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MASTER OF REALITY

Black Sabbath

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Black Sabbath Master Of Reality album cover
4.00 | 519 ratings | 32 reviews | 40% 5 stars

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Studio Album, released in 1971

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Sweet Leaf (5:02)
2. After Forever (5:25)
3. Embryo (0:20)
4. Children of the Grave (5:23)
5. Orchid (1:30)
6.Lord of this World (5:24)
7. Solitude (5:02)
8. Into the Void (6:12)


Lyrics

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Music tabs (tablatures)

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Line-up / Musicians

Tony Iommi - all guitars, piano, flute
Geezer Butler - Bass, mellotron
Ozzy Osbourne - Vocals
Bill Ward - Drums


Releases information

Released July 21, 1971
Re-Released March 5, 1996

LP Vertigo 6360 050 (UK Jul 1971)
LP Warner Bros BS 2526 (US 1971)

Thanks to Sean Trane for the addition
and to Tarcisio Moura for the last updates
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BLACK SABBATH Master Of Reality ratings distribution


4.00
(519 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of rock music(40%)
40%
Excellent addition to any rock music collection(41%)
41%
Good, but non-essential (16%)
16%
Collectors/fans only (2%)
2%
Poor. Only for completionists (1%)
1%

BLACK SABBATH Master Of Reality reviews


Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Sean Trane
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Prog Folk
3 stars 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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Send comments to Sean Trane (BETA) | Report this review (#143804) | Review Permalink
Posted Friday, October 12, 2007

Review by russellk
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars I'm much less fond of this than any of BLACK SABBATH's other early albums, mainly I suppose because it wears its occult underpinnings so obviously on its sleeve. I also feel the material is thinner, with five five-minute metal tracks supplemented by three gentle numbers, two of them disposable.

After warning us about drugs on the previous album ('Hand of Doom') BLACK SABBATH now encourage us to try them ('Sweet Leaf'). Perhaps the shift to Los Angeles changed their minds, or perhaps one or both viewpoints are simply poses. The latter, I'd guess. The members of the band had tried other routes to success before hitting on the doom metal/occult formula, and here they milk it for everything they can. I find this album much less honest than its predecessor.

There are dozens of riffs scattered through this album like diamonds in pig manure, and songs that are respected and influential throughout the heavy metal world: 'Children of the Grave' and 'Lord of this World', for example. The only track I listen to on a regular basis, however, is 'Into the Void', which has a shape not dissimilar to 'War Pigs', and a fine sci-fi motif.

I'm delighted to report that BLACK SABBATH did not continue down this dead-end road. They returned a year later to produce the first of three consecutive progressive-influenced albums, discarding much of the 'Master of Reality' formula.

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Send comments to russellk (BETA) | Report this review (#144037) | Review Permalink
Posted Friday, October 12, 2007

Review by ZowieZiggy
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars In no less than seventeen months "Sabbath" will release three major heavy metal albums. My expectations were of course extremely high after the fabulous "Paranoïd".

And even if I was a bit disappointed, this album is a good one. Again. During some songs (two), new directions will be sought for but of course "Sweet Leaf" (the opener) is fully a "Sabbath" song. Heavy with no compromission at all. One of the highlight. Strange thing with the following song "After Forever". The riff is VERY similar to "Flight Of The Rat" from "In Rock" ("Purple"). You will tell me that mixing heavy metal with hard-rock is no big deal, but it is a nice combination to my ears.

Even if the first side of "Paranoïd" is not equalled, this "MOR" one is really superb as well. The wonderful "Children of the Grave" closes it with power and grandeur. It is a very rhythmy song, very dynamic. Even spacey during the finale ! Did "Floyd" influenced "Sabbath" ?

When B-sides started it is almost as if one listens to a subtle "Howe" or "Hackett" kind of acoustic jewel. Delicate play by Iommi. If you don't know that piece of instrumental music, there is no way to imagine that this is a "Sabbath" number. Even if it lasts only for ninety seconds. Just a breathe before a classic, just routine song. Still, there is a great beat in "Lords of This World" and the quality of this album remains intact.

There is some flavour of "Planet Caravan" when you listen to "Solitude". You have to know that some of the band members (Ozzy and Bill) were on heavy drugs so maybe that this song saw the light after some trippy experience. It is my least fave of the album. The closing number delivers the same recipe but at this time it might be considered as a bit too much (or maybe that after having listened to three "Sabbath" albums in a row for these reviewing purposes it is becoming a bit too much).

Inspiration has declined with this album. Three stars.

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Send comments to ZowieZiggy (BETA) | Report this review (#144172) | Review Permalink
Posted Friday, October 12, 2007

Review by Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars "Master of Reality" was the third album released in August 1971. By that time, Black Sabbath had been playing and touring together for four years they were severely burned out. They actually did not have enough material for the next album that's why they wrote most of songs in the studio, including their classics "Children of The Grave" and "Sweet Leaf". Due to time constraint, the album was written and recorded in three weeks. Iommi played flute in "Solitude" in addition to guitar.

