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Black Sabbath - Paranoid CD (album) cover


Black Sabbath

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Sean Trane
Prog Folk
4 stars 4.5 stars really!!!

As their debut album scored immediately on both side of the Atlantic, the world was now warned about BS and there would be no surprise effect this time around. Or so they thought! The Birmingham quartet had more trick up their sleeves and pulled a lot of trump cards from their games to confirm with HM's most definitive album. As much as Warning had done the job on the debut album, there was little to prepare the listener for the sonic assaults of their opening track, the eternal anti-war tune War Pigs with its air-raid siren howling in the opening riffs. Originally intended as War Pigs, this album title was vetoed by their US label fearing too much controversy with the Vietnam crisis and its political inflammatory contents, even though Butler's lyrics for the track came from the group playing US military installation in Germany and their lengthy conversation with the soldiers.

With the famous Sci-Fi warrior (rather cheap and missed, imho) of the outside gatefold and the very-white photo-shoot of its innerfold, Paranoid might have even not seen its title track included at first. The group had recorded this album almost as quickly as their debut album (one session) and when the Vertigo label assembled it, they deemed it too short, they asked the group to add another track, so the amphetamine-fuelled Paranoid was recorded as an afterthought, not knowing it would become their biggest and sole #1 hit on both side of the Atlantic. Originally the song had been casted-off because the group thought it too close to Zep's Communication Breakdown on their debut album. In terms of influences, Paranoid's riff is definitely one of the most inspiring for generations of metal group along with Zeppelin's Immigrant Song and from Judas Priest to the 80's thrash and speed metal groups and 90's progmetal, everyone owes a huge debt to it.

Again the group had all their songs well rehearsed well ahead of time as they played many gigs, including some Hamburg nights where they played up to six sets of 45 minutes, with War Pigs often lasting a full 40 minutes and here reduced to an 8 minutes version (you can hear its aborted ending as a cut-off). Sounding quite different is the superbly atmospheric Planet Caravan (where they sound like a very spacey Ten Yearts After) hinting at Sleeping Village on the previous album, where Bill Ward's bongos and Butler's gentle bass are absolutely gorgeous, Iommi's jazzy guitar and Ozzy's muffled vocals provide a genuine piece of jazzy psychedelia. The opening side finishes on another Sabbath monument, the awesome Iron Man, with its huge crunching power chord and its laughable opening announcement, and later Iommi's spine-chilling solemn solo. Again Geezer Butler's thumping bass lines (inspired by Cream's Jack Bruce) and Bill Ward's jazzy drumming bring a breath of fresh air to the general heaviness.

The flipside opens on another small but often overlooked Sabbath gem, Electric Funeral starting a bit like the gloomy BS track of the debut, but the middle section develops much more muscles and energy. The longest track of the album, Hand Of Doom, starts out appropriately gloomily and picks up again with Ozzy's inspired vocals and Ward's driving rhythm and then menacingly slowing down again.

After the short instrumental rifferama of Rat Salad, comes probably the most stunning Sabbath track (certainly my fave), Fairies Wear Boots, an anti-Skinhead anthem, which is really an Osbourne theme, since he was one of them prior to playing music. A lengthy intro including Butler's booming bass, Ward's incessant drum rolls and Iommi's distant guitar (at first) tells you that you're fantasyland, and until Ozzy's spine-chilling vocals enters some 90 seconds into the track, this is pure bliss? But Ozzy's vocals are particularly inspired as well and once the verse gone; Iommi, Ward and Butler take us to unsuspected proglands and looping it to the intro again for a second run. Even some 35 years after discovering this album, I can't help replaying this track a second time just for kicks and thrills. What an awesome way to finish an album.

After such a review, I don't really think closing comments are really necessary, right

Report this review (#143801)
Posted Friday, October 12, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars Yeah! At last Black Sabbath on PA... And it's true "thanx to Sean Trane for the addition" of that excellent heavy metal band and the genesis of any metal movement of these days...

Into BS discography, Paranoid is not their most progressive album but has some interesting elements. However as a hevy rock album works perfectly and that's the reason of their first 2 stars: some of the most heavy and legendary riffs f the early 70's (War Pigs, Iron Man, Electric Funeral, Hand of Doom), excellent guitar solos and powerful drums.

On the other hand, we have a beautiful psychedelic piece named Planet Caravan, a floating track with an awsome athmosphere. The crescendo closing section of Iron Man is very hevy but proggy. The complex middle section of Electric Funeral (the darkest song of the album) is really great. The firts jazzy section section of Rat Salad is very ompressive too, with a great work of Bill Ward on drums creating a complex and syncopated rhythmical background. This elements are the reason of the other 2 stars.

I insist, Paranoid is a heavy metal album and a great one but you can find some prog elements that turn this album into an interesting trip through the dark, heavy and even experimental world of Black Sabbath.

Report this review (#143917)
Posted Friday, October 12, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars Despite the success of their debut, it was this album that turned BLACK SABBATH into superstars of heavy metal.

Has there ever been a more portentious opening to an album than IOMMI'S distorted guitar on 'War Pigs', with the air-raid siren howling? As a young teen this fair put the willies up me. 'War Pigs' is a classic song in anyone's language. Distilled from a live jam that often went on for half an hour or more, 'War Pigs' was accomplished and tight as well as being direct: no metaphors or hidden messages here. 'Paranoid', a last-minute inclusion on the album, is an oddity in the SABBATH canon, with a much faster tempo. It is this song more than any other which birthed the myriad of heavy metal genres we have today - they all owe this three minute track a great debt. To tell the truth, I never liked it. It seemed lightweight to me.

This is a more complete album than the rushed debut. There's a psychedelic ballad ('Planet Caravan') and plenty of riff-laden menace, replete with sci-fi themes and social commentary - but relatively little occult imagery. At this stage of their career they were still not entirely comfortable with the image that was winning them legions of fans. 'Iron Man' is the best of the remaining tracks, a simple but effective sci-fi tale of revenge drenched in some of the most well-known riffs in rock. The sublime moment comes at the end of the instrumental break, where each motif is reprised, leading to a repeat of the song's ponderous opening riff. Genius.

Not quite five stars: had they paid as much attention to the rest of the album as they did to the opener, this could have been truly great. As it is, they had to settle for genre-defining.

'Heavy boots of lead, fills his victims full of dread.' Woo hoo!

Report this review (#144025)
Posted Friday, October 12, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars This album belongs to my youth. I am almost born with it. And from time to time (like this evening, ooups, night already) I spin it with lots of nostalgia.

In December 1970, I purchased four singles that will have an enormous influence on my musical taste for some years : "Whole Lotta Love" / "Livin', Lovin' Maid", "Black Night / Speed King", "See Me, Feel Me / Overture" and "Paranoďd / Rat Salad". I spent days listening to both sides of these discs endlessly. Until I got "Abraxas" (my first album) in January 1971. I was not yet twelve.

When you listen (or will listen maybe after "Sabbath" 's inclusion on PA which I won't discuss in any review but if have time I will post my point of view on the forum about it) to the first part (side at the time) of this incredible album, there is only one word available : briliant. The strenght of the tracks is phenomenal. Three magnificent and super powerful pieces of music of which "Paranoďd" will ALWAYS a special place in my heart. Bearing in mind that it was almost regarded as a leftover and written in less than half an hour it is even more impressive. I have always been nuts about it (and I still very much enjoy it).

But what to say about "War Pigs" and "Iron Man" ? The absolute heavy metal songs. And believe me, the versions available on this studio recording are edulcorated. they are featured in a rawer, more destructive version on some live "non-official" album like their Olympia appearance on December 20 or the Fillmore West on November 27th (both 1970 of course). The best experience is to have a listen. But be prepared. Heavy-metal to the bones. But great one (if ever this concept can be admitted on PA).

Actually the only number I didn't like from that side was the psychedelic "Planet Caravan". Once in a while, I did listen to it but most of the time I just skipped it. I was really in the heavy stuff while listening to "Sabbath" in those very remote days. I have another opinion about it now but still, it is my least fave of the whole.

The B-side was almost on par as well with two fabulous songs like "Electric Funeral" and the fantastic "Fairies Wear Boots". The later being a bit more melodic than the rest of the album (but in terms of melody, this was not difficult). "Rat Salad" is Ward's showcase but not only. Great riff (ŕ la Page).

"Hand Of Doom" is also a song combining soft (almost acoustic) passages with heavy ones (maybe a "Led Zep" influence - remember "What Is and What Should Never Be" or "Babe I'm Gonna Leave You" (even if the latter was a cover of a ...Joan Baez song). Very effective as well.

Sentimentally, I will give the maximum rating to this album. It is superior to their debut one and actually it won't be equalled neither by "Sabbath" nor by any heavy metal band after this release IMHHO.

Prog-relation is of course very scarce here (if you exclude the spacey "Caravan" stuff, there is actually nothing related to prog).

It will peak at the top of the UK chart and will reach number 12 in the US.

Report this review (#144169)
Posted Friday, October 12, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars Just last weekend I purchased two Sabbath Earmark reissue LP's "Paranoid" and "Sabbath bloody sabbath",although I already have them on cd's,I couldn't resist glorious LP packaging and original masters sound that throw me back some 35 years back.Consider Sabbath as a name which singlehandedly invented ,then new,genre HEAVY METAL,and "Paranoid" along with Deep Purple's "In rock" is considered to be a crowning jewel of entire genre. T here is absolutely no major or minor band in heavy metal history that does not cite "Paranoid" as a major influence.This record stormed musical circles in 1970 in a big way and changed our perceptions about hippie culture that was still dominant in rock'n'roll.Every song on this record is classic,at least once a day you can hear "War pigs" or "Paranoid" on North American classic rock radio stations.Gloomy rifs,unprecedent heavines of Iommi's guitar,and of course,Ozzy's dope laced vocals made this record an instant million seller all over the world.The sad fact that music critics at the time thrashed Sabbath left and right, did not stop fans from buying this album and launching it straight to the legend."Paranoid" definitely shaped my teenage years .One of the best rock'n 'roll records ever.
Report this review (#144371)
Posted Saturday, October 13, 2007 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Here's a great album from the seventies with some atmosphere typical for... progressive rock. Well, the music is not even close (although is great) but the album is, I dare to say, thematic: post-nuclear Earth.

Or not. Not entirely. Maybe that's just my imagination, but the majority of the songs on the album fit into that picture. The album is prog-related because it's science-fiction related....oh, I know, that sounds more than just stupid. But that scenery (science fiction) fits a prog rock music just fine. There's another musical genre that utilises science fiction very often: metal. Also, that's the main thing that I see as a relation of IRON MAIDEN and progressive rock, although I know that's far from the only reason.Speaking of prog-SF-metal relation, maybe that's the reason why these two genres "fit" together well, and why nowadays, in 2007, the majority of prog acts are prog metal artists. This is perhaps worth a discussion but it doesn't have much to do with the album.

However, this is a solid piece of an album: solid as a rock, hard as a metal, very dark, and good.

The music is really raw: simple riffs, no complexities, almost punkish at the moments. If the debut was a milestone of a new genre, this album cemented the pole position of the band in heavy metal thunder. The band will continue to play, something on the edge of experimenting and/or fusing with other genres, but after this one, they were simply not allowed to shift. They set too many things, and the picture and message that band created was so powerful and suggestive (shocking at the time), it would be really stupid and out of place from band to embrace some hippie idealism or punk attitude in a years to come. The band fell into the trap after their creativity peak; in the late 80's the scenery was the same, but everything was just childish. Oh well. Enough on musical impacts and consequences.

On this album, they weren't blues oriented anymore as on the debut ("Planet Caravan" is the closest thing but it doesn't sound extremely bluesy, it sounds more suitable for the motion picture "Mad Max"), and they were not complex as in years to come (no inclining towards prog rock like in "Wheels Of Confusion", for example). Like I said, the music is raw, the riffs are simple (but brilliant and catchy), guitar solos are - as modern reviewers love to say - economical. This album is recommended to the fans of HARD ROCK. It might appeal to an average prog rock (non prog-metal) fan, but that's not for sure: you should give it a try. I don't know what to say about heavy metal fans - 95% of them are already familiar with this one, and for those who are not - well, you may dislike it, the metal genre itself nowadays is so diverse that is extremely narrow minded to say "if you like metal, you will surely love this", but it's certainly worth investigating. At the end of the day, this one is recommend for everyone.

"Paranoid" (the title song) is soooo overplayed that I can't stand it anymore, besides, it's the worst song on the album. "Rat Salad" is somewhat unnecessary drum solo surrounded with hard-rock-blues-scale riffs (like LED ZEPPELIN's "Moby Dick" but not nearly as good). If you're a Beavis and Butt-head fun, you will probably know the main theme from "Iron Man", this one is too overplayed as well, but the song in its entirety is great, a seed for BLACK SABBATH's further multi-part songs, their (tiny?) piece of proggyness.

"Electric Funeral" is another good one; here the wah-wah pedal was used for the first time (?) not as a pretencious device for extensive blues soloing (I'm referring to HENDRIX of course), but as a effect that sound really...doomed. Wah-wah in metal. Great. I'm familiar only with one more song from that period doing the same thing (QUEEN: "Great King Rat").

I see I mentioned almost all the songs on the album, well, here's the rest: both "War Pigs" and "Fairies Wear Boots" are BLACK SABBATH classics, "War Pigs" being really great (for my taste).

The album is not a masterpiece, in my opinion, but it's really good. For both relation to prog and for the quality and enjoyment music-wise that is four dark stars.

Report this review (#144609)
Posted Sunday, October 14, 2007 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars An Important Milestone for Black Sabbath

The band's self-titled debut album was released in February 1970 and the success of the debut album was followed by the release (UK) of second album "Paranoid" in September the same year. The title track, released as a single in advance of the LP, hit the Top Five in the U.K., and the album went to number one there. Released in the U.S. January 1971, again preceded by the title track, which made the singles charts in November; the album broke into the Top Ten in March 1971 and remained in the charts over a year, eventually selling over four million copies, by far the band's best-selling effort. (Its sales were stimulated by the belated release of one of its tracks, "Iron Man," as a U.S. single in early 1972; the 45 got almost halfway up the charts, the band's best showing for an American single.).

Initially, this second album was about to be titled as "War Pigs" which was the song about the insanity of the Vietnam war. Unfortunately, just before they completed the album, they realized they were one song short. When the band went out for a drink Iommi said that he had an idea in terms of riff. So when they went back to the studio, within 25 minutes they wrote another song "Paranoid" added to the album. This song would later become the band's trademark as it's simple and classic. I personally like all songs featured in this album.

The band members drank, took psychedelics, and would eventually turn to cocaine, but heroin was a drug that scared them - and they put it under "Hand of Doom" (track 6 of this album). "Iron Man" is of course one of the band's trademarks especially with its appearance in "School of Rock" movie when the riffs and power chords were used to teach the student who wanted to rock.

