This isn’t the first Black Sabbath compilation. In fact it’s at least their eleventh. But it’s a good one, even if it can hardly be described as a career summary, as it focuses on the band’s first eight albums.
There are six tracks from that epochal 1970 debut (if you include Wicked World – and you must), six from Paranoid, five from Master Of Reality, three apiece from Vol 4, Sabbath Bloody Sabbath, Sabotage and Technical Ecstasy and two from Never Say Die! Sabbath fans will notice that that covers the waterfront regarding Ozzy Osbourne’s time with the band (before 2013’s 13). But nothing from Forbidden or Born Again? You’ll live.
Besides, that leaves, what, two to three hours of some of the best – that is to say oppressively dark, turgid and slow – metal ever. When Ozzy shouts: “Alright now!” at the start of Sweet Leaf, it’s funny because rather than prefacing a heavy metal gallop, it presages some of the sludgiest bromide blues known to man, even if it does incorporate a frenzied middle eight in which drummer Bill Ward and guitarist Tony Iommi briefly chase Deep Purple’s Highway Star, just to prove they could do the fast stuff if they wanted. Then it’s back to slothful business as usual. Let’s face it, when you’re creating the soundtrack to lying in bed, stoned, waiting for the apocalypse, what’s the rush?