December , 2013
Review by Damian J. Cousins
"Live... Gathered In Their Masses"
Label: Universal Republic
Earlier today I ran out to the store and picked up Black Sabbath's new DVD/CD Live… Gathered In Their Masses. Now, I'm going to do something a little different here. I am NOT going to spend any time on the visual aspect of this thing because, quite frankly, I bought it to HEAR these live versions, and not so much seeing them live. I mean, yes the picture quality is perfect, and thankfully, not full of jump cuts or hyperactive editing using 3,000 cameras that is prevalent today. I was more concerned with how OZZY Osbourne, Geezer Butler, and Tony Iommi would sound live over a full 15-song (10 on the CD) concert. And of course, everything is tuned way down, and the vocals are definitely cleaned up, but the power is still there.
Opening with the potent combo of "War Pigs" and "Into the Void," Black Sabbath are on a mission to give the fans what they want and even though the crowd isn't as young or noisy (maybe because they're somewhat sober?) as they once were, they're still into it the perfromance. Another thing you'll see is that the fans' reactions to the new material doesn't dampen, as is evidenced by how well their last album, 13, charted and sold. It's a damn good album and the songs translate very well live such as "Loner." Next we get the relentless riffs of "Snowblind," with OZZY egging the crowd before the gloomy evil of "Black Sabbath" descends on the arena like a fog. One that jumped out at me right away was "Behind the Wall of Sleep." Tommy Clufetos behind the kit really gives this one an added punch, and also "N.I.B.." He's such a talented drummer, I wonder if he wouldn't have been better suited to play on 13.
Speaking of which, my favorite new song, "Methademic," absolutely burns live. I am praying for two things: one, that they come to Dallas in 2014, and two, that this song is in the setlist! Classics like "Fairies Wear Boots" and "Symptom of the Universe" are up next, the latter allowing Tommy to do a monster drum solo which segues right into "Iron Man." Now, full disclosure on this, one OZZY doesn't really sound all that great, but he's Heavy Metal Fucking Royalty, so that's OK! A blazing version of "Children of the Grave" is sandwiched between two more new songs, "End of the Beginning" and "God Is Dead?," ones I personally love before a raucous rendition of the intro to "Sabbath Bloody Sabbath" which leads into set closer. "Paranoid," that absolutely brings the house down.
I gotta hand it to the gents in Black Sabbath, with over 40 years later, they can still deliver a powerhouse rock show, inspite of their age, cancer scares, and physical limitations be damned. In a day and age of fly-by-night wanna-be's rock groups who are lucky to outlast milk, the true Fathers of Heavy Metal show us all how it's done.