"Paranoid" remarks an important milestone for the band as it was successful commercially and after this album, when the band returned to United States, they became headliners. They played at Fillmore East with Rod Stewart opening. As the crowd was so anxious to see their heavy metal favorite band, they booed Rod Stewart to get off stage to be able to see Sabbath on stage. Keep on rockin' ..!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

Report this review (#146168)
Posted Sunday, October 21, 2007 | Review Permalink
Chris S
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Three and a half stars is as good as it gets on this second outing from Black Sabbath. A gut wrenching incisive collective of exposed raw nerves that creates Paranoid. Argued by some quarters as the best Black Sabbth with the established ubiquitous four piece line up. It is a fine piece of studio material with healthy dollops of the sneering ' War Pigs', the drug induced title track and the demonic ' Iron Man'. And that excludes the emphatic epic ' Hand of Doom'. The artists were beginning to truly flourish on this second album and the maturation process was well under way. Highly recommended to most metal/prog enthusiasts, Paranoid is a must have solid piece of work. Oh, and their second studio album inside a year, not half bad either!!!
Report this review (#147501)
Posted Saturday, October 27, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars What a beast of an album. It's hard to see how this is progressive, but it does have it's moments. Ozzy Osbourne, while not being the world's greatest vocalist, really suits this music. Tony Iommi is all about solid riffing, but he can pull offa solo when he needs one. Geezer Butler's bass adds background to the music, and at times shows some real technical skill. And Bill Ward can drums like it's the end of the world.

The album kicks off with the amazing 'War Pigs' which sets the high standard for the rest of the album. This one kicks some serious ass, with it's crushing riffery and political lyrics. The title track is short and sweet, and will always remain a classic in the band's catalogue, as it defies the common structure of such a short song. 'Planet Caravan' shows a massive departure from the last two riff- monsters, and is a very soft yet trippy track. Definitely one of Sabbath's best attempts at creating non-metal music. 'Iron Man' is a little overplayed for my ears, but the awesome solo gets me every time. 'Electric Funeral' is one of the album's darker moments (no lack of these). It makes full use of a wah-wah riff that sounds apocalyptic musically as well as lyrically. 'Hand of Doom' is the most atmospheric track, and we see the bass take front stage. This includes some of Osbourne's best vocals as well, and he sounds very emotional. Next we have 'Rat Salad', an instrumental written to show off Bill Ward's drumming. Not necessary, but certainly a nice touch, and manages to include some of Iommi's legendary riffs. 'Fairie's Wear Boots' is the humorous closer, with the most drug inspired lyrics on the whole album. We also hear some of Iommi's most inventive guitar work on this track.

So it's not totally progressive, but any open-minded music fan should be able to find a place in their hearts for this essential album. 5 stars by my standards, but since it can't be 'a masterpiece of progressive music' it will have to settle for 4 stars here.

Report this review (#148254)
Posted Wednesday, October 31, 2007 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
5 stars This is Halloween night and I thought it would be an appropriate time to review a BLACK SABBATH record. That has to be one of the worst album coveres ever ! If they had taken out the guy wearing the bike helmet and pink tights and left the dark forest it would have worked perfectly. Anyway I don't know how many times I drove around listening to this cassette being totally paranoid. That seems like a long time ago though.

"War Pigs / Luke's Wall" opens the record with a stinging attack against those Generals and politicians who promote war. Although totally different musically from "Us And Them" by PINK FLOYD the lyrics have some common ground. This is BLACK SABBATH though, so we get lyrics like "Day of judgement God is calling. On their knees the war pigs crawling. Begging mercy for their sins. Satan laughing spreads his wings." This song is dark, heavy and haunting. And it's freaking amazing when the song kicks in. Ward is incredible, while Iommi just sets the song on fire with his guitar playing before 4 minutes. And check out Butler as well. I love the guitar playing during the "Luke's Wall" section to end the track. "Paranoid" does have a lot in common with LED ZEPPELIN's "Rock And Roll" doesn't it. This is a flat out, pedal to the metal rocker ! A 3 minute head banger. I used to dream of RUSH covering this song back in the "2112" days. Can you imagine with Geddy screaming and Peart going postal on his drum kit ? How cool that would have been.

"Planet Caravan" features dreamy vocals on this spacey song as percussion,bass and gentle guitar play on. SABBATH goes psychedelic. "Iron Man" opens with drones as Iommi comes in with those famous monster riffs. Processed vocals from Ozzy. This one smokes once it gets going.The instrumental interlude 3 minutes in is fantastic ! It comes back later before 5 minutes and it's even better. "Electric Funeral" has a drugged out vibe to it. The song does take off 2 1/2 minutes in before reverting back to the original melody. I can see where ALICE IN CHAINS got some of their sound from. Along with a hundred doom metal bands. "Hand Of Doom" is really an anti-heroin song. Check Ward out ! Iommi then lets it rip. Nice contrast between the mellow sections and the full out attack. It becomes more upbeat 2 minutes in. Instrumentally this part recalls RUSH's debut record. We get back to the original melody after 5 minutes. "Rat Salad" made me think "Ladies and gentlemen ! The Bill Ward show !" "Jack The Stripper / Fairies Wear Boots" along with the first two tracks are my favourites. As a matter of fact over the years I have been known to out of the blue sing "Fairies wear boots and you gotta believe me. I saw it, and I saw it with my own two eyes." I know, I know.This one has some wondrous guitar melodies early as drums pound away. I love the rhythm after a minute. Nice guitar to end it as well.

Sure this album along with LED ZEPPELIN's "IV" and "Dark Side Of The Moon" have all been overplayed, but that doesn't diminish in my opinion how freaking amazing they all were when I first heard them. 5 stars and watch out for guys in pink tights.

Report this review (#148396)
Posted Thursday, November 1, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars Special, moreover notable position on one of my record shelves belongs to this Black Sabbath release, not only because of the fact that it's first UK pressing on Vertigo 'spiral' label , but much more due to it's role in my turning to the prog music (together with Purple's 'In Rock' album) at the beginning of the seventies. Best known through its self titled hard rocking hit which conquered single's charts, this album brought collection of outstanding tracks among which 'Planet Caravan' and 'Hand of Doom' are my favourites. Absolutely it is the best Sabbath release, one of undisputed milestones in prog relations.
Report this review (#149310)
Posted Tuesday, November 6, 2007 | Review Permalink
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

Report this review (#150368)
Posted Monday, November 12, 2007 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars What's with the lame album cover?

I can't imagine how they figured it'd be a good idea to put some guy on the cover with a costume that looks like it was made by 3rd grade students. The first album had a pretty cool cover but they must have lost a bet with this one. In any case the music far exceeds the less than perfect album cover. This is one of those studio albums that became so popular it almost became a greatest hits package on its own accord, it's like the "Rumours" of the 70s heavy scene.

Sabbath created a great unique sound based on their ability to create riffs that were scary first and foremost. They built their image around this sound and every one of their tracks in this mold tried to sound more evil and ominous than the last. Tony and Geezer laid down an infinite supply of these horror riffs, they just seemed to be able to churn out one right after another. This was driven by Bill Ward's incredible gut level drumming and topped off by Ozzy's completely unique voice and presence. The lyrics would generally appear dire and horrific and put the perfect public image on this band. More important though is that this band did rock and rock well for many years until they were done in by cocaine and alcohol and later by pointlessly continuing to spurn out garbage with different personnel (post-Dio) and the eventual pathetic reunions when bank accounts were getting low. The Sabbath formula did not change a whole lot during these glory years, they milked their sound for all it was worth with usually decent results. Everything through Sabotage is at least respectable and this one is definitely good but I can't see how Sabbath would be essential by any stretch. This is one of the best to check out for newbies and a fun listen on occasion.

Report this review (#153078)
Posted Wednesday, November 28, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars Originally War Pigs was called Walpurgis about Satan`s Christmas thing, but we had to change the lyrics because all the Satan stuff was going on. - Geezer Butler

The four horsemen of the rock `n roll apocalypse join a holocaust well underway as if it didn`t even need them in the first place. A symphony of air raid sirens evocative of the London blitz of 1940 conveying eerie futuristic premonitions usher in an armageddon that has finally arrived on the opening requiem War Pigs augmented by Tony Iommi`s resounding skull shattering chords and Ozzy`s solitary hyena couplets reading out mankind`s final soliloqy. One can almost envisage ICBMs sitting warm in the womb of pregnant missile silos attentive and at the ready to recieve their ultimate cue to issue mankind his final death blow in a scripted play where the only survivors will be madman powermongers huddled in the comfort of bunkers below witnessing the final unmitigated indemnification of every tree of life which ever inhabited a troubled Earth which will soon be on the threshold of unimmaginable post-historic horrors.

Released in September 1970, a scant few months following their eponymous debut which sold thousands of units on both sides of the Atlantic to tired audiences eager to break free from flower power idealisms, this second dose of Black Sabbath was far more focussed, refined and together. With it`s sheer heaviness and not-so-subtle messages, Paranoid made groups like Led Zeppelin sound like housebands at tea parties at retirement homes. Unbeknownst to them at the time they had just forged the definitive template for dozens of metal genres and sub genres which dared to follow in ther vortex over the next 20 years. Written entirely in the studio and on the road where they smashed all Beatles`attendance records from Liverpool to Hamburg, songs of unabashed substance about the realities of death, war, madness, bad drugs as well as a a time travel experiment gone horribly wrong pervaded over this bottomless abyss of despair delusion and frustration.

The release of Black Sabbath`s second album also coincided with an anticipated first tour of the United States which raised questions regarding it`s proposed title, War Pigs. The war in Vietnam, the usage of the word pig in contemporary American slang as well as it`s association with the Charles Manson murders caused the band`s two record labels at the time ( Vertigo in the UK and Warner Bros in the US ) to take stock and rename the album after a song called Paranoid, a heavy lament about a lost soul who cannot find happiness in anything including chicks and feels that he never will, which was added to the album at the eleventh hour which also became the band`s only top 10 hit peaking at no 1 in the UK in August 1970. Strangely enough, the cover photography for the album under the proposed title War Pigs had already been completed prior to the decision being taken to switch the title and metaphorically, the pink guy weilding the scimitar had much more to do with with every other track on the album except War Pigs itself conjuring up hallucinatory images taken out of some bad drug trip or as result of uncontrollable bouts with insanity. Whatever it meant, it provided kids with something to actually think about, however unintentional it might have been, given the blatant lyrical messages which were served up on silver platters.

Just prior to the recording of the album, which took place sometime between June 20 and 25 1970 ( nobody seems to know excatly when ), the Sabs found themselves trying to distance themselves from direct associations with the occult and black magic in the music press. Their previous album contained so many references to occultism on the cover, in the lyrics and most glaringly, in their name itself that they began to recieve requests from witches and warlocks to perform at their black masses! To compound matters even further they were often being compared to another band called Black Widow from Leicster who gained certain noteriety at The Isle Of Wight Festival where they featured a mime in their stage show simulating human sacrifices. Black Sabbath were adamant about making it clear that their interest in the occult was only slightly less than a passing one. This aversion was exemplefied by by their own rather tedious stage show at the time which had little visual impact as reflected by Caroline Boucher, a critic with the prominent UK music magazine Disc & Music Echo in which she referred to a March 1970 performance at the Marquee Club in London saying that Although there isn`t a set of rules for what Black Magic music should be like, Sabbath`s certainly doesn`t seem to faintly resemble anything evil, mysterious, black or doomy. At London`s Marquee on Monday, I was positively bored.

Nonetheless, the hyteria, instinctive fear and mis-understanding towards the occult forced the band to change the lyrics for the opening track on their second album which could trace it`s ancestry to a piece called Walpurgis which they had been playing live since late 1968 when they were still calling themselves Polka Tulk. The portent lyrics referred to ancient dark German rituals which were performed on the last night of April of each year and some music journalists even linked these early lyrics to the writings of Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe. Although this may be going off the deep end it must be also remembered that that Sabbath`s principal lyricist, Geezer Butler was a fan of such literature which also included H.P. Lovecraft, Dennis Wheatley and every rock star`s favourite at the time J.R. Tolkein. Nevertheless, the lyrics were rewritten and the song was recorded as War Pigs for the album which for the time being was still being referred to as War Pigs. Many bootleg tapes and records began circullating throughout the `70s of these early versions of varying quality and also contain several variations of the early lyrics. A live version of Walpurgis appears legally on the Ozzy Osbourne compilation The Ozzman Cometh while arguably the best outlaw version appears on a bootleg album of a concert recorded in Koln, West Germany on March 3, 1970. Fanatic collectors might note that it contains different lyrics from the Ozzman Cometh version. As with the subsequently changed title, the changed lyrics of the title song allowed it to fit in more comfortably with the general aura of the remaining tracks recorded for the album, thus averting the black magic accusations complete with disclaimers from both Vertigo Records in the UK and Warner Bros in the US freeing the Sabs to concentrate more on the general themes of their messages which basically consisted of everything getting snuffed out. From one`s individual mind to the entire sorry planet.

The heaviness of Paranoid cannot be over emphasized which was purposely developed by the Sabs to put forth their stark messages as effectively as possible, doing away with any notions of any idealistic hippie flower power visions. Some of the lyrics defiantly emphasize this intention especially the opening of verse two on the gloomy Electric Funeral hammering their point home with the line, plastic flowers, melting sun. And if the track Hand Of Doom doesn`t permanantly scare the hell out of anyone who ever considered trying heroin then nothing will. Insanity caused by an imperfect world are emphasized on Fairies Wear Boots while a mad scientist makes a fatal miscalculation while conducting a time travel experiment on Iron Man which results in horrific consequences. Perhaps the most overlooked Sabbath track of all time appears here in the form of the nocturnal ballad Planet Caravan where Tony Iommi gets off some smooth jazzy licks and Bill Ward takes a break from his kit for some mystic bongo accompaniment. Even Ozzy takes a break on this one and delivers some ethereal vocals. More powerful than black magic.

The undisputed holy grail of heavy metal among critics and serious musicologists alike, Paranoid is essential listening for anyone interested in music period. Even Queen Elizabeth II was treated to a rendition of the title track Paranoid by Ozzy Osbourne and Tony Iommi when the Kings Of Metal met The Queen Of England in 2002 during the celebrations of her Silver Jubilee at Buckingham Palace.

Simply one of the most important rock albums ever recorded. Period.

Report this review (#160961)
Posted Tuesday, February 5, 2008 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Black Sabbath´s second album Paranoid is one of the biggest classics in heavy metal history. I wouldn´t consider Paranoid to be a progressive rock album, but the inclusion here on Prog Archieves is fully deserved as they are the creators of a new genre and therefore in nature very progressive.I´ll rank Paranoid up there with other classic metal and hard rock albums like Iron Maiden´s The Number of the Beast, Metallica´s Black Album and AC/DC´s Back in Black. Albums nearly every heavy metal fan has in their collection. Kind of evergreens when talking heavy metal. Paranoid was just the first evergreen album in the genre.

Black Sabbath has developed and refined the style of music they started on their debut album. Power chord guitar riff based music with a powerful rythm section and a distinct vocalist in Ozzy Osbourne. The songs on Paranoid are all heavy metal evergreens. They have been covered by nearly every metal band out there.

