Sound — 9
You've just got to love this corny album cover. Black Sabbath originally intended to call the album War Pigs but Warner changed it to Paranoid at the last minute. Paranoid was the follow-up to Black Sabbath, arguably the first heavy metal album. The elements necessary had been pioneered by the likes of Led Zeppelin, Hendrix and The Yardbirds, but Sabbath were the first to combine these elements into something too heavy to be hard rock or blues rock, metal.
Lyrics — 8
The album kicks off with the anti-war epic "War Pigs," which famously rhymes "masses" with "masses" in the first verse. Vocalist Ozzy Osbourne squeezes every ounce of shock value out of the lyrics through his limted range and guitarist Tony Iommi throws out heavy riffs peppered with nimble licks. Up next is another metal classic, "Paranoid." The song shows Sabbath in a rare uptempo mode here, with Iommi managing to fit in a melodic, memorable solo. Ozzy sings about, well, being paranoid. Iommi's opening riff rips off Zeppelin's "Dazed and Confused" but the classic palm-muted power chord riff that propels the main song sets a standard for metal rhythm guitar. "Planet Caravan" finds the band in an entirely different mode. The band creates a slow, stoner vibe while Ozzy runs his vocals through a watery vocoder. Iommi contributes a Latin-based solo. Obviously an experiment for the band, the song is unjustly disregarded by most Sabbath fans. Though it's different than anything else the band did, it's not a bad effort at something different. Of course, it's hard not to want to skip "Planet Caravan" when the next track is "Iron Man," yet another Sabbath classic. Here Ozzy falls into his familiar trap of singing along with the riff, but the riff here is so great it hardly matters. Ozzy sings of a hero who comes back to get his revenge on the unappreciative people he once saved. Though the lyrics are probably among the dumbest in Sabbath's roster, they just work. Yet another great Iommi solo graces the uptempo midsection of this song. "Electric Funeral" gives Iommi's wah pedal a work out. Ozzy once again sings with the riff here, this time however it renders the song repetitive more than anything else. This song comes off as an inferior "Iron Man." "Hand of Doom" warns against drugs despite any Satanic references the title might suggest. For a band that was criticized of creating devil music, Sabbath certainly come off as having some morals. This song is yet another winner, though not as known as the others here due to its subject matter. The album wraps up with "Fairies Wear Boots," another great rocker. Yet another great Iommi riff (this album's full of them) grounds the song and it serves as an effective album closer that leaves you wanting more.
Overall Impression — 9
Some argue this is Sabbath's finest hour, while others make arguments for Master of Reality. Both are great albums. However, this is probably your best introduction to Sabbath due to the large ratio of familiar metal classics. Every metalhead should own a copy.