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Black Sabbath- Master of Reality Review

Updated on February 7, 2012

Artist: Black Sabbath

Album: Master of Reality

Year: 1971

Score: 89/100

“One of Black Sabbath's Greatest Releases"

“Master of Reality” is the third album from the excellent band Black Sabbath. There’s no need to explain the greatness and importance of this band, it’s all in the music and influence. I’m pretty fond of everything Sabbath did with Ozzy on vocals (I even like “Technical Ecstasy” and “Never Say Die!” to a degree), and I also like their Dio stuff. This said, “Master of Reality” is one of my favorites from them. “Master…” is really the album where Black Sabbath define the doom metal sound, which they moved away from in later years. To my ears, “Master of Reality” is their most intense album. It’s dark, memorable, and definitely essential.

A lot of Black Sabbath’s draw is in the heavy riff-work. There is not a bad riff on this album- they all just rule! Tony Iommi is a guitar genius. The riffs are dark and crushing; heavy and relentless. The guitar is very fuzzy here; more so than their other work. This adds to the doom-like feel of the album, and the tone is perfect for these kinds of songs. The bass is just as great, being extremely audible. I’ve always enjoyed the bass in Black Sabbath’s work, the low end of the music adds so much to their songs. Ozzy’s trademark vocals are in full force here. They add a sinister edge to the songs, which has become an integral part of early Black Sabbath. I’m not a fan of Ozzy in anything else he’s done. I actually really dislike his voice in general, but I believe it adds something special to his work in Black Sabbath (particularly on their first three or four releases). I’ve always thought that Bill Ward was a very good drummer on those early Black Sabbath albums, and he stays good on this one. I have only praise for the drums.

Each song is wonderfully crafted, with most of them being ruthlessly heavy. “Children of the Grave” is probably my favorite, with a truckload of galloping riffs under Ozzy’s demented wailing. It’s sandwiched between two light instrumentals; “Orchid” is the better of the two and is not a bad song in its own right. “Sweet Leaf” and “Into the Void” are among the most famous on the album, and with good reason. “Lord of this World” isn’t mentioned too much, but it’s an awesome song with a ripping guitar solo. It’s definitely a proto-doom metal song. “Solitude” is a moody ballad with cool, subdued melodies that sound a little like flutes (maybe they are… I can’t always tell). “After Forever” is also very good, showing off the more progressive side of the band. I suppose I’ve mentioned nearly every song now, but they’re all worth it.

I am of the opinion that this is an essential album for a metalhead. I don’t consider it their best album, but it’s certainly a great one. I feel that it is amongst the darkest in their catalogue; being at least as dark as their previous albums and more reminiscent of doom and sludge metal. It was also the last of their more straightforward albums, as they began branching out on “Volume 4” which came afterwards. I feel that most people will find something to love here, it’s a great album.

Best songs: All of them except for the instrumentals and “Solitude”.

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    • TheHeavyReview profile image

      TheHeavyReview 6 years ago

      Thanks for the comment! I've read your Sin after Sin review, it was very good. It's one of the most underrated Judas Priest albums.

      I do like Solitude, but I'm not much of a ballad person in general. It is my favorite slow Sabbath song. Yes, the instrumentals really work very well... but I meant that they just don't stand out as much as the rest of the songs.

    • Steve Orion profile image

      Steve Orion 6 years ago from Tampa, Florida

      You didn't like Solitude? I thought that was a great slower Black Sabbath song. And I think the instrumentals were an essential part of the album, but not as good as the others. Other than that I agree with you %100. A great Sabbath album, I look forward to more from you!