BLACK SABBATH — Master Of Reality (review)

BLACK SABBATH — Master Of Reality album cover Album · 1971 · Heavy Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
3/5 ·
Sean Trane
After their first two stupendous albums, Sabs slightly altered their formula, shortened their tracks (none above 5 minutes), and sacrificed instrumental interplay in favour of tighter songwriting and further rifferama galore. A bland single sleeved artwork, announced the changes, but the main difference is that this album has a real production (as opposed to the two previous' relative absence of it, being much rawer) and IMHO, this actually hurts their creativity. But obviously this writer is in a minority as MOR became their best-seller and most influential album (along with Paranoid) and inspired generations of metal songwriters. By now, their move into a LA house and their gloomy semi-Satanist music and heavy drug use was attracting thousands of freaks at their concerts, including Hell's Angels crowned heads asking the band for audience and giving them their official stamp of approval. The drug use was even seeping inside the studios as Iommi spent entire days on end on this album.

Tight songwriting such as the Cannabis anthem Sweat Leaf (starting with a smoker's cough for intro) is Sabbath's signature for this album. But if the group had a blurred vision of the world, they had the occasional glimpse of insight as indicated by the other giant track of the album Children Of The Grave, addressed to their fans and their offcast behaviours, which was not the band's wishes. You can hear the Sabs hanging out on a sort of formula with Solitude being the obligatory slow track (as Planet Caravan and Sleeping Village had been), but there are the surprising acoustic tidbits Embryo and Orchid as well.

But to this reviewer, I can only think and cite another reviewer that said that Iommi was churning out the riffs by the ton with the warmth and care of a high-speed Xerox machine. I think that this album and Vol 4 (originally intended to be named Snowblind, but vetoed by the record company) reflect this quite well. As Butler and Iommi said later MOR was the beginning of their downfall through heavy drugs with Osbourne's erratic behaviour and Ward's Hepatitis lasting 6 months and a few cancelled tours.
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