On September 18, 1970, "Black Sabbath" released their second album, "Paranoid".
We have written quite a bit about the year 1970 and the reason why we believe it should be crowned as the year in which the "Heavy Metal" genre was born. Well, "Paranoid" is one of the masterpieces released in that historic and hysterical year. It is one of the stable foundations on which "Heavy Metal" is based on and probably also one of the most important and influential in the genre.
Four months after the release of their debut album "Black Sabbath", the band enters the studio, to maintain the momentum and relative success gained with the debut album, and in just 6 days manage to produce one of the most influential albums in Heavy Metal.
It is just unbelievable, but the band entered the studio with the material they wrote during the tour, and even before they had enough songs for an entire album, with most of the material played and recorded live, in the studio.
It is not at all perceived that the theme song "Paranoid", which is considered one of the best Heavy Metal songs of all time, was written in the studio within 25 minutes !!! Drummer Bill Ward noted in an interview with him from 1996 that they did not have enough songs for the album, so Tony Iommi played some short guitar riff and that's it. Bassist Geezer Butler added that the music was written within 5 minutes and that immediately afterward he sat down and wrote the lyrics within 20 minutes, with the entire creation and recording process done within two hours. The short and monotonous song with the recursive pattern riff created new standards in music and became one of the songs influencing the heavy metal genre. The song won several cover versions including one from "Megadeth" on the 1995 album "Hidden Treasures".
The example described above illustrates the greatness of "Black Sabbath" in those years. Before drugs and alcohol began to crumble from within, before the legal battle that accompanied the recording of "Sabotage", this amazing band managed to produce a sequence of five masterpieces albums within 3 years !!
It's hard to imagine the metal world without "Black Sabbath" and you really can't imagine "Black Sabbath" without "Paranoid", the album in which the band formulated its style, polished the sound that characterized it, and shaped its DNA.
The opening track "War Pigs" is one of the band's biggest. Each of the members is here at his peak. The dominant and leading bass of Geezer Butler, the heavy and formidable riffs of Tony Iommi and his amazing solo, the varied drumming of Bill Ward who knows when to be aggressive and when to take a little back with small and beautiful transitions, and smart Hi-Hat work and of course Ozzy Osbourne's incredible singing. It is an anti-war song that goes out against the ministers of the army, the generals, and the politicians who send the soldiers to their deaths in battle. Bassist Geezer Butler, who wrote the lyrics in which he graphically describes the horrors of the battlefield, said it was a protest song against the Vietnam War, but singer Ozzy Osbourne noted that at the time they had no idea what happened in Vietnam and that it was simply an anti-war song. The song was originally called "Walpurgis", which Geezer described as a satanic Christmas ceremony, but the record company thought the name was "satanic" so the name was changed to "War Pigs". It was supposed to be the name of the album as well, but the same record company decided to change it at the last minute to "Paranoid". The song, which lasts about 8 minutes, is divided in the American version of the album in two, with the entire instrumental section being named "Luke's Wall". To illustrate how much this song and album influenced future generations, we will mention the excellent cover version of "Faith No More" from the album "The Real Thing" to the song.
The third track "Planet Caravan" is a distinctly psychedelic rock piece. A floating acid-trip song. Geezer's lazy bass sounds and Ward's Congas drumming serve as fertile ground for Ozzy Osbourne's "pothead" vocals transmitted through the Leslie amplifier to create the trippy and shaky effect. The lyrics of the song tell of a pair of lovers floating around for their enjoyment in the universe. Tony Iommi plays the flute and the technician Tom Allom plays the piano. In this case, too, it is interesting to mention the impact on future generations, which is reflected, among other things, in the cover version of "Pantera" from their album "Far Beyond Driven".
The first side of the vinyl ends with no less than an anthem, and we're talking about "Iron Man" with the iconic and immortal riff that has become so identified with the band. This riff is also the one that brought the song its name and content. It sounded to Ozzy Osbourne like a slow-moving iron man, which is what led Geezer to come up with the idea for the lyrics of a song, that talks about a person who travels in time and the future see the "end of the world." He decides to return to the present to warn humans of the approaching end, but is imprisoned in a magnetic field that turns his body into iron. When he finally reaches the present he seems to people so distorted and strange that they refuse to believe his story. In his anger, he kills all those unbelievers and thus brings "the end of the world". The song entered quite a few soundtracks of movies and series, including the first and second Marvel films in the "Iron Man" series.
The other side of the vinyl opens with "Electric Funeral" a song that is a kind of sequel to the previous song and talks about "The End of the World" from a slightly different angle, of a nuclear holocaust. The song starts slow and psychedelic with a monotonous riff reinforced by Iommi's wah-wah effect, but later develops into a fast and edgy jam session with excellent bass and drum work by Geezer and Ward, only to return to Iommi's slow and mesmerizing riff Which accompanies us until the end of the song in a Fade Out. This song also won a cover version of "Pantera".
The lyrics to the song "Hand of Doom" were written by Butler after watching American soldiers arrive in England from the Vietnam War, addicted to hard drugs aimed to make them forget the horror sights of the war. The song sounds just like a hybrid of two seemingly unrelated pieces of music, which were glued together. It opens quietly and slowly with Butler's heavy and "tired" bass and Ward's minimalist drumming, but after a verse, it bursts out with a noisy second verse and continues in this quiet-noisy pattern until 2:06 when a riff enters and a completely different rhythm changes everything, as if a whole new song starts, but the ending starts from 5:00 minutes closes the circle for us with the same melody that opened the track. This song to has won several cover versions, including "Slayer", "Danzig" and "HIM".
(Photo: Warner Bros. Records)
The "Rat Salad" track is a short instrumental section led mainly by Bill Ward's drum solo from 1:20, but it has an interesting riff by Tony Iommi and a notable bass work by Geezer Butler. This piece started to crystallize in the band's early performances, when they did not have enough material and they had to fill long performances, sometimes of a few hours, some of which Ward filled with a long drum solo.
The album ends with the timeless "Fairies Wear Boots", whose intro was named "Jack the Stripper" in the US prints of the album. The idea behind the lyrics is unclear, but one version says it is talking about "skinheads" who called Ozzy "fairy", because of his looks and long hair. Even in this case, the song won quite a few cover versions, including "Floatsam and Jetsam" from which Jason Newsted came from. Listen to Iommi's guitar line starting at 5:41 of the song, it will surely remind you of the one that starts at 1:17 on Metallica's song "For Whom the Bell Tolls", of the album "Ride The Lightning".
The album "Paranoid" remains to this day as one of the band's most commercially successful. Located on Rolling Stone Magazine's 500 Greatest Albums of All Time, Guitar World Magazine's Top 100 Guitar Albums of All Time, It is without a doubt one of the most influential albums of Metal. Not for nothing did critic Steve Huey from "AllMusic" wrote about it: "Paranoid defined the sound and style of heavy metal more than any other record in rock history".