Black Sabbath: The Complete Studio Albums 1970-1978

black sabbath
Black Sabbath
The Complete Studio Albums 1970-1978
(Rhino/Warner Brothers)
Music: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Reissue Package: 1.5 stars

Videos by American Songwriter

There’s no arguing about the importance of these eight albums, the first salvo from all four original members of Britain’s foremost heavy metal outfit. After all, 2004’s lavish Black Box (now out of print), which included the same material (along with a short DVD) is over twice as expensive, so this is good bang for the buck. Musically, although the band’s quality control started decreasing after Volume 4, there are plenty of molten highlights scattered throughout the final discs. Most interesting is how the ballads and acoustic interludes such as the middle section of the title track from Sabbath Bloody Sabbath are incorporated into the overall doom, gloom, and demonic approach of Ozzy’s lyrics and strangulated vocals. Technical Ecstasy’s lovely “She’s Gone” even features a string quartet. Particularly impressive is the melodic sense of even the heaviest, sludgiest material, something that distinguishes Sabbath from the thousands of metal bands that sprang in their wake. Perhaps last year’s surprisingly successful reformation was the impetus behind this box, but whatever the reason it’s convenient to have all the music in one handy container.

Unfortunately, the packaging and presentation of these classic discs, all housed in flimsy cardboard sleeves with no liner notes or new remastering, is lackluster. The group members aren’t even listed. But for those who just want a reasonably priced entry into Black Sabbath’s most influential years, this does the job.

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