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Black Sabbath - Paranoid CD (album) cover


Black Sabbath


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4.30 | 899 ratings

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Symphonic Team
4 stars Rat Salad Surgery

After the totally groundbreaking debut, the band already started to develop further with this second effort. In some respects this is perhaps better than the debut, but not in all respects. Overall, I find this a bit less enjoyable than the debut and the follow up, but its still great. And a classic.

With the first album, Black Sabbath took electric Blues, Jazz and Rock and created a brand new sound that was to become highly influential on all of Rock music. But while the sound of the first album, fresh and groundbreaking though it was, still stuck relatively close to the influences. There were moments on that first album where the band played Blues Rock with some Jazz influences rather than the Heavy Metal they were in the middle of creating. With Paranoid they ventured further away from their Blues background and injected more speed and precision into their playing while still retaining most of the heaviness of the debut. The opening number, War Pigs, is a good example of this positive development.

The title track speeds things up further and is definitely the fastest and shortest song the band had done up to that point. It is also the simplest song and is possibly my least favourite Black Sabbath song ever. It predated the emergence of Punk with many years but it is almost a Punk song! As often is the case with progressive and Prog related bands, it is when they strip away all the complexities of their music that they have hits! Black Sabbath is hardly a band that had any genuine hits, but Paranoid is probably as close as they came to a hit song. Almost everyone has heard this song even if they are not into Heavy Metal or Prog.

Planet Caravan slows things down considerably and is very different from the rest of the songs. It is a wonderful song that reminds me somewhat of Camel and is one of the highlights of the album for me. Iron man is another song that many people recognize. It is not my favourite but it is much better than the title track and both these songs along with Electric Funeral and War Pigs soon became mainstays of the band's live set for the rest of their long career.

For me the second half of this album is by far the best half. It is also here that we find the most complex and progressive songs. The slow, heavy Electric Funeral is probably the closest they come here to the style of the debut album. But it is with the complex Hand Of Doom and the short instrumental Rat Salad that the album reaches new levels of brilliance. However, my very favourite track is the excellent closer, Fairies Wear Boots!

I have been a Black Sabbath fan for ten years now and I know the band's discography very well. Paranoid is not one of my favourites, but it represents a clear progression from their debut towards the masterpiece Master Of Reality and beyond. I see Paranoid as something of a transitional album between two even greater albums and as such slightly overrated in relation to those.

Still, an excellent addition to any Prog Collection!

SouthSideoftheSky | 4/5 |


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