Black Sabbath – Master of Reality: #767 of best 1,000 albums ever!

Black Sabbath - Master of Reality

Why is Black Sabbath’s Master of Reality on my best 1,000 albums ever list?

Heavy metal is bestowed upon We Mere Mortals. And it is good.

What does Black Sabbath’s Master of Reality mean to me? What does it make me feel? Why is it exciting or compelling?

I would wager that the first ten seconds of Master of Reality’s opening track, “Sweet Leaf,” will immediately help define if you’re a Black Sabbath fan or not.

Let’s break it down.

  • Beginning of “Sweet Leaf” until about the 4.5 second mark: someone coughs, and then that cough is turned into repeating loop
  • 4.5 seconds – 10 seconds: we hear the heaviest metal riff one can ever imagine being bestowed upon We Mere Mortals, and then at the end of this section good old Ozzy Osbourne screams, “All right now!”
  • 10 seconds – end of “Sweet Leaf”: heavy metal riffing and Ozzy doing his Ozzy stuff continues forthwith

I think the natural reactions to the first ten seconds of “Sweet Leaf” are roughly one of two things:

  • 1) What… is this thing… that you have inflicted upon us, We Mere Mortals? (clutches pearls or other fine sundries that happen to be at hand)
  • 2) Hell to the yes

Place me clearly and proudly in the latter camp.

Master of Reality contains just eight songs and has a playing time of 34 minutes and change. Two of those eight songs are very short instrumental numbers, almost palette cleansing sonic interstitials, really. But I think both “Embryo” and “Orchid” are pretty incredible. They show off the high musical intelligence of the band, who can clearly hold their own playing English folk songs or classical styles (like classical music styles, not classic rock styles) whenever they’re of the mind.

“Children of the Grave” is a ground stomping heavy metal tour de force, run at faster tempo than Black Sabbath typically goes for at this stage in this era.

Finally, really cool album note, via All Music:

Here Tony Iommi began to experiment with tuning his guitar down three half-steps to C#, producing a sound that was darker, deeper, and sludgier than anything they’d yet committed to record. (This trick was still being copied 25 years later by every metal band looking to push the limits of heaviness, from trendy nu-metallers to Swedish deathsters.) 

Personal stuff that’s somehow related to Black Sabbath’s Master of Reality

I talk about my strong association of Black Sabbath with playing foosball with my college housemates at Binghamton University in my self-titled Black Sabbath entry (#949 of 1,000 best albums ever). I had fun writing about it and you might have fun reading it. Here’s a snippet:

And for whatever reason the Dark Lords of Foosball decreed, Black Sabbath was most often the music we’d play. There was something about the sound and cadence of Ozzy and crew that matches the vibe and speed of our foosball matches. And for that reason alone, I’ll always hold fond Black Sabbath memories that only my friends and compatriots from that spectacular and singular year could possibly share.

Some stats & info about Black Sabbath – Master of Reality

  • What kind of musical stylings does this album represent? Hard Rock, Metal, Heavy Metal, British Bands
  • Rolling Stone’s greatest 500 albums ranking – #234
  • All Music’s rating5 out of 5 stars
  • When was Master of Reality released? 1971
  • My ranking, the one you’re reading right now – #767 out of 1,000

Black Sabbath’s Master of Reality on Spotify

What does the “best 1,000 albums ever” mean and why are you doing this?

Yeah, I know it’s audacious, a little crazy (okay, maybe a lot cray cray), bordering on criminal nerdery.

But here’s what it’s NOT: a definitive list of the Greatest Albums of All-Time. This is 100% my own personal super biased, incredibly subjective review of what my top 1,000 albums are, ranked in painstaking order over the course of doing research for nearly a year, Rob from High Fidelity style. Find out more about why I embarked on a best 1,000 albums ever project.