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Master of Reality

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Average Rating
★★★★½
(212 Reviews)

Metal Album Reviews[RSS]

  • “Master of Reality” is the epitome of Black Sabbath’s monolithic riff-fuelled rock. If you want music with heavy, bluesy and infectious riffs, melodic vocals and breath-taking guitar solos, then look no further than “Master of Reality”.

    This is one of those special albums where every track has become a classic over the years. It all starts with the fantastic “Sweet Leaf”, which was initially my favourite song on the album. The song kicks the album off in style and lays down the foundations perfectly. The opening cough/splutter sample gives meaning to the title (and sets up one of the most prominent themes and influences for the band – marijuana). This was truly the start of stoner rock. Please don’t come to the conclusion that this stupefies the music in any way – an accusation I have heard many a time. Yes, this album is a great experience when ripped, as are the best of the modern day stoner albums, but don’t be put off thinking a sober state will forge no rewards. Bong or no bong, this is one of the best rock albums ever made.

    The riffs. Let me talk about some of the timeless riffs on this album. Riffs that over the years have become massively influential and classic in every sense of the word. It is through no chance or overreaction that people nowadays refer to some guitar riffs and leads as “Sabbath-esque” or “Sabbathy”. The grand onslaught of these riffs starts with the simplistic and contagious lead to “Sweet Leaf”, one of my favourite riffs ever conceived. The glory to this riff, and with the majority of Tony Iommi’s genius craft, is the simplicity – sacrificing complex timings, extra ghost notes and fancy finger work for simple motifs. The emphasis is put firmly on execution and groove. Take for example the riff changeups in the fine closer “Into The Void”, going from the fine rolling and laid-back intro riff to some ferocious muted riffing, all complemented perfectly by Ozzy’s high and melodic vocals. All of this combines to make one of the album’s finest moments. Then there’s “Children of the Grave” which stretches the simplicity to a basic rolling note, repeated in a galloping time signature, augmented by the occasional menacing chord progression. This song was really ahead of its time, paving the way for the galloping marches of the finest Iron Maiden. What makes these riffs even better is the structure of the songs, which are intelligent and keep the various riffs fresh. For example, the changeups in “After Forever” evolve around a repetitive lead riff which gives way to various themes and new riffs, but always returns to retain the original flow and groove. Call them stoners, but this is intelligent song writing, and something ensued throughout the album.

    So the song writing is clever. It keeps the riffs fresh and interesting and manages to hold the fantastic groove. However, it is the overall writing and structuring of the album as a whole that I find most impressive. The balance of “Master of Reality” is perfect and superior to any of their other albums. There are no overly long songs, as all are between 5 and 7 minutes. The effect of this gives the album a special kind of flow that is often lacking in their other releases. “Embryo” and “Orchid” are short little pieces that act as introductions rather than fillers, and again retain the sense of flow as they are not too long or boring.

    Mention should of course go to Ozzy Osbourne. In my opinion Sabbath simply isn’t Sabbath without Ozzy on the vocals. His voice has become one of the most distinctive and acclaimed in rock history, and rightly so. He has what all the best rock singers have – the ability to hit the right notes, often quite high ones, and an idiosyncratic style that is instantly recognisable. The Black Sabbath sound is rounded off perfectly by this master vocalist, best highlighted by his inspired deliveries on “Children of the Grave” and “Into The Void”.

    Any fan of rock music should enjoy this album. It has every ingredient that makes rock so enjoyable – powerful and inspired vocals, stunning guitar solos and riffs, solid bass playing and some stellar drumming. Black Sabbath at the pinnacle of their career.

    Posted on December 28, 2009 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • The Sabs third album is no doubt their sludgiest and heaviest. It’s supersonic and powerful, thick, almost leaden riffs display a terrific raw energy. More complete than the band’s second recording, Paranoid, which seems to have significant holes in composition; Master is a masterful collection of songs made only more incredibly by Tony Iommi’s superb guitar and Ozzy’s fantastic, almost demonlike voice. Real hard rock classics like the kickin’ opener “Sweet Leaf” and the anthemesque “Children of the Grave” are followed all the way through the album with “Lord of this World” and “Into the Void”. The hard rock sonic bliss doesn’t stop, you get your fix all the way through. Together with these songs, you get “Embryo”,a strange 30 second instrumental which I have always seen as an intro to “Children..” another instrumental,the acoustic “Orchid”, which balances, but does seem a bit shallow, placed just to fill. You also get a slow, doomy song in “Solitude” and a bit christianity bias on “After Forever”. The writing is superb, the songs are hard driving and they sure don’t get old. All in all, one of the Sab’s best and most interesting, not to mention consistent collections of songs. BUY IT!

