Thursday, November 20, 2014

Throwback Thursday: Paranoid, by Black Sabbath

In September of 1970, one of the most influential albums in the history of heavy metal was released out into the world. From here on out many bands would try to copy the riffs and general style of its dark, doom-ish, heavy music because in a way a template was put into place. The bar was raised and now a new standard existed. This album was Paranoid, by heavy metal fathers Black Sabbath. This would be their second album and would act as a near immediate follow-up to their successful debut release Black Sabbath.

Paranoid topped the UK charts for multiple weeks. It featured quite a few of Black Sabbath's most notable songs such as: Paranoid, Iron Man, War Pigs, etc. I personally don't know a single heavy metal guitarist who at some point or another has not at least attempted to cover one of these songs. Paranoid is probably one of the most covered heavy metal songs of all time from my experience. However, this is for good reason. At that point in time, there had never been music so loud, heavy, dark, thunderous, howling, etc.

Paranoid was originally not going to be on the album. The only reason it exists is because they needed to fill in a three minute gap in the record. That being said, in about half an hour they came up with one of the most memorable songs in rock history. The opening riff is pretty iconic. A couple of held out chords filled in with a simple lick and then the whole band comes in with a chugging rhythm that almost seems like a freight train. Surprisingly for as catchy as a song as Paranoid is, there is no chorus. Just a few verses and a couple interludes. The album would later be renamed after the song because the record company felt that the original title War Pigs would be too offensive. The funniest part about this whole song is that while recording his vocals, Ozzy Osbourne was reading the lyrics right off of the sheet!

Hand of Doom is one of my personal favorites from Paranoid. Geezer Butler's bass line has such a fantastic relaxed groove to it throughout the intro and the majority of the verses until the dynamics of the song kick up a few notches. The rest of the tune has a real swing rhythm (proving drummer Bill Ward's versatility) to it and features many of guitarist Tony Iommi's jazzy dark guitar solos. The lyrics as written by Butler discuss U.S. soldiers arriving in Britain at the time the record was being put together. These soldiers were arriving from the Vietnam War and were doing many hard drugs in order to forget or deal with all of the horrors and atrocities they had faced during their time there. The music does quite well to fit the subject matter, to be honest.

Often copied but never duplicated, Paranoid to this day is one of the greatest heavy metal albums ever put to tape. Many well known bands and artists cite this album as the reason for getting into music and heavy metal in the first place. Can you imagine what it would be like if there was a world with no Iron Man in it? I shudder at the thought of that too. Let us never entertain such a horrid notion ever again. However, I digress. There isn't a single bad or filler track (not even the title track) on Paranoid. Every track in some way or another serves a purpose; even the chill jazzy tune Planet Caravan that seems to throw many people off when they listen to the album. If you haven't already, go out and buy the record. What are you waiting for?!

Paranoid, by Black Sabbath receives 5 out of 5 stars.

Track List:

1. War Pigs
2. Paranoid
3. Planet Caravan
4. Iron Man
5. Electric Funeral
6. Hand of Doom
7. Rat Salad
8. Fairies Wear Boots

Buy the album on Amazon:

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