As in the case with Deep Purple where Ian Gillan did not get along with Ricthie Blackmore, it applied to Black Sabbath as well. The central problem was between Ozzy and Iommi. Both gentlemen could not get along really well and Iommi wanted to be the one who controlled the band. Despite the tension between Ozzy and Iommi, the bad still delivered good album "Master of Reality". It's not a bad album at all. Keep on rockin' ..!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

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Send comments to Gatot (BETA) | Report this review (#146169) | Review Permalink
Posted Sunday, October 21, 2007

Review by b_olariu
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars My favourite Sabbath with Ozzy on voice. This is the apoggee of the band, Master of Reality was the third album released in August 1971. Here they captured all the best ideasthey had 'till then. Master of reality is much more choesive than Paranoid much more doomy on sound and inspiration is all over the album. So a monumental album in Sabbath carere and one of their best. The pieces that needs attention are:After Forever,Orchid and the stunning Into the Void. So a full 4 strs for this historical album, both on heavy history and in music in general. Again to me Sabbtah is no prog, as i mention before, not even the first 4 albums. 4 stars recommended.

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Send comments to b_olariu (BETA) | Report this review (#147437) | Review Permalink
Posted Saturday, October 27, 2007

Review by Chris S
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Much more mature than their predecessors, and a more polished production. This probably went against them in terms of fan acclaim. The cover did not help either, especially when Vinyl sleeves were important in terms of the overall package.IMHO this was Black Sabbath evolving into a more slick outfit. Musically more composed and conceptually more focussed. The album opens with the hypnotic ' Sweet leaf', a testimonial to cannabis saliva, does not hold up for the whole song but nevertheless a great opener setting the tone to anti establishment missives and freedom of experimentation.' After Forever' is another great solid track and then the beautiful short instrumentals creep in like ' Embryo' and ' Orchid' so simply delivered but a fine balance to the general wretched message but also great guitar work from Iommi.

The second part of Master Of Reality is for me the strongest with ' Lord Of This World' and ' Solitude' total opposites to one another sharing some spine tingling goose bump moments. The latter probably the finest mellow song BS ever produced.The album closes with ' Into The Void' which hinted at even better days ahead but notwithstanding the enjoyment this album provided. Excellent material and a solid four stars.

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Send comments to Chris S (BETA) | Report this review (#147503) | Review Permalink
Posted Saturday, October 27, 2007

Review by Mellotron Storm
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars This was my favourite SABBATH album when I was young. I suppose that was because it was so heavy and straightforward. I guess that's why it's not rated nearly as high as I think it should be on this site, because this is a Prog site. I still rate it as a masterpiece just like "Paranoid". I remember a number of years ago my brother in law (who has played lead guitar in some local bands, and is a huge IRON MAIDEN fan) being at a family Christmas get-together with at that time his new girl friend who was a Metal fan herself. He out of the blue says to me "Johnny ! What's SABBATH's best album ?" I said "Master Of Reality". He turns to his girfriend and says "See ! Everyone who knows SABBATH knows "Master Of Reality" is their best." I thought it was funny at the time because I didn't think he would agree with me. Most say "Paranoid".

"Sweet Leaf" is an ode to weed, a love song to Maryjane. I should have had shares in that company. Anyway it opens with that most famous of coughs before Iommi delivers one of his huge riffs, Ozzy then shouts "Alright now ! Won't you listen ?" I really love the sound of Ward's drums on this one. The song picks up the pace 2 1/2 minutes in as Iommi shows he can shred with the best of them. Check Ward out 3 minutes in. "After Forever" is my favourite SABBATH song. It could have been written by a Christian band, yet the music is dark and heavy. I'd love to write down the lyrics of the whole song here because they are that meaningful. Butler shines on this one all the way through. This is so catchy, and the instrumental sections when Ozzy isn't singing are so uplifting thanks to Iommi's guitar tone. The guy is truly brilliant. It opens and closes with what sounds like synths. Check out the lyrics though, like "Is God just a thought within your head or is he part of you ? Is Christ just a name that you read in a book when you were at school." And "Could it be you're afraid of what your friends might say if they knew you believe in God above.They should realize before they criticise that God is the only way to love."

"Embryo" is a very short instrumental before we get into "Children Of The Grave". Listen to the way this one builds in the intro. And check out the percussion throughout. This one can't be played loud enough in my opinion. I like the way it slows down briefly and at the same time gets heavier. An absolute shred-fest from Iommi. It ends ominously with the whispered words "Children of the grave" spoken 3 times. "Orchid" is almost Hackett-like. Another short acoustic instrumental, this one is beautiful. "Lord Of This World" opens with a great heavy sound. This one gets better as it plays out. Metal fills the air 2 1/2 minutes in. Ward is impressive as well. I like the rhythm of this song. "Solitude" is another song besides "After Forever" that surprises me lyrically. I really like this song with it's heart felt lyrics and added flute. On each of their first three albums they have had a mellow track. "Sleeping Village" on their debut, and "Planet Caravan" on "Paranoid". The album ends with "Into The Void".It opens with these slow and heavy riffs. It picks up though before the song takes off after 3 minutes. Giutars come crashing in 5 1/2 minutes. Ozzy's vocals are hypnotic, almost mechanical most of the time.

I really like to compare LED ZEPPELIN to BLACK SABBATH in their early years. Not musically necessarily, but putting album against album. After their first three records I would give SABBATH the edge, although it would be pretty even after four albums in my opinion.

