Black Sabbath: Paranoid Blu-ray Review

This program features an entire hour on Black Sabbath’s second album, Paranoid. It features interviews, discussions, archived footage, and a 1 on 1 with the band members of Black Sabbath. The entire show is based on the album that sent Black Sabbath into stardom. The show attempts to dissect every aspect of the album to find the reason why it moved the masses into venues to see the band and also the way it changed rock music as a whole. This is an interesting look at the band that changed the way rock music is listened today,

Being one of my favorite albums, I took this title with great interest considering I was born way after this title had released so I had no real background as to how it came about. As most of you may already know Paranoid included some of the classic tracks like Iron Man and Paranoid, which until today they are still revered as the game changers and used in advertisements, movies, television, etc. This album set the stage for Black Sabbath and would mark the beginning of a triumphant career for the lead singer Ozzy Osbourne. By now it would probably be hard to find someone who doesn’t know Ozzy, right?

Surprisingly this program didn’t get boring or stale to say the least; it actually managed to maintain a good pace filled with commentaries, pieces of music videos, and new high definition interviews with the entire crew of Black Sabbath: lead singer Ozzy Osbourne, bass player Geezer Butler, guitarist Tony Lommi, and drummer Bill Ward. The commentaries are not only filled with information regarding the release of the album, but also sharing some anecdotes, inspiration, and the tale of the four boys who were poised to become the next big thing. Personally, the part that had my interest in this program was the inclusion of audio producer Tom Allon. Allon, didn’t just explain a few things and gave some anecdotes, but during his segments he sat in front of mix table separating the individual recordings from the master version of paranoid. During each song being discussed Allon would separate each recording and give a little bit of information regarding the method of recording, which was incredible to listen to. This isn’t a very in-depth look into how the album came about, but it’s an excellent behind-the scenes piece that has something for everyone.

Black Sabbath: Paranoid arrives on Blu-ray with a 1080i MPEG4-AVC encode framed at 1.78:1. We’ll have to split this into two portions due to the new and old footage used in this release. For starters, the interviews are all well rendered with deep and inky blacks. Colors look good throughout and at times they stand out very nicely. Skin tones look very natural. The older footage will naturally not be up to par with the high definition transfer. The film exhibits all the flaws this old footage contains like heavy grain, artifacts on the screen, at times it looks very fussy, etc. All this is due to the original source of the material and not anything to do with the Blu-ray mastering.

Black Sabbath: Paranoid arrives on Blu-ray with a LPCM 2.0 Stereo audio track. Sadly, this audio track isn’t fulfilling enough and it really comes off short of its potential. The dialogue boasts a clean and crisp sound that even during music in the background the viewer can still hear what is being said. The music is the real let down of this release. Being a music title you would expect for the music to stand out, but it comes out flat, no real power is felt through the various segments. Even when played using modern equipment the sound just doesn’t really improve. The album sounds so much better than this release made it seem.

Black Sabbath: Paranoid features a total of 42 minutes of extra footage split into 11 segments of about 4 minutes each. The segments are: Musical Influences, 1st US Tour, No Returns, Play In A Day The Iommi Way, Did Give Up The Day Job, Paranoid, Geezer’s Bargain Bassment, Rat Salad, Bill’s Traps, Planet Caravan, and The Backing Track Tapes. Viewers can select each segment one by one or select “Play All” to view them in a continuous playlist, however, I advise everyone to select each one individually because once you select “Play All” and the videos start there is no indication which one is currently playing. I found myself wondering which segment I was watching since there is absolutely no labeling at the beginning of each extra. Regardless, these are as entertaining as the entire program and I highly recommend to watch them.

Black Sabbath: Paranoid features an excellent set of interviews, video and a good look at behind the group that took rock music to a whole another level. For fans of the band this should be a no brainier, but for those newcomers and occasional viewers there is something there for you. This release features a decent 1080i transfer and a disappointing audio, but it does redeem itself and provides an entertaining set of extras.

The screen captures are only a small representation of what the Blu-ray looks like and are not representative of Blu-ray’s true quality.