Black Sabbath – Paranoid
Paranoid is the second and most commercially renowned entry in the Black Sabbath discography. As with the first album, an entire review could be written on the history of the album, how it was recorded, and how that affected metal as a whole. For now, let’s take a moment to check the release year and comment that “Wow, that’s the same year as the debut.” Yes observant listeners, just four short months after the release of their landmark debut, Sabbath reentered the studio to put another album to record.
The haunting sense of doom and forboding that was present on the debut is less emphasised on Paranoid. In fact, it might be said that where the debut created a sense of fearful anticipation, the atmosphere of the second album was the arrival of that deep horror. On a level of sheer heaviness, Paranoid blows the debut clearly out of the water. All one needs is one listen through “Electric Funeral” to know that this is every bit as heavy as the debut was haunting. Paranoid also introduces several quintessential metal classics like “War Pigs”, “Iron Man”, and the title track, “Paranoid”.
It’s a strange revelation to many metalheads, but at the dawn of the genre, metal was fairly inseperable from its psychedelic elements as well. There are hints of this in “War Pigs”, but they are on full display with “Planet Caravan”, and quite present in “Faries Wear Boots”, which along with the title track likely takes note of Deep Purple’s In Rock record that was released while this album was being written, and introducing speed elements into metal. “Rat Salat” is a great opportunity for Bill Ward to display his drumming talents, and then there is “Hand of Doom”.
I save mentioning this track until the end because it occupies such a unique place in the discography. When talking to doom metal fanatics (which is perhaps the subgenre that owes the strongest influence to these early Sabbath albums) there tends to be two prevelant theories as to whether the idea of doom metal started with the title track of the first album, or if it is the third album, Master Of Reality, that got the ball rolling. “Hand of Doom” is the bridge between the hints of the first album and the full blown sludgestorm that was to come a few months after. Not only that, I think it actually has a lot more to do with some elements of modern doom metal than either, as it rapidly flings between subdued, subtle passages, and violently foreboding outcries from Ozzy. It is a characteristic not uncommon to early Sabbath, but more obvious here, that the band coudn’t possibly care less about standard song structure either. I’d like to make some token comment about how this track perhap embodies Paranoid the best, but realistically, every one of the 8 songs on this record is absolutely essential, and this album absolutely cannot be done without.
Dagg’s Rating: 5 out of 5