Known worldwide as the embodiment of heavy metal, England's Black Sabbath enveloped the 1970s in a dense fog of apocalyptic imagery, monolithic guitar riffs, and horror-movie lyrics. When frontman Ozzy Osbourne left the band in 1979 for a highly successful solo career, the band soldiered on with a number of replacements, including Rainbow's Ronnie James Dio. In 1997, Ozzy and his former bandmates staged a much-publicized reunion. In the 2000s, when Ozzy got busy with solo recordings, Ozzfest, and his reality show THE OSBOURNES, Dio stepped in once again to front another incarnation of the band.
Though most of Black Sabbath's classic material from this album ("War Pigs," "Iron Man," "Fairies Wear Boots," and the title track) can also be found on the collection We Sold Our Soul for Rock & Roll, Paranoid is essential for the completist. One of the best albums from one of the bands to define heavy metal, this album is chock-full of the best stuff from Sabbath's Osbourne years. (Where else will you be able to hear "Rat Salad?") The music isn't exactly complex, but it doesn't need to be; its importance lies in its evocative power, with which any teenager will be able to identify. --Genevieve Williams
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