This record isn't unidimensional; it is a dynamic piece, containing lots of different things, every one of them blended together with the fantastic songwriting abilities of the band. Anyways, let's move on.
Tony Iommi obviously is the leader and the most important member of Black Sabbath. The majority of the times you aren't able to choose who is the most important member of this or that band - Dream Theater illustrates this point, since at least THREE virtuosos play on that band. But with Black Sabbath it's another story... The crushing, heavy riffs and the solos play the most important role in the band's sound. Paranoid is a perfect example of this fact. Where would be this record without the killer riffs on Iron Man or the fast ones on Paranoid (title track). Taking the latter, that tune is the most famous track Sabbath ever recorded, being an early speed metal take, working for Sabbath as Communication Breakdown worked for Led Zeppelin (or Highway Star worked for Deep Purple). But there's something that makes Paranoid different from every fast song recorded at this time, by any band: the HEAVINESS.
While Deep Purple can be considered an extremely heavy band, with In Rock's Speed King being an authentic anthem of proto-metal, you can't deny that they still had too much classic rock and blues elements to be considered a true early heavy metal act. The same thing goes to Led Zeppelin, a band that explored too many musical genres to even be named as one of the acts that created heavy metal. So, why is Sabbath so different of those two bands? Because of the riffs. Take a Jimmy Page riff and take a Iommi one and you will see. While Page may have created some catchy riffs, he failed at keeping them heavy; Tony Iommi joins catchiness with heaviness, a perfect mixture that put Black Sabbath in a higher level than all the other heavy rock bands of the time.
Take Iron Man, for example. It begins with Ward hitting the bass drum and then, after a slightly comic “I am Iron Maaan”, the song reaches a bone-crushing section, where that legendary guitar riff is played. Just the dark atmosphere that the song carries is mindblowing. Then, there is a fantastic break around the 3 minutes mark, where Iommi begins to play one of his trademarks solos, it is amazing. Just name a band that, in 1970, released something as heavy as this... Yeah, I know, no one released something like this by 1970.
Iron Man also shows another distinctive characteristic of the band: the strange vocals delivered by Ozzy Osbourne. He is not a Ian Gillan, but his voice is so “metal”, you know? While not being technically great, the guy knows how to sing in a way that perfectly fits the doomy music that surrounds him. Unfortunately, he now is an authentic self-parody, with all those crappy solo albums released and with his soul now belonging to MTV. Sad but true.
Another track that benefits with Ozzy's voice is Hand of Doom. Oh boy, and is this track good... Like the name implies, this is probably the first true doom metal song ever recorded, mixing the slow elements that marked the band's debut with some really “evil” parts, where Ozzy and Geezer Butler share the highlights: the first one whispering, in a very (again) “evil” way and the latter plays some nice, mysterious bass lines. Hell, even the lyrics, which are related to drugs, recall today's doom metal.
The strange structure of this song (with a perfect mix of calm, slower parts, with faster and heavier ones) brings me to the next point: unexpectedly, Paranoid is incredibly progressive. In fact Black Sabbath would experiment more with progression later on (with albums like Sabbath Bloody Sabbath or Sabotage). Anyways, this fact just shows that this album influenced yet another genre: progressive metal. Almost every song shows some kind of progression, from the strange intro and tempo changes of Jack the Stripper/Fairies Wear Boots to the solo parts of Electric Funeral, from the breaks of Iron Man to... well, the whole War Pigs/Luke's Wall song. Yes, this one has got to be among early progressive metal classics: it begins with slow drums and a crushing guitar riff, accompanied by some interesting bass lines but you'll only find the brilliance of this track almost 6 minutes into it, when the song starts to progress to a faster part, which is called, I guess, Luke's Wall. One of the highlights of the record, undoubtedly.
Remember that I called this record varied? Yes, it is varied, and why? Simple: Planet Caravan, a strange atmospheric ballad that is very, very interesting, providing a good break after the metal attack given by the title track and the opener. Ozzy uses a strange microphone that distorts his voice during this track but, in the end, it sounds great (I guess that the band thought that he wasn't the right vocalist to sing a ballad, since, after distorting his voice on Paranoid's Planet Caravan, he wasn't allowed to sing Master of Reality's soft song, Solitude). Iommi plays an interesting acoustic solo and everything is kept together by Bill Ward's percussion.
Personally, I consider Bill Ward to be one of the most original, creative and, at the same time, underrated drummer ever. He has a strange style, mixing the irreverent, straight forward drumming of the typical rock drummers with some jazz/blues influenced lines (check out Fairies Wear Boots) and, in this end, this mixture works pretty well. Rat Salad is absolutely dominated by him, with all those drum solos and fills (Led Zeppelin would later rip-off this Sabbath idea, with Moby Dick – anyways, Bill Ward is better than Bonzo, everybody knows it). It's a shame he is so underrated. The same thing goes to Butler, a wonderful bassist that is AUDIBLE (*party*) most of the times, providing the right base for the other musicians to shine.
As for the other songs... Electric Funeral is a personal favourite, got to love that part where someone begins to say “Electric Funeral... Electric Funeral... Electric Funeral...”. Jack the Stripper (a part that, I guess, is related to the intro of the song)/Fairies Wear Boots is another good song, featuring some nice lyrics, speaking about how the band was attacked by a group of skinheads. Ozzy and Ward deliver a good performance, but, again, it's Tony Iommi who steals the show with all those fantastic and catchy riffs. What a guitar player, indeed. About the production, it is quite good if you bear in mind when this album was released.
Concluding, this is one of my personal favourite records ever, very varied and carrying a lot of different elements (progressive, doom, speed, heavy metal, blues elements), which is a thing that I personally value. Anyways, there are some low points, like the title track, which, however being very influential, is a rather forgettable song, almost a filler. Plus, this isn't a record that I can listen to everyday, I have to be with the right mood but hey, this is a groundbreaking piece and essential to every one, especially to fans of metal in general. One of my favourites albums ever, probably the most consistent Sabbath record I have ever heard, too.
Best Moments of the CD:
-the build-up of Iron Man and all its riffs.
-“Electric Funeral... Electric Funeral... Electric Funeral...”
-the faster parts of Hand of Doom.
