#234: Master of Reality, Black Sabbath
Old-school heavy metal albums are the whole reason I started this project. There’s just something about furious guitars that makes my heart happy.
The RS blurb begins by pointing out that although Paranoid, which they have listed as #139, “may have bigger hits,” Master of Reality “is heavier.” That might just be true, despite the fact that their lyrics are not heavy metal at all. I mean, I’m all for anti-war songs and Praise the Lord songs. It’s just funny that they’re coming from Black freaking Sabbath.
RS may have a point there. “Children of the Grave” has Ozzy sounding like he’s having the time of his life, and “After Forever” has this dirty guitar part that betrays its absolutely clean Jesus-happy message. The intro song, “Sweet Leaf,” has a guitar riff lifted straight from “Iron Man,” but you don’t see me complaining.
Ozzy might be having a blast, but guitarist Tony Iommi is the real hero here. “Embryo” and “Orchid” are just sweet instrumentals that let him show off his stuff, and offer a nice reprieve from all this death and sludge. He tuned down his instrument by half a step on some of the tunes, like “Lord of This World,” and not just to make it sound more badass. He’s missing the tips of two of his fingers, which might stop me from playing guitar forever. Iommi just tuned it down, making it both easier to play and much darker. I guess it didn’t hinder him much. Maybe I’ll chop part of my hand off.
Also, I love this album cover. Trippy pictures of dudes swinging things may signal heavy metal, but dark purple font on a pure black background is much more so. It just screams, I don’t have to prove my badass to you. And they don’t!
Favorite Track: “Into the Void,” which happened to also be one of Eddie Van Halen’s favorites. Soundgarden did a super cool cover of this, subbing in the protest speech of Chief Seattle for the lyrics. I’m sure Black Sabbath would approve.
Surprise Track: “Solitude,” which is the only slow lyrical song. I’m not sure Ozzy’s voice holds up, though. He’s better when he’s shrieking.
IS RS FULL OF IT? Well, they’re right when they say this album is heavier than Paranoid, that’s for sure.