1970 was a remarkably productive year for the band Black Sabbath. Following their debut release earlier in the year, in September they released their second album, “Paranoid”. With these two albums alone, the foundation of Black Sabbath’s most significant and successful music was produced within a single year. Even more successful than their debut, this album rates as the #139 selection on Rolling Stone’s Top 500 Albums of All Time.
The album opens with “War Pigs”, which is probably my favorite and most powerful Sabbath song ever. Continuing the same formula of rough and raw chords and Ozzy Osbourne’s dark lyrics, “War Pigs” brutally confronts the hypocritical war machine and its misguided, perverted motivations for existence. Following that, the title track “Paranoid”, a gold standard for quick, intense and fast paced metal rocking. Side one takes a breather with the distorted psychedelic “Planet Caravan”, before crushing with a wallop, closing with “Iron Man”. Another legendary Sabbath tune, I also will always associate this great song with the unquestioned all-time greatest wrestling duo, The Road Warriors. If there is a better “walk-up” song that “Iron Man”, I haven’t heard it yet.
Side two isn’t quite as hit laden, but still rocks at the same pitch, closing out with “Fairies Wear Boots”. Preceded by “Electric Funeral” and “Hand of Doom”, Black Sabbath completely delivers on their target of aggressive, haunting, and slightly terrifying rock like no other band of their time. To this day, these first two albums compose the beginnings of a genre that is still taking no prisoners fifty years later.