Track-By-Track Guide To “Paranoid” by Black Sabbath
Black Sabbath live in 1970 - Black Sabbath / Youtube
Ask a metalhead around on what got them hooked to the genre, and chances are, 9 out of 10 of them would mention Black Sabbath. Evidently, the titanic metal progenitors have paved the way for the genre to proliferate thanks to their innovative take on rock music early on in its evolution. One such catalog, the 1970 sophomore release Paranoid, gained acclaim from peers and critics for its groundbreaking influence over rock music. Here is a quick rundown of each track from Black Sabbath’s quintessential album.
Opening the album is the anti-war anthem “War Pigs”, which is quite the transformative experience when listened to. From a simple riff-driven progression, the lead guitar heads into a jam of sorts while Ozzy’s vocals are surprisingly immaculate and melodic.
The title track “Paranoid” also sports a simple riff-based arrangement but maintains it all throughout the song, and instead relies on the tightly-knit rhythm section of the band for maximum effect. Vocals are given the echo treatment, which eclipses with the fuzzy leads of Iommi.
“Planet Caravan” immediately adds variation to the mix with its jazzier instrumentation, with a unique touch provided by piano and hand percussion sections. Ozzy’s vocals were passed through a Leslie speaker for the track for that slight shimmering quality.
Probably the most iconic (and most overplayed) cut on this album is “Iron Man”. The brooding, cadenced riff is replicated by Ozzy on his vocals for that hypnotic quality, which then breaks off later into a fast-paced jam of grit and gore.
Another gloomy track on the album, “Electric Funeral” welcomes the listener to the album’s second side with its dreary, lumbering progression.
“Hand Of Doom”
“Hand Of Doom” starts off slow with its chugging bassline and complex drumming before diving into a strong rock groove, which ultimately shifts into an upbeat, funk-inspired progression as it concludes.
The oddly-titled instrumental takes inspiration from psych/blues of Hendrix-styled guitars before blowing off full steam with Bill Ward’s drum solo that’s as indulgent as the showmanship on every other track on the catalog.
“Fairies Wear Boots”
The contrast on the title is epically represented by the dreary and heavy progression while being accented by evocative and melodic vocal parts. The whole arrangement has a seamless transition as it comes full circle with the fading outro.