Building upon their groundbreaking debut Sabbath returned with their heralded classic “Paranoid”. Even more awe-inspiring than the sheer brilliance of the music, is how quickly they did it, taking less than a year after their debut.
“Paranoid” is easily Sabbath’s most popular and instantly recognizable album, which leads to the question of why? Well, while no individual reason can be pointed out, a combination of many may have contributed.
The improved songwriting skills of the band are the most apparent feature of this album. Not only is there more focus, the aimless jams of their debut are shortened and feel as though they have much more direction than simply being there, but there is more skill. Another notable is the riffs on this album; this contains what might be metals most distinguishable riff in “Iron Man”.
Another improvement of the band is their respective instrumental proficiency; each man has bettered himself on this album. From Ozzy’s voice, which has more power and capabilities than before, to Tony Iommi’s signature guitar sound which is firmly establishes itself on this album, as if the first one wasn’t enough. At this point Geezer Butler still seems to be the most proficient player of the band, while Bill Ward’s drumming is much more rock focused than the jazzy feel it sometimes took on the first album.
And as for the sound, it has evolved, but hasn’t been refined. While still in the general area of the same blues based music of their debut, “Paranoid” has a distinctly heavier and doomier sound than their debut. This is still technically simple material, but in many ways it adds to the overall mood of the album.
The lyrical themes of “Paranoid” are utterly unrelentingly, depressingly dark and sullen, with the first hand experience of a war torn country helping build this up, and the ever present influence of drugs. Maybe because this was actually hardships that these men went through, they could deliver these lyrics in a convincing fashion.
The single most signifying part of “Paranoid” is the three headed monster of “War Pigs”, “Paranoid”, and “Iron Man”. When someone brings up Black Sabbath those three songs are what more than likely come to mind, and to think that they came from one half of one album, let alone a career. That doesn’t mean any of the rest is filler by any means, “Electric Funeral”, “Hand of Doom”, and “Fairies Wear Boots” are all quality material.
Everything on “Paranoid” adds up to become more than just an album, it is a landmark, each song builds upon each other to create something larger and more menacing. Something about the urgency and simplicity that the message is delivered adds to the effect and makes for an honestly brutal listen, in a good way of course. “Paranoid” is by far Black Sabbath’s signature defining effort, and for that reason it is worthy of your time and a spot on your collections shelf.
With "Paranoid", Black Sabbath defined heavy metal as a musical genre. Forget Led Zep, Deep Purple, Hendrix, Blue Cheer, and everybody else. Sabbath took it that one step further with this their second album, pushing the boundaries of heaviness farther than anyone could have imagined. That these songs still stand the test of time almost 40 years later is a testament to the greatness that is Black Sabbath. The only reason I rate it 100 is because I can't rate it 200!
Who doesn't know these songs? The fact is that Iommi is the ultimate metal guitarist: kids still cut their teeth learnihg to play the guitar riffs to these songs. The album is nothing but classic tracks: War Pigs/Luke's Wall, Paranoid, Planet Caravan, Iron Man, Electric Funeral, Hand of Doom, Rat Salad/Jack the Stripper, and Fairies Wear Boots. This album is heavier than the debut, stepping away from the blues jams that had defined the band's style as Earth (an earlier name of the band) and focusing on tighter song arrangements. Lyrically, these songs take the listener into a nightmarish world of nuclear war, mental illness and drug addiction. These themes would become commonplace in metal music, thanks to Sabbath's influence.
The band's musical ability grew somewhat from the first album. Tony Iommi further defined his lead playing style, recording some classic guitar solos in "War Pigs" and "Iron Man." And Iommi's riffs simply can not be beat, they are the heaviest, most doomladen riffs ever recorded. Everything else is simply imitation. "Iron Man" is the ultimate metal song, hands down. And title track "Paranoid," which the band thought to be a throwaway number, became the band's biggest (and only) hit. Geezer Butler and Bill Ward proved themselves to be the best rhythm section in heavy music: listen to Ward's inimitable beats on "Hand of Doom." And Ozzy defined his legendary status as metal's best-loved vocalist with this album. Always a bit manaical in his personal life, Ozzy was the perfect voice for Sabbath's tales of madness and despair.
What else can be said? This is the album that defines heavy metal. This is the album that broke Sabbath to a worldwide audience. Their career took off from here, and there was much more metal madness to follow.
After creating the genre of Heavy Metal with their first album, Black Sabbath decided to move away from the quite noticeable blues and jazz elements of the first album and focus on the heavier side of things. The result was another masterpiece of heavy music, and whilst they had previously released their debut the same year there is such a noticeable leap between styles in the two albums that it is hard to believe that they were released in such short periods of time. There are still blues and jazz elements to be found littered throughout the album but for the most part they have been stripped away. The real progression found here though is how much heavier and improvised it is than it's predecessor, from the solos to the slow, heavy riffs which would later go on to form Doom Metal.
The album kicks off with War Pigs, one of Sabbath's longest songs which begins with a slow, bass driven intro with sirens in the background and suddenly stops. Ozzy Osbourne comes in with the best performance of his career and some awesome riffing starts after the first verse. Iommi shows off his soloing skills to a great extent in this song towards the end of the song. One of the finer songs of Sabbath's career.
Next up is Paranoid, which sort of reminds me of Highway Star, although slowed down a bit. Although I do agree it is overplayed I still find myself enjoying this song whenever I pop the Paranoid disc in. There's a nice effect with the vocals going on, which sound like they're ecohing.
Although I didn't like it at first, after repeated listens I rather enjoy 'Planet Caravan', for its atmosphere and lengthy jazz influenced solo. The trippy effects which are present add to the atmosphere, and although the bass is a little low in the mix it is a rather enjoyable, relaxing song. I suppose it would be good to listen to while under the influence (as some other reviewers said) but I haven't tried that as of yet.
Iron Man wakes you up from the trance which Planet Caravan put you in with some guitar noises and that famous scream of Iron Man. Despite having a killer main riff though, the song doesn't hold my attention as much as it used to, probably due to over saturation and me listening to it too many times. The solo in the middle and the end keeps me listening though, and still makes me worship at the altar of Iommi. It is also one of the more catchy songs on the album, I remember when I first heard it I could remember it until I obtained a copy for myself.