    Posted on December 28, 2009 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • This is probably Sabbath’s best regular issue album and it is sometimes very surprising. Sweet Leaf is well known to most and deserves the attention it has gotten. Lord Of This World is maybe a little less known but is very heavy and powerful. Children Of The Grave is great but most already know that. Into the void rocks hard, but still most know that. My point here is to tell you something you may not know. The highlight of this album is a song that is probably not that well known to the most casual Sabbath fan. That song is After Forever. This is a song that I have never seen on any Sabbath live albums or greatest hits compilations. It is a song about God and to some extent the afterlife. The lyrics are something you might normally hear from a Christian Rock band. It has some very beautiful lyrics in it and it does dispell the myth that they were evil and not God fearing. I am not saying these guys are or were saints, but check this album out and you will be amazed by this song. The version I just bought has the lyrics which is somewhat odd for a Sabbath cd. Most people give Sabbath a bad rap because of their lyrics but upon further look you will discover that they have belief in God and show it in many ways. Many of their songs mention satan or are about satan so people think they must worship him. Well, I have studied up on this and not found any of that to be true. Singing about satan is not worshipping him. Now if they spoke of satan the way they speak of God in this song then I would say the same. Ozzy routinely throughout the years always tells the crowd “God bless you all”. My point here is to have you look at Sabbath in a little different light. Wearing crosses around your neck is a symbol of Jesus’ crucifiction not devil worship. A few years later after leaving Sabbath, Ozzy sang these lyrics in a song,”They say I worship the devil, why don’t they open their eyes?, I’m just a rock n roll rebel”. This is not just a quality song lyrically but also musicall. It flows nicely and is definetly one of Ozzy’s masterpeices vocally.

    Posted on December 28, 2009 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • Its clear listening to bands like Cathedral or Electric Wizard that they were heavily influenced by Black Sabbath.From beginning to end Master Of Reality has a heaviness that’s missing from any other Sabbath album ever recorded.The low distortion,the trudging,plodding pace,all that’s missing is the depressing lyrical content and we’d have a Candlemass album.All of the songs truly shine with a life of their own.From the opener Sweet Leaf to the closing and heaviest Sabbath song ever written Into the Void,this is a stellar album that in my opinion is arguably one of the best and most underrated heavy metal albums in existence.My personal favorites here are Children of the Grave,Into the Void and the perfectly melancholy Solitude which one could view as the precursor to Volume 4’s ballad Changes.Also check the album’s second song for further proof that the members of Sabbath weren’t satanists.This is by far my favorite Sabbath album and after a few dozen listens,it’ll be yours too.

    Posted on December 28, 2009 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • That is how Master of Reality begins, with the famous repetitive cough of “Sweet Leaf”. On this 1971 release, Sabbath’s third album, the band has become “masters” of their own sound. Calling Black Sabbath influential is an understatement. Listen to any of their first 4 albums and you can hear where several “metal” bands got their riffs, style, and “dark” image. Actually, the silliest idea about Black Sabbath is that they are all satan worshippers obsessed with death and think that everyone should commit suicide. Anyone who ever thought these things about this group should try reading the words that Ozzy Osbourne is singing. Their not evil words and a prime example is on Master of Reality. For example, in “After Forever” is clearly about finding God – “They should realize that God is the only way to love.” and “Children of the Grave” (No it’s not about little kids rising from their graves and killing people) is about a generation of young people who are tired of the hate filled world they live in and want to change it at any cost – “They’ll fight the world until they’ve won and love comes flowing through.” Tony Iommi has stated that much of the dark and demonic image associated with Sabbath can be chalked up to record company ploys to make money by making the band seem “evil” (For example, the inner sleeve of the debut LP, Black Sabbath (1970), contains an upside down cross which was not the band’s idea at all). If you look at all 8 of the original line up’s album covers, there is not an evil or disturbing image in the bunch, with the minor exception of the hooded figure on the debut cover which could be considered creepy by some. I grew up thinking negative things about Black Sabbath but I’m so glad I grew up and gave this pioneering band a chance because they created some very important music and if anything was ever called “heavy metal” it should be Black Sabbath even though they were creating these sounds before that term existed. Master of Reality is perhaps the statement that solidified the Black Sabbath sound, it is essential. One last question to those who think Ozzy Osbourne is “evil” – What hand gesture does he always give, particularly on the cover of Black Sabbath, Vol. 4? – The peace sign. Yes, maybe he is pure evil.

    Posted on December 28, 2009 - Permalink - Buy Now