The album starts with the doom laden intro to War Pigs. The pace is fastened after the intro though and we have one of the most classic breaks ever in a song with Bill Ward´s hi-hat the only thing playing. When Ozzy starts to sing all hell breaks loose. It´s just such a great song and the anti-war lyrics are of course very symphatic even though they are a bit naive.

Paranoid is the next song and the fastest song here. A great classic heavy metal tune that I never get tired of. The lyrics deal with paranoia and is an early example of a favorite lyrical theme in heavy metal.

Planet Caravan is a really mellow psychadelic song. Ozzy´s voice is distorted and sounds very stoned. This is a perfect variation from the more heavier tunes on the album.

Iron Man might have the most recognizable guitar riff in history ( the only competition is the riff from Deep Purple´s Smoke on the Water IMO). Again Ozzy´s vocals are distorted when he starts the song in a robotic voice. Great song and a perfect end to side 1 of the original LP.

Side 2 starts with Electric Funeral which is a really doomy song that has kind of a heavy funk section in the middle. The vocal lines are very simple but commanding at the same time. I really enjoy this song.

Hand of Doom is a great song too, with lots of heavy guitars and lyrics about heroin abuse. Kind of funny when you think about the drug abuse many of the members would later become the victim of.

Rat Salad is a short instrumental which serves as a vehicle for a Bill Ward drum solo in the middle. A nice little tune.

Fairies Wear Boots is a personal favorite of mine. Very melodic and with some great lyrics about pot smoking and the experiences you can have while being stoned.

The sound quality is very good. It´s a very powerful production. The music is not very complex though and it shouldn´t be to difficult to make a good production here.

The musicians are all good. Toni Iommi´s guitar riffs and solos are all classic material and the rythm section of Geezer Butler and Bill Ward are very strong. Ozzy isn´t the most gifted vocalist ever, but his delivery is distinct and powerful. It´s all delivered in a kind of casual sloppy fasion that suits the compositions very well.

To me this is a sure 5 star album. The significance of Paranoid can´t be measured it´s too big. This is wonderful music and instantly recognizable.A true classic. When the only thing I can complain about is the extremely ugly cover there is nothing to keep me from giving Paranoid 5 stars.

Report this review (#163809)
Posted Thursday, March 13, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars I have a bias for this album because it was one of the very first albums I ever adored, well as much as one can adore something material (I would never care for a CD more than say a family member). Sure, the production is crap and Osbourne isn't as commanding of a vocalist as he would be on SABOTAGE, and on the surface, it looks like an ordinary rock album. Where's the prog?

There's a mystique about this album that gives this album a prog essence. The subtle intricacies that ''War Pigs'' provides are just sublime; it starts in a shuffle, but sharply picks up speed in the nearly a capella verses and leads into superb guitar work of one Tony Iommin, the MVP of PARANOID. Very prog is the spacey ''Planet Caravan'', where the drumming sounds almost mystical and the guitars are very jazzy. Black Sabbath are one of those rare groups that can load their songs with a bunch of riffs and still have compositional merit as ''Iron Man'', ''Hand of Doom'' and ''Fairies Wear Boots'' can attest to (although these songs don't shove 50 riffs into 5 minutes).

Black Sabbath fit the prog related category moreso on their mid-seventies efforts than here, but there are some progressive tendencies here. If anything, this should be in the essentials of prog rock simply to provide relief from too much prog.

Report this review (#168793)
Posted Saturday, April 26, 2008 | Review Permalink
Petrovsk Mizinski
5 stars While the debut contained one song that I would call metal, the rest of that album was really an electic mix of blues, hard rock and jazz elements, but always via hell. Paranoid is a somewhat different beast and arguably just as influential, if perhaps even more so than the debut. If the debut contained the one song that defined heavy metal, then it's fair to say Paranoid as an album sharpened that definiton to that of a sword, yet it still had that fairly eclectic mix of styles present on the debut. Another thing I find very remarkable about this album, is that it was released the same year as their debut, a whole 7 months later, and for any band to be able to release something of such brilliance in such a short period of time, is nothing less than a astonishing achievement. Ozzy Osbourne once stated in a feature of Guitar World Magazine that the music of Black Sabbath reflected the fact they came from a polluted, dreary and dismal town in Birmingham. I could certainly feel this in the first album, but Paranoid is even more bleak and demonic sounding.

War Pigs has always been my favorite Sabbath song. It fails to follow a standard song structure, which has always added to the excitement and emotion for me, as well as having some fantastic lyrics and of course, incredibly tight song writing from Tony Iommi Despite it's length, I can't find a moment of this that isn't exciting and interesting to listen to. Being a guitarist myself, I always got chills down my spine listening to the first guitar solo and the way that Iommi overdubbed another guitar part into the solo. The outro, named Luke's Wall, is a stunning climax to War Pigs, with some very effective riffs. Usually by the time the song ends, I don't feel like I've sat through a nearly 8 minute song, it's just so captivating and exciting it almost seems to rush by.

I guess Paranoid is one of those songs that has been overplayed throughout history and will continue to do so, but I cannot dislike this song because of that. It's simple and it's over fairly quickly and nothing musically outstanding here, but I love the lyrics and that straight forward chugging riff courtesy of Iommi was a massively influential heavy metal rhythm guitar model for many generations of metallers and of course, I can imagine it will no doubt continue to inspire many more metallers out there well into the future. I've realised Planet Caravan was always a song that divided people, but personally, I love this song so much. So atmospheric and pyschedelic sounding, with Ozzy's voice being somewhat muffled and distorted, but this only adds to the brilliance. When Iommi's jazzy solo comes in, we're taken on another journey until the end of the song. Iron Man has another one of those instantly recognisable riffs, and while not the greatest song on the album, the outro was a real highlight for me. It's slightly reminiscent of Luke's Wall perhaps and has one of my favorite guitar riffs on the album. Electric Funeral is very doomy sounding and we get the slightly contrasting fast and funky section in the middle. Very cool song, and very awesome lyrics as well. We have an anti Heroin song, called Hand Of Doom , which is a very dynamic song, with a quiet verse and very loud chorus. We have a very lengthy middle section, which I remember caught me off guard the first time I heard it. Another very doomy song and very powerful too. Rat Salad is a very jazzy song and also features a drum solo showing Bill Ward's prowess. A cool little number, and the fact it's an instrumental is a nice touch to the overall feeling of the album. There is much despute as to what is actually about, but to me, it doesn't matter so much, because the song is so good anyway. Lots of different moods and feelings going on in this song and another top notch and highly emotive outro.

This album, along with the first one from Sabbath, have been simply massively influential on so much music, from metal, to stoner rock and more. Unlike Led Zep and others of the era, I simply cannot stop listening to this, it's just that amazing to me.

Report this review (#172389)
Posted Wednesday, May 28, 2008 | Review Permalink
Prog Folk Researcher
5 stars Is Paranoid the mother of all metal albums? Who knows, that’s one of those arguments that has no real answer. For sure it’s been enough of an influence on a couple of generations of metalheads since that it probably qualifies as one of the best-known metal albums ever though. And there are most likely people half my age or less who know the album as well or better than I do, even though I grew up listening to it.

Hard to believe it’s nearly forty years old; seems like only yesterday Ozzy was belting out the anti- warmonger lyrics to “War Pigs” and singing about the fractured life of the “Iron Man”. But the days that followed when fundamentalists crushed and burned thousands of copies of the album and decried Osbourne as the anti-Christ seem like a lifetime away. Some things age better than others.

Beyond all the social strife these guys caused back in the day there lies a pretty damn good album. Tony Iommi’s heavy riffs and Geezer Butler’s thudding bass were not standard rock fare at the time, and I think some metal and heavy rock fans today fail to appreciate how innovative this album was at the time. Just about every track is a classic, and even today we can relive “Iron Man” whenever we pick up that crappy plastic axe and play Guitar Hero.

“Paranoid” and “War Pigs” are just as well known though, and “War Pigs” was still a major party song when I was in high school more than six years after the album released, even though by then the likes of Elton John and Hall & Oates were kings of the airwaves, and Starland Vocal Band was winning a Grammy. Go figure.

Musically I think Fairies Wear Boots is probably the most original tune on the album, although there is certainly no shortage of fans who would disagree. About the only track that hasn’t worn all that well over time is the heavy psychedelic Planet Caravan, although even this is a better composition than the majority of metal or psych I’ve heard released in the last ten years or so. The rhythmic guitar and funky percussion makes for an incredible high on a quiet summer evening sitting outside watching the sunset. Not the scene the band likely anticipated it being played in, but it works nonetheless.

This is a classic, without a doubt essential to just about any record collection. Is it a masterpiece though? Tougher call, but not all that tough for anyone over the age of forty or so. A five star album in my mind, and since this is my review that’s what I’m going to give it.


Report this review (#173929)
Posted Saturday, June 14, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars 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.

Report this review (#176662)
Posted Sunday, July 13, 2008 | Review Permalink
Symphonic Team
4 stars Rat Salad Surgery

After the totally groundbreaking debut, the band already started to develop further with this second effort. In some respects this is perhaps better than the debut, but not in all respects. Overall, I find this a bit less enjoyable than the debut and the follow up, but its still great. And a classic.

With the first album, Black Sabbath took electric Blues, Jazz and Rock and created a brand new sound that was to become highly influential on all of Rock music. But while the sound of the first album, fresh and groundbreaking though it was, still stuck relatively close to the influences. There were moments on that first album where the band played Blues Rock with some Jazz influences rather than the Heavy Metal they were in the middle of creating. With Paranoid they ventured further away from their Blues background and injected more speed and precision into their playing while still retaining most of the heaviness of the debut. The opening number, War Pigs, is a good example of this positive development.

The title track speeds things up further and is definitely the fastest and shortest song the band had done up to that point. It is also the simplest song and is possibly my least favourite Black Sabbath song ever. It predated the emergence of Punk with many years but it is almost a Punk song! As often is the case with progressive and Prog related bands, it is when they strip away all the complexities of their music that they have hits! Black Sabbath is hardly a band that had any genuine hits, but Paranoid is probably as close as they came to a hit song. Almost everyone has heard this song even if they are not into Heavy Metal or Prog.

Planet Caravan slows things down considerably and is very different from the rest of the songs. It is a wonderful song that reminds me somewhat of Camel and is one of the highlights of the album for me. Iron man is another song that many people recognize. It is not my favourite but it is much better than the title track and both these songs along with Electric Funeral and War Pigs soon became mainstays of the band's live set for the rest of their long career.

For me the second half of this album is by far the best half. It is also here that we find the most complex and progressive songs. The slow, heavy Electric Funeral is probably the closest they come here to the style of the debut album. But it is with the complex Hand Of Doom and the short instrumental Rat Salad that the album reaches new levels of brilliance. However, my very favourite track is the excellent closer, Fairies Wear Boots!

I have been a Black Sabbath fan for ten years now and I know the band's discography very well. Paranoid is not one of my favourites, but it represents a clear progression from their debut towards the masterpiece Master Of Reality and beyond. I see Paranoid as something of a transitional album between two even greater albums and as such slightly overrated in relation to those.

Still, an excellent addition to any Prog Collection!

Report this review (#177915)
Posted Wednesday, July 23, 2008 | Review Permalink
Eetu Pellonpaa
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars I felt this classic record being a real letdown after the magnificent first album, which I consider as a masterpiece of rock music. Many of the songs here lack the imagination and feeling present in that album, and songs like "Paranoid" and "Iron Man" are in my humble opinion really dull rants when compared to the adventures in heavy bluesy rock scales the band is capable. There are some structural ambitions in songs like "War Pigs" and "Hand of Doom", but I don't like them as compositions so much. The freshness seems to be lacking, and the compositions appear like been written to slightly duller listening audiences. The only really great song here for me is the ethereal "Planet Caravan", which holds an interesting and beautiful psychedelic feeling in it. Hopefully my humble opinion about the record is not a problem to anybody. Many seem to enjoy it, and that is of course just great.
Report this review (#187257)
Posted Tuesday, October 28, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars Quite simply, this album is a flat out milestone. I'm not sure it's ever been surpassed even in a Heavy Rock/Heavy Metal field eventually rampant with legions of participants. There are moments on this album where I actually feel like this band is simply teaching you. About the world. About the possibilities of rock music. About dynamics, restraint, raw power and explosive interplay.

One of the biggest mistakes I've sometimes encountered amongst "prog" fans is to think that if they know the chords or scales involved in a piece of music that it is then fully comprehended and understood. This album disproves such a notion in every way imaginable. It is harmonic minimalism juxtaposed with dynamics and such dexterity that there are moments when I can't even believe anybody pulled this off. It's not just the riffs or chord selections, but how they are stacked, how they are developed and how they are worked out in terms of dynamics. And whatever you think you know about Sabbath, to understand them is to first understand that they basically took ideas from Classical music not in terms of scales and lifted sections, but in terms of dynamics. And not just dynamics in terms of loud section, soft section, but dynamics in the way the band interact. In the way they develop ideas into one epic moment after another.

To play this loud and aggressive is risky. Your sound is out there in such a way that anything you put forward is heard. There is no way to bury mistakes in a mix like this. And this is a band just pummeling most of their peers into the ground. And perhaps somewhat surprisingly, given much of the reaction in the press of the time, the level of sophistication at play here is extraordinary in terms of its ability to put an intensity into rock music which had previously not been fully explored; except by Sabbath themselves on parts of their debut.

There are times when this album sounds like the band simply don't fear train wrecks, and to play on the edge of that potential and never fall off is utterly extraordinary. Listen to "Hand Of Doom" as an example of band which is simply peerless in terms of what they are able to lock into and nail. Stop on a dime, shift tempo, groove, stop, now gallop, now boogie, now rock ... this is stuff which isn't to be believed. The drumming, the bass playing, the guitar work, the singing ... MY WORD!

Which brings me to another point: While Tony Iommi and Ozzy Osbourne deservedly have had praise heaped upon them for their performances here, I feel that Geezer Butler and Bill Ward deserve equal praise. Their contributions cannot be overstated. How they come out of certain ideas and launch into the next with such fluidity is astonishing. And it is really a bit of a lost art. "Fairies Wear Boots" is like a class in this respect. And one where no matter how much power is at hand, an understanding of jazz and blues are also important in terms of hearing all that is at play. These guys knew their stuff, and they brought a lot to the table for an album that is somewhat pigeonholed as being "Heavy Metal" or "loud" or whatever else. Even the album's ballad is unlike any previous attempt at such by anybody. "Planet Caravan" sounds familiar yet out of nowhere. It can't really be traced to the folk music of the late 60s. It's a sort of "space-jazz-folk" sound. Cosmic, even. Beautiful stuff.

Probably no album better defined the possibilities of a genre in rock music than this record. Sadly, I think many bands picked up on the "heavy" side of things, the screaming solos or lyrics of a world going mad. But the feel, dynamics and unique musical vocabulary really represent a sound which only Sabbath would go on to explore in such detail.

Previously rated in 2008. This review written 03-17-2015.

