Midterm elections are finally over, and regardless of who has won, we have all been anxious and in need of a mental escape. Departing from my usual focus on politics, I’ve opted to recommend some music for the tense atmosphere. These albums aren’t exactly hidden gems — they’re all well-known and well-regarded in their musical genres. But if you haven’t given them a sustained listen, they are perfect choices for expanding your musical horizons in a new direction.
1. Paranoid by Black Sabbath
Black Sabbath’s sophomore release, is one of the greatest heavy metal albums of all time. A recurring motif of the album is apocalypticism — the arrival of the day of judgment in “War Pigs,” the ambiguous armageddon brought about by the titular character of “Iron Man” and most especially the grim vision of a world destroyed by nuclear warfare in “Electric Funeral.” These tracks are paralleled by the more personal, intimate despair of songs like “Paranoid” and “Hand of Doom,” describing depression and heroin addiction respectively and the personal destruction that they bring about.
The album’s grim atmosphere is complemented by its heavy and plodding sound. As a teenager, Black Sabbath guitarist Tony Iommi lost the tips of his middle and ring fingers in an industrial accident. As a result, Iommi attached homemade plastic thimbles to the tips of his fingers and adopted guitar playing that emphasized power chords and distinguished the band from their blues rock and psychedelic contemporaries.
2. Remain in Light by Talking Heads