Electric Funeral has a somewhat depressing main riff which suits the lyrical themes of nuclear war. Although Ozzy's voice can get a little annoying at times, his performance is still fairly good. At around 1:50 it speeds up into a faster riff with high pitched vocals from Ozzy only to return to the previous part. Probably one of the weaker songs on the album, but then again that could be the case of listening to it too many times again.
Hand of Doom is one of the highlights of this album, and listening to it makes you realise how it created and inspired Doom Metal. It goes from a bass driven riff to a heavy chorus which then returns to the verse. It then proceeds to speed up a little into a more upbeat riff which leads into an awesome heavy part, and then into another great solo, after which it returns to the bass driven verse. The lyrical themes are about someone who died of an overdose due to not being able to control his habit. The riffs pummel you into the ground with their heaviness and the vocals go from quiet to loud perfectly.
Rat Salad is another song I initially didn't like at first, but then got to love it. Basically consisting of a riff and solo at the start it then has a long drum solo in the middle. Although I usually don't enjoy drum solos that much, this one kept my attention due to not being overlong (which to me is usually the death of drum solos). Jack the Stripper/Fairies wear boots finishes the album well with some great soloing and riffing.
This album, although containing some ridiculously overplayed songs, stands the test of time and I still find myself listening to it every week or two. I wouldn't say this is overrated in any way, and even today it remains a masterpiece of Metal. It advanced the Metal genre by a large extent, and for that reason alone it is a must have, but what really makes it stand head and shoulders about the crowd is the riffs and soloing present, as well as excellent drumming and great vocals. The fact that it was released in 1970 only further adds to the greatness of it. Essential.
One need only take a look at the time span between this album and the last to understand how driven this band was. Being able to compose and record this much groundbreaking music within the span of a single year is something that few bands are known for. However, it is important to understand that although we do have some changes, for the most part the approach to non-conventional musical structure and dark imagery is still heavily present.
Lyrically this album doesn’t deal much with the occult themes that were present in the previous album. We see references the devil within the context of punishment being delivered towards evil war mongering politicians and the metaphorical application of hell to the state of drug addiction, but nothing that presents the same context that the spooky title track of the last album gave us. We see a more intelligent approach to socio-political issues, as this album is pretty much devoid of the flower power scene, and is closer to the rational criticisms that exposed the philosophical bankruptcy of the time.
As stated before, we still have the same non-conventional approach to songwriting that was present in the previous album. “War Pigs” is probably the most long-winded example of this, carrying a rather large collection of varied, though more cohesive musical sections. The main during the last section of the song (I think this is the theme to “Luke’s Wall”) is probably one of the most memorable guitar riffs ever written. “Fairies wear boots” is also fairly complex, containing the famous recurring guitar solo section, in addition to a memorable set of quasi-blues driven power chord lines. “Iron Man” has probably the most simple structure for the longer tracks on here, but still contains a good deal of changes, and some highly memorable guitar solos.
The experimentation on this album has been taken a step further with the rather heavily drum oriented “Rat Salad”. Being one who is a fan of drums, I appreciate when they are done right, and unlike Zepplin’s rather ridiculous “Moby Dick” this one makes musical sense. If any of you fans of live drum solos wish to get a good studio version of what you like, this is the place to go.
Other tracks such as “Electric Funeral” and “Paranoid” are a bit more straight-forward in structure, though still very far removed from anything else going on at the time. The former has a very evil sounding main riff, in addition to a rather abrupt tempo change in the middle. The lyrics are horrific in their description of the aftermath of a nuclear bomb exploding. The latter song is probably the fastest song to come out at the time, and although others like Deep Purple would push the envelope further, this is probably the earliest version of what we now know as thrash/speed metal.
“Hand of Doom” is another early incarnation of the doom metal genre, and although not as dark as the title track of the debut, this one has it’s fair share of darkness in both the music and subject matter. Although the guitar tone is not as heavy as what would qualify as doom today, the riff itself transfers quite well into the genre today if put through the right kind of distorted amp setting. The lyrics are a rather graphic description of what drugs do to a human being, and indirectly is a condemnation of the glorification of drug use that was rampant in the 60s counter-culture. Metal has historically had a better history of accurately criticizing what goes on in the world than it‘s punk and classic rock counterparts, and here we see an example of how effective it is at it.
We have one rather interesting outlier on this album, and that is the rather atmospheric ballad “Planet Caravan”. Ozzy’s voice is at it’s best on this one as it has been loaded with effects, all of which help to cover the flaws in his vocal performance, which are gradually becoming less obvious on this release in comparison to the previous one. But the true prowess of this song is Tony Iommi’s rather jazz influenced guitar solo, which goes on for about 2 minutes and does not get boring. Ladies and Gentlemen, I can say affirmatively and completely that Tony Iommi made this band as great as it was, not Ozzy.
On a side note, it has been mentioned by many that a large collection of the songs on here have not aged well due to overplay, to this I would make the following suggestions to my friends. Stop listening to the fucking radio, it is the musical manifestation of the tyranny of the majority, hoping that it will conform to what heavy metal is will do nothing but frustrate you. Take all the money that you break your back to procure and buy the songs on CD, and take control of your musical consumption. If you lack the motivation to do this, I would suggest learning to live with the fact that the masses that will the DJ’s hand care not for what you think or believe in. To the DJ and his masters, “Iron Man”, “Paranoid” and “War Pigs” are not heavy metal songs, they are token songs from a genre that they prefer not to think about. Copies of albums were built for one purpose, to realize the personal property aspect of music, which is a personal connection between the artist and the individual listener.
In conclusion, this is another early draft in the history of heavy metal, one that would see a bit more polish and intrigue. This album caries a lot of essential listening, tracks that have furthered the influence of it’s predecessor into a slightly more accessible formula. Like the first release, it is essential for all fans of metal to own it as it provides important historical perspective to where our music comes from. I listen to it often, and although I don’t look to it much for compositional inspiration, I know full well that most of the bands that I do look to for that influence took it from here.
