Review Summary: A genre-defining album, this release is absolute perfection right from the word "go".
The influence of legendary British act Black Sabbath has been felt everywhere in the music community since their seminal debut album was released more than forty years ago. Much like a shockwave, the band initially exploded when they stormed onto the scene, before their music rippled outward, inspiring countless rock, blues and metal musicians as well as being sampled on famous hip hop musician Eminem's Recovery album. Where this band hit their peak is frequently debated, with many of their early works being considered candidates, but Paranoid is most often championed as the best of the bunch.
This album changed music forever. From the infectious grooves of the title track to Ozzy Osborne's demented chants on opening classic War Pigs, everything about this album is completely memorable and absolutely fantastic. This goes without mentioning the incredible guitar lines to Electric Funeral and the timeless masterpiece that is Iron Man, alongside every other track on here. This release is comprised of eight songs, and not one of them is anything short of the stuff of legend. From the opening of War Pigs through to the thrilling guitar climax to six minute closer Fairies Wear Boots, Black Sabbath crafted an album that is guaranteed to have you hooked for its entire duration.
This album is both very catchy and the marvelously crafted riffs give it an exceedingly heavy edge to it. The aforementioned Iron Man is one of the best examples of this, boasting a riff set that will remain rooted firmly in the minds of the listeners forever. Tony Iommi has a knack for writing guitar lines that are heavy enough to crush bricks to dust whilst retaining a strong sense of melody. His guitar solos are also not lacking any punch, revolving mainly around blues influenced scales. He dances up and down the fret board with charisma and energy from cover to cover, making this album a must listen straight away. However, the other members of the band still somehow manage to shine as well, with Rat Salad having a particularly impressive piece of drumming in it and Planet Caravan showcasing some of the best bass work out there.
Of course, no album would be complete without a cracking vocal performance, and Ozzy more than delivers on Paranoid. He shouts and wails his way through each of these tracks, with his out-of-key singing somewhat sounding at home on such a ground breaking album. The lyrical content here is also absolutely vital to its success, with War Pigs dealing with the hypocrisy of politicians whilst fantasy topics are also covered on tracks like Iron Man. However, the real pinnacle of this album comes on the title track, which opens with a riff that can be heard time and time again without ever threatening to become dull. This song is one of the shorter tracks on the album, and it makes great use of this sub-five minute time with some really awesome vocal work from Ozzy complimenting an out-of-this-world instrumental performance perfectly.
Paranoid is, to put it simply, the perfect album. This blends elements of rock and blues and, of course, the metal genre that Sabbath themselves created to make for one of the most interesting listens of all time. Not one of these tracks dips in quality, with the first four songs in particular remaining among the best known songs in their genre to this day.