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Posted Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Review by Finnforest
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars The third album "Master of Reality" was a huge commercial success for the band upon its release in the summer of 1971. An older co-worker was telling me how he and his brother played this thing constantly that year and in doing so annoyed the hell out of a mutual friend who hated the album. So of course when the friend's birthday came around my co-worker and his brother gave the friend what else for his birthday? Master of Reality! He was not amused.

Sadly the message in the album's opener hasn't changed in nearly 40 years. People still "don't know what you're about" and even worse have taken to extremist measures to stifle dissent. There are still too many people who can't make the obvious distinction between an apple and an orange, and the generalizations just snowball from there. It's sad because the damage done fighting the straw man is far worse than the "problem" itself. Imagine what good we could do with the resources wasted on this black hole. Next, the fire and brimstone lyrics of "After Forever" ruin an otherwise great song for me personally and may have helped promote the unfortunate merging of evangelical proselytizing with rock music. But it should have put any nonsense about Sabbath's "occult" motives to rest. It is ironic that a band with such pro-Christian belief chose to perpetuate the image of something sinister and evil, perhaps they just had a good laugh at the thought of pissing off the parents of their customers. I know they succeeded in our household where the band name alone was enough to irritate my dear Mom. But I just love Geezer's joyful up-running bass line throughout this track, wonderful stuff-enough to help me put up with the lyrics. In an interview Butler had this to say to those who view Black Sabbath's motives in a negative light: "any lyrics that I or Ozzy wrote were actually warnings against Satanism, telling people that if you are going to dabble in that, just be careful... I had a very strict Catholic upbringing, so I read a lot about Satan. But we never, ever promoted Satanism or black magic, we only used it as a reference, and it wasn't our only topic. We wrote a lot of science fiction lyrics, anti-Vietnam war songs, the occult was only dealt with in three or four songs. But people completely misinterpreted them, the way they always do... Sabbath even did a blatantly pro-God, Christian hymn type of song, 'After Forever', and people still took it the wrong way. They thought we were taking the piss out of it! I think it's sad that those bands in Norway are trying to get publicity by burning down churches. Music shouldn't ever preach hatred or intolerance, there's already enough of that in the world... Some of these new bands are so fake it's unbelievable, they don't even know what they're singing about half the time." [Geezer Butler]

"Embryo" and "Orchid" are short instrumental interludes that are just beautiful and sadly short. Too bad they couldn't have expanded those a bit. "Solitude" is a mysterious and intriguing acoustic departure that sees them trying a very mellow vocal and woodwind sound without drums. It is nice but ultimately fails to take the great idea to the next level as Zeppelin did with something like "Battle of Evermore." It just fades away too soon. The other tracks are decent hard rock songs but fail to connect at quite the level of the best songs on the previous album. Master is certainly one that fans of the Oz period are going to require but personally it's about 2 ¾ stars.

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Posted Saturday, December 01, 2007

Review by UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars The third album from Black Sabbath Master of Reality almost had to do the impossible to succeed. Master of Reality was the successor to the most famous heavy metal album ever made. Paranoid was the sophmore album from Black Sabbath and what an album. The debut from Black Sabbath was innovative and brilliant in it´s own respect but Paranoid took Black Sabbath´s concept a little further. The songs are unforgettable classics in the heavy metal world. Songs like Paranoid, Iron Man and War Pigs are heavy metal evergreens. Master of Reality doesn´t reach the same high level, but it is an excellent album of early seventies heavy metal.

The music is power chord riff based heavy metal. It´s actually pretty melodic and not that heavy compared to today´s standards, but back then this was really heavy.

The album starts with the ode to pot Sweet Leaf and right away we´re treated to some real strong power chord riffing and Ozzy´s signature voice. One of the best odes to drugs I know. Other standout tracks on this relatively short album are Children of the Grave and Solitude. After Forever, Lord of this World and Into the Void are also great tracks. Both Embryo and Orchid are a waste of time though. Couldn´t Toni Iommi at least have tuned his guitar before recording these tunes ?

The sound quality is not very good compared to the two previous albums. It´s very murky and not nearly as powerful as Black Sabbath or Paranoid. Strange that they could get a worse production with their third album ? Well it doesn´t destroy my listening pleasure and as the songs are so good it´s still an excellent album.

Even though the songs are great, this album can´t live up to the masterpiece status of the previous two albums, but it is still an excellent heavy metal album and worth 4 stars in my book. This is highly recommendable.

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Posted Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Symphonic Team
5 stars The masters of my reality!

After the pioneering but not quite perfect debut album and the somewhat uneven and transitional Paranoid came the fantastic Master Of Reality that fulfilled all the evident potential displayed on the two first albums. Master Of Reality thus completed the band's progression from electrified Blues Rock to innovative Heavy Metal and the end result is not only one of my favourite Black Sabbath albums, but one of my favourite albums of all time by anyone!

