Black Sabbath is credited with creating heavy metal. The success of their first two albums - Black Sabbath and Paranoid - marked a paradigm shift in the world of rock. Not until Black Sabbath upended the music scene did the term "heavy metal" enter the popular vocabulary to describe the denser, more thunderous offshoot of rock over which they presided. With their riff-based songs, extreme volume, and dark, demonic subject matter, Black Sabbath embodied key aspects of the heavy-metal aesthetic. Yet in their own words, they saw themselves as a "heavy underground" band. That term denoted both the intensity of their music and the network of fans who found them long before critics and the music industry took notice.
Similar to their eponymous debut, Black Sabbath took a quick and unadulterated approach when recording follow-up Paranoid, which was also cut in just a few days time. Generally regarded as the quintessential Black Sabbath album, Paranoid (1970 in the U.K.; 1971 in the U.S.) contained such classic tracks as "Iron Man," "Paranoid" and "War Pigs." The last of these is a potent antiwar song - and specifically "an anti-Vietnam statement," in Geezer Butler's words - whose hellish visions of bloody battlefields and conniving politicians have lost none of their currency over the decades.
Together, Black Sabbath and Paranoid - released only seven months apart - were powerful works that pointed rock in a harder, heavier new direction. Many of the most hard-hitting and uncompromising bands who came after them - including Metallica, Guns ‘n' Roses, Iron Maiden and Judas Priest - claim to have been raised on the music of Black Sabbath.