35 minutes is all it took for Black Sabbath to assert itself as the new overlords of rock. Yes, of course, bands like Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd were still strong at this point; in fact, they were probably only reaching their peaks, but the Sabbath brought with them something that can never be denied: change. An evolution in style and rhythm meant that whether they knew it or not, Ozzy Osbourne, Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler and Bill Ward were planning the rock journey with their album. Master of reality.
The sixties had been devoted to the creative integrity and the freedom of the youth. He had championed a glowing sense of self and an unbridled sense of potential about to explode and save the world. Of course, in 2021, we know better. But, 50 years ago, Black Sabbath also knew better. The turn of a new decade had tinted technicolor dreams a deep shade of black that no one could escape. The debauched hell of the seventies was looming, and Black Sabbath produced an album laden with doom to precede it.
The record wasn’t just a natural evolution of the previous decade and saw Black Sabbath evolve into the heavy metal heroes they would soon be known as. Although their eponymous debut and follow-up, Paranoid were far from soft and light, they were still tinged with pop dreams of being a member of the Beatles. Master of reality, however, gave things a boost and set sail for the most dangerous horizons.
There is a supreme rawness in this effort which means that any fans of the group who had heard them on the radio were quickly dismissed. The band tuned their instruments and let the boom of their own nihilism ring out like twisted church bells. Surely that was when Black Sabbath became the group they were meant to be; from the first moments of ‘Sweet Leaf’, an obvious ode to marijuana, the band was confirming that they weren’t everyone’s cup of tea, and they didn’t want to be.
In addition to their artistic creation, musically, they also pushed forward: “We did things that we had never done before. [on Master Of Reality]», Recalls guitarist and composer Tony Iommi in his autobiography Iron Man. “On ‘Children Of The Grave’, ‘Lord Of This World’ and ‘Into The Void’ we turned down three semitones. It was part of an experiment: tuning together for a bigger, heavier sound . “
It’s these three songs that really make this album perfect. There is not an ounce of unused sadness on the record, and with the murky waters of the aforementioned tracks, the band were able to bring to life a record that emerged from the dark, primordial soup with little self-awareness. rock bands could match. Black Sabbath did not need to rely on fantasies about Lucifer or any adjacent occult frivolity to convey his worldview; they pointed to the growing depressive nature of society itself.
This notion has led many people to draw the line between Master of reality and punk-rock. Although the record never really picks up the pace beyond a slow trot, preferring instead to walk towards their loss, the reflection of society as well as the refusal to comply with a particular method of earning money for music, provided a unique perspective that punk rock would soon adopt, in so doing, omitting the Sabbath from their engraving of figurative cultural books.
Truth be told, this album is difficult to categorize because it is so incredibly unique. Of course there is a strong taste of metal in your mouth when you listen to it now, you could even call it the very first doom metal record, but that would be way too limiting. The only real ‘premiere’ this LP can attribute to itself is Black Sabbath’s debut album that really found their sound.