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Black Sabbath - Paranoid CD (album) cover


Black Sabbath


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4.30 | 898 ratings

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5 stars Black Sabbath's debut introduced the world to the down-tuned, monstrously heavy sound of metal. The debut was an eclectic mix of blues, jazz, and the hardest rock that had ever been made (it's still hard to top). For the follow-up, the band honed their sound into a taut beast that ushered in an entire genre. Paranoid takes all of the disjointed elements of the eponymous debut and combines them so each song is a terrific mix of styles. How they managed to do this in the same year as their debut is beyond me. Ozzy Osbourne , though not an overly impressive singer, is one of the most identifiable vocalists of all time. Bill Ward and Geezer Butler are one of the tightest rhythm sections of all time, and Tony Iommi is the king of the riff.

Paranoid is packed with rock standards. The album opens with the air raid sirens and sustained chords of War Pigs, Black Sabbath's greatest song. A scathing indictment of the military leaders that send young men (and later women) to die for dubious causes. Every member puts in a great performance, and the lyrics are, unfortunately, just as relevant today as they were back in 1970. The title track deals with the effects of drugs on the perception. In a time where songs focused on how drugs opened the mind and led to religious experiences, Sabbath talked about what happens when the trip goes bad. Planet Caravan is a psychedelic number that seems to balance out the last track, showing both sides of the drug experience. It's an airy number that takes you by surprise after the crushing heaviness of the first two tracks.

Next comes what is almost certainly the most identifiable song in all of heavy metal. Iron Man is responsible for more bands than just about any album ever made. The song builds from the demonic chord to the timeless riff, and it gains speed for the solo and ends grandly. Electric Funeral is the heaviest song yet, which is nothing short of impressive. The apocalyptic vision of the future sounds like the foundation of both The Terminator and The Matrix franchises. Hand Of Doom is a terrific tune that deals with the evils of heroin. It alternates from soft to hard and features killer performances from Ward and Iommi. This song goes sadly unnoticed amongst all the gold here, and it's one of my favorite Black Sabbath songs. Rat Salad is a neat little instrumental that is kind of like Zeppelin's "Moby Dick" in that it's a drum solo with a few blues chords to introduce it. Fairies Wear Boots has several perceived meanings. Some argue that is a comment on skinheads, while the band claims it was inspired from a drug trip where one member of the band (can't remember which) actually saw fairies wearing boots. Either way, the song is enjoyable and a fitting way to close the album with some great melodies.

This is undoubtedly the greatest heavy metal album ever made, though it's not very progressive. However, it's massive influence on all of heavy rock makes it an impossible album to underrate. While Sabbath would make some great albums after this, this will forever remain the high water mark of their career, as well as metal.

Grade: A

1800iareyay | 5/5 |


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