Black Sabbath - Paranoid - Complete Album Review

JohnJ By JohnJ, 9th Feb 2014 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL
Posted in Wikinut>Reviews>Music>Hard Rock & Metal

Black Sabbath released Paranoid shortly after their very first self titled album debut. I will be reviewing the album in it's entirety, going through each separate track to find out exactly why this is marked as one of Black Sabbath's greatest works.

Album Overview & Track 1: War Pigs

Release date: 18 September 1970

Composed by: Tony Iommi, Ozzy Osbourne, Geezer Butler, Bill Ward

From the very first second of the album, War Pigs brings you a grinding high pitch riff, something which all rockers will quickly take a liking upon. Ozzy's vocals are clean and sharp, Bill Ward showcases his drumming skills well, and of course, Tony Iommi's riffs and solos are brilliant from first second to last. Geezer Butler, bassist and lyricist for Black Sabbath, contended that War Pigs was originally supposed to be entitled 'Walpurgis', which Butler explained was "sort of like Christmas for Satanists. And to me, war was the big Satan". Geezer also explains that the track, which deals with many issues of war, wasn’t directly to do with "politics or government or anything. It was about evil". Butler also explained that "when we brought it to the record company, they thought 'Walpurgis' sounded too Satanic. And that’s when we turned it into ‘War Pigs.’ But we didn’t change the lyrics, because they were already finished."

War Pigs is simply a classic Sabbath song. You can't go wrong with it. It grew quickly on me, with deep lyrics and a ridiculously catch chorus riff. It's an amazing start to the album.

Track 2: Paranoid

Full out rocker track. It has you headbanging from the start to end with it's considerably fast paced rhythm. Ozzy's vocals, whilst at first seeming more cheery then your average doomy sounding Sabbath track, still bring the listener into the sense of impending doom as the track goes on. Interestingly, Paranoid was originally created as simply a filler for the album, as Geezer Butler said, A lot of the "Paranoid" album was written around the time of our first album,"Black Sabbath". We recorded the whole thing in about 2 or 3 days, live in the studio. The song "Paranoid" was written as an afterthought. We basically needed a 3 minute filler for the album, and Tony came up with the riff. I quickly did the lyrics, and Ozzy was reading them as he was singing." Ironically, It became one of the most iconic Sabbath tracks and the title for the entire album. The lyrics themselves focus on the themes of paranoia, with the fast paced rythm adding to the feeling of uncertainty and confusion amongst the story being portrayed. Interestingly, the band had originally wanted to name the album 'War Pigs', however the record company they were signed on to convinced them to go with the less offensive choice of 'Paranoid'. All in all, Paranoid is simply a classic Sabbath song, and one of the focal points on the album.

Track 3: Planet Caravan

Planet Caravan seemingly seems to be Sabbath's more experimental track. At first I was unsure what to think of the track. The only thing I could think of was how different it was to Sabbath's other material. Slowly, but absolutely surely, the track grew on me. It's hugely atmospheric mood, with Ozzy's vibrato effects on his vocals. It's a great psychedelic rock track. Tony Iommi's guitar work is very melodic and slow, however effective in adding to the mood. The drums particularly add to the psychedelic sound of the track. Geezer Butler has commented regarding Planet Caravan that the lyrics represent a story of floating through the universe with a lover. This particular track may not be for everyone, however you are sure to really appreciate the change of tone and rhythm that the band try out.

Track 4: Iron Man

Grinding Sabbath riffs, deep bass and heavy drumming. Iommi's riffs particularly stand out in this track, as they relentlessly pound to give off the classic Sabbath sound we know and love. The track is mid to fast paced, changing frequently as the song progresses. The lyrics deal with a man who travels to the future and see's the apocalypse, however on his way back to the present time, he is turned into steel (hence, 'Iron Man) rendering him unable to speak. He attempts to communicate with other people, trying to tell them about what he saw in the future, however he is mocked and laughed at. This causes frustration and anger, and Iron Man causes the destruction and apocalypse he saw when in the future. Again, Ozzy's vocals work wonders in putting across the gloomy the story.

Track 5: Electric Funeral

The main riff of Electric Funeral is psychedelic and catchy. The track seems to make several references to radiation, and perhaps a nuclear war effecting to whole planet's population. It makes a difference to the previous songs of the album, as it combines the traditional Sabbath sound with the more psychedelic throbbing tune. Overall, a strange but often overlooked track.

Track 6: Hand of Doom

After a slow and melodic start, you're thrust into the action with sharp riffs and throbbing rhythmic drums. Often considered one of the best tracks on the album, Hand of Doom discusses the effects of drug usage in the Vietnam war, and tells the story of how soldiers who survived the war would continue using drugs in order to try and forget the atrocities they had experienced and seen whilst in the war, only to realize that they are being killed by the drugs. The lyrics also show a struggle with trying to stop, as there are references to the solider trying to get help but he keeps using regardless. The track follows a rhythmic structure of being slow and melodic during verses, then returning to fast paced sharp riffs during the chorus. The two different styles make an effective contrast.

Track 7: Rat Salad

Perhaps the weaker point on a great album. Rat Salad simply features the band jamming, with no lyrics and lengthy drum solos, highlighting the skill of Sabbath drummer Bill Ward. Nonetheless, it provides a catchy riff and serves as a nice filler track on the album.

Track 8: Fairies Wear Boots

A good ending to a fantastic album. Tony Iommi states that the lyrics behind the track originated from when "Geezer and Ozzy were smoking cannabis outside and witnessed fairies in the park, running around wearing boots", presumably they were hallucinating. Again, Fairies Wear Boots is just a classic Sabbath song. Particularly sharp drumming and catchy riffs accompany the comical lyrics and theme.

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