This old warhorse of an album suffers from an all too common condition affecting most bands’ best, or perceived to best, or more popular work: over playing. See, most music journalists and radio programmers are notoriously lethargic, and rather than do the work (if it can really be called work) of truly understanding and assessing an artist’s music, all too often a band’s biggest seller becomes their “best” album simply by virtue of sales. And so we’ve all had certain albums hammered into our brains until we’re sick to death of them, no matter how good they happen to be. The net result is that classics like Dark Side of the Moon, Nevermind, Abbey Road, Kind of Blue, Are You Experienced, and many others (including the ENTIRE Led Zeppelin catalog… I mean get over it already) are rendered impotent due to over saturation.
In Sabbath’s case the damage was particularly acute. In my youth when classic radio stations played the band at all, it was invariably material from this album, and then only two of its well-worn cuts. (And I was listening in a major market: NYC!) Now Black Sabbath, to date and in their various incarnations, has issued 18 studio albums, 4 live albums, and I’m sure countless radio broadcasts of concert recordings languish in radio station vaults. And all we get is two measly cuts? This, my friends, is why mainstream music broadcasting (audio and visual) SUCKS SO BAD in our world.
But enough media bashing. Truth be told, while Paranoid is not my favorite Sabbath outing, it is a classic, and should have its place among metal’s legendary texts. The slightly tentative tone of their debut behind them, our heroes began to truly forge a sound all their own here. The RIFF is still king, as it was before, but these riffs are better by a good margin. Also better is the chemistry between the players, a fact that opener “War Pigs” bears out. The rhythms (part swing, part crush) and the interaction between Bill Ward’s drums and Geezer’s bass is truly impressive, as is the instrumental work during the song’s lengthy CODA, in which Tony Iommi really shows his inventive side as a guitarist. Ozzy for his part gives one of his best performances on record, and the song’s anti-war sentiment (as filtered through Sabbath’s old testament moralist stand and imagery) is potent and even timely some 35+ years hence.
The title cut follows and remains the band’s most famous tune and rightly so. It’s a quick, terse and catchy cut that boasts one of the most infectious riffs in history, as well as suitably depressive lyrics delivered in Ozzy’s now embedded style of following the chord changes with his ever unique voice. The acidic wash of “Planet Caravan” is pleasant enough to be Sabbath’s first visit to psychedelia, and perhaps reveals the band as still having their foot (or at least a toe) dipped into the Sixties rock styles they were in the process of escaping from.
And then there’s “Iron Man”, surely this band’s “Smoke on the Water” and one of the most recognized guitar riffs ever penned. The rub for me is that I really don’t dig the tune, partly due to over-exposure and part because there are at least 25-30 better songs in the band’s canon. For example, at least three of those cuts follow, so let’s move right into the droning, nearly psych dirge “Electric Funeral”. Iommi really gives his cry baby wah pedal a workout here, and Ozzy’s accompanying nasal whine compliments him perfectly. “Fairies Wear Boots” is one of the more dynamic early Sabbath tunes, boasting nice soft/loud contrasts, and bizarre lyrics retelling a tale of Ozzy’s less than pleasant encounter with a crew of skinheads. Finally “Hand of Doom” is odd lyrically, as it addresses and clearly questions the wisdom of Sabbath's own drug use, matched with some sweet, slow, syrupy riffs.
All told Paranoid is a metal landmark and certainly deserves the props it’s received over the decades since its release. But to arbiters of taste that tyrannically control the airwaves, please listen to at least one of this band’s other 20 or so recordings… we’ll settle for even light rotation if that’s all your lazy asses can handle.
Not the kind of album that invokes serious headbanging. I'm listening to it right now and all i'm doing is rythmically tapping my fingers and nodding my head. It's a great CD, no doubt, it's just not headshredding bonebusting hard metal. But if you have 40 minutes of free time, sit in a comfy chair and enjoy!
War Pigs/Luke's Wall 9/10
Starts off slow and cool, like a jazz song that doesn't suck. Has a little siren effect to it adding to the war aspect of the song. Stop! Two quick guitar notes with Bill Ward hitting the hi hat and then Ozzy kicks in with top notch vocals. It goes something like this: Bill Ward hits hi hat while Ozzy says a line then he bangs the drum as Iommi gives it the guitar. Repeat until about the 1:48 mark and then Bill puts in the fast hits keeping a cool flow going. Not an ultrafast speed beat but it's more than sufficient. Cool groove for a little while, 100% enjoyable, then you go back to your badass guitar riff and speedy drums. What can i say about bass, the whole purpose of bass is to give backbone to a song, the song doesn't sound thin so Geezer is doing his job the way it should be done. You get some drum rolls here and there near the end of the song and some good solos from Iommi hear and there. The ONLY part of the song i didn't like was the very very end where Iommi twisted the guitars and because of that, the song gets a 9.
Nothing unlikeable about this song. I was kinda dissapointed that it was only 2:52 long. Anyways, the song starts off cool and what I really like about the song is that the guitar notes and bass notes aren't exactly the same, like a lot of modern day metal. The bass adds a very nice touch to the solo. Anyway, this song is without a chorus so i think that's why it's so short, but this song needs no chorus. The drumming is a little simplistic but everything else makes up for it. I like the lyrics, too.
Planet Caravan 3/10
The drums sound like slow African tribal and the guitars (bass AND electric) are so quiet. This song is riddled with effects (which are pretty trippy to listen to with headphones on). That's the word i can use to describe the song, trippy. It's WAY too slow for my taste though. I like the guitar riff at about 2:30. The drums never seem to change and the effects start to annoy you. The guitars start to get repeptitive. The song eventually fades out, next track. Four and a half minutes of average groove. The song doesn't fit with the album at all, every other song on this album has a moderate tempo, while this song is slow. I always seem to skip this song. Side note: Pantera did a very good cover of this song which i liked way better than the Sabbath version. Oh, but i ramble, next track.
Iron Man 10/10
*bass drum* *bass drum* *bass drum* *bass drum* *guitar drone* I AM IRON MAN. And then the best song on this album begins. You get a riff that you will remember forever in the verses and the chorus is all about the drums and vocals, i kind of ignore the guitar. You get a great solo from Iommi halfway through the song. The bass mimics the guitar alot but you ingnore it because the rest of the song is just so incredible. The song wraps up nicely with a riff from good ol Iommi and some of Bill Ward's crash cymbals.
