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A black mass in audio and video form. - 75%

hells_unicorn, May 19th, 2009

This is something of an oddity in the form of a CD, bring to a younger generation a live performance that was meant for their parents. It shows Black Sabbath at their youngest and most vital of stages, locked inside the confines of music and camera technology that existed at the time. It was probably the renewed interest in the original Sabbath lineup that occurred after the “Reunion” release that spurred the release of this, but suffice to say, this is about as far away from that neo-Hollywood of a live show as any performance can get. There’s no dramatic entrance to a circus display of pyrotechnics and smoke, no elaborate stage to make the band seem large than life, just 4 post-hippie era rockers with a desire to tell all who would listen about the darker side of life.

The performance of all in congress is fairly good given the circumstances. Ozzy does what he has often failed to do for the past 16 years, which is sing in pitch, and the music is pretty tight and together given that it is presented in a slightly more controlled version of a rock jam. Geezer and Bill Ward are basically a flawless foundation, never missing a note, yet Bill seems quite keen on switching up his drum fills and keeping things very free sounding. The only person who comes up a tad bit short is Tony Iommi, who handles his riffs well enough, but struggles a bit with the solos for “Iron Man” “Black Sabbath” a bit. It’s one of those things where a person tries to play a solo note for note, but finds himself either ahead of himself or a little behind and attempts to cover for it by improvising for a few seconds. It’s one of those things that you usually tend to notice if you’re a guitar player and you know the songs, but in this case it sticks out like a sore thumb.

Although I wouldn’t quite call this an essential purchase, it is a nice piece of history that will treat any fan of the band well. It showcases a band that was young and determined, and one that seemed to have the whole world against them yet couldn’t be bothered to care about it. Their just out there, plain as can be, playing their music in the most stripped down of settings, and proving in the process that some music is strong enough to surpass most others even without the aid of radio play or a stream of promotional music videos.