Black Sabbath – Master Of Reality

August 14, 2012 in Artist Rewind, Reviews by Dagg

Black Sabbath
Master Of Reality
1971

 

One of the most endearing parts of Sabbath lore is how, after Tony Iommi had the tips of his fingers cut off in an industrial accident, he was forced to improvise by downtuning his guitar, relieving tension and creating a much heavier sound with the guitars (And the bass, which followed suit for good measure). Well, what’s not always clearly understood about this fact is that it wasn’t until the band’s third album, Master Of Reality, that this change took place. That sounds like a long time to go in a band’ s career, but it wasn’t even a full year after the release of the debut that Iommi and co. entered the studio to record the album.

All restraints are really off at this point. After releasing two critically despised but commercially successful albums that flirted with the darker and heavier side of music, the band decided to go full blast with Master Of Reality, and the result is the band’s heaviest and most psychedelic to date. For those that think of heavy in the extreme metal context, I still think you need to come up for your own word for that, since this is “heavy” as it was originally conceived. As stated, the guitars are severely downtuned here, and given that Iommi’s finger troubles had already forced him to invent thin gauge strings (nobody really made guitar strings at less than .010 guage, so he bought, I believe, banjo strings, and used those instead), downtuning past what anyone had ever reasonably attempted was the next step in the process of making the most distinguished guitar tone of the era. Not only is the tone new and improved, but again, the riffs are absolutely monstrous, perhaps even better than Paranoid.

For those familiar with stoner rock, doom metal, or any form of sludge anything, this is the progenitor. Sludgy, in fact, is occasionally the best and only word to describe the album. However, aside from being wall-shaking and deeply heavy, there are other elements of the album that really deserve note. In a similar vein to Paranoid’s “Planet Caravan”, Master Of Reality contains the beautifully somber and psychedelic influenced “Solitude”, and stuff like this cannot be forgotten. In addition, the album contains two tracks of Iommi’ s acoustic wanderings, “Orchid” and “Embryo” Neither of these are really fully developed songs, but more of atmosphere for the album created on the acoustic guitar. These are again, brilliant and not to be ignored. My strongest recommendation for Master Of Reality is to listen to the album as a whole, and clocking in at a meager thirty four and a half minutes, this is not a difficult task. With early Black Sabbath, it goes without saying that these records are worth hearing and owning, and this is no different, especially for fans of the doom/stoner genres. If you haven’t heard it, it will grant you a new level of understanding into your favorite bands of today.

Dagg’s rating: 4.5 out of 5