Electric Funeral 10/10
Ooooh, scary!! A very creepy riff, and i love creepy riffs. Lyrics are just as creepy and Ozzy's delivery is nothing short of excellent. This is probably the heaviest song on the CD, even though it's not that fast. Wow, Bill Ward does give you some great drum rolls. Okay, halfway through the song now, notivable change of pace. Hey, it's faster now (Electric funeral! Electric funeral!) and Iommi's giving some higher notes. Then all that ends and the creepiness begins again. The drumming overall is decent, the only spectacular drumming moment in this song was in the bridge in the middle of the song. The song now fades out and next track starts
Hand Of Doom 10/10
Starts out with a cool bass riff. The vocals are perfect and the drums, although slow in the verses, compliment the whole "doomed" aspect of the song. This song is the first time i ever heard Ozzy scream and he does a decent job. There's no guitar in the normal verses, only in the chorus and bridge. The chorus guitars are PERFECT. The bridge starts at about 2:10 and the whole Sabbath gives it their full musical talent and makes the rest of the song memorable. Back to the creepy bass riff u heard at the beginning, drums kick in, vocals added, chorus begins with some more of that Iommi guitar that you can never forget. This song was stuck in my head for days the first time I heard it (which is a good thing). The song wraps up with the initial bass riffs. I'm sorry, this song is so hard to describe, i suggest you download the song and read this while you listen.
Rat Salad 10/10
The guitars are pretty average, and the bass does nothing for the song. So how does this song get a 10/10? Those fucking fast as hell drums! I need not say more.
Jack The Stripper/Fairies Wear Boots 1/10
I usually stop the CD before this song starts because this song is so repeptitive and annoying. This song has an annoying guitar riff and the vocals kinda suck. The drums are the only thing keeping this song from getting a 0. Ozzy's high flying singing in this song is so gargly in places. Bill Ward's drumming is very good as always. The bass is frequently inconsistent. Iommi's last solo stands out very well, though (except the song ends before his solo does).
Although i heavily bashed the last track, go out and buy this CD. Black Sabbath is one of the few bands that nobody has a problem with, and you won't have a problem with them either.
The second classic by Black Sabbath is just as required as the first album. It is just as classic yet offers a very different ‘cup of tea.’ It is probably just as influential as the first album while providing a much different approach musically and lyrically. The first track proves the different approach that Black Sabbath took on this album.
Starting off with “War Pigs/ Luke’s Wall,” it is a much faster opening track than the previous album’s “Black Sabbath.” Although still a bit slow it does offer more of a melody and much more diversity in the sound. More riffs and melody are how this album differs from the first one. Songs such as “Paranoid,” demonstrate the faster paced characteristic of Black Sabbath that the first album has but only scraped upon.
The intended filler, “Paranoid,” has become the most revered Sabbath song amongst many fans. The song is perhaps one of the most memorable songs in Metal and therefore has a very high replay value. It is very difficult to describe this song, even though I have heard it countless amounts of times. It is pretty useless as well, as pretty much every Metal fan has heard this song as well.
Now I’m not a big fan of songs that don’t fit into the overall feel and represent the overall atmosphere that the album brings about, but the third song, “Planet Caravan,” is one of my favorite songs that hold such characteristics. This is what I see when I listen to this song:
“At night, my caravan and I are wandering about the Mid-American desert and it is getting cold, we stop and create a fire in order to keep warm. I unfold my Indian rug and rest it on the rough soil below me. The moon is over me as I lay back and gaze upon the infinite stars that populate the night sky. A coyote howls in the distance as I roast a rabbit above the open fire. I place Paranoid into my Cd-payer, fast forward to the third track and fall asleep to the knowledge that I am living in never-ending bliss.”
Atmosphere!!! Oh the Atmosphere that this album incites is indescribable. This is what makes this album such a great listen. From the first to the last track atmosphere and lyrical and musical genius captivate the listener’s interest. Nothing else matter when I listen to this album. The world might be coming to an end, yet I will have this in my stereo till Judgment day.
The underrated tracks would be track five and six, “Electric Funeral” and “Hand of Doom,” respectively are great songs that don’t get as much attention as “Paranoid” or “Iron Man,” even though they are great songs that have much to offer. Both of the songs encompass the slower and faster attributes of the Black Sabbath sound and the tempo interchange is done perfectly and doesn’t contain a repetitive feeling to the songs.
The concluding track is a very fine selection. A better tack, in my opinion, would have been “Planet Caravan,” just because of the atmosphere it creates and would add a great ‘fade out’ feel to the album. No big deal, as it is a grand track for a classic album. Great lyrics and riffs, but most of all great drum work by Bill Ward. Tony Iommi and Bill Ward create a perfect melody that is very adequate to the overall impression that the album portrays.
This is the album that has introduced me to Heavy Metal music. Righteously so it was one of the greatest albums that I have heard. For every fan of Metal, this is the album for you. Your Metal journey will not be complete without this marvel of an album in your collection. Listen to it, love it and bow before the genius that is Black Sabbath’s Paranoid.
My first metal album, without question my favorite, and unarguably one of the best ever recorded. This is the album that broke heavy metal through to a wider audience, and proved that it actually had something to say as a musical genre. In 8 songs, Black Sabbath told the story of heavy metal from beginning to end, and it is a story that will never be forgotten.
First of all, any album with “War Pigs” on it is automatically the greatest metal album ever. Ozzy’s vocals on this song compete only with his own on Black Sabbath’s self titled song. Musicians far outside of metal have covered this song, including Phish. Come again? Yeah you heard me the first time. Phish. During its verse, the song employs the hands-down-simplest guitar riff ever (but it works so good!), and Ozzy Osbourne’s brilliant ascending-then-descending melody remains unmatched in the annals of metal. The song definitely has some anti-war stuff going on, although I’m not quite sure which war (Viet Nam maybe? I’m no history buff). And god damn, the droning, almost psychedelic guitar segment that dominates the last half of the song is just… jaw dropping. Well I don’t know about you, but my jaw drops when I hear it. I’ll admit the ending is kind of silly, though. “Buuudiiidiiibuuudiidiibuudubidubidiididuudfuufi!” That’s what it sounds like, kind of.
