Black Sabbath have been so influential in the development of heavy metal rock music as to be a defining force in the style. The group took the blues-rock sound of late-'60s acts like Cream, Blue Cheer, and Vanilla Fudge to its logical conclusion, slowing the tempo, accentuating the bass, and emphasizing screaming guitar solos and howled vocals full of lyrics expressing mental anguish and macabre fantasies. If their predecessors clearly came out of an electrified blues tradition, Black Sabbath took that tradition in a new direction, and in so doing helped give birth to a musical style that continued to attract millions of fans decades later.
Paranoid was not only Black Sabbath's most popular record (it was a number one smash in the U.K., and "Paranoid" and "Iron Man" both scraped the U.S. charts despite virtually nonexistent radio play), it also stands as one of the greatest and most influential heavy metal albums of all time. Paranoid refined Black Sabbath's signature sound — crushingly loud, minor-key dirges loosely based on heavy blues-rock — and applied it to a newly consistent set of songs with utterly memorable riffs, most of which now rank as all-time metal classics. Where the extended, multi-sectioned songs on the debut sometimes felt like aimless jams, their counterparts on Paranoid have been given focus and direction, lending an epic drama to now-standards like "War Pigs" and "Iron Man" (which sports one of the most immediately identifiable riffs in metal history). The subject matter is unrelentingly, obsessively dark, covering both supernatural/sci-fi horrors and the real-life traumas of death, war, nuclear annihilation, mental illness, drug hallucinations, and narcotic abuse. Yet Sabbath makes it totally convincing, thanks to the crawling, muddled bleakness and bad-trip depression evoked so frighteningly well by their music. Even the qualities that made critics deplore the album (and the group) for years increase the overall effect — the technical simplicity of Ozzy Osbourne's vocals and Tony Iommi's lead guitar vocabulary; the spots when the lyrics sink into melodrama or awkwardness; the lack of subtlety and the infrequent dynamic contrast. Everything adds up to more than the sum of its parts, as though the anxieties behind the music simply demanded that the band achieve catharsis by steamrolling everything in its path, including its own limitations. Monolithic and primally powerful, Paranoid defined the sound and style of heavy metal more than any other record in rock history.
Includes track tutorials and guitar jam tracks, guitar lessons by Danny Gill. This excellent DVD will show you how to nail seven Black Sabbath tracks, featuring Tony Iommi's legendary riffs and solos that defined 70s heavy metal!
Essential: a masterpiece of rock music
This was my favourite SABBATH album when I was young. I suppose that was because it was so heavy and straightforward. I guess that's why it's not rated nearly as high as I think it should be on this site, because this is a Prog site. I still rate it as a masterpiece just like "Paranoid". I remember a number of years ago my brother in law (who has played lead guitar in some local bands, and is a huge IRON MAIDEN fan) being at a family Christmas get-together with at that time his new girl friend who was a Metal fan herself. He out of the blue says to me "Johnny ! What's SABBATH's best album ?" I said "Master Of Reality". He turns to his girfriend and says "See ! Everyone who knows SABBATH knows "Master Of Reality" is their best."