Local Wire

Black Sabbath

Right now, somewhere in suburban America, a perennial rite of passage is taking place: A pack of ratty, longhaired, disaffected 17-year-olds lolls in a high school parking lot, gettin' stoned while Black Sabbath's "Supernaut" rages from the blown-out speakers of someone's primer-dappled El Camino. And to them, it probably doesn't matter that Ozzy Osbourne's been reduced to a domesticated dodderer by MTV, since the doom-laden wail of his youth -- banging up against Tony Iommi's carrion crunch and the punishing rhythm battery of Terry "Geezer" Butler and Bill Ward -- has bee n well-preserved in amber as a soundtrack for their outsider paradise.

Black Box is the latest assemblage of such Sabbath specimens, and no doubt the best. Essentially bullshit-free -- no pointless outtakes, "alternate mixes" or questionable B-sides -- the collection simply houses all eight albums the band recorded with Ozzy (before his drug-addled boots were filled by metal-elf Ronnie James Dio), plus a DVD containing a handful of vintage European TV performances. Yes, it's one-stop shopping for any prospective Sabbath owner, but even the most committed fan will be blown away by the outstanding remastering job applied to this set. Sabbath's never sounded so monstrously great, even emanating from the crappiest muscle car in your neighborhood.