Report this review (#187264)
Posted Tuesday, October 28, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars This is probably one of the most overrated albums in rock n' roll.It's actually great,but I think what people don't realize is that individual songs don't necessarily make a good album.Paranoid contains in it's first 20 minutes the 3 most famous songs of the band's career,which is probably the main fault of the album:no matter how incredible Side B could possibly be,it would still be overshadowed by these three monstruos anthems.We can't blame the band for that,after all the title track was,ironically,a throw-out number when it was written(in 5 minutes,so they say).Still,things happened as they did,and these songs became the very roots of heavy metal as we know it today.

I have to say,War Pigs is one of my favourite songs by this band,and an incredibly dramatic opening.I do think part of the reason why this album causes such a good impression over first-time listeners is this apocalyptical chord introduction.And what a song.It contains multiple time signatures,all to which the band respond furiously.An incredible solo by Tony Iommi halfway thorugh the track sets the absolute mood of the piece,in a song that can be classified(though I hate this term)as genuine heavy metal.Geezer Butler,Bill Ward,Iommi and Osbourne are all outstanding here(this is probably the album where the band better interacts between each other).But since this opening anthem,it is already noticeable that the rawness and coldness of their debut is gone.

The title track comes following with it's straight rock n' roll,very cool and groovy.Maybe this song doesn't deserve the attention it had over the years,but it is still great.By now,the radical change in Ozzy Osbourne's voice since the previous effort released earlier that year is already noticeable,and unfortunatly it didn't worked out for the best,at least for me.I always thought of his voice in classic Sabbath recordings as too high-pitched and at times annoying,which wasn't really necessary.

Before the third and last classic song,there's a little gem,totally overshadowed by giants and truly lost in the mists of time.Yes,Planet Caravan is a great song,for me as good as(or even better than)the following Iron Man(though I should say this is just my personal opinion,considering many people completely dislike and get bored by it).This is a pshycedelic echoing ballad,with great space lyrics and weird vocals.It takes a good time to be aprecciated,though,if one ever comes to.And Iron Man,the ultimate heavy metal anthem,kicks in.Personally I don't see much in this song.At times,it leaves me completly stoned by the riff and it's nervous last minutes,others it annoys me with the main verse sang very poorly by the Madman.These is far from being a bad tune,but I'm just stating in these reviews that people give way too much praise for this song and Paranoid.

It's time to turn the record side and get ready for the unknown side of the all-time heavy metal masterpiece.

Electric Funeral is easily the worst track in the album,giving away the first signs of the band's decadence(even though by 1970 Black Sabbath was far from decadent).The slightly comic element's of the song ruin it for me,as they did in the their late seventies albums.And Ozzy's vocals are those he would turn to in those shamefull 80's songs.

Hand of Doom and the instrumental Rat Salad are nice tracks,nothing too special.The former actually presents a great structure of growing intensity,but at times it's a little bit repetitive.

The closing song is one of the best in the album.Fairies Wear Boots,though it isn't incrdibly original,is a great rock n' roll fest.I just love the way it starts,with a growing guitar meddley,to be follwed by lenghty Iommi's old-school guitar solos.And the chorus is one of the best I ever heard in their early material.

I do think every rocker should listen to this at least once,but for the band's standard,but it is still highly overrated.Ironically,this one and Sabbath Bloody Sabbath,the two most famous and referenced albums by the band,are Black Sabbath's two weakest efforts from that glorious early period.Let's not say weak.The two less-good statements they are.I guess I just love this band for all the wrong reasons.

Report this review (#203588)
Posted Wednesday, February 18, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars [Insert insightful, yet overtly humorous opening line]

Black Sabbath's second album. The instruments all get a good showing, with bass lines visible everywhere. This is nice and dark, bluesy and heavy. Classic doom rock. Sometimes (like in War Pigs) Iommi lets loose on his guitar for a powerful solo. The multi-section song is quite interesting, and an epic for it's time.

Might I say though, that Paranoid is an absolutely weak throwaway track. Possibly the weakest on the album. It has such a simple riff, that sounds so very plain. The song sounds sort of like a punk rock song. Not that punk is bad, but punk ain't prog. Ozzy was never a brilliant vocalist, but here his vocals don't even match the music.

Planet Caravan is atmospheric and mellow. I like how it is placed after the relative speed of Paranoid. It is a rather surprising track, given Black Sabbath's reputation. As a note, though, none of the songs are very complex. They are rather simple, really.

The big hit, Iron Man is next. The song everyone is born knowing. Even after hearing it a thousand times, it is still a nice rocking tune. Although I am not too interested in it as a whole. A fan favorite, but not so very complex. The riff is excellent, but who would expect less?

Electric Funeral follows. The darkest song here. It is pure doom rock/metal. The slow plodding and demonic riff makes this one of my favorite songs on the album. The dark bluesy guitar wails are very interesting. Lyrically (as with the album as a whole) don't impress too much, but this is a metal band! What self respecting metal band has strong lyrical value? Oh, Iron Maiden, you say? Stuff it! Black Sabbath!

Hand of Doom, their drug song. If it didn't have such an epic feel (and that killer solo) I would rate it lower than Paranoid. but no, this song brings a good deal to the table, especially in unconventional song structure. Although the song fails to astound me in a way that is equal to its take on the album time as a whole (second longest song here) I don't feel it is worth the album time it takes. If you are going to devote almost 1/4th of your album to one song, it needs to be absolutely captivating. And I will admit, it has a lot of positive qualities. Powerful metallic guitar, strong (for Ozzy) vocals, and multiple sections. A fine song.

Rat Salad is a showoff instrumental. And it is a damn good one. The drum solo is superb, and Iommi tears the guitar up. I will say that the drum solo gets a bit Spinal Tap-esque near the end, but it is interesting. And the guitars roar in right after.

Fairies Wear Boots might just be my favorite song, here. Even ignoring the abysmal lyrics, it is a damn rocking song. The playing is fantastic, and it is a biting jam. The opening Jack the Stripper is my favorite single moment on the entire album. then the album kicks it into hard rock heaven. I just wish the lyrics weren't so juvenile. Solo rips, though.

In all, this album was highly influential, and for good reason. It is a great album. With some hard rock classics. I prefer the darker and more doom-laden side of Sabbath, but this album delivers. Not very progressive, and some of the moments feel needless (Paranoid) but for any metal/hard rock fan, an absolute essential. Four Stars.

Report this review (#212318)
Posted Friday, April 24, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars This came out in 1970?? And it's not even their debut album! Black Sabbath and Paranoid were so ahead of their time it's crazy. Who at the time were exploring themes such as war, mental illness, drug abuse and sci-fi horror? Not many. For 1970, this album was very dark and very hard rock, nobody was playing guitar riffs like they were. Even if you're not the biggest Sabbath fan you have to respect them and what they did for an entire genre of music, Heavy Metal.

This is Black Sabbaths bestselling album, selling four million in the US alone. It's also their most recognized work and their most popular as well. It's debatable, but you'd be very fair in saying this is their best album. Every song is good, War Pigs (last minute and a half, crank it up, love it) and Jack the Stripper are great, Planet Caravan as well. All the songs fit together and flow well, a very complete album. The songs aren't complicated but the riffs and sound is just full of DOOM.

I'm still floored at how early this and their debut came out. I heard about parents burning their kids Kiss albums and crazy stuff like that in the 70s, I can only imagine bringing this home and playing it when it came out, what my parents would've thought, oh, how I wish.

If this weren't a progressive rock site, it would be five stars easily, but since this album isn't essential for a progressive collection, I'm going with four.

Report this review (#236584)
Posted Wednesday, September 2, 2009 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars After excellent ( and very successful) debut album Black Sabbath continued to work in similar key.

Second album is similar to debut, but is much more better structurised, cleaned from jazzy drumming and rhythm breaks. Generally, using similar ideas and musical raw material, much more "rock" album was recorded.

Sound is still quite acoustic ( not that muddy pulsation as in some later albums), you can perfectly hear all instruments' playing. Ozzy control his voice better, and all music sounds more mature.

Two songs are absolute classics - "Paranoid" and "Iron Man ", but in fact all the album is equally strong, no fillers.

I prefer their debut as much more inventive and different album , but believe that "Paranoid" should be placed in their album's Top-5 for sure. And I think it had a big influence in many heavy metal bands formation for decades after it was released.

Let say 4,75.

Report this review (#255103)
Posted Wednesday, December 9, 2009 | Review Permalink
Prog Metal Team
4 stars It's hard to give Sabbath's sophomore effort anything less then 5 stars but I will give it a shot! In many ways it confirms and sometimes even tops the excellent debut, but in the second half of the album it feels a bit disjointed and even hurried.

The opening tracks need no introduction, both War Pigs and Paranoid are metal monuments, and rightfully so. War Pigs for its epic ambitions, originality and outstanding song writing and execution. Geezer Butler worms his way through all crawling war pigs here, Ozzy still has that morbid guttural tone in his voice, Bill Ward's tribal drumming is a pagan feast on its own and Iommi is his awesome self.

Paranoid must be the best rock song under 3 minutes ever. Period. Such power and atmosphere with so seemingly simple means. Amazing. Planet Caravan will be less known to the average metal fan but it's an almost kraut rock alike experimental ballad with muted percussion, eerie sound effects and Ozzy's voice processed through a vocoder to make it even more morose. A psychedelic moment from Sabbath.

Iron Man would be laughable if any other band would try it but they pull it off. One simple riff and Ozzy just singing along with it. It has a short break and a big ending but it's a tad too long really. The similar Electric Funeral works better for me. Another riff right out of Iommi's bottomless treasure box and Ozzy wining along with it.

Hand of Doom is where I loose touch with the album. Hard to say why, the bluesy bass riff is great and the performance edgy and focused but somehow I rarely listen to this track. I think the change of pace around minute 2 doesn't work for me, too much like it's another song starting, even though the second change around minute 3.40 is great. Rat Salad is bit awkward. A drum solo on a studio album? Wasn't that a Led Zeppelin thing?

Luckily they kept one masterpiece for the end. Fairies Wear Boots is one of Sabbath's most remarkable songs ever. It's like Led Zeppelin looking right into the hollow eyes of doom. Big 4.5 notation for this masterpiece.

Report this review (#255136)
Posted Wednesday, December 9, 2009 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars "Paranoid" is the classic album and one of the milestones (if not THE milestone) of heavy- metal sub-genre. Dark menacing sound of bass, distorted threatening guitar riffs, stomping wild beat of drums and bleak "doom 'n' gloom" themes of war, destruction, evil side of humanity and drugs abuse made a blueprint of what was to become one of the more popular genres of rock music, equally praised by fanatical followers and critically dismissed by press and art connoisseurs.

In that sense, "Paranoid" can be considered a sort of "proto-metal" work, a highly original and fundamental effort that set the path but differed from later bastardization and industrialization of the majority of metal products and their banality. After all, 1970 was the era of progressive rock and many an album reflected certain number of "prog" elements, so "Paranoid" was no exception. Mega-hit title track and "War Pigs" are perhaps the best example.

It is hard to point any weak song on this album. The overall sound and track listing is excellent even with a slightly muted and hazy production. I only had minor objections toward "Iron Man" and "Hand of Doom". The former was apparently inspired by a comic book and sounds really juvenile, albeit with an immortal guitar riff, while the latter is somehow unremarkable and a bit too long. All that remains is a classic and I would like to highlight especially two overlooked songs: a psychedelic, almost space rock ballad "Planet Caravan" and excellent closer "Fairies Wear Boots".

On par with excellent debut LP, with slightly more focused songwriting and less jamming.


P.A. RATING: 5/5

Report this review (#261555)
Posted Tuesday, January 19, 2010 | Review Permalink
Prog Leviathan
4 stars As someone whose experience islimited to the metal bands following in Sabbath's wake, I came to Paranoid with fresh ears and an expectation for anachronism; however, while Paranoid's sound is very much a relic of its days, the dark energy, vibe, and style maintain a strong appeal to those who can appreciate some good old fashioned, bluesy-doom.

The group's infamy as a template for heavy-metal is, I think, probably deserved with Paranoid, which features wonderfully crushing, tuned-down riffs and ominous chords throughout. "War Pigs" is a powerful opener, complete with brooding effects, tempo changes, vocals, and song structure; a great, somewhat complex tune. "Iron Man", "Hand of Doom" and "Faeries Wear Boots" follow suit, giving the listener an iconic set of songs which showcase the band's dark signature sound. Moreover, the instrumental performances are excellent, with Iommi's guitar leading the way with scary-sounding sustanis and inventive solos; the rhythm section is quite good as well, with Butler's bass standing out as a power force for the group's emphasis on the bottom-end. The surprise atmospheric "Planet Caravan" is a thoughtful highlight as well.

The overall effect will please anyone who enjoys dark blues or metal music, although one shouldn't compare Sabbath's metal to modern followers, who up the ante in terms of aggression and intensity. Paranoid is mostly laid-back, gloomy, and occasionally rousing-- never intense or explosive.

There are a few things which keep me from scoring this one higher though. "Paranoid" and "Electric Funeral" fail to impress, being straight forward, dated-sounding rockers. Also, some of Ozzie's drug inspired lyrics take away much of the seriousness in some songs, making it difficult for me to connect with them.

These minor complaints don't do much to mar this classic though. An icon of its times, Paranoid is a worthy listen today by all fans of hard rock. Four stars rounded up for historical significance and vintage appeal.

Songwriting: 4 Instrumental Performances: 3 Lyrics/Vocals: 3 Style/Emotion/Replay: 4

Report this review (#276162)
Posted Saturday, April 3, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars Were I actually a Black Sabbath fan, I might give the "best album" title to Master of Reality for its introduction of the superheavy guitar tone, or to Sabotage for its prog-metal leanings, or to the debut for various reasons. Well, I'm not, so the mainstream whore in me naturally gives the nod to the closest thing Black Sabbath ever made to a normal "classic rock" album. I don't worship this album as much as a lot of people do, especially since I get tired of listening to it midway through the second half, but it's definitely the most "refined" Sabbath album I've ever heard. The riffs are all classic, the instrumental passages are relatively short and to the point (the mistake on BS is not repeated), and it stomps and clomps like nobody's business. The blues-pop elements are basically gone, which makes me a little sad (they were a cute diversion, after all), but I don't really mind when I'm listening. As far as the band's "masters of midtempo headbanging" shtick goes, this is danged near top of the line, almost resembling a greatest hits package by itself.

Ironically (or "naturally," given that this happens with me a lot) it's the two songs that deviate from the standard pattern that I enjoy the most on this album. One of them is the title track, a magnificent speedy rocker that would sound more like Deep Purple than Sabbath if it didn't sound so dark at the same time. It's certainly also one of Ozzy's finest moments as a vocalist; he didn't even know what the word "paranoid" meant before the band wrote the song, but his singing matches this state of mind perfectly. Add in a really neat fuzzy tone to the mid-song guitar solo, and you have one of the very best examples of proto-thrash.

My second favorite, then, is the oft-forgotten and overlooked "Planet Caravan." This one isn't even close to rock, much less hard rock, which I guess is the most obvious reason fans aren't usually huge on it, but I for one seriously dig the vibe of the song. I think of it as Sabbath getting back to their "pothead roots," so to speak, as Ozzy sings through a 'watery' voice filter over a moody, spacey background until Tony breaks into a very soft, jazzy solo. Believe it or not, this was, for the longest time, my favorite Black Sabbath song (which I guess proves once and for all that I'm totally missing the point of Black Sabbath, but hey, I've admitted that already), and I still have a very soft spot in my heart for it.

