“Paranoid” is not only Black Sabbath’s most popular and breakthrough album, it is also arguably the best heavy metal album of all time. Saying that it’s the best metal of all time should be enough to persuade you to buy it, but if you’re still not convinced, read the rest of this review.
Black Sabbath debuted in 1970, so they’re probably one of the only bands you listen to that you’re parents/teachers have heard of, can tolerate, and maybe even grew up listening to. Black Sabbath also saw the beginning of a guy named Ozzy Osbourne. Ozzy would be fired from the band later in the 1970’s, but he formed his own band, which was equally as successful. Plus, the work he did with BS earned him the title of “heavy metal’s godfather.”
Black Sabbath are, to me, the epitome of heavy metal, since (probably) at least 90% of modern metal bands were somehow influenced by them. Granted, Led Zeppelin were probably the band to give birth to heavy metal, but Sabbath are just as responsible for most bands (from Pantera to Slipknot to Eyehategod). And “Paranoid,” an album which featured five very famous songs, was pretty much as heavy as heavy music got in the 1970’s, and was also the beginning of a type of metal known as “doom metal.” Doom metal is slow and melancholy and has dark and sludgy riffs. Bands like My Dying Bride and Crowbar wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for Ozzy and the gang. Tony isn’t as good as Randy Rhodes, the guitarist in Ozzy’s solo band, but he still is pretty great. Plus, he is even more of a legend when you consider Randy Rhodes probably wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for Tony.
“Paranoid” is plenty old (now), so it’s sound quality has definitely taken a dip. Other than that, however, it has aged very well. It is still getting radio play and bands are still being influenced by it. Even if Black Sabbath broke up, their legend lives on through other bands. Thus, if I’ve ever heard an album that has withstood the test of time, this is it.
“War Pigs” follows the classic Black Sabbath song structure (soft-loud-soft-loud). It begins with a few guitar riffs and a drum beat, before turning to “dun dun” riffs, with a high hat crashing in between them. Ozzy then starts to sing about witchcraft and war, Bob does some good hand drum work and Tony plays slowly cascading riffs. A wailing guitar solo is included, and the tempo speeds up, but the song ends soon thereafter.
“Paranoid” might be the catchiest song the album. It’s very fast paced with groovy guitars (which chug in the verses), has good vocal hooks and a short but sweet solo is tossed in at the end.
“Planet Caravan” is very spacey and mellow, due to the almost aquatic guitar chords, dreary vocals, and soft hand percussion (which almost sound like tribal drums). This song is partially famous because Pantera covered it, and even though they did a pretty good job, there’s nothing like the original version.
“Iron Man” opens with a few thumping drums, then a world famous and very catchy guitar riff. The first four words are spoken with a robotic voice, and then the music changes to echo the vocals and lyrics. There’s some more good, driving drumming here, but I think this guitar solo is the best on the album.
“Rat Salad” is an instrumental, and Bill’s drum work makes it famous. It begins with almost machine gun snare drumming and fast pounding floor toms, and there’s a great drum solo around the 1:15 mark. This everything but the kitchen sink solo lasts for about 50 seconds.
“Paranoid” is nothing short of a classic. It is absolutely essential listening, and a cornerstone of any heavy metal collection. Buy this album or forever be un-metal Plus, since heavy metal is an important part of rock’s history, “Paranoid” is a must own for any complete rock collection.. And even if metal isn’t your thing, at least give Ozzy, Tony, Terence, and Bob credit for being the influential godfathers of metal, and for making one of the most important albums of all time.