Ozzy Osbourne at this years Download. Photograph by Ian D. Hall

L.S. Media Rating *****

The very name opens doors, it struck horror into a generation still coping with the horrors of World War Two and the four men behind the band have been lauded ever since for bringing heavy metal to the world.

Black Sabbath, more than a mere footnote in the history of heavy metal, certainly enough has been written just on the frontman Ozzy Osbourne alone to fill any respectable library many times over are the epitome of the genre. Without Ozzy, the genial Tony Iommi, the terrific Geezer Butler and Bill Ward, the world of music may have taken a very different course and for the second night as in as many weeks, three of the men reconvened in the Midlands and showed a sizeable crowd, more than 100,000 metal fans by some accounts, just exactly why the band are lauded for their contribution to Metal.

The three Brummies, possibly Birmingham’s most famous music sons, came out to face a crowd that had moshed their hearts out over three days of music and yet still had enough energy, enough spirit to welcome the ultimate metal gods with a roar so loud that inside an arena, the health and safety guys and noise abatement society would have been champing at the bit to issue warnings to each and every single one person in the field.

This wasn’t noise; this was a genuine outpouring of love for the band and especially for guitar legend Tony Iommi who has recently been undergoing treatment for cancer. From there and for the next 100 odd minutes, there was no stopping the band. Opening with Black Sabbath, it was soon apparent to anyone who had missed spoilers from the Birmingham Academy gig that this was going to be a night where musical taste buds were reinvigorated, re-assessed and found gloriously still simmering with unashamed potential.

The first six years of the band were visited and settled into; this was no brief sojourn into the early work of Black Sabbath. There would be no nods to older fans in hope to get them on side as the band would soldier on into newer material for fresh faced fans who wouldn’t remember the industrial heritage of the nation’s second city.  This was to be a three month long vacation with 24 hour metal room service and finding out that the bill was being settled by pops latest child protégé of choice. This was the Sabbath everyone would love. From albums such as Master of Reality, Paranoid, Volume 4 and Technical Ecstasy, the band strode like giants across history and came out the other side, emotional? Certainly! Un-bloodied? Not quite. Much loved? Without a shadow of doubt!

It may be down to the success of the Marvel film Iron Man that Sabbath’s reputation amongst younger heavy metal sees the band still very much appealing across the ages of all those gathered, it may be however that Tony Iommi, who Ozzy kept saying, “he is the real Iron Man”, Geezer Butler and Ozzy himself just tapped into something in 1970’s Britain that has never been forgotten by all those that have been touched by the band.

The only bleak spot on an otherwise superb day was the drummer Bill Ward’s omission from the re-union for reasons too delicate to go into. However if you understand the point, which the vast majority of fans at Donington would have done, it would still have been the icing on the cake, after all, will this really happen again.

Ian D. Hall