The rest of the album is five conventional Sabbath stompers (fine) and a drum solo (ehn). To the credit of "Rat Salad," the whole piece is only about two-and-a-half minutes, with the actual solo lasting much less than a minute, which makes it far better to my ears than "Moby Dick." That said, how excited can you expect me to get about a piece where the biggest compliment I can give it is, "It's shorter than a similar piece that sucks"? So ignore that and stick with the other pieces, which are largely the crux of the Sabbath legend. "War Pigs" is most infamous for being the track where Butler's lyrics rhyme "masses" with "masses" (!), but that shouldn't obscure its various positive aspects. The crisp two- chord pounded bit between each of Ozzy's initial lines gives a neat intense effect, the simple riffage that pops up later works well, the solos are good enough, and the climactic 'jam' holds up well in comparison to that of the last album's title track. The first side also contains the ultra-infamous "Iron Man," one of Beavis and Butthead's songs of choice for air-guitar and headbanging. Is the riff stupid? More or less. Are the lyrics stupid? Oh goodness yes. Does it rule? Yeah, it rules.

The second half contains three more similar pieces that I don't find as amusing, but are nonetheless good enough at what they do. "Electric Funeral"'s main riff was another of B&B's favored songs (it's amazing how many Sabbath songs I knew from B&B even before I ever heard one of their songs on the radio), but that's not really an insult, and the introductory riff is neat too. And hey, it's got a neat midsection where Iommi starts playing off of his own riffage, bouncing back and forth from one riff to the other, and Ozzy is chanting the title in all its ridiculous glory. Let's hear it for quality unintentional humor!

"Hand of Doom" and "Fairies Wear Boots" round out the album, and they're nice too. "HoD" is most notable for being largely based off a cool introductory bassline, alternating the bass/drums-only parts with full fledged "rawk" arrangements to decent effect, before speeding up a bit to try and provide the illusion of multiple parts in order to justify the 7:10 run-time. As for "Fairies Wear Boots," well, it's got a lot of nice riffs, and a decent bluesy feel in parts, and all the sorts of things you'd expect given what you'd have heard on the album to that point. Whee.

Basically, "Rat Salad" aside, there isn't a bad track on here, and that's enough for me. I don't find myself with much of a craving to listen to it very often, and I definitely find my attention starting to drift when I'm about a half hour into it, but that's just my problem. If you think you would hate Sabbath, this is probably the best place to go to change your mind.

Report this review (#281754)
Posted Thursday, May 13, 2010 | Review Permalink
Symphonic Team
5 stars Iommi's Killer Riffs, Ozzy's estranged vocals, welcome to Sabbath's best album

A definitive metal album in any sense of the word and quintessential Sabbath from start to finish with their best line up. This has no less that 3 of the classic metal songs in metal history; War Pigs, Paranoid and Iron Man. But the rest of the songs are excellent too namely Electric Funeral, and Hand of Doom. The lyrics, power riffs and vocal delivery are the blueprint of all things metal. Ozzy has a fantastic voice here and blasts a massive delivery on every track. Who can forget his powerful delivery on War Pigs? "Generals gathered in their masses, Just like witches at black masses, Evil minds that plot destruction, Sorcerers of death's construction, In the fields the bodies burning, As the war machine keeps turning, Death and hatred to mankind, Poisoning their brainwashed minds, Oh Lord yeah!" Then we are treated to the simplistic yet killer riff from Iommi which cranks seriously with a great bass and drum rhythm. It is simply brilliant. Paranoid of course is one of the greatest metal moments with Ozzy giving it everything as that riff blazes away. Every metal guitarist should know this and it is easy to play once you get the hang of it. I love the way it ends with Ozzy singing: "And so as you hear these words telling you now of my state, I tell you to enjoy life I wish I could but it's too late." Many critics attacked the song believing it stated to 'end your life' but Ozzy was more optimistic than people gave him credit for. Planet Caravan is a psychedelic Sabbath track that feels out of place but it is the sheer audacity of the band to produce this among all the metal that makes it a true curio. I don't mind this at all and it feels bizarre and ethereal. Ozzy's psyched up phased voice gives it a creepy trippy style.

Iron Man is certainly my favourite Sabbath song and the way it begins with distorted monster vocals users in a masterpiece of metal. The riff is doomy and unforgettable, and the lyrics are sung in time to the riff augmenting the atmosphere; "He was turned to steel, in the great magnetic field, When he travelled time, for the future of mankind, Nobody wants him, He just stares at the world, Planning his vengeance, that he will soon unfurl." Easy to play once again but such a brilliant combination of chords that Iommi cemented his reputation as a master of the power riff. The guitars sound like an iron giant creeping forward with massive stomping feet. The way the time sig changes in the middle is masterful. The lead break is inspired with fretmelting finesse. The ending speeds up and changes time sigs again and it ends on a massive freakout of guitars. Absolutely essential listening.

Electric Funeral is doom metal in its earliest form and a great song with sleak guitars and innovative lyrics; "Robot minds of robot slaves lead them to atomic rage, plastic flowers, melting sun, fading moon falls upon, dying world of radiation, victims of mad frustration, Burning globe of oxy'n fire, like electric funeral pyre."

There is an anti Heroin song, the guitar heavy Hand Of Doom , and this features Ozzy preaching aginst substance abuse; "Now you know the scene, your skin starts turning green, Your eyes no longer seeing life's reality, Push the needle in, face death's sickly grin, Holes are in your skin, caused by deadly pin"

Rat Salad is intriguing with a metal meets jazz vibe. The drums of Bill Ward are given the spotlight as he is allowed to bash out for a while solo. This instrumental chugs along nicely and the guitars shine once again. Geezer Butler's bassline here is terrific.

Fairies Wear Boots/Jack the Stripper ends the album and Ozzy has a memorable style on this with some driving guitars and lead solos that strip down wallpaper. The band were delightful in full flight and this album provides a massive spark for their fire. They were unsurpassed progenitors of metal and this may be one of the most influential albums along with Deep Purple's "In Rock."

Report this review (#285441)
Posted Monday, June 7, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars I'm not a huge Sabbath fan, but I do like to point out to classic rock fans--you know, those who believe Led Zeppelin is the best rock band in the history of the universe--that I think Sabbath's first two albums were every bit as influential and of similar quality to Zep's. And just like Zep, Sabbath moved past an interesting and creative debut album, tightened the screws, and delivered some music for the ages.

Paranoid, War Pigs, and Iron Man are all radio classics, and probably deservedly so. However, tracks such as Hand of Doom and Jack the Stripper are just as good in my opinion, though I'd never have known if I'd just listened to the radio. Looking back, it's amazing that I can still dig these tunes given how simple they really are--and how much I love the complexities in most music--just as much as when I was a kid. Solid guitar, very nice bass, and largely competent vocals and drums.

None of these guys are virtuosos, either in playing or songwriting, but they were all on board with creating some classic heavy metal anthems on this album. After this, Sabbath really falls off the radar for me, but for now I'll give my proper respects for their contribution to rock with Paranoid.

Report this review (#286210)
Posted Saturday, June 12, 2010 | Review Permalink
Prog Metal Team
3 stars I'll get straight to the point; Paranoid is in my opinion a letdown compared to the amazing debut album and the release that would follow. It's still a decent Heavy Metal classic but outside of having all the biggest hits of Black Sabbath's early years there's just not enough of much else to help the music not to lose some of it's energy towards the second half of the album.

I like the idea of the band mixing up moods and styles this time around but can't help the feeling that they loose the perfectly balanced groove that was so clear on the debut album. Clearly, Paranoid is an album of individual moments and not a complete album experience which poses quite a concern for me since I generally prefer a complete album experience instead of hearing a few hits. I've also never been a huge fan of War Pigs or Iron Man, both of which I've already heard to death. The title track is a different story since it's short and very sweet experience.

Planet Caravan is a track that never made much sense to me. Placed between Paranoid and Iron Man for a possible purpose of adding a calm moment right before the Iron Man riff storms in and blows the listener away. This does work in theory, but practically it just ruins the whole mood that the album has been building up to this point. Electric Funeral is another track that I love almost as much as I hate. The buildup and the riffs are quite decent but the hopscotching vocals just never worked for me as I guess that they're suppose to. Hand Of Doom is a long track giving us the first signs of experimentation but the end result just isn't all that memorable. Rat Salad is a quite unnecessary composition that sounds more like a jam that the band recorded spontaneously in the studio and just added in to mix in order to shake things up even further. Fairies Wear Boots brings the album to a surprisingly effective ending which unfortunately fades when the rest of the record is taken into the account.

I really don't care if I offend anyone with my remarks since this type of sloppiness have gone on unnoticed for too long and just has to be pointed out to anyone who has a biased outlook on this release. Fortunately things would get a whole lot better with Sabbath's next release that showed exactly how a great album complete album experiences should sound like!

***** star songs: Paranoid (2:47)

**** star songs: War Pigs (7:55) Iron Man (5:53) Electric Funeral (4:47) Hand Of Doom (7:07) Fairies Wear Boots (6:13)

*** star songs: Planet Caravan (4:24) Rat Salad (2:29)

Report this review (#297515)
Posted Sunday, September 5, 2010 | Review Permalink
1 stars The most commercial of their albums, paranoid is a psychotic throw away.

Iron man is barely audible and the group including the recording made a wreck of light in the observed reference.

It is not a wonder why this group got so twisted on illegal drugs including their sound recording engineers who are island based know it alls with very little common sense. This group weeds out the obvious and to the island lineage they view the one star as most likely 5 stars but to the mainland inhabitant--island progressive related that is in progressive poor and for the most complete of individuals.

The album copy bought was on compact disc and released knowingly in my opinion to showcase to stay away from this island based group. The group recorded to 1 star and is what they will reference as--a perversion.

As mentioned in the previous review this group/band is performance based and does not have any distance in progressive sounds.

Report this review (#305508)
Posted Monday, October 18, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars BBC TV ran an hour long program about the recording and the featured songs on this album, Black Sabbath's second album. All band members were interviewed and Tony Iommi also showed us the riffs on the main songs here. An excellent TV program well worth the TV license fee. So I dusted of this album again.

BBC called it a masterpiece and they are close to being right. Just the opening riffs on War Pigs is so powerful and excellent. So is the vocals too. Remember; this was during the Vietnam War and the lyrics + the music is just so immense powerful. This anti-war song is on the same level as the best of Bob Dylan, but I guess Black Sabbath is too political and musically unfashionable to be credited as an anti-war band. But they really were that. War Pigs is one of the best anthems of heavy rock.

Paranoid, the song, was made because they needed some more minutes to fill an album. An album originally called War Pigs, but later renamed after this track which was the end result of a visit to the local pub during a break in the recording. The big bosses in the big US record label corporation did not like the title War Pigs on an album during the Vietnam War. Paranoid is an excellent pop song like heavy metal anthem too.

Planet Caravan is a loony track which kinds of work, but is not on the same level. Iron Man on the other hand is one of the classic Black Sabbath anthems. It even have some jazz riffs, Tony Iommi told BBC with glee and a huge smile. He is a Django Reinhardt fan and Iron Man contains some classic Django licks. Electric Funeral is a semi classic Black Sabbath song again. Ditto for Hands Of Doom and Rat Salad. The final track is a mix of references to skinheads and drug taking. It is Ozzy's lyrics, btw. That explains everything. In short, this is a bit of a flawed masterpiece and hence my four stars. But War Pigs alone is worthy the whole album. The album is rightly regarded as a classic within the hard rock and rock genre and that is how it should be. Generations upon generations will discover this album and be filled with joy and amazement. In short; every home should own a copy of it.

4 stars

Report this review (#317769)
Posted Saturday, November 13, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars After an excellent debut album, Black Sabbath pumped up the iron (Iron Man, to be correct). This album is a true metal classic, but also the first true prog-metal classic, as the complex playing and lyrics are not your standard bluesy affair. The album has a number of great songs, that range from about two minutes to eight minutes, and all have a purpose and can rock your brains out.

1.War Pigs - The anti-war song that is so controversial, the record dealer didn't want the album name to be War Pigs, (mind you, this was released when Vietnam War was still happening). The track is ultimatly mind-altering, as the intro sets the trippy standard, and the vocal sections from Ozzy Osbourne are utterly classic. The way he makes melodies out of air is still astounding to this day. The improvision in the track is also one of a kind, truely great playing from all as teh interplay with Geezer Butler, Tony Iommi and Bill Ward is unheard off and, for the most part, a drug induced beauty. (10/10)

2.Paranoid - The ultimate in consice metal pop cuts. The heavy riffage from Iommi is ultimatly one of the best of this new (at the time) genre, and the steady rhythm section can only be classic. Vocal melodies and talk of social destruction make this track all the better. (10/10)

3.Planet Caravan - After true, blunt force, we get a stoner classic. The song is so mellow and trippy, one could get a contact high just from listening. The song, of traveling space, is excellently played; a well needed break after the crushing metal of the first two tracks. The bassline on the track is almost hypnotic, as this track is almost drone like in structure as the repetition is very high, albiet with some electronic sound effects and phaser on vocals. Another metal, even if mellow, classic. (9.5/10)

4.Iron Man - The immortal riff of all riffs. Everyone knows this song, as it is the law of guitar to learn how to play this riff, along with the riff to Deep Purple's Smoke on the Water and the opening to Led Zeppelin's Stairway to Heaven. The cut is a true bluesy number with heavily imporvised playing, great melodies, and some of the most dark and frightening sounds from a guitar that you will ever hear. The bass and drum interplay is excellent, almost jaw- dropping at how percise Butler and Ward are in their groove. Essential listening. (10/10)

5.Electric Funeral - A personal favourite of mine off the album. Even it is not as well know as a few of the other songs on the album, it's a classic. The riff and vocal melodie are all played in harmony by the bass, guitar, and, obviously, voclas. The drumming could not be better, as Ward pulls of some of his better and hard playing. The lyrics are about an apocolyptic future, a truely new and scary topic. The breakdown section in the middle of the track is totally new and trippy, so much intensity for one track. (10/10)

6.Hand of Doom - Another classic track, totally about what happens when you try heroin (one of the most dangerous drugs known to man; food for thought). A very complex drumming, and intense bass playing make this track a crazy trip of awkward emotions that seem to always end up in the needle. Musicianship at it's highest and freakiest. (10/10)

7.Rat Salad - The only track that is below average, as it is only a bluesy track augmented with excellent drum playing, as it is a drum solo. The track might be needed, as it shows the great talent that can be put in a song at a little over two minutes. (8.5/10)

8.Fairies Wear Boots - The best Black Sabbath track. Ever. This is one of the best, most hallucinogenic track that you will ever find on any album. The musicianship of the track is undeniable, and the lyrics about skinheads could be a link to marijuana or even acid. The guitar playing is great, as the funky bassline from Butler is truely fresh and crucial the the sound of the track. The drumming is totally swing and changes the atmosphere of the track instantly. The vocal melody is where the trip starts to set in, as it's pretty much one of the most interesting, as Osbourne screams about fairies wearing boots. This track is a classic that must be heard. (10/10)

This album is pretty much near perfection, as this is the closest anyone could be to prog- metal in 1970. All tracks are well crafted (except one) and trippy in their own right, with a fair amount of complexity and sheer power. A 5 stars for an almost flawless album.

