Music

music review

Formulaic sounds of fury from Black Sabbath

Ozzy Osbourne and Black Sabbath’s formula has been unchanging in their decades making albums and touring.

Samir Hussein/Getty Images/File 2012

Ozzy Osbourne and Black Sabbath’s formula has been unchanging in their decades making albums and touring.

Black Sabbath has always been more about heaviness than speed, more about inertia than velocity. And volume above all else. Not for them the shading of Led Zeppelin or the prowess of Cream. What Sabbath found was a sound — hard, dark, metallic — that they pursued with nearly obsessive focus. And as the curtain rose slowly in perfect counterpoint to the weighty groan at the start of “War Pigs” Monday night at the Comcast Center, that sound was in full force.

It helped that eight songs, nearly half the set, came from the band’s blueprint-establishing first two albums, as compared to their new album “13” (the band’s first No. 1 in the United States) providing only three numbers. But Sabbath’s formula has been so unchanging, in ways both laudable and not, that even the new songs were nearly indistinguishable from material 40 years older, down to the epic length and shifting complexity of “Age Of Reason.”

Advertisement

As the only nonoriginal member on stage, drummer Tommy Clufetos played with the animated enthusiasm of someone jazzed to be performing with his idols. Geezer Butler, meanwhile, made playing bass appear to be an intensely physical activity, even if that physicality was limited to just his fingers.

But there were two colossi onstage. Tony Iommi coaxed low, guttural noises out of his guitar with clarity and vision, although he couldn’t help but repeat himself occasionally. (That’s another downside to the formula.) During “Into The Void,” he took slow, deliberate steps across the stage as he hacked at his strings, giving him the air of someone striding with purpose.

Get The Weekender in your inbox:
The Globe's top picks for what to see and do each weekend, in Boston and beyond.
Thank you for signing up! Sign up for more newsletters here

Ozzy Osbourne, on the other hand, was uncomfortable to watch as he shuffled across the stage, clapped awkwardly, and gesticulated wildly.


Worse, he was notably off-key in a great many songs, including “Iron Man,” where he struggled to find his pitch from the start.

It was especially obvious during “Black Sabbath,” where the spare backing (substantially just three notes played ad nauseum) gave him nowhere to hide. But when Sabbath came together, as on the closing “Paranoid,” its sound had the weight of a thousand suns.

Advertisement

Despite being billed as the opener, Andrew W.K. simply acted as a preshow DJ. Even so, he tossed in tiny little head cocks and lip synching and air drums, not big enough to be obviously part of any act, just enough to be his limbic response to the Judas Priest, Metallica, and Misfits songs he blasted.

Marc Hirsh can be reached at officialmarc@gmail.com or on Twitter @spacecitymarc.
Loading comments...
You're reading  1 of 5 free articles.
Get UNLIMITED access for only 99¢ per week Subscribe Now >
You're reading1 of 5 free articles.Keep scrolling to see more articles recomended for you Subscribe now
We hope you've enjoyed your 5 free articles.
Continue reading by subscribing to Globe.com for just 99¢.
 Already a member? Log in Home
Subscriber Log In

We hope you've enjoyed your 5 free articles'

Stay informed with unlimited access to Boston’s trusted news source.

  • High-quality journalism from the region’s largest newsroom
  • Convenient access across all of your devices
  • Today’s Headlines daily newsletter
  • Subscriber-only access to exclusive offers, events, contests, eBooks, and more
  • Less than 25¢ a week
Marketing image of BostonGlobe.com
Marketing image of BostonGlobe.com
Already a subscriber?
Your city. Your stories. Your Globe.
Yours FREE for two weeks.
Enjoy free unlimited access to Globe.com for the next two weeks.
Limited time only - No credit card required!
BostonGlobe.com complimentary digital access has been provided to you, without a subscription, for free starting today and ending in 14 days. After the free trial period, your free BostonGlobe.com digital access will stop immediately unless you sign up for BostonGlobe.com digital subscription. Current print and digital subscribers are not eligible for the free trial.
Thanks & Welcome to Globe.com
You now have unlimited access for the next two weeks.
BostonGlobe.com complimentary digital access has been provided to you, without a subscription, for free starting today and ending in 14 days. After the free trial period, your free BostonGlobe.com digital access will stop immediately unless you sign up for BostonGlobe.com digital subscription. Current print and digital subscribers are not eligible for the free trial.