Friday, February 17, 2012

Black Sabbath - Paranoid (1970)

Sometimes, a band transcends the genre that they helped to create, standing on a pedestal above the rest. For any follower of metal music, young or old, Black Sabbath is and will always be atop that pedestal. And no album will ever be as revered, as universally respected, as their sophomore release, "Paranoid." Containing some of the most iconic tracks ever written, this album defines what metal is. After all, the modern metal acts wouldn't even exist if it were not for this dark four piece.

For an amateur such as myself, it is often hard to find the words to describe things that are wholly above me. From the first drop of the needle onto that fresh vinyl album, you have every characteristic of music that would be considered "evil". "War Pigs" was the perfect beginning to a perfect album. From Tony Iommi's rich, original riffs to Ozzy Osbourne's signature vocal style, every piece is locked together in a perfect mix. The rhythm section of Geezer Butler, who is also the lyrical wordsmith, and Bill Ward can not be shaken. The title track, arguably one of the most recognizable songs written to date, is an anthem for all true metalheads. There are no tracks that surpass it, no song to challenge it as THE classic metal tune. The guitar lead is as beautifully crafted as any has ever been.

The underrated "Planet Caravan" finds itself sandwiched between a legendary track, and one that you would be hard pressed to find ears that hadn't heard it. "Iron Man" transcends the band, the genre, and music itself. From the comics, to the feature film, the song has been broadcast to the masses, metal fan and hater alike. The B-side of the album, otherwise known as the second half, is chock full of gems that may have been lost in the shuffle of greatness. From the screeching of the aptly titled "Electric Funeral," to the ominous "Hand Of Doom," there is not one ounce of filler. Every note, every skillfully prepared harmony has a purpose. Even the closing track, "Fairies Wear Boots," has its own place among metal lore.

It is certainly a challenge to put into words the impact that a single album has had on my own musical path, let alone the world. "Paranoid" has inspired so many people, young and old, male and female, black and white. On eight tracks, and a mere 42 minutes, one band changed the face of music for generations to come. Those men, Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler, Bill Ward, and Ozzy Osbourne, are true Gods among men. Every time you listen to a new album, know one thing: those riffs, those drums, those vocals would never have been possible without Black Sabbath.


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