Review by Sonny for Black Sabbath - Paranoid (1970)
If the debut established Sabbath as the most historically important act in metal, then follow-up Paranoid cemented their position as one of the Metal Gods. Every single metal album you have listened to owes a debt of gratitude to this classic, an album that defines exactly what metal means. The pacing is perfect, the songs are anthemic and the musicianship, though some may say it is neanderthal, is flawless as the albums eight tracks pretty much carve in stone the Metal Commandments.
Tony Iommi was always an absolute riff machine - he could no doubt write riffs in his sleep while lesser mortals are only able to dream of such an ability - and here on display are some of the most memorable riffs ever written. Coupled with those riffs is one of the most recognizable voices in metal, Ozzy commanding his space with a presence and confidence very few have ever matched. Geezer's busy and irreplaceable bass playing underpins the whole and Bill Ward's jazz-influenced kitwork is not mere piledriver pummelling but is loaded with fills and never misses a beat. This is the sound of a young band riding high, with their creativity and energy being chanelled in a unified direction and defining a sound for generations of as yet undreamed of metal hordes. War Pigs, Iron Man, Electric Funeral and Hand of Doom - which self-respecting metalhead doesn't know these tracks not as mere songs, but as if they were irreplaceably part of him- or herself?
On a personal note, this is the album that got me into metal in the first place. As a kid and young teenager I had graduated from The Beatles to Bowie, T-Rex and Queen then had become exposed to Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon which was a real mind-fuck. But then along came Paranoid and something just clicked - I knew I had found a lifelong soulmate and metal seeped into my blood and has resided there ever since.