Master of Reality is the third studio album by English rock band Black Sabbath, released in July 1971. It is widely regarded as the foundation of doom metal, stoner rock, and sludge metal. It was certified double platinum after having sold over 2 million copies. Master of Reality was Black Sabbath’s first and only top 10 album in the US until 13, forty-two years later.
Sweet Leaf—-Picking up with this release much as Paranoid left off, the Sabbath dirge is well in place. If there is ever a ‘stoner’ rock anthem, this song would have to be it. At the time…..pot was, by all standards, a different experience than it is today. Osbourne, still in fantastic voice and clarity is the best contrast for the deep and dark sounds of the music. This is fantastic! The shifting chord changes and musical tempos of the song as it progresses….the drums from Ward…..and the ever present bass line make for a masterpiece.
After Forever—-With an intro that sounds incredibly modern before its time, this track moves at an incredible pace from the onset….a surprise! Ozzy delivers a fantastic vocal…..clear…concise and seemingly made for the sound of the band. The contrast is remarkable. There seems to be a bit more ‘static’ to the sound of this song….but even now…all these years later…when that melody guitar lines kicks in…it is fantastic!
Embryo/Children Of The Grave—-A surprise right from the onset, this rather jaunty Scottish sounding beginning gives way to that plod plod of the Sabbath bass line and the drum delivery…..faster and more to the back of the mix for the most part than on Paranoid. Osbourne seems to almost yell to be heard over the music….it is if his vocal is pushed further back to the mix as well. This is still epic. I love the dirge and dense feel of the song. There are so many ‘movements’ to the song…..making it very epic in sound. Good drugs!!!
Orchid—-melodic and beautiful at the onset, this is still a surprise to me after all of this time. The acoustic feel to the intro was a surprise to many I’m sure. The beautiful and sad melody line is just remarkable.
Lord Of This World—-Returning to full throttle Sabbath right from the onset, the dirge and plodding delivery of the music is on full display. Ozzy delivers a vocal that is once again pushed front and center….you catch every dark word and forbearance of the song. The bass line is incredible…and I remain convinced…it is just as hard to reign in drum playing to this tempo than it is to go full throttle crazy. This is incredibly constructed…..shifting and changing numerous times…before reverting to the beginning.
Solitude—-Again…a sharp contrast and surprise as the guitar intro soars and puts you in a different place than the previous song. This is perhaps best described as a foray into Folk-Metal…before we even knew what that meant. Osbourne actually seems to sing rather than yelp his way through the track. The melody line is beautiful…the landscape of the song conjures up foggy fields and loneliness. Just remarkable.
Into The Void—-Ending the release…and returning to full throttle Sabbath mode, this is epic as well….going on for ages and taking us through mood changes and a million different chords, this is an epic finale to a short but genius release. Sabbath rarely disappointed in these early days…the creativity was incredible and REAL…it was a very cohesive band at this time…without external forces or influences. I’m so glad we have these important pieces of history in the development of modern day Metal…without these gentlemen…things would look different.
***** out of 5