Report this review (#318295)
Posted Sunday, November 14, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars One of my favourite bands of all times and one of their most celebrated albums. An instant classic in the metal community, although Toni Iommi discards that terminology. For him Black Sabbath os a heavy rock band. This album proves that the canterbury influences off their previous band are all but gone and instead there's a Dark, monolythic sound created by Geezer Butler's bass lines that follow and amplify the monstruous guitar sound of Tony Iommi complemented by the explosive drumming of Bill Ward. When they are working in synchronicity (no pun intended!) its like having a bulldozer chasing you down a ravine while you are trying to escape the rocks from a landslide. Since then their sound as been copied again and again but I can't begin to imagine the chock that it was when some listeners firs heard this music. It's Ironic that a band that was so influencial on the grunge movement of the 90's is featured so prominently in a Progressive Rock site, but that's the beauty of music. I Believe that when the music is good, and made from the heart, with honesty it's good whichever it's provinence. A terrific albuma and indispensable not only for prog fans but for people who are interested in the evolution of this beautiful thing called Rock 'n' Roll.
Report this review (#325732)
Posted Thursday, November 18, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars I am Iron Man!

I was introduced to Black Sabbath at an early age, by my dad, even though I did not know it yet. I just dismissed it as my dad's 'oldies' music, but since then I have grown to love them. One of the albums he played the most was Paranoid, so it was only fitting that this should be my first Black Sabbath review. It has great heavy bass lines that mix well with the guitar work of Tony Iommi. And of course you can't say Black Sabbath without at least thinking about Ozzy Osbourne. It's amazing how in real life he can't talk for his life, but once he gets the microphone in front of his mouth he can actually pronounce syllables.

One of the most recognizable songs on the album is, of course, "Iron Man". It has one of the most recognizable riffs in all of metal or even music, for that case. The choruses are also very good, blending in nicely with the heavy bass and guitar. The story is also very interesting, following the comic strip Iron Man, of course. Though it is the most popular song it is not necessarily the best on the album.

Talking of really good songs, the first track, "War Pigs", is a great song. The riff is very catchy going from low notes, and then the last one is higher, which makes a cool approach to the song. The beginning of the song has great guitars by Tony Iommi, along with good drumming by Bill Ward. It then transfers smoothly in to vocals by Ozzy and he takes it away from there.

Paranoid is definitely one of, if not the best, Black Sabbath album in my opinion. It includes all around great performances by all musicians present on the album. I would like to specifically point out Ozzy, of course, and Tony Iommi for his great guitar work throughout. Besides "Iron Man" and "War Pigs" some honorable mentions include "Paranoid" which includes great vocals and great drumming by Bill Ward. Also there is Jack the Stripper/ Fairies wear Boots which includes some riffs that are kind of similar to those employed in "Iron Man". The only song I don't enjoy on the album is "Rat Salat", and it is not because it is completely instrumental. I absolutely love instrumental songs, but I think that Black Sabbath should stick to songs with lyrics because their music goes better with them . For a great effort by Black Sabbath they get 4.5 stars.

Report this review (#352937)
Posted Tuesday, December 14, 2010 | Review Permalink
3 stars I've had this album for a while now, and I only got around listening to it.

I've never been a massive fan of Sabbath, but I do like them enough, they do have some amazing songs. But aside from that, I have to be a little critical.

I respect what this album did, and it really is a stepping stone in the world of metal, and even the proto doom can be heard for bands like Cathedral & Candlemass to take influence from?and it can be heard.

But asides that, the album really isn't perfect, well in my opinion it isn't. At times Sabbath can annoy me, and I think this album had the most Sabbath songs that annoy me?

Besides my dislike to some songs, the rest are great and pretty good at times, so don't take my word as Gospel, but as a guys opinion. It's very unique as well to say the least, well for its time.

1. War Pigs ? One of Sabbaths best songs in my opinion. Great riffs, and is it me, or does Ozzy's vocals sound a wee bit like Captain Beefheart. The lyrics are pretty good for Sabbath as well. 10/10

2. Paranoid ? I have a bad past with this song?I'm not going to get into it. 6/10

3. Planet Caravan ? A wee bit too bluesy at times, and can be a wee bit repetitive, but the atmosphere makes up for it. Pantera do a good cover of this song. 9/10

4. Iron Man ? I really don't like this song, the riff is boring and repetitive. The only good thing about it is the middle section. 6/10

5. Electric Funeral ? Great doomy riff, but the lyrics at times can be forced. 9/10

6. Hand Of Doom ? The most experimental song. Odd changes in tone, but great riffs and atmospheres. 9/10

7. Rat Salad ? Nice wee instrumental. 8/10

8. Fairies Wear Boots ? One of their best riffs in my opinion. Great song, with some odd lyrics?about drugs. 10/10

CONCLUSION: Annoying at times, but it does make up for it?

Report this review (#354770)
Posted Thursday, December 16, 2010 | Review Permalink
2 stars Probably the greatest part of Black Sabbath´ s group of fans prefers this second album when compared to the first one. This was exactly my position until I started to be interested in progressive music and heard some of its main bands.

Great hits are here, last time I went to an Ozzy Osborne show there were some songs from this album were heavily expected and heard in an euphoric way. No songs from the first album was present; but even with this condition, why did I change my mind ?

The problem here is that the new musical approach was already performed, and so was the surprise and seeds of strong musical influence as well. This album is not so tasteful to my ears if I consider progressive music, not hard rock, as the preferred of mine. We have here tasteful guitar riffs from Tony Iommi, maybe the greater guitar riff creator of all times, but the musical lack of complexity and the only average quality vocals gives us a feeling that it did not fulfill a great musical achievement.

Although I love this album, it miss so much progressive musical contends that I will give it only two and a half stars to be rounded to two. After paying attention to Black Sabbath first album, a prog minded listener should avoid this and direct himself to albums like Sabotage, which presents better progressive elements. Sorry, my brothers who love heavy metal music?

Report this review (#434536)
Posted Saturday, April 16, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars The one with the fluorescentninjatrafficwarden...

Sabbath's second outing not only went on to become a cult classic, but also a founding father for the entire metal genre.

The Good: I will admit I haven't always liked this album. In fact I used to hate it. Having being introduced to Black Sabbath through their Dio era recordings I found the vocals here be crude, and the songwriting mundane. However, after revisiting it several times it quickly started to grow on me and now has reached the stage where I would put it on par with Heaven & Hell! The A-side features more classics than you can shake a stick at, as well as some diversity in the form of the Camel-esque Planet Caravan. Whilst the B-side is admitting not as strong, it still holds its own and there isn't a weak track in sight.

The Bad: At times Ozzy's singing can get a little too grating. Oh, and the cover art looks like it was drawn by a toddler on LSD.

The Verdict: Over 40 years old and still as fresh as a titanium daisy.

Report this review (#438565)
Posted Sunday, April 24, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars 10/10

After introducing dark tones and obscurity to the prematurely rising "heavy metal" on their impressive debut "Black Sabbath" (1970) -it's enough to realize of it just by checking the terrifying album cover-, this astonishing group formed by apparently insane but amazingly instinctive talented masters-of-performance musicians, release arguably their definitive masterpiece.

Just as if there was necessary any kind of reaffirmation that they were shaping as one of the most interesting acts of dense-potent rock, Black Sabbath manages to reconcile every artistic issue the band was actually developing: their powerful performance based on a psychedelic view from hard-intricate blues, touches of progressive rock and always some scary-dark posture surrounding (let's not forget they took the name for the band from an underground terror motion picture) combined with some of the greatest riffs ever made and exciting rock structures.

From this apparently non-attaching poles mixture, they bring perhaps the best song in history of heavy metal nowadays considered also an anthem for rock 'n roll: "Iron man".

It's not just a distinctive genius riff, it's actually Tony Iommi making easy what's actually difficult: shuddering the listener with just a few notes not even on a fast key, but mastery performed with density, depth and carrying the sound to a extreme bottom, Geezer Butler turning bass into a rhythm machine being much more than merely a liner, Bill Ward extremely sticked to Butler forming a perfect timing base machine and also shining himself through accurate arrangements, and of course Ozzy Osbourne and his personal unique vocal performance conception.

Then there are also lots of key tracks that show righteous examples of Sabbath's ambitions: the opener "War pigs" is a killer one: again the interpretation is so strong but the pulsating rock is superb, the album title song "Paranoid" is much more simple but therefor shows the magnificence of this work -an ideal rock piece: great riff, great verses and choruses, great melodic base-; in conclusion you've got really standout rock-heavy metal gems that work out perfectly as totally enjoyable breakthrough singles.

But to make "Paranoid" a timeless statement beyond styles and formulas, the rest of the tracks are simple and at the same time complicated-dark terrific numbers.

Sabbath goes for everything and unquestionably conquers all -oh, and on the way through sets a landmark work for ROCK and the biggest-most relevant-influential record of heavy metal.

Report this review (#459195)
Posted Saturday, June 11, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars 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. The only qualms I have about giving it five stars is that right now it has an over all rating of "4.20", and if you know your weed culture you know just how appropriate that is. ;)

Report this review (#463304)
Posted Friday, June 17, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars Only three stars? Yes. This is a progressive rock sight. I will review it as a progressive rock album. If this were a metal site, this album would get five stars, but it is not. I selected three stars because in the eyes of a prog fan, it is a good album, but it is not essential to listen to it.

The songs "War Pigs", "Planet Caravan", "Hand of Doom", and "Fairies Wear Boots" can be classified as prog. The remaining four songs are fine heavy metal ("Iron Man" and "Paranoid" being metal classics), but have no prog elements to them.

"War Pigs" starts off the album with powerful heavy metal riffs to drive the song. These riffs drive the song throughout, only stopping when Ozzy tales his wartime tales. We have some fine soloing courtesy of the great Tony Iommi, and the songs ends with a fine guitar segment called "Luke's Wall." A fine way to start the album off. We then go to "Paranoid", while it is a fantastic rock song, it is not prog in any way.

The album then leads into "Planet Caravan", quite possibly the softest song ever created by a heavy metal band. The song could be easily qualify under psychedelia. Tony Iommi and Geezer Butler give a jazzy feeling to the song while Bill's light percussion drives us through this spacey adventure. Even Ozzy's vocals are soft and beautiful (surprisingly, but he is using a mike effect for it). The album then delves into the metal classic "Iron Man" and the terrifying "Electric Funeral". Like before, not prog, but great metal.

"Hand of Doom" appears next, and uses the common prog metal technique of alternating between soft and heavy passages. An instrumental follows called "Rat Salad" follows, and it is probably the weakest song on the album. The album closes with the Jimi Hendrixesque "Fairies Wear Boots". The opening is somewhat similar to the psychedelic rock of the late 60's. The song itself is amusing, talking about seeing aliens and fairies, but finding out that the narrator just smoked too much dope.

Like I stated, prog fans may find interest in songs such as "War Pigs" or "Planet Caravan", but will not find much interest in the metal numbers. Good album for a prog fan, but ultimately, non-essential to their collection.

Report this review (#483948)
Posted Saturday, July 16, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars Black Sabbath is mostly considerd to be the first metal band. So, this band may not be progressive in the usual point of view, but is by creating the standards for metal important for the development of later progressive metal bands.

Black Sabbath sounds slow - very slow in comparison of 80' metal - and very bassy. The sound is quit equal to the Blue Cheer, which is to be considerd as the pro-metal band. The difference is that Black Sabbath stopped playing in bluesschemes.

War Pigs, Paranoid, Iron Man, Electric Funeral and Fairies Wear Boots are all classics in the metalscene and show the typical Sabbath sound. An exception to this bassy and slow sound is Planet Caravan which deals with a clean sound. This song is also slow but sounds a bit eastern influenced with its percussion.

This record and Sabbath Bloody Sabbath are the only real good additions to any metal collection and maybe their debut. Four stars for this blue print of metal.

Report this review (#510590)
Posted Sunday, August 28, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars Black Sabbath - Paranoid (1970)

When taking in to account this cornerstone of the heavy metal genre was released as early as 1970, it can be stated this really is a special offering. Black Sabbath embraced the riff- based approach to accompany the heavy styled song-writing and the guitar chords sound low and pompous. Don't expect to hear that harsh shredding sound of modern heavy metal, the amplification of the time would not have allowed such sounds. Black Sabbaths style could be seen as a logical next step. Bands like the Blue Cheer, Vanilla Vudge, May Blitz and Led Zeppelin already cleared the way for the maximum heavy approach to develop in the early seventies. It still remains a mystery why the real boom of heavy metal took place in the early eighties, but I guess that punk, prog and disco slowed the development of decent heavy metal some years.

With Paranoid the band reached to stardom. Whilst the record still features the ground- braking sound of the debut, it also has attractive song-writing that even resulted in success in the charts. 'Iron Man' and 'Paranoid' became signature songs of the band, though 'War Pigs' shows that the band was also gifted with extended song-writing capabilities (that remind me a bit of the more daring songs of Uriah Heep). The vocals of Ozzy are iconic and it's good that his high pitched vocals fill the spectrum, where other metal bands would be plagued by the emphasis on only the low spectrum of both vocals, guitars and rhythmical section. The guitars (often you'll hear more then just one) of Tommy Lee are original whilst the rhythms section succeeds in creating a heavy back-up.

It's a bit strange that the band settled with the amateurism when it comes to the cover artwork. The debut looked beautiful and this silly photo makes me skip this record way to often.

Conclusion. Enough said about this early metal classic, it's very attractive for fans of the metal genre as well as that of seventies heavy rock (Purple, Zep, Heep, etc.). As prog- related I can give this four stars, the record hasn't much relevance for progressive rock itself in my opinion. I would rather point to early works of Judas Priest (like Sad Wings of Destiny) for such pleasures. Four stars for this one.

Report this review (#510723)
Posted Sunday, August 28, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars Whereas Prog Archives rankings are, in my opinion, about right, I don't think MMA's rankings, which are in their relative infancy, are right yet. One thing that is spot on though is that Paranoid is the top proto-metal album. For me it was definitely the first metal album. This was the CD I took round the shops with me some years ago when I was choosing my current music system. I wanted to be sure Geezer's bass was going to sound right. War Pigs is the perfect metal test for a set of speakers. Paranoid was part of the soundtrack to my youth.
Report this review (#520434)
Posted Sunday, September 11, 2011 | Review Permalink
Prog Sothoth
Prog Metal Team
4 stars A wise man once said "music is like a sandwich, in that each slice and condiment adds to a cohesive whole to be consumed by the listener". I can't really argue that statement, I mean he was, after all, wise. The last time I saw him was about three months ago yelling profanities and shaking his fist at a fire hydrant, but the point still stands.