The album’s biggest radio hit was “Paranoid,” and apparently it was written in about 20 minutes, when they realized they had some extra studio time to kill. For me, this song works perfectly as a concise pop song and a metal anthem. The chorus is instrumental… I can just imagine if a later metal band wrote this song, the chorus would be “Yeeeahhh! I’m paaaaranoooiiid!” in a power metal scream. Which would be awesome, actually. But this song is perfect as it is, 3 minutes of pure metal goodness.
“Planet Caravan” is strange; it has only clean guitar, bass, and bongos. And vocals of course, which are processed through some sort of modifier. The lyrics in this song are awesomely trippy, and they totally make the song. The atmosphere of the instrumentation is incredible. Once I was listening to it with my friend who doesn’t like metal, and he was like “This track is awesome.” Or something like that. The guitar solo in the end is so calm and graceful, it’s a jazzy type of thing. Bongos!
And well, of course, there’s “Iron Man.” What some have called the greatest and most memorable guitar riff of all time, it is endlessly parodied (but still hasn’t lost its purity and raw power). This was probably the heaviest rock song that had come out at the time (1970), and I bet people were like, “Whooaaa!” Oh man, the Way Iommi switches from chords to single notes in the verse. This song is a particular standout for Iommi actually. The extended solo section at the end is some of his best work ever. Listening to this song makes you imagine this big iron dude. Walking. Loudly.
Waa-waa-wa-wa-waaaoohhh – This song has wah pedal in it. And it ROCKS. The main guitar riff is very evil, probably the most evil sounding song on the album. This is the traditional slow crawling Black Sabbath riff, that they tried endlessly to recreate, but never could. “Like electric funeral pyre!!” Ozzy was a genius (I said WAS). Some cool tom drumming from Bill Ward here. The song picks up in the middle, and gets real fast and cool. Not that it wasn’t cool before. But now it’s ultra cool. And of course the classic moment when he’s all like, “Electric fun-ral! Electric fun-ral!” Aw man, that rocks. And I always thought the ending fadeout sounds especially evil and restrained. It sounds like a beast that wants to fucking tear your eyes out, but there’s a cage holding it back. Geezer Butler’s harmony in this part is simply… chilling.
“Hand of Doom” is classic because it switches between a mellow, quiet verse and a violent, electric chorus. The quiet part has an awesome drum beat. And then the LOUD PART shows clearly that Bill Ward was no chump. And Ozzy’s all like, “Now it’s killing yoouuu!” This song seems to be about heroin, Black Sabbath was all about the drugs. The middle fast part has one of the best guitar riffs on the album, I think. Oh man it rocks so hard, I can’t even describe it! I just think it’s amazing how every riff on the whole record is one of the best riffs you’ve ever heard. It’s like, you think they’re done cranking out awesome guitar riffs, and then HERE COME SOME MORE! One of my favorite parts of the song is when he goes “You need someone to help you take the needle in, yeah!” and then Iommi goes off into this Eastern-sounding solo. This song is probably the best display on the album of Sabbath’s ability to change dynamics on the spot, and make it sound convincing.
Aaaah, “Rat Salad,” Black Sabbath’s answer to Led Zeppelin’s “Moby Dick,” which came out earlier the same year. Well it is an instrumental which starts out with some sick riffs (is this surprising anymore?), and then goes into a rather long drum solo (this was the 70’s, folks). Actually I hate to say it, but comparing the recorded versions of the solos in Salad and Moby, Bill Ward beats John Bonham. However, one watch of the How the West Was Won DVD and you’ll see that Bonham was indeed better. Sorry, Bill. This song still rocks my socks though.
The trippiest, absolutely coolest guitar sequence opens “Fairies Wear Boots.” Oh man, where does he come UP with this shit? Some cool drumming from Ward as usual leads into yet another sick mid-paced solo by Iommi. The lyrics in this song are incredibly strange. In the story, Ozzy is tripping on acid so hard that he sees dancing fairies wearing boots, along with some other strange sights. So then he goes to the doctor, and the doctor says “Smokin’ and trippin’ is all that you do… Yeeeaaaahhhhhh!” This is simultaneously the coolest and most hilarious lyric in all of heavy metal. Iommi’s solo in the middle has some sick bends and it is one of the best on the record, in my humblest of opinions. This song is absolutely perfect. I wouldn’t change a thing.
I hesitate giving anything a score of 100%, but I just HAD to. Because Paranoid is the greatest heavy metal record of all time, the only metal album that REALLY matters in the grand scheme of things. I wouldn’t give Master of Puppets 100%, nor would I bestow that honor upon The Number of the Beast. It’s just that this is the one album that says – Black Sabbath is nobody’s bitch.
Raise no objections, put down your Deep Purple, your Judas Priest, your Metallica, your good-fucking-God-no Led Zeppelin, this album is it. Black Sabbath created metal with three songs on the debut, but Paranoid is 100% metal, every song clawing at your mind, tearing your sanity to the brink of madness, scaring the shit out of your parents.
It's not without weakness, hence the 88 (it's not even close to their BEST album), but it's their greatest. After this, they could've just sat back and ended their career, two pieces of revolutionary noise beyond all criticism under their belts. Instead, they made a good fifty more classics (songs not albums, although it seems that way sometimes) that your life would not be complete without. Thank them. Get down on your knees and worship these fumbling stoned gods of metal. Now, onto the actual content.
The band has advanced a frightening degree from record one, eschewing the outdated and awkward suite-based songs of the debut for tight, focused genius, riffs, leads, fills, and lyrics that will be burned into your brain for eternity. In all the came before, there was nothing to account for "Iron Man", that opening sledge, a non-musical scream of agony and rage that spiritually fathered extreme metal. Can you imagine listening to those first thirty seconds in 1970, with only a few noisy Cream concerts and insufferably dull Zeppelin plodders to prepare you? And after that, what a song! Black Sabbath gives us TWO monstrous riffs that every aspiring guitarist must learn, and a fearsome break, lessened only by the fact that it is somewhat similar to that of "Black Sabbath" and "War Pigs". If there was ever a riff designed to liquefy the brains of the impressionable youths, it’s the opening howl of “Iron Man”.
