Bloody awesome song from Black Sabbath's second album, Paranoid, clocking in at a pretty epic 7 minutes, 56 seconds. In my not at all musically snobbish opinion, the greatest Sabbath song.
This masterpiece of heavy metal showcases all things great about the band's musical talents- let's examine the aspects that make this song a classic, shall we?
Tony Iommi pounds out some great riffs throughout, and the first solo shows how he brought jazz and blues techniques into heavy metal- his use of trills and slides aren't encountered too often in other heavy metal songs, but the little licks he throws in between power chords are quite a throwback to the old days of Earth.
Geezer Butler pulls out some of his trademark inventive basslines, particularly during the solo sections, where you can really hear the bass challenge the guitar for aural supremacy. It's a pity how in most of modern metal, the bass sits so low in the mix. Oh, did I mention he wrote the song? Did a cracker job on the lyrics, too. Far better than that "turn round quick and start to run" malarkey from the song "Black Sabbath". Has anybody else realised that all Sabbath songs except for NIB are Christian??? Look at Master of Reality. Every bloody one except for Sweet Leaf is Christian! Shocking! Example:
Now in darkness world stops turning
Underneath the bodies burning
No more war pigs have the power
Hand of God has struck the hour
Bill Ward, fairly unknown chap that he is, made up some nifty drum fills in this one, displaying more of the jazzy roots of Black Sabbath's players. Plus he did the teensy-little cymbal taps that are just splurgeworthy during Ozzy's belting.
Speaking of Ozzy Osbourne, the ol' bat chomper delivers his best vocal performance on record- at times towering, at times sneering, but in his unique Ozzy way, it cuts right through the mix. Thankfully in this song, he's without that annoyingly nasal edge that permeates much of his work.
As a mildly interesting sidenote, the album was originally going to be called War Pigs, but after the single "Paranoid" was a hit, the album received a name-change. Plus, War Pigs was considered too controversial a title in the Vietnam war era.
All in all, cracker of a song. Best Sabbath song, and is rightly considered to be one of the best metal songs ever.
You were a worthy foe, o nodeshell.