THE ARCHIVE: Black Sabbath Master of Reality on Vertigo (1971)

“There was no question that at this point, in early 1971, Black Sabbath had made remarkable progress and their future looked incredibly bright” – Joel McIver, Black Sabbath biographer

By early 1971 Black Sabbath were rehearsing for their third album. Back to back intercontinental tours, new management, money, marriages and musical experimentation had changed their world.

Tony Iommi began to loosen his guitar strings, down tuning them to a C (sharp symbol). His innovations, heard for the first time on Master of Reality, are still used as the cornerstones of the music that was by now being referred to as Heavy Metal. Lyrics followed the themes of earlier work. The easily misconstrued commentaries on religion that caused the band so much trouble were still present. For Black Sabbath to mention the church or God in their work led to accusations of blasphemy. The opening track Sweet Leaf (credited as Sweet Life on some editions) indicated that the band’s lifestyle was becoming more indulgent.

Recording took the band into April 1971. For the remainder of the year they toured extensively. Released in August the album sold 500,000 copies on pre orders in America to achieve gold status. The Master of Reality had a strong graphic approach and introduced the classic Black Sabbath typography.

Master of Reality appears on various Greatest Records of All Time lists in the 21st Century. The record is credited with inspiring Heavy Metal subgenres that continue to develop the doom of its grinding riffs.

“Leave the earth to all its sin and hate

Find another world where freedom waits”

Black Sabbath, ‘Into the Void’.

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