Black Sabbath’s second album is “monolithic and primally powerful,” AMG “heavier than seven lead elephants [and] metaller than a fork factory.” VB It was the group’s most successful record and “stands as one of the greatest and most influential heavy metal albums of all time.” AMG “Paranoid refined Black Sabbath’s signature sound – crushingly loud, minor-key dirges loosely based on heavy blues-rock – and applied it to a newly consistent set of songs with utterly memorable riffs, most of which now rank as all-time metal classics.” AMG The album “perfectly captured the rage, confusion and, yes, paranoia of the Vietnam era.” GW “Nearly every heavy-metal and extreme rock band of the last three decades…owes [it] a debt of worship.” RS It “set the standard against which all heavy music would forever be judged.” GW Quite simply, “Paranoid defined the sound and style of heavy metal more than any other record in rock history.” AMG
When the album was released, “the world was convinced that these working class chums from Birmingham, England (originally called the Polka Tulk Blues Band) were either satanists or an incredible facsimile.” TL Frontman Ozzy Osbourne’s biting-the-heads-off-bats incident didn’t come until he’d embarked on a solo career, but he had people nervous with his “declaration that he had sat through The Exorcist a gazillion times.” TL
Mostly, though, the band owed its infamous reputation to their creation of “a primal howl of fear and loathing” GW via “Tony Iommi’s crushing, granite-fuzz guitar chords, the Visigoth rhythm machine of Bill Ward and Geezer Butler’s” RS “massive bass riffs,” TL and Ozzy’s “agonized bray.” RS When he “screams, he sounds like he wants to drag you down to the bottom of the ocean and eat your brain.” VB
“The anxieties behind the music simply demanded that the band achieve catharsis by steamrolling everything in its path.” AMG “Iommi’s stump-fingered leads and down-tuned riffs provided the perfect platform for songs about war-mongering generals, boots-wearing skinheads and nuclear fallout.” GW Throughout the album “the subject matter is unrelentingly, obsessively dark, covering both supernatural/sci-fi horrors and the real-life traumas of death, war, nuclear annihilation, mental illness, drug hallucinations, and narcotic abuse. Yet Sabbath makes it totally convincing, thanks to the crawling, muddled bleakness and bad-trip depression evoked so frighteningly well by their music.” AMG
“Where the extended, multi-sectioned songs on the debut sometimes felt like aimless jams, their counterparts on Paranoid have been given focus and direction, lending an epic drama to now-standards like” AMG the “apocalyptic songs…War Pigs and Iron Man which are no less great for being totally incomprehensible.” TL The latter “sports one of the most immediately identifiable riffs in metal history” AMG and found a whole new audience as the title song for 2008’s super-hero movie, Iron Man, starring Robert Downey, Jr.
That song and the album’s title track even “scraped the U.S. charts despite virtually nonexistent radio play” AMG in an era “when it was far more fashionable to sing gentle acoustic songs about ‘getting back to the garden.’” GW The title cut, “a three-chord classic dashed off as last-minute album filler,” GW isn’t only a heavy-metal classic, but “presaged the coming of punk rock.” GW