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Black Sabbath's biggest commercial success and arguably their best album, Paranoid, is most deserving of the attention it gets. Ozzy's vocals are at his best, some of the most delightfully awesome guitar solos and drumming is on this record, and it's just EVIL. Luke's Wall/War Pigs is the beginning track and it's just great. This song has been covered by everybody from Dream Theater to Crowbar and it has one of the sickest Sabbath grooves ever. Drumming is excellent also.
Paranoid deals with the subject of mental illness, namely insanity, and it's also classically groovy.
Planet Caravan comes next and it's abominable. Ozzy's vocals are given a very eerie distorted effect to them and the song just trudges along at an unholy slowness. It's also a bit aggravating to hear it because Pantera's remake of it is ten times better. The guitars are more in the foreground, the vocals aren't drug-induced and overly spacey, and the playing is more efficient and precise.
Iron Man comes next, and it features a robotic voice that zealously proclaims "I AM IRON MAN". The whining intro guitar and gnarly soloing later is commendable as well. Electric Funeral is a odd, creepy little number that features more alien-like vocals in the chorus. That definitely doesn't sound like Ozzy doing those.
Hand of Doom is a very evil song, both musically and lyrically, with Ozzy singing about souls damned to hell and the guitar tone being completely lethal. This is a great track to dance and groove to as well. Satanic/evil lyrics are so much cooler when they are coming from the pipes of such a unique and good vocalist as Ozzy.
Anyway, Rat Salad is next and it is an AWESOME instrumental that begins with a crescendoing guitar melody that soon morphs into a no-holds-barred drum solo. Damn, this is even better than Led Zeppelins' drum solo on "Moby Dick" from Led Zeppelin II. This will stomp you dead like a rat and turn your brains into salad.
Fairies Wear Boots/Jack the Stripper is a great mini-epic that closes the album. "Fairies wear boots, man you gotta believe me. I saw it I saw it I tell you no lie. Yeah, fairies wear boots, man you gotta believe me. I saw it I saw it with my own two eyes," is what Ozzy sings in this song. Quite comical if you ask me. What do fairies have to do with metal, Satan, demons, evil in general, etc.?
Anyway, the song flows greatly into the Jack the Stripper part of the song, which fades the song away in a foreboding style. Who the hell is Jack the Stripper anyway? Who knows where Black Sabbath derives lyrical inspiration, but it's quite funny. They can be so evil and scary(especially for their time. I'm sure they freaked many a conservative out.), but then they can be so nonsensical and quirky. That's just one of the idiosyncrasies that make this band great. This is an awesome album from an awesome band, arguably the first metal band(Pentagram may have been formed first, but they didn't have nearly as much of an influence on metal as Black Sabbath did), but undoubtedly highly influential to countless metal bands today.Every metalhead needs to own this album, if only for its historical significance.
If you love thrash, buy this album.
If you love death, buy this album.
If you love black, buy this album.
If you love heavy metal, buy this album.
If you love progressive, buy this album.
If you love power, buy this album.
Eh, you get the picture.
What I'm trying to say is, buy this album no matter what kind of metalhead you are because it will most likely help you appreciate the bands you DO like even more, considering that this album and this band were catalysts for the formation of countless bands.