Black Sabbath performs at Ozzfest on Thursday, August 5, at Smirnoff Music Centre.
Long before Ozzy Osbourne degenerated into an unwitting "Say No to Drugs" poster child, he was the haunting lead singer in one of the most super-heavy bands of all time. As the liner notes in this handsome eight-CD/one-DVD box set attest, early Black Sabbath influenced every major metal band of the past three decades, from Judas Priest to Metallica to White Zombie. Tony Iommi's simple, brutal, catchy six-string riffs on familiar titles like "Sweet Leaf," "Iron Man," "War Pigs," "Children of the Grave" and "The Wizard" are instantly recognizable as the benchmarks of the genre. Sadly, all of these songs appear on the group's classic first few albums: Black Sabbath, Paranoid and Master of Reality. With rare exceptions--e.g., the title track of Sabbath Bloody Sabbath--the material on the group's later recordings is wannabe rock-star drivel, which irrefutably proves that the higher you get, the farther you'll fall.