Fast-forward to the present: the original Sabbath (sans drummer Bill Ward, lost to a contractual dispute) released an album, 13, mounted a tour with a sold-out stop at Wells Fargo Center on Saturday, and made old-head metal fanatics and Sons of Anarchy viewers (judging by the wealth of T-shirts) happy.
Philly Sabbath enthusiasts who heard that Osbourne was radically off-key during previous dates got a mostly good Ozzy, with his rattling deadpan's lower register in fine (though not perfect) fettle. From the beginning - air raid sirens leading into the thundering murk of "War Pigs" - to the end notes of the swelling "Paranoid," every head banged as one, with Ozzy acting as devil/uncle/cheerleader. The fact that he (along with Iommi and Butler) wore beaming smiles during psycho-killer crunchers like "Iron Man" proves doom metal's less serious side is alive and thriving.
The rolling thunder was anchored by the pummeling drums of Tommy Clufetos. (The longtime percussionist for Rob Zombie replaced Brad Wilk of Rage Against the Machine, who played on 13.)
Sabbath's scorched-earth sonics clacked and hummed harshly, with Iommi's slow, yowling six-string attack at its most ferocious on "Into the Void," his heaving sob of a solo during the mean, cocaine-filled monologue of "Snowblind," and "Black Sabbath."
That last track was this band's legacy moment: ominous, prickly, harshly psychedelic, and at once bell-ringingly clear and sludgier than a swamp filled with molasses and tar.
Butler's gnarly bass sound, whether deathly measured or fleet, brought a moody, melodic richness and a knuckle-dragging density to the proceedings. Butler, together with Clufetos, even managed a subtly, hip-swaying groove on "Fairies Wear Boots."
Though pensive questions of revolution and religion filled Butler's lyrics, wordy clunkers like "Dirty Women" and "End of the Beginning" slowed Sabbath's righteous roll.
Luckily, between Osbourne's death-rattled vocals and the band's strutting Satanic rage, all was well in heaven, hell, and Philadelphia.