Master Of Reality is a rather short album but not one second is wasted, the album is packed with classic material from beginning till end. From the echoed cough that opens Sweet Leaf to the strange but fantastic riff that sounds almost like it is being played backwards on Into The Void, this album is nothing short of brilliant! One thing that I find utterly breathtaking about this music is its great sense of urgency. There are an abundance of great musical ideas that are crammed into such a short timeframe that there is not one single second of the album where I feel that they could have many it any better by bringing in more ideas. Every musical idea, every riff, every melody, every solo is exploited only to its full potential and never more than that. They never settle into a groove for too long, but instead move on the next great riff, the next short solo, the next break so quickly that you will not know what hit you. They never repeat themselves more than necessary on this album.

In typical Black Sabbath fashion there are many tempo and mood changes in these songs. It is clearly a mistake to think that a song must be long in order to be progressive. Indeed, many Psychedelic and Blues Rock bands of the 60's and 70's had very long songs, but they were often not the slightest progressive. Nowhere on Master Of Reality do they revert to Blues Rock or improvisation. Everything is well structured and performed with precision, but still with all the space needed for the musicians to breathe. There is not one moment of dullness.

I could probably write a whole essay on what I like about this album, but in accordance with the nature of the album I will try to be brief. The key to understanding the immense quality of this album is that you must judge the album as a whole. The two short guitar instrumentals, Embryo and Orchid, function as perfect mood setters for the heavier tracks in between them. And they give the whole album a conceptual feel, where the whole is far greater than the sum of the parts.

Another essential ingredient to this album's masterpiece status for me is its great variation. The two short instrumentals and the slow, spacy ballad Solitude allows the listener to catch his breath between the heavier, faster songs. Solitude, with its heavy use of flute has something of a Camel feeling to it, circa Mirage!

Children of the Grave features very unconventional and interesting drumming by Bill Ward and Geezer's distinctive bass lines shine throughout the album. He has here a very loud and bottom bass sound. There are some (unaccredited) very discrete keyboards on the album as well, most notably on After Forever but also on Children Of The Grave, that adds great effect.

Master Of Reality is a real classic and Black Sabbath's first (but not last) masterpiece!

Extremely recommended!

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Posted Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Review by Eetu Pellonpää
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Another nice but not so interestig record from the Sabbath fellows. The album starts with the coughs from "Sweet Leaf", the famous budbrain anthem. I guess it rocks, but doesn't really roll to my own chronology of thoughtful heavy anthems. The following "After Forever" succeeds much better, having some religious contemplation on the lyrics, emphasizing the good over evil, and having also pleasant stoner rock groove in it. I remember my friend had a vinyl copy which stuck jumping to the middle part's reprisal of the opening verse, the spin matching with the rhythm correctly, and creating an infinite, musically pleasant black hole being borne to this song. "Embryo" is a small joke by the band, and I wonder why this kind of fillers started to end up in growing pace to the records. "Orchid" is a small would-be a classical guitarist tune, melodically more pleasant than the previous weird shorty. From the other longer songs the only memorable on is the melancholic ballad "Solitude". This gem was used in a nice way on Mika Kaurismäki's "Zombie and A Ghost Train", where a bass player performed by Silu Seppälä drinks himself to death at the side alleys of Istanbul.

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Posted Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Review by crimson87
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Master of Reality is a really hard album to rate in a progressive rock site since it features very little connection with our beloved music. In contrast , it is one of the most influential heavy metal records of all time ( Well almost all Ozzy Sabbath records are) But this one , in my opinion has stood the passing of time better than others. This record is under the 35 minute barrier but... jeez it's intense!!! Heavier than Judas Priest and many of the NWOBHM bands that would take Sabbath as their main influence.

The songs here are more slow paced than on the previous two albums and Iommi's axe seems to be downtuned even more. I remember one review on a metal site that said "They should have included some Prozac with this one!" Well , with the exeption of the relaxing "Solitude" there is nothing on " Master of Reality" that could sound depressing. Instead , I find this one to be a perfect record to listen when you are full of angst.

From the cannabis anthem " Sweet Leaf" you will face a record that is miles ahead of it's time , almost a manual for guitarists on riff creation. Iommi's trademark short riffs sound better than ever here. Ozzy's lyrics are thought provoking as usual , my favourite is " After Forever "( "Would you like to see the Pope at the end of a rope , do you think he is a fool?") That line deserves some clappies here. Apart from the heaviness this record has from start to finish , " Solitude" stands on it's own as one of the most unique Sabbath songs , this is a really soothing one sounding like Opeth's calmest moments or the "More" era Floyd.

I am too tempted to give this record 5 stars , but I guess I ll stay in 4 since this record is too short and I want to compare it to other Ozzy- Sabbath releases. But believe me , every single record from "Black Sabbath" to "Sabbotage" is a Heavy Metal masterpiece.

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Posted Thursday, January 29, 2009

Review by Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Prog Metal Team
4 stars Master Of Reality is one of Sabbath's most convincing metal album of the Ozzy years. It will appeal to the metal audience for its dense and heavy doom attack, but it has more to offer then just that. Most of the songs have gone beyond the simple heavy blues of the first album and contain more complex arrangements and even some folk influences.

Sweet Leaf kicks things into action. Vintage Iommi riffing and Ozzy shouting against it. Works brilliantly. Very similar to Iron Man but less silly and much more convincing. On After Forever a light folksy tune fights with ultra heavy churning metal sections. This diversity make them appear even heavier then they are. Embryo is a great folk tune again on clean electric guitar and serves as an excellent introduction to Children of the Grave. Great percussion work here.