The reason I bring this up is that he reminded me of the guy swinging his sword on Paranoid's cover. Same facial hair and similar attire but without the weaponry and armor. The album itself is a crazy bugger, but within the stomping madness there's plenty of smart commentary and even words of wisdom. "War Pigs" and "Electric Funeral" focus on the insanity of war and global obliteration. "Hand Of Doom" is an eerily effective warning about heroin abuse (and coming from these guys, that's saying something). "Iron Man" was probably written as a violent revenge fantasy, but it certainly brings up the stupidity of mass culture's penchant for intolerance. Finding social commentary concerning the rest of the tracks is a bit of a stretch, although "Fairies Wear Boots" is a fun mockery of skinheads and maybe "Rat Salad" could be an indictment of the restaurant business if you're the dude on the album's cover.

The music itself ditches a lot of the blues and jammin' from the debut for a more full on barrage of a metal assault, which makes sense since 1970 itself was leaving behind a lot of bands stuck with a 60's vibe. "Planet Caravan" is no doubt a psychedelic ballad, but even with its trippy-based lyrics, the song comes across as quite a gloomy and haunting interlude between the chugging rage of the title track and the bombastic crush of "Iron Man". As ridiculously influential as this album is, most metal bands years and decades later aping the early Sabbath blueprint wouldn't dare add to their album a full fledged ballad without some sort of crescendo into heaviness. I will say there are some brave acts that do, and they are better off for it, since it adds depth and some much needed variation to a sound that can get monotonous for an album's length.

Debating what the first true metal album is will go on until the world explodes, but I would argue that this just may be the most influential. The title track alone takes Zeppelin's "Communication Breakdown" and pumps it up with a heavier guitar sound and turns it into a grim world view beast. Pretty much like what a lot of the speedier underground metal bands did much later, you know, the bands whose members didn't look like poodles in colorful spandex.

I have to admit that I pretty much hate Rat Salad. The little guitar solo early on is pretty sweet, but then the drum solo kicks in and I look at my watch. I understand the need for it in 1970, in which that year's biggest selling hard rock album was Led Zeppelin II. "Moby Dick" was already becoming a concert staple for the Zep, and Sabbath probably assumed that they needed one too. Great. I also have to admit that I've heard this album so many times since my relative youth that it's hard to get any rush out of this album except for maybe "Planet Caravan" and "Hand Of Doom", although "Fairies Wear Boots" was my favorite for awhile. It swings! I won't take the overplaying of this opus into account for my star rating, but I never cared for sloppy drum solos, so it's basically almost a masterpiece.

Within the Land of Prog, VdGG, King Crimson and I suppose Egg each put out two notable and in some cases fantastic releases in 1970, but concerning the rock world in general, Black Sabbath unleashed a one-two punch that year that cannot be denied, and formed a genre that hasn't let up since. Good work guys.

Report this review (#588463)
Posted Wednesday, December 14, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars "Paranoid" is known as one of the most influential heavy metal albums ever produced. This was recorded only a few months after their first album but it's another very solid effort and different in many ways. The guitar riffs are very simple but more memorable and with more egde, the lyrics are often darker and politically angry which also made an impact. "War Pigs" is the most cohesive track and arguably one of the greatest anti-war tracks ever made. Up to this stage in musical history, these issues were typically touched on by artisits like Bob Dylan in the folk genres. I do like the moody "Planet Caravan" and "Iron Man" is undoubtably a classic track too. The second half of the album isn't quite as strong, but still good. "Electric Funeral" and "Hand Of Doom" are slow moving creepers that develop into rockers, the lyrics are cheesy sometimes but touch on serious topics like death and destruction, addiction and anti-Vietnam sentiments. If there's one thing I've always admired about Black Sabbath, it's definitely their charm and the fact that they didn't take themselves too seriously even though they were being extremely inventive. This was the case with countless British bands in the sixties and seventies. "Fairies Wear Boots" has some funny lyrics and signs the album off well. A very good one for your collection. Three and a half stars.
Report this review (#600169)
Posted Saturday, December 31, 2011 | Review Permalink
Conor Fynes
5 stars 'Paranoid' - Black Sabbath (9/10)

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?

Report this review (#759866)
Posted Monday, May 28, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars After the sucess of their debut album 'Black Sabbath', Ozzy and the boys just kicked ass with this album, 'Paranoid'! This is a very good album, it's essential!

The album starts with 'War Pigs', a song without metaphors, very direct and very proggy. Then you get to 'Paranoid', a faster and heavier song. All those catchy riffs fit in perfectly.

After those two heavy songs, you are taken into another atmosphere; This one is called 'Planet Caravan', it's an acoustic song, very different from all of the others, very trippy, Ozzy's voice is just amazing, this song is very touching and amazing!

"I am Iron Man!!!! Yes! 'Iron Man', this is one of Black Sabbath's most important songs! The song starts with bass drum and a low note on the guitar, then you hear a voice saying "I AM IRON MAN!" and the amazing riff kicks in with Ozzy's awesome lyrics!

Another trippy song! This one has a lot of feeling, it is very very trippy, I just love the guitar effects on the beginning. The lyrics are amazing and Ozzy's voice fit perfectly on this song.Guess what song is this? Yes, 'Electric Funeral'!!!

The next song starts with an awesome bass line, it's also very trippy and the lyrics remind me iof drug addiction or something related. I have got nothing much to say about this one.

'Rat Salad', one of the most progressive songs on the album, it is so well worked, so catchy, so amazing! Those drum solos, those riffs, everything in it is just perfect, everything is perfectly fit! You can perfectly see Bill Ward's drum skills on this one, I was amazed when I heard 'Rat Salad'! This is an amazing instrumental masterpiece.

The last song, 'Fairies Wear Boots'. This song is very bluesy, very jazzy, I love the feeling on it, it's all so amazing!

The whole album is amazing, it never gets boring, I loved it! This is one of the best albums in all history. The album is almost like a roller coaster ride, you have a lot of ups and downs. You have the fast paced Paranoid, songs that sound very trippy such as Planet Caravan and Electric Funeral and an Instrumental piece of art which is Rat Salad!

I really liked this album, I wouldn't mind listening to it everyday for the rest of my life. It's Essential, a masterpiece of progressive music.

Report this review (#780649)
Posted Sunday, July 1, 2012 | Review Permalink
4 stars I avoided this album when I first saw it due to the cover which did nothing for the album imo. I also didn't really enjoy the quickly written title track. Today I'm still not enamoured with the album cover although I've learned to enjoy the title track. I see this album as an advancement on the 1st album in that it pushed Sabbath firmly into the Metal camp - a camp which they became not only a cornerstone of but just about the whole dang foundation works of. The bands influence on modern metal music could never be overstated as this was the cement works that gave birth to the building that we know as Metal. The anti war epic, "War Pigs", is huge and is a very powerful statement regarding the topic. "Fairies wear Boots" is a fun, heavy, funny statement from the band about a druggy lifestyle. "Iron Man" has been rated by many on various shows that I've seen and books that I've read to be the number 1 metal track ever written with its instantly recognised main riff. "Rat Salad" is trippy and another fun piece. The title track "Paranoid" is a metal classic originally added to the album late as an almost throwaway track to lengthen the album a little.

I enjoyed the "Paranoid" album but my love affair with Sabbath was to start a little later down the line of Sabbath's discography. The most powerful track on the album to me is "War Pigs" and it remains one of my favorite tracks from the band. A solid three stars from me with an added star for the "War Pigs" track as well as "Fairies wear Boots" which was the favorite of a friend of mine who has now passed on unfortunately. Every time he visited at my place he insisted that I play the track for him which I gladly did. I remember one night clearly many years ago when said friend of mine and I were drunk and he insisted that I play the track for him on my electric guitar to which we both drunkenly, loudly sang the lyrics - I thought we sounded wonderful however my now ex wife, who had been sleeping (it was three in the morning) didn't agree and we were chased out of the house by a banshee who threw the guitar at us as we were hastily making a retreat from the front door. Thankfully the amplifier and speaker didn't follow.

Report this review (#939115)
Posted Thursday, April 4, 2013 | Review Permalink
4 stars I remember being weirded out by the cover of Black Sabbath's debut LP when I first saw it. The macabre image of a pale specter in a graveyard along with the band's dark name was more than enough to keep this still green-behind-the-ears, dyed-in-the-wool Baptist boy from wanting to know what their music sounded like. Then, sometime in early '72 while living in Denton, Texas I moved into a house on the outskirts of town with my band's sound tech, Gordo Gondolf, and our roadie, Malcom Patterson (R.I.P.). Malcom LOVED Black Sabbath, especially their "Paranoid" album. My bedroom was right next to his and he would play it loud and often. I, on the other hand, was into Deep Purple at the time and, in order to drown out the roar coming through the separating wall, I would play my copy of "Machine Head" at full volume. This probably drove poor Gordo out of his gourd but his room was at the other end of the house and maybe the metal battles between Malcom and I didn't bother him all that much. Anyhow, whenever I hear the name Black Sabbath that's what comes to mind and it's not a bad memory to revisit because despite our differences in musical tastes Malcom was a good egg and fun to be around. The point is that, other than the cuts played on FM stations, I never really heard his favorite group's songs past the first few measures and certainly never considered them progressive. But the older I get the more interested I am in rock & roll history and I finally decided it was time to listen to "Paranoid" with an open mind.

The disc begins ominously with "War Pigs/Luke's Wall" wherein the band sets up some dreary aural scenery beneath a wailing siren before vocalist Ozzy Osborne bursts in like a lightning bolt. I'm always taken aback by the excellent quality of Ozzy's singing as evidenced here where he has to fill up a lot of open space. Say what you want about these guys but they had a unique style all their own and since that's one of the core definitions of prog rock I now concur that they belong in our hallowed genre's halls (more so than many others, I might add). Wearing headphones, I was intrigued by how they took advantage of the basic two-channel stereo pan technique in their mix to broaden their sound, something that's a bit of a lost art these days. "Paranoid" is next and my opinion is that these fellas took what I term "riff rock" to a whole new level. While they aren't exactly my cup 'o Lipton and never will be I do respect their authenticity. They played what they heard in their heads and they were in complete agreement about the mood they were trying to create. "Planet Caravan" is next and I was shocked when I heard it. It owns a quasi-Moody Blues atmosphere with Ozzy singing through a Leslie speaker cabinet to conjure up an other-worldly feel. The song is performed with remarkable restraint and Tommy Iommi's guitar solo borders on jazz as ghostly piano chords create a dense backdrop. It's a very engaging track that caught me completely off guard and it's by far the most impressive song on the album.

Ozzy growls through an electric fan as Tommy's guitar drones menacingly to begin "Iron Man." To call this number "heavy" is to do it an injustice because it's unbelievably gargantuan in scope. (Malcom used to blast this tune first thing in the morning just to bug me.) Again, nobody in the biz was doing rock this way in that it had such a minimalist attack. To embellish it would've ruined the aura so they were happy to leave well enough alone. Kudos to Iommi re: his ability to double his guitar tracks with such precision. Not easy to do. "Electric Funeral" is another riff-based rocker but the wah-wah effect on one of the guitars gives this plodding number a different hue. Their sudden leap into the shrill bridge section is jarring and then they return to the original theme to finish it out. Geezer Butler's bluesy bass line starts "Hand of Doom" in a subdued air but then they crank it up for the chorus. As they did in the preceding track, they change gears midstream and go running off into curious detours. It's kinda like they combined 3 or 4 song ideas into one. "Rat Salad" is an instrumental that most likely was written in the studio one day while they were waiting for Ozzy to show. It surely came in very handy in concert because drum solos were mandatory in that era and this gave their stick man Bill Ward a vehicle in which to hog the spotlight for a few minutes. Thankfully, he doesn't wear out his welcome here. They end with "Jack the Stripper/Fairies Wear Boots" that starts out as a high-spirited instrumental before morphing into a metallic rocker rumbling over a semi-shuffle beat. Osborne's vocal is sufficiently devilish and they sound like they're enjoying themselves. It's apparent to me that they owe a lot to Cream for inspiring their means of delivery but they do so with a lot more abandon than Eric, Jack and Ginger did.

"Paranoid" was recorded just four short months after the release of their first LP and it only took them six days to complete. That left little time to over-think the music and it worked to their advantage because its "spareness" is what gives it such an unorthodox, raw flavor. Call it the genius of the uncluttered mind. It certainly tapped into a hungry demographic because even without the help of a Top 40 single the album rose to #12 in the USA and sold over 4 million copies. While you won't find any of these tunes on my personal playlist I do have a better understanding of their appeal and look forward to hearing where they took it from here. They are without question the godfathers of metal and they started a ball rolling that hasn't slowed down since. They were true innovators and that earns them an extra star in itself. 3.5 stars.

Report this review (#1115562)
Posted Friday, January 17, 2014 | Review Permalink
5 stars Everybody is bloody good in this album! I mean, the riffs are so dark and strong, the bass and the drum have an awesome chemistry, letting Tony float in the solos and letting Ozzy sing the powerfull lyrics. War Pigs is a piece were we see the dynamics that are going to apear in every song on the album. Paranoid, the title track, is a little bit weaker than the rest of the songs in the album, but, along with Communication Breakdown, is a important proto-punk/bang-your-heads song. Planet Caravan is an interesting piece, kind of dark ambient song, with the vocals that seems to be influeced by the delta blues singers. Iron Man has catchy riffs and... need I say more about this masterpiece? Electric Funeral transfer awesomely the felling of the lyrics through the intrumentals. Hand of Doom is my personal favorite, with all the dinamics, the solo, the lyrics. All fit so well together in this song. Rat Salad is a mini jam, power trio-wannabe, which contains awesome riffs, guitar and drums solo. Fairies Wear Boots is a decent ending for one of the best albums ever made in all the heavy metal.
Report this review (#1261816)
Posted Wednesday, August 27, 2014 | Review Permalink
1 stars Time to make some enemies...

Whilst I'm not a big fan of Black Sabbath, I was able to tolerate their debut album. Their follow-up album however, just doesn't work for me. And here's why:

For starters, the whole album seems very 'immature', sounding like it was written by a bunch of twelve year-olds who have only been playing their instruments for a month (and I should know, I've been there myself). The guitar riffs are dull and uninspired, the lyrics are tacky and not very creative, and overall the songs are just boring, Ozzy's vocals are awful, and that has got to be one of the most God-awful covers ever.

On top of the that, the edition I have has a live version of 'Wicked World' on it, and it's about 20 minutes long, full of boring guitar solos with Tony Iommi playing the same legato licks over and over and Ozzy annoyingly shouting 'alright!' after every second line. Lame.

Overall, I find this to be, quite simply, a rubbish album. Harsh, but hey, this is my review, what can ya do about it? I gave it a fair amount of listens, and while it's predecessor had its moments, 'Paranoid' (arguably one of the greatest and most beloved metal records of all time) just seems very, very boring to me.

