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Saturday, April 23, 2011

Black Sabbath: 40 Years Since The Release of "Master of Reality"

Black Sabbath's first two releases were more than groundbreaking, they were earth-shattering, exposing the public to a brutal new form of noise pollution termed heavy metal. But it was the band's third album, "Master of Reality", that cemented the group as blackened wizards of doom and gloom. Just listen to the echoing cough and sludgy guitar riff of the opening track "Sweet Leaf" and compare it to anything that existed at the time. The coughing at the beginning of "Sweet Leaf" is Tony Iommi right after he took a drag on a joint.

Not only were Black Sabbath heavier than Deep Purple or Vanilla Fudge, they were also more experimental and controversial, exploring themes of darkness, drugs, and depravity that others dared not address. The heaviest and most influential disc of Black Sabbath's career, "Master of Reality" featured songs "Children of the Grave" and "After Forever" .

For the recording of this album, Tony Iommi guitarist who had injured his fingers in a factory accident years earlier, decided to de-tune his guitar down three semi-tones (or one and a half steps to C-sharp). This reduced string tension, thus making the guitar easier for him to play.  Geezer also de-tuned his bass to match Tony. The result was a noticeably darker or sludgier sound.

The slow and heavy songs that comprise most of the album are interspersed with quiet ballads written by Tony Iommi. Two of these, "Embryo" and "Orchid", are short instrumentals serving as interludesSome versions of the album report "Embryo" as a 5 minute song. This is incorrect. "Embryo" is a short instrumental right before the start of "Children of the Grave".

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