The discovery of a new band is always exciting. Will it be something you’ve heard countless times? An experience that leaves a bad taste in your mouth? Or is it a treat from which you cannot stop consuming? I wanted to take a trip back in time to reminisce about bands/albums that not only introduced me to heavy music, but kept me coming back for more…
From The Archive: Black Sabbath – Paranoid
In regards to the recent news of legendary metal band Black Sabbath reuniting with plans of a world tour as well as writing a new album, I figured now would be the perfect time to reflect on one of their most popular albums, Paranoid. Just a quick note, I’m in no way going to debate the pros and cons of the Ozzy era or the Dio era of Black Sabbath, because when you get down to it, both are different entities of the same band and each have had their highs and lows. Anyway, the reason I’m choosing to discuss Paranoid and neither their debut album or Master of Reality (both of them classics), is because Paranoid was my introduction to Black Sabbath…
I was just a kid when I first heard Paranoid and even before my inevitable love for heavy music began, this album proved to be my first taste of it. More so in the fact that even though I listened to Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, and the like even before hearing Black Sabbath, this was the first album that I found myself humming hours later after listening to it. You might be wondering why a kid like me is listening to metal/rock music at such a young age, why don’t his parents do something? Well, the funny thing is, it was my mother who got me into Black Sabbath. Whereas my brother definitely spring boarded me into hardcore, punk, 80’s and 90’s metal, my mom, being a big fan of Black Sabbath and getting to see them in their prime, always had their albums on constant rotation when driving around, and Paranoid was always the album of choice. So as a young kid, I must have heard this album countless times, and with each listen, I began to enjoy it more.
Paranoid still heavily featured the doom metal sound that they had already perfected on their debut, which is used to great effect on tracks like “War Pigs”, “Electric Funeral” 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. I believe Paranoid deserves any and all acclaim that it receives. While the album does feature three of Sabbath’s most enduring and popular hits; “War Pigs”, “Paranoid”, and “Iron Man”, making the album well known among your average listener, it’s the rest of the songs that I think gave Paranoid its lasting power. Everyone and their mother (see what I did there) knows that those three songs are classic Sabbath tunes and will never lose there appeal, but to only listen to them and not the rest of the album is just not cool.
Take “Electric Funeral” for example, with Tony Iommi’s whining riff that starts the song off with a creepy tone, which only increases when combined with Osbourne’s vocals. It’s a haunting tune that slowly progresses overtime, as the nuclear warfare themed lyrics add to the songs atmosphere. Iommi’s riffs are much lower than normal and the snare and cymbals provided by drummer Bill Ward, create a nice balance of high and low notes in the song. The chorus is intense as a combination of high shrieking riffs, Ozzy yelling, cymbals crashing, and the chant of “Electric Funeral” comes in and overpowers everything! Such a great song, and it remains to this day, one of my favorite Sabbath tunes.
Black Sabbath – “Electric Funeral”
“Hand of Doom” follows in the same footsteps of “Electric Funeral”, being more slow in tempo and calm to the ear at the beginning. It is actually a very doom oriented song and covers the topic of drug abuse, as the flow of this song bounces back and forth between the slow and fast tempo proving to be quite fitting for the theme. “Rat Salad” is an interesting bluesy and modern rock instrumental, showcasing the abilities of both Iommi and Bill Ward. The track is a nice breather and is the perfect segue way into “Faeries Wear Boots”, which also has a bluesy tone to it while providing the doom oriented feel that is prominent in both “Electric Funeral” and “Hand of Doom”. With plenty of great soloing and riffing throughout,this track brings the album to a fitting close.
It’s quite astounding that it took Black Sabbath less than a year to release Paranoid after their debut, seeing as how the album shows no sign of weak points or being rushed. The quality of musicianship and production of the album makes it seem as though the album took years to write. Tony Iommi further defined his lead playing style, Geezer Butler and Bill Ward proved themselves to be the best rhythm section in heavy music, and Ozzy defined his legendary status as metal vocalist. Granted he never compared to the likes of Bruce Dickinson, King Diamond, Rob Halford or Dio, in terms of range, Ozzy’s voice is easily distinguishable and always fit the music like a glove.
Paranoid is an essential metal album, as is most of Black Sabbath’s discography, and I’m not even going to tell people to check it out, as I’m sure most who are into metal and rock have already heard it. This is the album that broke Sabbath to a worldwide audience, and saw their career taking off. All I can I say is, when you get a free moment, do yourself a favor and put this album on, then sit back, relax and enjoy one of metals greatest albums.
Black Sabbath – “Hand of Doom”