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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.