In a new interview with Metal Hammer, Geezer Butler reveals that the darkness which fuelled Black Sabbath’s magnificent third album, Master Of Reality, began to encroach upon the band members’ daily lives as they indulged their wildest excesses in the wake of the album’s success.
“Sabbath was all about the dark reality of life,” explains bassist Butler. “We’d grown up in the aftermath of World War Two, and Aston, where we were from, still had bombed-out buildings and neighbours with war wounds. At the time of Master Of Reality, Vietnam was raging, the Cold War was at its coldest, the Troubles in Northern Ireland were close to home. A few others were singing about the underside of life, but we had the heaviness to hammer the subjects home.”
Featuring doomy, pitch black riff-fests Children Of The Grave and Into The Void, alongside stoner anthem Sweet Leaf, Sabbath’s third album peaked at number 5 in the UK, and reached number 8 on the Billboard 200 in America, en route to selling two million copies in the US alone. As Butler recalls, it was when touring the album in the States, ferried from city to city in their own private jet, that Sabbath began to truly take advantage of every temptation set before superstar rock musicians.
“It was like four kids let loose in Toys R Us,” recalls Geezer of the ensuing carnage. “As to be expected of four blokes in their early 20s, we went a bit wild. Booze, women, drugs, nice hotels, private planes – all of it paid for by what we loved doing. But as with everything, too much of a good thing has its downside.”
“The secret is moderation,” he reflects. “Once that becomes addiction, the shine slowly wears off and you start to question the whole meaning of everything. With such a gruelling schedule, we were taking more and more substances to keep us going, instead of taking time out to breathe. We wore ourselves out in the end, and the dream became nightmarish at times.”
For the full story behind the making of Master Of Reality, pick up the new issue of Metal Hammer, which is on sale now (opens in new tab).