Just as on Genesis Foxtrot, Orchid sets off side two with a gentle acoustic track much like Horizons. The songs that follow can not be compared to Supper's Ready of course, but still, they represent the pinnacle of Sabbaths 70's work, muck like Supper's Ready did for Genesis. The songs here set the benchmark for all future doom bands. Lord of This World does it in a slow funeral tempo, Solitude with gentle guitars and flutes, Into the Void with vintage headbanging staccato riffing and eerie chanting. The variation between slow and fast will become a template for nearly every future doom metal album.

This album works a lot better then Paranoid, which lacked a bit of punch and was uneven in the songwriting with both classic tracks next to a few tepid affairs. If you want to check out Sabbath, pick up either the debut, this album or Heaven and Hell.

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Posted Sunday, September 06, 2009

Review by snobb
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars "Revolution in their minds-the children start to march..."

Black Sabbath third album is a bit different from previous two, but is absolute gem. Songs became shorter, sound is more complex and very doom. If not too much progressive, this album is a classic doom metal album and one of the best BS with Ozzy releases. "Sweet Leaf" and "Children Of The Grave " both are golden style classics.

I like a bit different sound of this album. Great as usual drums and bass line, Ozzy is in perfect form as well. I believe that this album ( as all Black Sabbath music) is somewhere on very border at progressive rock site, so for sure it is music more for classic heavy metal fans.

But if you're in it, this album is just a real pleasure!

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Posted Friday, December 04, 2009

Review by Seyo
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Unlike the first two albums, I never quite dig into "Master of Reality". Maybe because of murky production and overtly dark sound, maybe because the songs started to show first sign of loss of creativity, or maybe due to silly "After Forever", which still sounds as the band wanted to repent their "Satanic" deeds from earlier records and show off their true religious nature to the public and the establishment. Manichaean battle between the Good and the Evil rages on, but is that a point?...

To be sure, "Sweet Leaf" is a classic ode to a mind-bending substance with Iommi's grinding guitars, while "Children of the Grave", bookended with two nice instrumental miniatures - folksy "Embryo" and classical "Orchid" - with its warning lyrics to the always ongoing "war" between generations still holds its power. Another good metallic stomper is the closing "Into the Void", while the remaining material is definitely pretty average, including a nice try to build upon the "Planet Caravan" foundations in "Solitude", but which ends up as a nice try with a flute.

Cover is good work of art so I can almost imagine it containing the words "Bauhaus" or "Bela Lugosi is dead" instead, thus anticipating the later Goth-rock or whatever trends...

PERSONAL RATING: 3,5/5

P.A. RATING: 3/5

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Posted Sunday, February 21, 2010

Review by tarkus1980
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars If heaviness and arse-kicking power are your primary criteria for judging Sabbath albums, then this is not only Black Sabbath's best album, but probably one of the best albums ever made. This is the album where Tony's old fingertips injury inspired him to tune his guitar down two whole steps and accidentally stumble into the lowest, most grumbling and monstrous guitar tone that the rock world had yet seen. Furthermore, Tony apparently liked this tone so much that he crafted all of the rockers in such a way that this tone would be the most outstanding feature of the songs. Every "conventional" Sabbath number here is a lumbering, mid-tempo beast, driven by a (usually) massive set of riffs that pound the tone right through my skull whether I want it to or not. In short, it's basically a Sabbath lover's dream come true.

But dagnabbit, while I may like a skull-splitting, grungey piece of heavy riffage from time to time, I just can't get ecstatic about hearing this much of it at once. When I'm listening to heavy rock, I like speed and rushes of adrenaline and moody guitar solos and, well, everything that In Rock by Deep Purple has to offer. Or, to put my thoughts back in BS terms, I like my 70's metal albums to have stuff like "Paranoid" or "Black Sabbath" on them. Each of the heavy songs on here is nice to listen to on its own, yes (though "Lord of this World" doesn't strike me as particularly wonderful), but I'm not thrilled about having them all strung together as these are.

It also kinda hurts that the moments where the band actually takes a break from its usual shtick aren't exactly of the highest quality. "Embryo" barely counts as a track, as it's just a 30 second guitar-bass duet of some chord sequence Tony probably put together after reading a couple of chapters in a book on music theory. "Orchid" is a 90 second acoustic piece that's mildly pleasant, with well-done moody basslines giving some depth, but that also doesn't make much of an effort to develop the melody (if a couple of chords can be called a melody). And, well, the lone conventional ballad, "Solitude," doesn't even come close to filling my desire for another "Planet Caravan"-quality soft number. I'm sorry, but flutes or no flutes, Ozzy just doesn't have the kind of voice that can move me when singing soft ballads, and the song suffers accordingly.