Speaking of "War Pigs", it's got a great bid for greatest heavy metal song ever. It's epic, almost progressive in scope, those wide-yawning spaces filled only by an impassioned Ozzy giving us the first metal protest song, oh lord yeah! And oh lawd, testify to the mad air drumming godliness of those Bill Ward fills, like nothing on earth ‘til Rush’s “Tom Sawyer” a good dozen years hence. Brilliant jammy break too, Iommi soloing like mad while that perfect rhythm section scowls and lopes along underneath. Plus, it's Side 1, Track 1 of metal's crowning album, making it quite the standard bearer through the accumulating ages of rust and disgust.
"Paranoid" is galloping proto-speed, as UltraBoris pointed out not the high metal science of "Highway Star", but looked upon favourably by metal heads everywhere. That starting gun of a riff, fading into the maddeningly sing-songy melody is the stuff of metal legend. I mean damn, I know every word of that song, like some sort of mantra or rap to the metal cause; more specifically to the cause of metal, which must’ve been the result of brain damage. It's burned into my brain. Gotta love that bubbly bass tone and behaved drumming, plus one of Iommi's more fun lead breaks.
"Planet Caravan" (given an able, if uninspired, cover by Pantera in later years) is a mellow 'trippy' number, feeling like a cool balm on your pressure cooked brain before "Iron Man" gives you another scalding. Illegible singing by Ozzy, subterranean drumming and guitar, this song is all about bass. Good, unique, track, and perhaps an indicator of Sabbath's future experimentation on later songs like "Spiral Architect" and the Technical Ecstasy record.
Alas, "Electric Funeral" is just weaksauce, a plodding and limp-wristed metaphor for nuclear war. Still, an able update of the doomy power demonstrated on "Black Sabbath". Ozzy's voice is much too faded out and electronic though.
"Hand of Doom" is brilliant, Geezer Butler giving the track its name with his unholy bass work, Bill Ward afire with alchemical genius in that fast break, Ozzy Osbourne really top-flight despite the barebones lyrics he's working with. Tony is of course Tony, but he's actually made somewhat peripheral here by the power of the rest of this band.
"Rat Salad", is a fair instrumental, nothing really special save for more percussion pyrotechnics. [To the person who said this track ripped off "Moby Dick", this came out first pal]
Finally, "Fairies Wear Boots", a lumbering stoner metal classic, the final gem on an album full of them. The lyrics are hilarious, either as a 'harrowing' tale of the stoner who cried wolf (or fairy in this case), or as a biting send-up of the English skinhead movement. Either way, chunky riffery and a nice almost staccato rhythm, particularly when it starts picking up towards the end. This is one of those tracks that makes you appreciate the Ozzy years. I mean, can you imagine Ronnie James Dio singing this? If you can, try to stop laughing/crying. It's another big piece of the metal puzzle, but if lacks the depth of the other crunchy classics on here in some way, really a bit too loose and ill-constructed.
Stand-Outs: "War Pigs", "Hand of Doom", "Iron Man"
Black Sabbath were on a roll after their debut hit in early 1970. They had enjoyed the success of a number 8 record in the UK and some success in Europe, reaching number 23 in Europe. However, success in the US had eluded them thusfar. The band then returned to the studio to record their followup, this time recorded in three days as opposed to the one day effort of the debut. Paranoid was released on September 18 1970, delayed a few days because of demands for another more accessible song (Paranoid), along with a request to change the title, then called War Pigs, for fear it may offend US buyers, still smarting from the Vietnam war. As a result, the name was changed, but the artwork wasn't, explaining the rather strange cover.
Not only did this record surpass the quality of their debut, it was so good that it finally got them success in the states. The feeling here is a less laid-back and more aggressive, being centered around Iommi churning out classic riff after classic riff. All members of the band have improved on their first album, and the songs are more structured and less meandering. The loose feel of the first album however is still present, just not as overtly so. The title track went straight to number four in the UK, and the album reaching number 1 in the UK and number 12 in the US, making it their most successful effort.
John "Ozzy" Osbourne (vocals) - Ozzy's voice changes notably on this release, becoming less throaty and higher pitched. He lays down some of his best performances on this album, most notably on Hand Of Doom and War Pigs. His vocal melodies, apparently all written by Ozzy himself, are some of the catchiest of his career.
Frank "Tony" Iommi (guitars) - Tony's riffing comes into it's own, with a large amount of his most popular riffs making their appearance here. His lead style is similar to his debut, although deviating slightly, with more flurries of notes being used.However, he's at his best when he slows it down and works around memorable phrases. This is best evidenced by his jazz-influenced outro solo on Planet Caravan
Terence "Geezer" Butler (bass) - Geezer continues in the style that he forged on the first album, and doing so with more confidence. His booming bass adds extra weight to plodding cuts like Electric Funeral and Hand Of Doom, and he even briefly experiments with a pick, lending a tremolo-picked bass section to the outro of Iron Man.
Bill Ward (drums) - Bill's jazz-influenced and rather fill-happy style comes into the fore on this album. He's all over the kit on War Pigs, particularly in the all out jam in the middle, but his best work is in on Rat Salad, not only being built mostly on his violent drumming, but featuring a drum solo right in the middle. A truly electric performance from Ward.
Production was handled by Roger Bain, and is similar to the first album. The main emphasis is on Tony Iommi's guitar, with the other instruments seemingly positioned around it. Bill's kit sounds excellent, and Geezer's bass is prominent without being overbearing. Ozzy's vocals are mixed to the fore as well.
War Pigs - A seven and a half minute monster, War Pigs begins with a slow section replete with air raid sirens, before going into the verse section which sees Ozzy singing a cappella, before going into a rather loose and funky section. The lead section at the end is complete instrumental chaos, with each instrument seeming to do something completely unrelated to the
other. It should sound like a complete cacophony, and yet it avoids this completely. Excellent stuff. The outro section consists of a nice riff containing arpeggiated seventh chords, before launching into another trademark "band solo". An excellent opening cut.
Paranoid - This is the song that brought them into the big time. Not bad for a song that was reputedly written in less than five minutes at the end of the sessions. This cut features Iommi's most well known riff that powers the song from start to finish, and Bill Ward plays an uncharacteristic role as a timekeeper. There is an unusually tight feel to this song, as the loose jammy feel of the rest of the album is totally absent here.
