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Black Sabbath - Paranoid CD (album) cover


Black Sabbath


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4.30 | 899 ratings

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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+)

ProgMirage1974 | 5/5 |


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