Skip to main content

5 things we learned from Black Sabbath: The End Of The End

Black Sabbath live in concert
(Image credit: Ross Halfin)

On February 4 2017, the beast known as Black Sabbath was laid to rest in its hometown of Birmingham. Responsible for creating what is now known as heavy metal, the band completed an 80-day world tour to say farewell to the fans, family and friends who’ve stuck with them for almost 50 years. In the new movie The End Of The End, we follow Ozzy Osbourne, Tony Iommi and Geezer Butler throughout the band’s final days together, including the full show at Birmingham Genting arena.

The film will be shown at cinemas worldwide on September 28, but we were given a sneaky press preview ahead of time. Here’s what we learned from The End Of The End.

Black Sabbath have an unstoppable setlist

Children Of The Grave. Fairies Wear Boots. Paranoid. Into The Void. Snowblind. The songs that defined what we know as heavy metal, played at rib-shaking volume on the biggest stage in Britain’s Iron City. If you’re looking for deep cuts and b-sides, maybe this isn’t for you, but if you want blistering, fire-breathing anthems that have shaped the record collections of millions around the world, then Sabbath’s 90-minutes is the best you’re ever going to see. There’s something truly heartwarming about watching the thousands in attendance singing along to the riff of Iron Man or bellowing out War Pigs’ iconic intro. What a band.

They’re still best of friends

Some bands in the final stages of their career just aren’t friends. It’s no secret that certain big names turn up separately, sit in separate dressing rooms, barely talk onstage, then leave again. None of that with Sabbath. On the big screen it’s clear for that Geezer, Tony and Ozzy are still close, having grown up together and spent almost 50 years in this heavy metal monolith we know as Black Sabbath. Laughing together, reminiscing over their early gigs and former altercations with occultists, this is as much a brotherhood as it is a band. And Ozzy is still more than capable of making Tony and Geezer crease up onstage with just one well-placed silly face. It’s also quite sweet that at the very end there’s no long, emotional goodbye, just a quick hug and a ‘Mind how you go’ because they know they’ll see each other again sooner rather than later.

(Image credit: Ross Halfin)

Sabbath are more than music

The multitude of cameras set up Birmingham’s Genting Arena aren’t just trained on the actions of Tony, Ozzy and Geezer, but throughout the movie we see hordes of fans giving everything they’ve got to the godfathers of heavy metal. Men and women are in tears, couples stand arm in arm, all witnessing something they love dearly come to an end. Fans of all ages from around the world made the pilgrimage to the UK’s second city, confirming that heavy metal (and Black Sabbath) transcends generations and nationalities. Very few bands have ever or will ever have this impact on the world, but then again, there’s no-one like Black Sabbath.

It’s been emotional

But it’s not just the crowd that are tearing up. As if seeing the final notes of Paranoid ring out one last time wasn’t enough, it’s followed-up by Tony, Ozzy and Geezer in a studio performing Changes for the first time in years, just a few days after the final gig. Not a word is uttered between them beforehand, as the three icons show that they’re more than riff machines. Sabbath was never about aggression or hatred, it was about real human emotion and this infamous ballad captures that essence perfectly. As it ends, you can even see Geezer on the verge of tears, knowing that the three men responsible for heavy metal have just played together for the final time.

This (might) be the end

As the movie draws to a close, Iommi says that the band might do something again together, but not a full tour. In interviews since, the consensus often shifts between finality and uncertainty, but you can never say never, can you? They just completed an 80-date tour, so can definitely still go – Ozzy is back out on the road again as we speak – but as Tony says in the movie, he doesn’t want to die onstage, and you can’t eke out a career indefinitely. Still, it’d be great to see them one more time. Maybe a 50th anniversary show next year? Our bodies are ready.

Black Sabbath: The End Of The End is in cinemas worldwide for one night only on September 28. Tickets are available now.

Black Sabbath - The Ten Year War album review

Five minutes alone with Black Sabbath's Geezer Butler

Black Sabbath: The Story Behind Sabbath Bloody Sabbath

Luke Morton