Planet Caravan - The lightest cut here. This one sees Iommi on a clean guitar, Bill Ward on bongos and Ozzy recording his vocals through a Leslie rotating keyboard amplifier. Although easily being the lightest cut, it is their most atmospheric, as this song contains an engulfing sense of doom. Of particular note here is the exceptional outro lead of Tony Iommi. A dark,
melodic, almost jazzy lead that adds immeasurably to the atmosphere present.
Iron Man - One of Black Sabbath's most famous cuts, this starts off with a discordant guitar figure with Ozzy's heavily synthesized voice before launching directly into its signature riff which powers most of the song. There's a nice solo section in the middle as well. The outro is fueled by tremolo-picked bass from Geezer, over which Tony puts forth a guitar
line before going into one of his patented "twin-guitar" solos. Excellent work
Electric Funeral - This cut is so bleak and oppressive you can picture in your head the devastated radiation-scarred landscape that serves as the lyrical topic. This is the sort of atmosphere that doom bands have been striving to recreate for years. Powered by one of Iommi's heaviest riffs and a menacing vocal performance from Ozzy, this cut is punishing from start to finish.
This is the release that brought them into a league of their own, and played a critical role in the development of metal. There are no weak cuts at all on this album, and it's so revered that it's an unwritten law to have a copy of this (and the rest of their first six). No metalhead should be without this album!
Oddly enough, this is where Sabbath seemed to fuck around uselessly the least, of all their first five albums (before Sabotage, where they really just put their shit together with a fucking nailgun)... there are no really overly short interludes thrown in (well, other than that Jack the Stripper bit, and Rat Salad), and the riff work is as usual phenomenal. However, it seems to have aged poorly, mainly due to overplay of some songs (Hell, I was familiar with the Iron Man riff by the time I was SIX), and also some rather weak ideas.
We start with War Pigs, which everyone has heard - but they need to hear again. The riff set at the end is apparently called Luke's Wall (didn't find that out until I got the album, and to this day I still have no idea where the split is, probably when the song speeds up...). After all these years, it still owns. Then the title track, which is almost speed metal. Not quite, though - it's above midpaced but no Highway Star.
Planet Caravan is kinda cute. I used to hate it, but then I listened to it while drunk... maybe that's the secret - to be under the influence of substances not occuring naturally within the body ;-) Then, there's Iron Man. It's really worn on me after a while (more so than War Pigs) but the ending solo/riff set is still a total monster. Electric Funeral is okay but it features probably Ozzy's worst vocals on here - he is a really crappy singer and at times brings the album down a lot. Other times he is tolerable, like on Iron Man, but not here. It's got a nice riff, though.
Hand of Doom, this is a song that cemented the genre that Black Sabbath spawned. Slow, heavy... instead of getting beaten by ten bricks every second like with a thrash album, this time the beatings occur only once every three seconds (well, a bit more often in the faster middle section)... but the bricks are a thousand times as heavy (even in the middle section, whoo!). Either way, you lose. Or win, if you actually like metal.
Rat Salad - what the fuck. Fucken drum highlights. Metal is about guitars. Enough said, here's Fairies Wear Boots, which starts off kinda average (it's also worn on me) but then at the end has a really simple but really nifty guitar solo that Metallica later borrowed to good effect. It's the most classical-sounding solo of all old Sabbath, and goes well as an outro piece. Who ever said Iommi couldn't play lead?
So do you need this album? Maybe, if just for Hand of Doom - that is the song on here that few people have heard, because all the other great heavy shit is a classic rock staple... it's a decent album, though it still is missing the drive and consistency that would mark heavy metal of later years. Too much drugs, kids.
So this is it. The classic of all classics, Black Sabbath's second studio effort Paranoid. This album is so damn legendary that it can't be put into words.
But is it really that good? No, I wouldn't say so. But you'll have to keep in mind that this was only the second metal album ever, which makes it so damn more impressive.
One thing that is for certain is that the musicianship on this album, and any classic Sabbath album really, is out of this world. Guitarist Tony Iommi, bassist Geezer Butler and drummer Bill Ward compliment eachother perfectly, blasting out well-refined performances with that unmistakable bluesy groove of old Black Sabbath. Iommi plays some really nice solos that stay well within the context of each song and always manages to add very much, but it was his awesome riffwork that made him legendary. Butler is as you all know, a fantastic bassist, and his work gives the album a more down-tuned, darker vibe. Black Sabbath uses the bass like it should be used, adding alot to the music, while many for most other bands the bass is just there, without doing anything at all. And then we have the insanely catchy drumwork of Bill Ward, whose varied yet very bluesy style fits perfectly in with the dark and groovy sense of the entire album.
Finally, of course, we have the vocals of Ozzy Osbourne. He was never a great vocalist, but I can't think of any other voice that would at all work along with the material of old Black Sabbath.
So these four excellent musicians here put out their second studio album, which was made legendary by such classics as War Pigs, Iron Man and of course the title track.
War Pigs is a long, evil and catchy motherfucker, with incredibly cool verses and that manic end solo sticking out as highlights. Iron Man has that immortal main riff, which is some of the catchiest shit ever. It must be heard to believe- then again, if you haven't heard it already, you totally suck.
The title track has catchy but simplistic almost-speed metal riffwork, fun vocal lines and a wicked solo. But the rest of the album isn't quite as effective.
Electric Funeral and Hand of Doom are pretty average, midpaced heavy numbers that don't really do much for me. The former, though, has that wicked speeded up section towards the end, which somewhat redeems it. The latter has very nice basslines and alternates in heaviness, which is kinda cool at times, but eventually it gets quite boring and overlong.
The rest is also pretty damn average. Rat Salad is a mediocre instrumental with fun drum highlights, Fairies Wear Boots seems to just plod along and never get anywhere.
And then we have Planet Caravan, one of the shittiest songs in the history of mankind. This is what happens when you take too much fucking weed.
So in conclusion, this is of course a legendary album, which you definitely need to own, if only for historical value. While the songwriting is pretty average and inconsistent at times, the highlights are incredibly high, and the incredible musicianship definitely does impress.