Following on from their 2011 self-titled debut, and 2012’s successful Maera album, the Memphis trio return to the fold this November with their most accomplished record to date. Over eleven tracks and in between the unbridled rawness of ‘Saint’, the sheer weight of 'Z-Bo’ and R'n'B shake appeal of 'Smoke Signal’, hypnotic hard rock riffs are delivered thick and fast through distorted fuzz boxes, gnarled bass lines and levee breaking drum beats.
BIG TOUR NEWS! Looks like some new shows on the horizon for our favorite stoners, several of which will be joined by who? Windhand? Get out of town! No, seriously, get in a car or plane or train or whatever - a horse - and get to one of these shows! Oh, and don’t forget Sleep will be at a little thing called Psycho Las Vegas, where Doomed & Stoned will have a stage. Can’t wait to meet you all there!
03/04 San Francisco, CA – The Regency Ballroom (feat. Neurosis)
04/30 Austin, TX – Levitation
06/20 Philadelphia, PA – Union Transfer
06/21 Philadelphia, PA – Union Transfer (feat. Windhand)
06/22 Millvale, PA – Mr. Smalls Theatre (feat. Windhand)
06/24 Portland, ME – State Theatre (feat. Windhand)
06/26 Washington, DC – 9:30 Club (feat. Windhand)
06/29 Roskilde, DEN – Roskilde
07/01 Keflavik, ICE – ATP Iceland
07/03 Sermamagny, FRA – Les Eurockeenes
07/06 London, UK – O2 Forum
08/26 Las Vegas, NV – Psycho Las Vegas
Smoke ‘em if you got ‘em – stoner rock’s first cough rang out 45 years ago!
I think the greatest statement made by Master of Reality is that Black Sabbath saw no silver lining in the unexpected success already coming their way, but only deeper darkness, pessimism and suffocating doom.
It all starts with the aforementioned cough heard round the (future stoner rock) world, “Sweet Leaf” – a harbinger for the marijuana fog that, together with Tony Iommi’s newly de-tuned guitar (three bowel-churning semi-tones lower than standard tuning, if I recall), shrouded Master of Reality’s songs in a dense fog found on no other Black Sabbath LP.
Whipping through the remaining classics, there’s the alternately profane and faith-affirming “After Forever” (key lyric: “Would you like to see the pope at the end of a rope”), the rumbling atheist affidavit of “Lord of This World,” perhaps the all-time best Sabbath ballad in “Solitude,” and one of mankind’s heaviest oscillating guitar riffs in “Into the Void.”
If not for the album’s short running time (just over half an hour) and its two forgettable instrumentals (leaving just six real songs – but what songs!), this somber masterpiece may have gone down as Black Sabbath’s magnum opus.
When push comes to shove, I still feel compelled to give Paranoid the nod (as well as Vol. 4 depending on the time of day) but, fuck me, Master of Reality is close enough!
p.s. – Check out the awesome embossed letters of the cover art (above), which doubtless provided thousands of stoners with added tactile stimulation as they smoked, listened, and nodded to this to this stoner rock cornerstone.