Darnielle’s entry on Black Sabbath’s Master of Reality in the 33 1/3 series of books about albums uses the device of a teenager’s diary entries to explore the record. (There’s nothing that specifically identifies the diarist as the kid in The Mountain Goats song “Best Ever Death Metal Band in Denton,” but it sure sounds like it could be the same character.)
It mixes critical discussion of the albums music and lyrics with an exploration of “dangerous” music as a tool for coping with adolescence.
I’d never actually listened to Master of Reality before — the only song I knew from it was “Sweet Leaf,” not my favorite Sabbath tune by a long shot. Turns out it’s a pretty fantastically weird record. It delivers a lot of what you might expect from Black Sabbath — some of this record is so proto-Metallica it’s almost spooky. But it also contains some positively pastoral moments (flute? flute!) and, the opening love song to Mary Jane aside, you could more-or-less label it Christian Rock.
Darnielle is a perfectly suited writer to delve into these seeming contradictions, and he’s found a wonderfully authentic voice to use. Very, very, cool.
(I’m hardly the first person to draw a line between Master of Reality and “Best Ever Death Metal Band in Denton” but John Darnielle says I’m wrong, in a very nice, but spoileriffic, piece at Nerve.)
needs more demons? nuh uh.