Portishead's third album is initially more a record to admire than to love, its muscular synthesisers, drum breaks and abrupt endings keeping the tension high. But after several listens, Third's majesty unfurls. Propulsive Krautrock rhythms and German radio samples conjure up Eastern bloc minimalism in Silence, Small and the jaw-dropping We Carry On, while soft, organic textures add depth to the icy shallows elsewhere. When Deep Water appears, it is shocking: a minute and 33 seconds of sweet ukulele doo-wop that bring to mind a 78 discovered in a nuclear fallout. Elsewhere, the ominously titled Threads and Plastic show how strong Portishead have become.–guardian.co.uk
Paranoid was not only Black Sabbath’s most popular record (it was a number one smash in the U.K., and “Paranoid” and “Iron Man” both scraped the U.S. charts despite virtually nonexistent radio play), it also stands as one of the greatest and most influential heavy metal albums of all time. Paranoid refined Black Sabbath’s signature sound — crushingly loud, minor-key dirges loosely based on heavy blues-rock — and applied it to a newly consistent set of songs with utterly memorable riffs, most of which now rank as all-time metal classics. Where the extended, multi-sectioned songs on the debut sometimes felt like aimless jams, their counterparts on Paranoid have been given focus and direction, lending an epic drama to now-standards like “War Pigs” and “Iron Man” (which sports one of the most immediately identifiable riffs in metal history).