Black Sabbath are still one of the most inspirational metal bands ever. Some of the most well known metal acts and up and coming rock bands all cite them as an influence. When you listen to their second album it’s easy to understand why. Paranoid is a classic full of fantastic songs that sound like nothing else that was out at the time. Not only does it have their most well known songs, it also has tracks that are innovative and creative to this day.
The album begins with the epic and massive track “War Pigs.” It starts out slow and trudging as a siren wails in the background, as if warning the listener of what’s about to go down. It then picks up the pace with a seemingly simple riff that grows more intricate as the song goes on. It’s the guitar that really makes this song because it keeps shaping into something different throughout the track. At times it speeds up, other times it plays at a slow pace. It’s one of the things that makes the song so great. Also, with the dynamic guitar playing and the dark lyrics it is a haunting song. There are references to war, napalm, dead bodies and of course the Devil. It seems to be an anti-war song of massive proportions. Truly, an epic way to being the album.
From there on there is not a single song that will disappoint. From the energetic and dark “Paranoid” to the wild and unchained instrumental “Rat Salad” every song is awesome. They’re filled with great music, intense lyrics and great vocals from the man himself. Of course the kick ass “Iron Man” is found here. It has a lethargic drum beat that opens the song followed by a low, groaning riff that sounds like it’s from the bowels of Hell. It then launches into one of the most recognizable riffs of all time. It’s a heavy, dark song that talks about a time traveler who gets to the future and sees the apocalypse. That means it is NOT about the Marvel character Iron Man. Anyway, this song has some awesome dark lyrics like “Vengeance from the grave/kills the people he once saved.” It’s a classic that still rocks hard today.
One song that stands out from the others is the soft “Planet Caravan.” It’s a really mellow song that has warped vocals that sound like they’re being dunked in water. The effect is so amazing it doesn’t even sound like Ozzy singing. Unlike the other songs on the album, which are heavy, intense and dark, this one has a psychedelic feel with bongos playing and a beautiful guitar riff that has a Latin flavor. It’s really something you can unwind to and get lost in. It’s an amazing song that shows another side of Black Sabbath.
The guitar work on all of the songs is amazing. The way it can switch styles in the middle of a song or play to dizzying heights will take your breath away. Also, the way some of the riffs can strike fear in you or relax you is awesome. It takes a truly amazing player to be able to pull it off. It’s really hard to describe in words. It’s something that has to be heard in order to understand how epic it really is. But the drums are also impressive. They really shine in the track “Rat Salad.” They pound viciously away for an insane solo that you never want to end.
The album itself is pretty dark dealing with some unpleasant themes. I already mentioned how “War Pigs” references several images to war, plus it’s in the name. There are also references to drugs, hallucinations, and the end of the world as well. The songs “Hand of Doom” and “Fairies Wear Boots” deal with drug abuse and the consequences of said drugs. “Electric Funeral” has some gruesome imagery that seems to map out the end of the world. It mentions radiation, eyes turning to blood, fire and death. It’s a great song that has some really gruesome imagery.
Another thing that’s so amazing about this album are the vocals. Here you can really hear how Ozzy was an amazing singer. It may be hard to believe he has a talent for singing because we’re so used to him slurring his way through everything. He has a really haunting quality to his voice that can add a creepy edge to the songs. They particularly stand out on “Hand of Doom.” He switches between hushed, low vocals and high, wailing ones. They’re really great and proves that he was the best Black Sabbath singer.
Overall, the album gets 10/10. All of the songs are fantastic with epic guitar riffs, bombastic drumming, and haunting vocals. It’s a dark album filled with gruesome images of war, death, drugs, blood, and decay. But they also show how talented they are with mellow, soft songs. It’s a classic that manages to stand the test of time. I don’t know if it’s their best release ever, but it comes pretty damn close. It’s music like this that makes Black Sabbath one of the best metal bands ever.