So ultimately, I'm left with the monstrous riffs, which (despite my whining) are enough to bring the album up to a low **** in my eyes. Since there's only so many ways to describe songs that are all based around a few riffs (and almost NOTHING else), I will now, instead of describing the songs, describe the other aspect of the album that people tend to mention a lot; the lyrics. After the opening pro-pot anthem, "Sweet Leaf" (my favorite of the lot, possibly because it comes first), we have a nice string of anti-Satan and, sometimes, pro- Christian lyrics. Yup, "After Forever" was Christian Metal long before CCM came into vogue, with such silly oft-quoted gems as, "Could it be you're afraid of what your friends might say if they knew you believe in God above? They should realize before they criticize that God is the only way to love!" And as for the others, well, we have an ode to hippie-love ("Children of the Grave"), a condemmnation of those who made Satan more powerful than God in the world ("Lord of this World"), and a look forward to being out of Satan's world and in heaven ("Into the Void"). Debates have been ongoing since this album came out about whether these lyrics were just as ironic as the band's Satanic trappings or whether they were a show of sincere admiration for Christianity, but honestly, since the God-oriented lyrics are more or less as banal as the Satan-oriented lyrics, I find the whole thing kinda silly.

In short, I do like the album quite a bit, but I just can't get as worked up about it as a lot of people seemingly can. If you live and die by riffs and heaviness, though, get it as fast as you can.

PS: For some reason, my copy has Into the Void as the seventh track and ends with Solitude (different from everybody else's copy, apparently), thus having one of the most spectacularly out-of-character endings to an album I've ever heard.

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Posted Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Review by The Quiet One
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars "OBEY YOUR MASTER! MASTER!"

What a decade were the 70's! Definitely a decade which most youngsters of today, which are hard-core music fans, wished they have lived in, especially there in good ol' Great Britain. So much diversity, so much innovation, so much quality music to be found! One of the many new musical adventures and innovators of that time was the heavy, ''Satanists'', Black Sabbath, led by the master of riffs: Tony Iommi.

1971 was a time in which most of the acclaimed bands had already released their debut and were beginning to mature their songwriting and playing. Black Sabbath was one of them, having released their raw, world-wide famous, gloomy and heavy debut in 1970 for the amusement of all music fans of the time (well they still surprise us, youngsters, who weren't there when it was released).Then came the more concise, but slightly more commercial with two ''hit singles'', Paranoid, containing heavy rock masterpieces such as War Pigs and Faires Were Boots.

Well, Sabbath one year later confirmed the world that they were the masters of heavy and dark rock music; that their two first albums were not an illusion, they were actually the reality. Master of Reality showed the band in a far more matured way, musically speaking, the blues roots were disappearing and Tony Iommi was writing cleverer and more elaborated heavy (and soft) pieces.

This 1971 album by Sabbath was and still is one-of-a-kind. Opening with a repeated 'cough' just to fool the listener, since it's only a matter of time till Tony enters the album with such a bleak sounding guitar accompanied by Geezer's equally dark and sludgy bass. Ozzy is there giving the last ingredient, giving the final touch to a band who needed such a characteristical frontman.

It's no use describing each song since most of you might know them by hard, so I'll just say that with the exception of Embryo, Orchid and Solitude, which are great acoustic/tranquil tunes that fit the album's mood, the rest are hard rocking songs with massive and memorable guitar riffs, smart time changes and engaging performances from the band in general.

So yeah, this album, like dozens of other albums from the 70's, is simply a must for all music fans. Although, of course, if you're not fond of heavy music at all, I doubt you'll get even a bit of enjoyment from this killer proto-metal album.

While I tend to listen more to the rawer debut and the proggier Sabbath Bloody Sabbath, Master of Reality still is a masterpiece of rock music.

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Posted Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Review by Rune2000
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Prog Metal Team
5 stars Who could predict that Black Sabbath would get better after Paranoid? Apparently only those who considered that album not to be as great as its status may imply!

Not only is Master Of Reality my favorite Black Sabbath release but it's also easily among my top 10 favorite albums of all time! An album of this status can't be merely a combination of the best qualities from the first two Sabbath releases. On contrary, I would actually argue that this record sounds nothing like those two albums and the sooner you'll accept it the easier it will be for you to get into the groove!

I'd say that Master Of Reality also happens to be as progressive as Black Sabbath would ever get, which is why I was surprised to see such a poor reception of this release. I'm not saying that this music is any close to the progressive rock scene of its time but there is a definite Heavy Prog vibe in compositions like After Forever and Into The Void. For me, it's the mere fact that there is not a single weak track and an excellent mystical atmosphere embedded into the music that makes it enough reason to call it a masterpiece. I'm not really planing to break this album into the individual moments since, just like Black Sabbath's debut album, Master Of Reality is not about the particular moments but more about that perfect flow that surrounds all of its material. The only side note I will mention is that this is the record where Tony Iommi started adding short guitar interludes between some of the songs which would become somewhat of a trademark for him on future albums.

Master Of Reality is quite an important album in my collection because of its uniqueness in the sea of excellent and not so much releases from Black Sabbath. I urge everyone to experience this complete masterpiece of an album since, to me, this is not only the best Black Sabbath album but also the most accomplished Hard Rock album ever put on tape!

***** star songs: Sweet Leaf (5:02) After Forever (5:25) Embryo (0:20) Children Of The Grave (5:23) Orchid (1:30) Lord Of This World (5:24)

**** star songs: Solitude (5:02) Into The Void (6:12)

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Posted Sunday, September 05, 2010

Review by colorofmoney91
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars I grew up on music by Ozzy and Iommi, and Master of Reality by Black Sabbath is one of my favorites by the team.

