It's the end of an era, one that no self-respecting metal fan will ever forget. Starting in 1968, Black Sabbath provided the blueprint for metal. Black Sabbath made their way around the world for "The End" tour, playing 81 dates in all, but fittingly they wrapped up their concert career at the Genting Arena in their hometown of Birmingham, England, bringing their career full circle. For those who love these sorts of things, their final show started with "Black Sabbath," the very first track opening their very first album and it helped set the bar for what was to come. For a live album, the sound is impeccable with Geezer Butler's bass pulsing through the opening number and the nimble guitar mastery of Tony Iommi ripping through the frenetic finish to "Fairies Wear Boots" and pumping through your headphones with sharp precision.
A good sign of a great live album is when you can close your eyes and almost feel like you're there. By the time listeners get to "Into the Void," the energy is so electrifying, you'd swear you were close enough to feel the visible sweat dropping from Osbourne's brow, or hanging right in the midst of the chanting crowd, riding the undeniable groove Black Sabbath are laying down. The mid-section of the show - with "Into the Void," "Snowblind," "War Pigs," "Behind the Wall of Sleep" and "Bassically/NIB" - feels like the band really hit its stride and found that perfect synergy with the crowd, finishing out the latter track to rapturous applause.
The back portion of the set allows for more improvisation, as the band deftly maneuvers between "Supernaut," "Sabbath Bloody Sabbath" and "Megalomania." Meanwhile, "Rat Salad" gives way to a showcase of Tommy Clufetos' drum skills, showing exactly why he was a stellar choice to take over behind the kit after the band failed to come to contractual terms with original drummer Bill Ward. The drummer's solo is masterful, complimenting the fine work he'd done behind the kit throughout this special show.As expected, "Iron Man" killed with great crowd participation. "Dirty Women" gave Iommi one of his best showcases of the night with a scintillating guitar solo you never want to end, and "Children of the Grave" came pulsing through the speakers with such amazing vitality that once again you find yourself caught up in the moment. Finishing out the collection, Ozzy Osbourne leads a soccer chant, then rallies to crowd to "go crazy" before rocking through the classic "Paranoid" with an emotional conclusion filled with elation.
“It will never be 'The End' for me. I’ll always be a part of Sabbath and Sabbath will always be a part of me,” says Butler in the album booklet. Thanks to The End concert release, it never has to be the end for fans either. Just put on this concert album and relive the glorious final statement from the band, who went out on top with one amazing final show.
Hats off to the producer / sound engineer extraordinaire Mike Exeter, long time friend of Tony Iommi's, and collaborator with Black Sabbath since the 90s. His exceptional mixing work is what made this Live album finally sound for a masterpiece it is. The live album "The End. 4 February 2017 Birmingham" was released on 17 November 2017 in various formats as CD, vinyl LP, DVD, Blue Ray, and Deluxe package boxes with booklet, guitar picks and metal Henry pin.
Loudwire.com, 18 November 2017