Sound — 10
To keep it short: imo Sabbath did found heavy metal. Nothing had ever been done before that we could now instantly recognize as heavy-frigging-metal. Others may disagree but I'm certain a few millions will agree. This box set contains all 8 studio albums recorded by Ozzy-era Sabbath, plus a bonus crappy DVD with only 4 "live" songs (it looks more like 70's proto-MTV videos, ever seen "Bohemian Rhapsody"'s clip? This is worse). It was released last April, and it's no secret that it was Sharon Osbourne's idea, but all band members collaborate (they're friendly again now). The box itself looks dead cool, entirely black of course, with an irish cross with the years 1970-1978 and the Fallen Angel. The 8 cds come in digipack format, grouped into 2 cool boxes, which have band photos on the spine and the irish cross on one side. The digipacks have the original cover and back and some of the original artwork. The sound is awesome. The remastering only made it clearer and louder without taking away the fuzzy/crunchy tone of Iommi's SG. This is most striking with the first 3 albums, which used to sound like a cassette in your kitchen's radio and now are gorgeous, and the last, which has always sounded to me like a wall of distortion and here sounds like a damn Berlin wall of distortion. The music: well, nothing new here, those who intend to buy this box set will probable know the songs by heart. I myself had 5 of the records but it was worth the money. Of course the first 5 are packed with classic metal anthems but don't leave the rest aside, Sabotage and Never Say Die have beatiful music, both crushing metal and more prog stuff (check: Hole in the Sky, Symptom of the Universe, Johnny Blade, Junior's Eyes, Air Dance). Unfortunately, no remastering will save "Technical Ecstasy".
Lyrics — 10
Well, again, the lyrics itself are nothing new. But the book, which is black velvet with just the fallen angel on the cover, is a big treat. The story of sabbath in two parts, very well written, and very honest and fair to every band member (it being created by Sharon, it is not biased favoring Ozzy, in fact Iommi's leadership is emphasized). I had recently read that Geezer used to write the lyrics and that is developed here, I think his role in the band has been heavily understated; his songwriting was crazy, sometimes chaotic, but that was a big part of sabbath's impact in the 70's. The book is loaded with pics too but I missed a present day band photo or full interview, an unknowing reader might believe we're talking about dead 70's dinosaurs. And to close the book, the entire Sabbath lyrics wait, not entire. "Warning"'s lyrics are missing! It's a shame. Stupid copyright stuff probably.
Overall Impression — 10
If you're a Sabbath head this is a must. If you're just getting to know Sabbath, you better buy their first official compilation, "We Sold Our Souls For Rock'N'Roll". I haven't had the chance to see or listen to many other box sets but I got the impression that others might be of better quality or better looking, but that comes at a cost and a weight and a size! This box is very friendly in those areas. Flaws are minor: that song's lyric missing, the black velvet and paper getting easily fingerstained, Sabbath "Bloddy" Sabbath on the cd spine, and the edges of some digipacks showing signs of cutting. Otherwise, I really love it, I was so happy when I first shaked my windows with this cds. If it were stolen I wouldn't buy it again, I'd have to.