Review Summary: The first Black Sabbath album I have ever heard and one of the heaviest (if not the heaviest) albums of the Ozzy Osbourne era. While Sabbath is more known for Paranoid..Master of Reality is just as good and influential.
I remember when I was 11, my brother was taking me home from my baseball game as he inserted a CD into the stereo in his car. I was amazed by what I heard and barely got out the words.. "What is this"" What it turned out to be was my first true introduction to music, Master of Reality by Black Sabbath. So what if I couldn't understand what Ozzy was saying or why there was a 30 second violin instrumental in the middle of it all" All I knew is that I loved what I was hearing and that it had a profound impact on my outlook on music.
Every musical aspect of this album is amazing. Hell, even "Embryo", which is simply half a minute of violin is a respectable track in my opinion. The album opens up with "Sweet Leaf", an incredible song thats starts off with what sounds like (and probably is) one of the band members choking on a joint. Sweet Leaf then goes into its main riff which is maintained throughout most of the song. Tony Iommi's absolutely phenomenal guitar playing and Osbourne's high-pitched shrills create a definite highlight on this album. The next track, "After Forever", begins with a short synthesizer part then goes into a more upbeat, happier riff. Geezer Butler's bass playing really stands out on this part of the song. Then, out of nowhere, the song becomes heavier and darker with Osbourne singing about religion and the many different views people have towards it. Lyrics like "Do you want to see the pope on the end of a rope, do you think he's a fool"" set the tone for this song. This is over 5 minutes long, but you will find yourself listening to it over and over again. It sets the standards for the album even higher and makes each following track harder to top the one before it.
"Embryo" is a short violin piece and the intro to "Children of the Grave", which starts out with a galloping bass and guitar riff. This song is near flawless, but the riff does get somewhat tiring at parts, but that is easy to look past as it is made up for as the song continues. "Orchid" is an acoustic instrumental song and is the introduction to "Lord of This World". It is about a minute longer than "Embryo" and is actually pretty enjoyable even though it is completely different than the other tracks. "Lord of This World" is probably my least favorite of the actual songs on this album (not counting Embryo and Orchid). However, this track is close to being on par with the rest of the CD and is not skippable in anyway. It is slower than most of the other songs, and Iommi's guitar playing is amazing as usual. Butler also stands out as does Bill Ward's drumming in some parts.
The next track "Solitude" is a very soft, melancholy piece lasting 5 minutes. Hearing the opening half of the album, you wouldn't expect a song like this to pop up. But once you give it a chance, it is a beautiful song. Ozzy's vocals are more melodic and emotional. This might be hard for some people to sit through, but after awhile it really grows on you. If you need to feel relaxed or calmed, I couldn't think of a better song to recommend you than this. The closing song "Into the Void" starts out with a great, heavy guitar riff (probably my favorite on the album). Iommi and Butler are in perfect sync here and Ward's drumming carries it along. A very strong way to close out a great album.
As tempting as it was to rate this album a 5, I couldn't. To me an album must be completely flawless to rate it a 5, and while this does have some minor flaws, my overall rating would be about a 4.8. If you've been wanting a to get a Black Sabbath album or have been unsure of getting this one, do not hesitate one bit..go out and buy this right now. I guarentee you will not be disappointed.