Master of Reality
|Master of Reality|
|Studio album by Black Sabbath|
|Released||21 July 1971|
|Recorded||1 January – May 1971 at Island Studios in London, England|
|Black Sabbath chronology|
Master of Reality is the third album by the British heavy metal band Black Sabbath, released in July 1971. It is noted as laying the foundations of doom, stoner, and sludge metal. Master of Reality was certified double platinum after having sold over 2 million copies.
- 1 Recording
- 2 Music and lyrics
- 3 Cover and artwork
- 4 Reception
- 5 Covers
- 6 In popular culture
- 7 Track listing
- 8 Personnel
- 9 Sales accomplishments
- 10 Release history
- 11 See also
- 12 Notes
- 13 References
Master of Reality was recorded at Island Studios in London between February and April 1971. The album was produced by Rodger Bain, who had also produced their previous two albums. However, this would be his final collaboration with the band.
On the tracks "Children of the Grave", "Lord of This World", and "Into the Void", guitarist Tony Iommi decided to downtune his guitar three semi-tones to produce what he referred to as a "bigger, heavier sound". This also reduced string tension, thus making the guitar less painful for him to play; Iommi had two of his fingers partially severed in a factory accident years earlier. Geezer Butler also downtuned his bass guitar to match Iommi.
Music and lyrics
During recording, vocalist Ozzy Osbourne brought Iommi a large joint which caused the guitarist to cough uncontrollably. Iommi was recording acoustic guitar parts at the time, and thus his coughing fit was captured on tape. A fragment of Iommi's recorded coughing was later added by producer Bain as the intro to "Sweet Leaf", a song which was admittedly an ode to marijuana use. Iommi recalls "We all played Sweet Leaf while stoned."
Although the album jacket credits Iommi alone as the composer of "After Forever", Iommi admits that the song's lyrics were in fact composed by Butler. Butler was (and remains) a Catholic and the song focuses entirely on Christian themes. At the time, Black Sabbath were suspected by some observers of being Satanists due to their dark sound, image, and lyrics. "After Forever" was released as a single along with "Fairies Wear Boots" in 1971.
The song "Solitude" showcases guitarist Iommi's multi-instrumental talents, featuring him playing guitar, flute, and piano. A delay effect was later added to Osbourne's vocals on the song as a means of doubling the vocal track.
Cover and artwork
The first editions of the album came in an 'envelope sleeve' containing a poster of the band, and with the album's title embossed in black lettering, visible in relief. Later editions lacking the embossed printing would render the album title in grey. This was the first Black Sabbath sleeve on which the lyrics were reproduced on the back of the sleeve.
On the first North American editions of the album, several songs had subtitles given to segments, making it appear that there were more songs than there actually were. The intro of "After Forever" was given the title "The Elegy", the outro of "Children of the Grave" was called "The Haunting", the intro of "Lord of This World" was titled "Step Up", and the intro of "Into the Void" called "Deathmask". This treatment had also been used on the North American editions of Black Sabbath's previous two albums. These pressings also incorrectly listed the album title as Masters of Reality. Subsequent editions corrected the album's title and removed three of the four subtitles (all but "The Elegy").
|The Rolling Stone Album Guide|||
The album peaked at number 5 on the UK Albums Chart, and at number eight in the United States, where it achieved Gold status on advance orders alone. Eventually it sold two million copies in the US. However, it was not well received by contemporary music critics. Rolling Stone's Lester Bangs described Master of Reality as "monotonous" in a mixed review. Robert Christgau of The Village Voice found the band "dull and decadent" and called the album "a dim-witted, amoral exploitation."
In 2001, Q included the album in their list of the 50 Heaviest Albums of All Time, calling it "malevolent...casting Black Sabbath as a Titanic-style house band on the eve of Armageddon, cranking it as the bomb drops." A critic for the magazine cited it as "the most cohesive record of [the band's] first three albums." In 2003, Rolling Stone ranked the album at number 300 in their list of the 500 greatest albums of all time. and called it "the definitive studio relic of Sabbath's golden-hellfire era (1970–74)..."
Billy Corgan, leader of The Smashing Pumpkins, considered Master of Reality the album that "spawned grunge". John Stanier, drummer for Helmet and Tomahawk, cited the record as the one that convinced him to do music.
Songs from this album have been covered by a variety of bands.
"After Forever" has been covered by Biohazard for Nativity in Black, a Black Sabbath tribute album, Aurora Borealis for Hell Rules: Tribute to Black Sabbath, Vol. 2, Deliverance on their 1992 album What a Joke, and by the hardcore band Shelter on their 1992 album Quest for Certainty. Frost Like Ashes on their debut EP Pure As the Blood Covered Snow.
The song "Solitude" was covered by English doom metal band Cathedral as a bonus track for the European version of the 1994 Black Sabbath tribute album Nativity in Black, and later by Norwegian group Ulver on their 2007 album Shadows of the Sun. The song has also been covered by death metal band Demented Saint.
White Zombie covered "Children of the Grave" on Nativity in Black, spawning a single for Nativity in Black. Racer X, Earth Crisis and Neurosis have all covered the song as well.
"Sweet Leaf" was covered by Alice in Chains in a live performance in Cincinnati on August, 1991 and by Godsmack as a bonus track for the Japanese special edition of their 2000 album Awake and for the second volume of the Nativity in Black series.