Report this review (#1473352)
Posted Wednesday, October 7, 2015 | Review Permalink
siLLy puPPy
PSIKE & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
5 stars After dropping their sonic bomb on the world of free love and idealistic utopian visions with their self-titled debut at the very beginning 1970, creating a clear delineative line between two distinct decades in their wake, BLACK SABBATH wasted no time releasing their followup PARANOID just a mere seven months later, however while the debut was criticized as being too strange by the critics but yet still attracted a decent amount of public interest, it was PARANOID that set the world on fire as it shot up to the top of the British charts and sold mass quantities of albums. The critics still panned it (of course) as have many others who haven't taken the initiative to dig deeper into the symbolic mordant lyrics of social critique and heavy apocalyptic doom inspiring song structures built upon the crushing down-tuned riffs of Tony Iommi, but the real underlying success of BLACK SABBATH with PARANOID is that it simply harnessed the sentiments of an ever skeptical public following one of the most tumultuous decades known as the 60s.

BLACK SABBATH clearly hit upon a new sound that has since been tagged HEAVY METAL and while the debut still had a murkiness that tied it to the bluesy psychedelic 60s despite the occult themes and imagery, PARANOID tweaked those elements and created one of the earliest blueprints of the dawning of an entire rock genre. The dark lyrics, doom laden tritone song structures, occult imagery and energetic power chords guaranteed an instant polarizing reaction for first time listeners but one they for sure could not simply ignore. Whereas a few other groups like Lucifer's Friend, Sir Lord Baltimore and Deep Purple were heading in the same direction with harder driven rhythms and a brashness absent from 60s comparisons, BLACK SABBATH was the first to bring all the attributes together on PARANOID by finally jettisoning most of the heavy psych and blues and concocting a shocking and thought provoking album that dared to delve into the occult and scathing critique of the political subterfuge of the era.

The album title was originally supposed to be titled 'War Pigs' but the record company wouldn't allow it so they changed it to the more nebulous title PARANOID. The track 'War Pigs' was originally supposed to titled 'Walpurgis,' one of the major holidays in Satanism, but once again the Vertigo label saw SABBATH as a potential commercial behemoth and managed these possible controversies fairly well. Parental overrides by the record label aside, what we get here is a nice callathump of dark, doomy, energetic guitar riffing, groovy bass and drum interaction and of course, Ozzy Osbourne's manic vocal style spewing out the best nihilistic antiestablishmentarianisms to be found in the musical universe. Whether you consider the mostly hard rockers such as 'War Pigs,' 'Iron Man,' 'Fairies Wear Boots' or the title track, the depressive cosmic vibe of 'Planet Caravan' or the semi-proggy jazz influenced 'Electric Funeral' and 'Rat Salad' tracks, it is evident that SABBATH were not only pioneering a totally new sound and ethos but were gifted at keeping a nice variety between the tracks as to keep the album entertaining.

Like much of early SABBATH and the other contemporary proto-metal albums of the early 70s, i used to think this sounded primitive and substandard to the vast wealth of music inspired by these early prototypes of the heavy metal genre, but let's face it, the roots of a tree are never as pretty and splendiferous in their coloring as are the branches and leaves that grow from them. PARANOID is the perfect primeval example of this phenomenon we call evolution but as i listen to this almost 50 years after its release and do indeed hear an underdeveloped musical form, i have to say that i have come to love this album exactly for what it is. It is not about the stunning guitar virtuosity that Ritchie Blackmore would develop with Deep Purple, it's not about the top notch production that could compete with anything released in the 21st century and it's not even about an all encompassing theme or concept. It's simply about a certain mood dynamic and atmosphere that is absent from a lot of music these days. For me the secret of PARANOID is an extremely well-balanced musical approach that perfectly contrasts slow and fasts tempos, loud and soft passages all tempered with a brash bravado that critiques the misuse of power. As with many albums before my time, this was a grower but as time has gone on has become only more and more brilliant. Yeah, Iommi's leads are an acquired taste as well, but just like mayonnaise and garlic which at one time i didn't care for, are ones that i now savor. True this album was a rushed affair with some tracks being created on the spot, but that only testifies to the creative genius of the band who could muster up this material instantaneously and still sounds relevant to this day despite perhaps sounding like a product of its time.

Ozzy Osbourne, Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler and Bill Ward created several classic masterpieces in the 70s but PARANOID was their first album that skyrocketed them onto the world's stage and allowed them the success to create the scaffolding of the heavy metal universe that would build itself into the vast universe that it has become today. PARANOID was exemplary at capturing the mood of an era when clandestine wars, political scandals and assassinations, media manipulation (hmmm'.. some things never change) and perhaps a healthy drug consumption conspired to make a skeptical and unwary public question virtually every aspect of reality. Of course, the more you tear down the previously constructed world views, the more you open yourself up to the vast universe of possibilities including some that aren't so pleasant more likely than not making you PARANOID. This is simply one of the earliest soundtracks for this state of mind.

Report this review (#1475577)
Posted Monday, October 12, 2015 | Review Permalink
Magnum Vaeltaja
Eclectic Prog Team
4 stars Black Sabbath's second release, "Paranoid", is an iconic album with plenty of replayability value. One of the classic early metal albums, "Paranoid" took what had been laid down on "Black Sabbath" and reworked its elements into a tighter, more accessible package.

What we have with this album is a collection of dark, apocalyptic power chord- based songs with some extended instrumental jamming and plenty of use of the tritone. It works quite well; "War Pigs", "Iron Man" and "Electric Funeral" are all ominous, doom-impending metal classics and the album's other tracks, while not at quite the same caliber as these three, are all enjoyable to listen to.

While the spotlight for this album is usually on Tony Iommi's riffs, what really makes it for me is the rhythm section. Geezer Butler's booming bass lines and Bill Ward's drum fills are top notch and the instrumental "Rat Salad" features a great solo from the latter.

Not an especially progressive album but "Paranoid" is still a strong, memorable album to revisit now and again and enjoy every time you hear it.

Report this review (#1484327)
Posted Sunday, November 8, 2015 | Review Permalink
5 stars REVIEW #11 - "Paranoid" by Black Sabbath (1970)

After achieving success with their debut album, Black Sabbath immediately got back to producing a new album. With very little material at their expense, the songs on their second album were either quickly written, or built off of improvisation. Still as ambitious as the first album, and more cohesive as a whole, the band would ultimately release what has come to be known as the greatest heavy metal album of all time - instrumental in inspiring subsequent acts. The lyrics on this album are far more serious than those on their debut, with topics ranging from the ongoing Vietnam War to drug addiction, and a change in vocalist Ozzy Osbourne's voice brings an edgier sound to the album , as opposed to the more bluesy-orientated vocals from before.

The iconic intro of the opener "War Pigs" (5/5) greets the listener. A slow bluesy opening with sirens gives way to the lyrics - a protest of the authoritarian figures who dictate war; politicians and generals, who send off innocent people to die doing their bidding. Inspired by the highly unpopular war in Vietnam, this song is one of the most famous protest songs ever created, and one of the most well-known Black Sabbath songs. The song features a slow groovy vocal section, then an extended instrumental section titled "Luke's Wall" that ends the album with a great Iommi guitar solo. The eight-minute song is followed by the shorter and more commercially-viable "Paranoid" (5/5), recorded very quickly as it was intended to be a filler track. Considered to be one of the greatest heavy metal songs of all time, it charted as high as #61 on the Billboard Hot 100. A very fast song and with a distinct, catchy riff, this song still receives extremely heavy radio airplay and is generally the song used to introduce people to the band. Next, in the spirit of the track "Sleeping Village" from their first album, is the calm, psychedelic "Planet Caravan" (5/5). The most "proggy" song on the album due to its unique sound and distortion - it is simply a love song about a couple floating through space. A captivating song, it also adds a science fiction touch to the generally dry concept of love songs - which in turn makes it unique. The album returns to heavy metal with the closing track of side one, the iconic "Iron Man" (5/5). With one of the most recognizable riffs in rock, this song would ultimately be Sabbath's most commercially successful song, peaking at #52 on the Billboard Hot 100 despite receiving almost no radio airplay. A story about a time traveler who tries to warn Earth of an incoming apocalypse, but is ignored and ultimately brings forth the destruction that he saw in the future, it is one of the seminal pieces of rock history which cannot be understated in terms of musical genius and relevancy. Through and through so far, a great album - no flaws and impressive musicianship/subject matter.

In side two, you are greeted by the grimy riff of "Electric Funeral" (5/5), a song about the doom brought forth by nuclear war. With a heavier guitar tone, this is a great example of an inspiration to the doom and stoner metal genres. With ominous lyrics of destruction, this song goes well with videos of the Bikini Atoll Nuclear tests, or any other nuclear event. The dark lyrics continue with the following song "Hand of Doom" (5/5), this time about heroin-addicted returning Vietnam War veterans in England. With a quiet bass intro, this song shifts tempos very well. Considered by many to be the best and heaviest song on the album, and an underrated masterpiece, it is a favorite among fans of the band. Next up is the short instrumental piece "Rat Salad" (3/5), a drum showcase for Bill Ward and the precursor to a drum solo at live shows. The only real blemish on the album, it simply does not strike me as an interesting track, although there is nothing wrong with this drum-oriented track. The album finishes off with the solid "Fairies Wear Boots" (5/5), with its solid instrumental intro titled "Jack the Stripper". A song believed to be critical of the skinhead subculture, it has a great chorus and Iommi's guitar is on point as usual. A solid finisher to a great album.

There is no understating the importance of this album to heavy metal. It is an amazing album nonetheless - nearly perfect. Despite not being a true prog rock album, it has its moments (like the debut album) of progginess, and the themes of this album can certainly be described as "progressive" for the time. With multiple famous songs, this album is considered to be the band's best, and launched Black Sabbath into the mainstream. Ranked #131 on Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Albums of All Time list, it has garnered critical acclaim, save for the outlying critic or two. It would ultimately become the band's highest-selling album of all time. Black Sabbath would go in an even heavier direction following this album's release - and continue on their journey towards rock and roll immortality. A must-listen album for any rock fan, for it appeals to both the casual and the seasoned rock fan.

OVERALL: 4.75/5 (A+)

Report this review (#1649507)
Posted Saturday, November 26, 2016 | Review Permalink
The Crow
4 stars An essential album in rock music history!

But also not a perfect one, of course. For that the sound and production should be better, and the overall songwriting stronger. Don't get me wrong, there are true classics in here, but also a pair of fillers which not deserve the status or masterpieces.

Black Sabbath forgot a bit their blues-rock roots in this second release and they increased the importance and weight of the riffs, achieving this "heavy" and sound that together with albums like Deep Purple's In Rock would plant the seed of heavy metal.

War Pigs starts with sirens and heavy guitars, which introduce one hell of a riff and vocal melodies from Ozzy, who sings a critic and apocalyptic text with dark passion. The riffs salad towards the end of the song is just magnificent! Just like Paranoid, another milestone from this album despite its repetitiveness. Sadly Planet Caravan comes with its boring psychedelia, making a true setback, which vastly dismisses with Iron Man, maybe the best song in the whole record and with the riff in Black Sabbath's history. And there is a lot of riffs in Tommy Iommi's career!

Electric Funeral is together with the song Black Sabbath the birth of doom metal, mixed with some very heavy passages towards the end. It's also a pleasure to hear how the stoner rock was born with songs like Hand of Doom, despite being not so remarkable like other classics from this disc. Rat Salad is forgettable in my opinion, despite the grandiose Bill Ward's efforts on drums.

Fairies Wear Boots, like the previous track bring back the style of the debut album, constituting a solid ending for Paranoid.

Conclusion: Paranoid is one of the best albums from Black Sabbath. Is not my personal favorite, but I recognize the sheer importance of its heavy riffs, slow hard passages and accelerated rhythms in the creation of heavy metal, doom metal and stoner metal. It has three outstanding songs, three very good ones and two just passable. Excellent overall and maybe not so important for prog, but necessary to understand modern rock music.

Best Tracks: War Pigs, Paranoid, Iron Man, Electric Funeral, Hand of Doom.

My rating: ****

Report this review (#1744618)
Posted Wednesday, July 19, 2017 | Review Permalink
5 stars The Band Who Progressed Beyond Prog Rock: 9/10

Following BLACK SABBATH's unexpectedly revolutionary debut (but harshly criticized by contemporaneous critics), the band crew wanted to continue exploiting their mojo releasing yet another state-of-art unpredictably heavy album only a few months later, PARANOID. Consequentially to Paranoid released as a single, it became a monstrous hit, cementing decisively the directions of the newly founded heavy metal genre. Of course, they weren't the only ones to bring up bone-crushing riffs and occultist lyricism ' LUCIFER'S FRIEND proves my point ' but their success made them the most influential act and consequentially the forerunners of the genre.

Worthy of note among all musicians is the guitarist Tony Iommi. He will not go down in history as a virtuoso player or amazing soloist; instead, his merit lies on his riff craftsmanship, manufacturing simple but outstanding licks that would remain in popular culture for years to come. To quote Ozzy Osbourne, '...Tony Iommi turned out to be one of the greatest heavy rock riff-makers of all time. Whenever we went into the studio we'd challenge him to beat his last riff ' and he'd come up with something like 'Iron Man' and blow everyone away.'

PARANOID also inaugurated BLACK SABBATH's creative method that would stick: Iommi would compose the riffs, followed by Ozzy's melody implementation, Geezer (bassist) providing lyrics and Ward (drummer) structuring the rhythm.

Originally, the album was more a little more Satanic: War Pigs and its festival of doom was originally Walpurgis ' a reference to Satanists' 'Christmas' ' where Iommi wanted to express his concern over Satanists, 'these people who are running the banks and the world and trying to get the working class to fight the wars for them'. The band intended on making this track the title, but the record company perceived Paranoid's commercial potential (simple, hard rockin' riffs, how not?) and preferred it instead, a wise move. Electric Funeral, the nuclear apocalyptic omen, is an interesting track ' mostly lugubrious and prophetic, yet featuring an electric midsection jam. Rat Salad, apparently, had a 45-minutes-long drum solo' Ward just can't get enough of jammin'. Fairies Wear Boots tells the tale of Ozzy's terrible encounter with skinheads.

Planet Caravan is an astoundingly soothing and unfit track for the album's atmosphere, being a mixture of psychedelic and space rock that floats beyond conventions for the time ' distorted vocals, bongo playing and a jazzy guitar intersection ' and delves much further into the trippy portion than Pink Floyd ever had. Telling the tale of intelligent beings voyaging across the universe, they eventually glance upon Earth, 'the crimson eye / of great god Mars', a beautiful metaphor for humankind's incessant warmongering nature.

PARANOID is a musical milestone in every angle visible. Its subversive approach to music ruptured with the epoch's 'lightheartedness paradigm', giving prominence to heavier sonorities and themes unlike anything ever before. Not only this, but it also defied the ascending contemporaneous trend, progressive rock, being its opposite in many ways: sepulchral rather than theatrical; succinct rather than complex; conventional rather than purposely eccentric.

I urge anyone who didn't experiment PARANOID to do so as soon as humanly possible: not only it is a great heavy metal album, it is one of the foundational (great) heavy metal albums. In a certain way, you'd have to thank BLACK SABBATH whenever you listened to a metal band like, say, OPETH; well, thank them by listening to their magnum opus. I'm sure Iommi will be happy to know you're woke about the Satanists' true nature.

Report this review (#1765748)
Posted Monday, July 24, 2017 | Review Permalink

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