Alright now! Black Sabbath’s ‘Master of Reality’ turns 50

Warner Records

The “Children of the Grave” are all grown up — Black Sabbath‘s Master of Reality is now 50 years old.

Released July 21, 1971, Master of Reality was the third studio effort from Ozzy Osbourne and company, following the 1970 one-two punch of Black Sabbath and Paranoid.

“It was a different sort of sounding album,” guitarist Tony Iommi tells ABC Audio. “We tuned down, [songs] like ‘Children of the Grave,’ they were tuned down more. It was a bit more sort of a doomier sort of feel, I think, on that album.”

Indeed, with its lower tuning, chugging riffs and slower tempos, Master of Reality is thought to be the forebearer of the doom and sludge metal sub-genres, and one the most influential records in all of metal.

Along with “Children of the Grave,” Master of Reality also spawned the Sabbath classic “Sweet Leaf.” The pot-inspired track begins with Osbourne exclaiming, “Alright now!”, which he brought back with his 2020 solo song, “Straight to Hell.”

Despite its now legendary status, Master of Reality wasn’t warmly received by critics — Robert Christgau of The Village Voice, for example, panned it as “dimwitted” and “amoral exploitation.”

Meanwhile, the cover artwork for Master of Reality became almost as iconic as the music itself. In 2020, Sabbath released a t-shirt in support of the Black Lives Matter movement using the same font from the Master of Reality cover.

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