This album marks the change in Black Sabbath's sound that ultimately became known as sludge or stoner metal, utilizing a thick and fuzzy guitar sound coupled with a slow and steady tempo that drudges through the songs, though the music here actually does frequently pick up the pace. This album is maybe not as progressive as the material on Vol. 4 or Sabbath Bloody Sabbath, but the music still has short but enjoyable instrumental breaks. Ozzy's voice is also very strong on the album and goes terrifically with the sludgy instrumentation.

Besides being a landmark album in the development of the progressive sludge metal genre, contained within this album are a few of Sabbath's most popular songs - "Sweet Leaf", "Children of the Grave" and "Into the Void", which are all heavy songs. One of my personal favorites, "After Forever", is kind of uplifting compared to the rest of the album and comes across as sounding playful and psychedelic. The short interlude tracks "Embryo" and "Orchid" really add a progressive flow to the album, and the latter is actually quite a beautiful acoustic intro into the heavy groove that makes up "Lord of this World", which is one of the more progressive tracks on this album with its time changes and it is full of fantastic grooves. "Solitude" is a beautiful track with standout bass tone and wouldn't sound out of place on a prog folk album at all. "Into the Void" finishes the album with a strong, steady, solid groove.

One thing that Black Sabbath has always been great at are riffs, and there are plenty to love on this album.

Highly recommended master craft progressive music.

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Posted Monday, April 11, 2011

Review by Warthur
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars The third Black Sabbath album saw the band attempt to diversify their sound a little, and so there's a bit less of the pure proto-doom sound of their debut on view here and a few more 70s hard rock cliches (Bill Ward even unleashes a little cowbell on Lord of This World). The album by and large succeeds simply by virtue of still being far heavier than anything else being produced at the time, with songs like Sweet Leaf, Lord of This World, and the thunderous Children of the Grave being particular highlights.

However, the album isn't perfect. It includes two small instrumental filler pieces - Embryo and Orchid - which I actually think are pretty decent (I can't think of Children of the Grave without having Embryo as a lead in to it), but others may take issue with. The band repeat the attempt to include a quiet song with the inclusion of Solitude, which unfortunately just isn't very good - it's over five minutes long and really needs to trim three of those minutes, it's a poor attempt at a flute-led melodic love ballad which fails to match up to the efforts of other bands working in the same vein (it reminds me a little of a poor attempt to mimic early Jade Warrior), and the lyrics are the sort of love poetry a self-important 13 year old might right.

Speaking of bad lyrics, the words to After Forever may irritate some listeners. The song itself is perfectly heavy, but the lyrics bash people who unthinkingly bash religion simply because they think it's the cool thing to do (which is fair enough - I'm an atheist myself but I think people should choose their religious beliefs because they've thought things through for themselves rather than to make a fashion statement), but then turns around and uncritically embraces Christianity as the answer to all man's ills.

The contradictory message ("Think for yourself and don't let others dictate your beliefs! By the way, Christ is the only answer.") will aggravate those who pay attention, so I advise just immersing yourself in the riffs and letting them flow over you. And the fact is that the downtuned sound of this album makes it the sludgiest disc of the Ozzy era. Like the debut album, Master of Reality deserves props simply because it introduced the world to a brand new sound which launched a whole subgenre or two of metal. It's just not quite perfect from beginning to end.

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Send comments to Warthur (BETA) | Report this review (#480267) | Review Permalink
Posted Monday, July 11, 2011

Review by Conor Fynes
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars 'Master of Reality' - Black Sabbath (8/10)

Although perhaps not as consistent as their seminal album "Paranoid", Black Sabbath took new steps forward with "Master of Reality". In the year since their self-titled debut, the band had received their share of fame and notoriety for their unprecedented heaviness and perceived 'Satanic' themes. As such, the band's third record seems to poke fun at these notions, showcasing a more laid back approach, and even praising the merits of Christianity. Although these new innovations don't always shine brightly, there is a still a hefty slice of the classic Sabbath sound here. Once again, Black Sabbath have not failed to impress.

Beginning on the iconic note of a sampled cough, the band erupt into "Sweet Leaf", a drug- addled tune that's become a fan favourite over the years. Picking up where they left off on "Paranoid", "Sweet Leaf" is pumped full of Tony Iommi's distinctive guitar fuzz. Barring that, "Lord of This World" and "Into The Void" harken back to Black Sabbath's traditional sound. There is still a trace of the downtempo bluesy grime in their songwriting, but it becomes apparent later on that 'Master of Reality' has progressed past what the band was doing the year before. In addition to "Sweet Leaf", "Solitude" is the other 'known' song from the album, an atmospheric ballad that sounds as if it would feel less lonesome on a prog rock record than anything. Here, Iommi showcases his flute and keyboard playing abilities, a far cry from the sludgy riffs he's best known for.

"Master of Reality" also features a pair of 'interlude' tracks that work best as experimental sketches. 'Embryo' is an eerie violin observation that may have worked well to space out the album's first side were it not so aimless. "Orchid" on the other hand is a nostalgic bit of acoustic plucking that works well to separate bouts of the band's typical heaviness. Without a doubt, the most controversial track here is "After Forever". Musically speaking, it's not such a departure from Black Sabbath's typical sound, sounding a touch more upbeat than their trademark gloom. Lyrically however, bassist Geezer Butler writes about his devotion to Christianity, even ridiculing those who may not agree with the Church. Whether or not this is a tongue-in-cheek jab at the accusations of Sabbath being Satanists, the preachy approach makes one wonder.

