This beautifully twisted masterpiece turned 50 last year, which makes it only slightly older than me. This is without doubt Black Sabbath’s finest 42 minutes, and one of the defining moments of a genre that would be labelled ‘heavy metal’
I’ve been a Sabbath fan from as early as I can remember starting to appreciate the darker shades of music and life. A lot of my own early music productions with Graeme L and the remixes we made back from 2001 onwards were inspired by the sinister off key chord progressions from early rock albums and the murky guitar hooks that had stuck with me from I first fell in love with these bands as a kid.
The line-up for ‘Paranoid’ featured the original dream team of Butler, Iommi, Ward and a young Osbourne at the front, 4 amazing talents who were riding 6 months off the back of delivering their massive self-titled debut album. This was always going to be a difficult one to follow but these guys delivered more of the same, only somehow managing to take it up an extra few notches.
As opening tracks on classic rock & metal albums go, they really don’t come much stronger than Ozzy’s monumental vocal performance on ‘War Pigs’ followed by what turned out to be their biggest single ‘Paranoid’ The opening track was written around the band’s anti-war stance which just happened to coincide with the peak of the Vietnam war. To quote Sabbath bassist Geezer Butler “War is the real Satanism, and politicians are the real Satanists” I’ve always found that statement to be quite profound.
To then drop from the full on, in your face ‘Paranoid’ down to the beautifully laid back, bongo driven psychedelic gem ‘Planet Caravan’ featuring the heavily distorted Leslie Speakered vocals, took absolute balls as a placement on the album, but for some reason it just really works. You’ve only just got your breath back before one of the biggest hooks in rock history in the form of ‘Iron Man’ comes into the room and slaps you around the face. From there on the way that this band gel with each other throughout the remaining tracks is just mind-blowing for its time. The messages within these songs are NOT about the devil and spreading an anti-god message as many would claim, these guys were singing about every day working class life and important issues like war and manipulation of the masses.
I still come back to this album so much, purely for the music within and it’s level of pure grit, proper attitude and the darkest of chords ever written. There’s a depth to their early work that still hasn’t been matched to this day by artists in this genre.
This is such a brilliant album that I urge you to drop into if you’re not a fan, even for 10 minutes and its opening 2 songs, just remember whilst listening that this masterpiece is 51 years old.