The riff from "Sweet Leaf" was used as the basis for the Butthole Surfers' song "Sweat Loaf", from the album Locust Abortion Technician. Thrash metal band Anthrax, at the end of their cover of another Black Sabbath song, "Sabbath Bloody Sabbath" from their 1987 EP I'm the Man, launch into an abbreviated version of "Sweet Leaf" which fades to silence after several seconds. That same riff is referenced near the end of "Give It Away" by the Red Hot Chili Peppers. "Sweet Leaf" has also been covered by American metal band Ugly Kid Joe on their first release, As Ugly as They Wanna Be, and by Baltimore hardcore band Next Step Up on their 1995 album, Fall From Grace. Riffs from "Sweet Leaf" and "Into the Void" feature in a live recording of a Black Sabbath medley performed by Candlemass in 1988. The medley was released as a track on the bonus CD accompanying the 2003 re-release of their debut album, Epicus Doomicus Metallicus.
Estonian band Rondellus, in their tribute album Sabbatum, covered the songs "After Forever" and "Solitude" in Medieval style with lyrics translated into Latin. "After Forever" is retitled "Post Aeternitatem" (literally, "After Eternity"), and is sung by a choir of male voices. "Solitude" is sung by male and female voices, accompanied by positive organ.
Stoner doom metal band Sleep covered "Lord of this World" on their EP Volume Two. Grindcore band Brutal Truth made a cover of this song on their EP Perpetual Conversion. Also, Corrosion of Conformity recorded a version for Nativity in Black.
In popular culture
Several bands are named after songs on this album, or the album itself. Syracuse, New York hard rock band Masters of Reality, who enjoyed moderate success in the 1990s, took their name from the album title. Metal bands After Forever and Orchid take their name from the album tracks of the same name.
Mountain Goats leader John Darnielle wrote a short novel for the 33⅓ book series with Master of Reality as a central theme. The book is written in the form of a diary of a young man who has been committed to a mental health treatment facility, and how the teen relates to the world through the songs on the album.
British alternative band Arctic Monkeys' current logo is inspired by the lettering on the cover of Master of Reality.
All songs written and composed by Black Sabbath (Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler, Ozzy Osbourne, Bill Ward), except "Embryo" and "Orchid" by Iommi; all lyrics by Butler.
|4.||"Children of the Grave"||5:18|
|6.||"Lord of This World"||5:27|
|8.||"Into the Void"||6:13|
Original US LP Pressing
|2.||"After Forever (including The Elegy)"||5:25|
|4.||"Children of the Grave"||4:30|
|8.||"Lord of This World"||4:55|
|11.||"Into the Void"||3:08|
Note that, while the overall timing of "Deathmask/Into the Void" is approximately correct, the apportioning of time of "Deathmask" to "Into the Void" may be arbitrary, as the 3:08 mark of the song falls during "Into the Void"'s middle-8 vocal ("Freedom fighters sent off to the sun ..."). The revised US pressing timings, shown below, compound this likely error.
Revised US LP Pressing, with Subtitles Removed
|2.||"After Forever (Including The Elegy)"||5:25|
|4.||"Children of the Grave"||5:15|
|6.||"Lord of this World"||4:55|
|8.||"Into the Void"||3:08|
Note that the timing of "Orchid" on revised US pressings is incorrect, as it includes the "Step Up" introductory section of "Lord of This World." The timing of "Solitude" on these pressings is similarly incorrect, as it includes the first half of "Into the Void"; the timings of "Deathmask" and "Into the Void" should have been grouped instead.
US-made compact disc pressings of Master of Reality continue to list the incorrect timings of the Revised US LP pressing on the CD booklet. The songs are not indexed on the CD using those timings, however, with breaks between songs properly placed.
2009 Deluxe Edition
A two-disc deluxe edition was released in the UK on 29 June 2009 and in the US on 14 July 2009 as an import. This deluxe edition was remastered by Andy Pearce who also did the deluxe editions of Black Sabbath and Paranoid.
|4.||"Children of the Grave"||5:18|
|6.||"Lord of This World"||5:27|
|8.||"Into the Void"||6:13|
|Disc two (Bonus tracks)|
|1.||"Weevil Woman '71"||3:00|
|2.||"Sweet Leaf" (studio outtake featuring alternative lyrics)||5:04|
|3.||"After Forever" (studio outtake – instrumental)||5:20|
|4.||"Children of the Grave" (studio outtake featuring alternative lyrics)||4:36|
|5.||"Children of the Grave" (studio outtake – instrumental)||6:01|
|6.||"Orchid" (studio outtake – with Tony count-in)||1:41|
|7.||"Lord of this World" (studio outtake featuring piano & slide guitar)||5:38|
|8.||"Solitude" (studio outtake – intro with alternative guitar tuning)||3:35|
|9.||"Spanish Sid (Early Version of 'Into The Void')" (studio outtake – alternative version)||6:24|
- Ozzy Osbourne – lead vocals
- Tony Iommi – guitar, synthesizer on "After Forever", flute and piano on "Solitude"
- Geezer Butler – bass guitar
- Bill Ward – drums, percussion
- Keef – photography, poster design
- Mike Stanfod – art direction
|United Kingdom||21 July 1971||Vertigo||LP||6360 050|
|United States||July 1971||Warner Bros.||LP||BS-2562|
|12 May 1987||CD||2562-2|
|UK remastered||29 March 2009||Sanctuary||double CD||2701108|
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