Thursday, December 27, 2007

No. 298: Master of Reality

Band: Black Sabbath
Album: Master of Reality
Why Rolling Stone gets it right: The original stoner rock album, "Master of Reality" hits about a million topics and is a wonderful sequel to "Paranoid."
Why Rolling Stone gets it wrong: I'm a big Sabbath guy, so I'd like to see all of the first four or five Sabbath records on the list; This is the third and final one.
Best song: Pretty much anything on this album is fantastic; My favorite is probably "Lord of this World."
Worst song: "Into the Void" is the only song I don't like.
Is it awesome?: Absolutely.

"Master of Reality" is kind of a hidden gem in the Sabbath catalog. The first record will always be notable for being the band's debut and "Paranoid" is famous for being, well, "Paranoid." "Sabbath Bloody Sabbath" was the last of the good Ozzy records and "Black Sabbath Vol. 4" has "Supernaut," of course.

Sometimes, "Master of Reality" gets lost in the shuffle. The album has zero bad songs and has some of the band's highlights. "Lord of this World" is the ideological sequel to "War Pigs," while "Sweet Leaf" is a love song ode to, well, marijuana and probably the first stoner rock record. "Children of the Grave" is, like the first album, heavily occult-based and "Solitude" is easily Ozzy's most tender vocal work.

"After Forever" continues to be, to me, the most confusing of all Sabbath songs. A Tony Iommi-penned number, the song sings the virtues of Christianity. It's been speculated that Iommi was simply being anti-establishment in his writing. In essence, the song was written in sarcasm, some argue. Iommi has never really commented on it, troubling as that is.

But, the beauty of Sabbath, of course, is in the riffs. "Sweet Leaf" opens the album with a heavy, slow burn (sorry) head-banging riff and a thumping Bill Ward drum line. Covered by weed-smoking bands everywhere, it's a classic among classics. The album is filled with similar riffs.


padraig said...

I always debate between this and Paranoid as my favorite though really you just can't fuck with any of the first three albums or Sabbath Bloody Sabbath. A million immitations later Sweet Leaf is STILL probably the greatest song ever about weed, in the same way "Respiration" by Blackstar is the greatest hip hop song about New York (well, or "NY State of Mind" I guess). Every single riff on this album still rips nearly 40 years after the fact.

Justin said...

Gotta love the cough at the start of "Sweet Leaf."

Definitely an underrated album from an underrated band. It's a shame that the hard rock these guys (along with Cream, Deep Purple, Zeppelin, Hendrix and the rest) pioneered turned into such a joke as the years went on. Thank you KISS and Ratt.