"Children of the Grave" is my favourite song off "Master of Reality". Although it shares the same style of sludgy riffs and over-the-top occult atmosphere with much of Sabbath's work up to this point, it stands out for its relatively intense rhythm, a gallop that would later be mirrored in Maiden's work. Pair that with an added layer of drums that sound like they could have been plucked out of a Voodoo ritual, and you have one of the album's hardest rocking tracks.

"Master of Reality" is an excellent continuation of what Black Sabbath were doing on the previous two records. Although not everything works to expectation, the more progressive edge they have here has opened plenty of doors for the band to explore. Overall, "Master of Reality" does not share the consistent string of 'essential' songs that "Paranoid" or even the self-titled did, but there is more than enough on Sabbath's third to give justice to their legacy as the godfathers of heavy metal.

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Send comments to Conor Fynes (BETA) | Report this review (#760657) | Review Permalink
Posted Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Latest members reviews

4 stars Sabbath matured further with the release of this album - imo the first of the four peak Sabbath releases. When I first heard this the Heavy metal sound left me breathless and stunned my senses. Sabbath had an instant fanboy in me with the release of this album. From the metallic coughing beggi ... (read more)

Report this review (#939130) | Posted by sukmytoe | Thursday, April 04, 2013 | Review Permanlink

3 stars It is almost pointless to write a review of this album. An album that is so highly influential and whose fruits is enjoyed by millions of fans around the world every day. I am off course talking about the heavy metal scene. A brotherhood of extreme loyal people who has kept many bands alive. It c ... (read more)

Report this review (#506480) | Posted by toroddfuglesteg | Saturday, August 20, 2011 | Review Permanlink

2 stars Possibly one of the weakest Ozzy Sabbath albums (along with 'Never say die'). Side one of original vinyl was great (although short at less than 17mins) and only 6 real tracks on the album,non of them over long. Would people almost call this an EP or mini-album if relesed nowadays?! The real ... (read more)

Report this review (#483984) | Posted by jsmidg | Saturday, July 16, 2011 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Black Sabbath's third release, Mast of Reality, holds a special place in my heart. It was the first album that I was, personally, exposed to in my youth from this great gothic rock band. The style is truely inventive, as the dark sounding production melts with the heart- poundingly intense so ... (read more)

Report this review (#318806) | Posted by Jazzywoman | Sunday, November 14, 2010 | Review Permanlink

1 stars Master of Reality is once more a drug induced album showing very little professionalism in the compact disc I bought this on. The recordings with this group showed scattered and unfocused distances. As with all Black Sabbath albums there is a song that is themed yet the band did not continue o ... (read more)

Report this review (#305509) | Posted by thewickedfall | Monday, October 18, 2010 | Review Permanlink

5 stars NOTE: I originally wrote this review for a blog I run with my friends, Styrofoam Boots. If you care to, send me a request and I'll give you a link to the site(I think the url messes up the review database process or something) This is going to be a refreshing change of pace for me, because th ... (read more)

Report this review (#293513) | Posted by 40footwolf | Thursday, August 05, 2010 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Black Sabbath meet the sinister Mr. mature mediocrity in... Master of Reality! [page after page of enhanced comic book doom action inside!] Black sabbath were fresh off the poisoned gravy train with Paranoid, and decided to follow it up with another metal release in the same vein. The songs h ... (read more)

Report this review (#212431) | Posted by Alitare | Saturday, April 25, 2009 | Review Permanlink

5 stars I think of this as one of the best hard rock albums ever made(and in Sabbath's discography,the only one to match their first).HARD rock,I say,because it's too heavy parts are in an absolute contrast with dramatic moments of peace,in the shape of acoustic interludes.As stated by a previous review ... (read more)

Report this review (#200187) | Posted by Gustavo Froes | Thursday, January 22, 2009 | Review Permanlink

4 stars The third Black Sabbath record is widely regarded as a classic and is also one of the heaviest albums of the band's long catalogue. Here we have Black Sabbath showing an emphasis on slower songs, an approach that the band repeated with the next record, “Volume 4”. Well, and the qu ... (read more)

Report this review (#180437) | Posted by Nhorf | Thursday, August 21, 2008 | Review Permanlink

5 stars I can`t see a band on stage trying to baffle the audience - Ozzy Osbourne, 1971 By the time Master Of Reality appeared in August 1971 rock journalists had dug up just about every sinister metaphor from the cataco ... (read more)

Report this review (#161700) | Posted by Vibrationbaby | Wednesday, February 13, 2008 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Master of reality followed in the footsteps of Paranoid, but less bluesy, and also showing their more experimental sound, that would reach it's peak on "Never Say Die". Pretty short album, only 34 minutes, but still manages to get through early Hard Rock, Heavy Metal, Acoustic & Ballad. Starts off ... (read more)

Report this review (#144250) | Posted by Abstrakt | Saturday, October 13, 2007 | Review Permanlink

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