This is Black Sabbath’s second, and most popular, album. Paranoid is always mentioned as Sabbath’s masterpiece and is considered ‘the’ album that made heavy metal a musical genre. When you ask an informed listener what should be your first purchase when starting a heavy metal library they will usually mention this album.
Taking what they did on their debut release, tightening it up by reducing the length of each song, and putting breaks between each track, Sabbath gave you the feeling that this album was the structured version of their freestyle debut. Although some of the songs were longer than the four minute mark that radio likes, the singles released off this album were still short enough to get air play. “War Pigs,” “Paranoid” and “Iron Man” were all given airplay where it counted, that is, in their homeland of the UK. These three songs, because of that, are the most recognized songs by the band.
Because it took a while for the US to catch up to Sabbath’s first album, Paranoid wasn’t released until early ’71 in the States. None of the albums songs did as well as they did in the UK but since Warner released “Paranoid” and “Iron Man” as singles more than a year apart, the album stayed on the charts a lengthy period of time (close to 2 years) and sold four million copies.
Black Sabbath put forth some eerie and just plain spooky, imagery with the lyrics to these songs. One of the first bands to take people’s fear of the future through advancements in technology, “Iron Man” was the first sci-fi song I heard in heavy rock. Describing a man who time travels to save the world from disaster only to come back and begin to exterminate those he was trying to save, “Iron Man” was a tour de force in metal history.
“War Pigs” was a brutal song, describing the apocalypse brought on by politician’s love for war. War and the apocalypse became two universal themes in heavy metal because of this song. “Number of the Beast” and “Disposable Heroes” would be two good examples. Drug use is another theme in rock music and Sabbath added to it with songs like “Hand of Doom” and “Fairies Wear Boots.”
I have always enjoyed albums that feel more like a whole than albums that don’t. Paranoid, when compared to the band’s first album, does not feel as intimate. It feels more like a singles album rather than fluid journey through 40 minutes of uninterrupted music. For that reason, I think Black Sabbath (their first album) is better and is their best album overall.
But for its recognized songs, and what it did for Black Sabbath and heavy metal as a whole, Paranoid will always be considered the most influential album by the band and its most loved by a majority of their fans.
Deep Purple, Ozzy Osbourne, Kiss, Dio, Rainbow, Savatage, Led Zeppelin, Rush, Frank Zappa, Blue Oyster Cult, Scorpions
- Yell! Rating (x/5 Skulls):
- Black Sabbath
- Year Released:
- Sep 18, 1970
- Warner Bros.
- Official URL:
- Black Sabbath