When Eastern Europe was under the iron heel of communism, heavy metal concerts were the exception rather than the rule. Stalinist dictators equated rock in general with "decadent" capitalism, and metal was viewed as especially subversive (which is ironic, because some ministers of the Christian Right have accused rock of being part of an elaborate communist conspiracy). But when the Iron Curtain started to fall in the '80s and '90s, Eastern Europe became fertile ground for touring rockers. One of the formerly communist nations that Black Sabbath visited during its 1998 tour was Hungary, where Ozzy Rules Budapest was recorded at the Kisstadion on June 3, 1998. Probably recorded from the venue's soundboard, this bootleg offers good sound quality, and finds a 49-year-old Ozzy Osbourne leading Sabbath's original lineup. With the Oz on lead vocals, Tony Iommi on guitar, Geezer Butler on bass, and Bill Ward on drums, the reunited headbangers emphasize favorites from Sabbath's glory years. Hearing Sabbath in 1998 isn't like hearing Sabbath in the early '70s, but even so, the band sounds quite inspired on such classics as "Iron Man," "Sweet Leaf," "Black Sabbath," "Electric Funeral," and "Children of the Grave" (although "Paranoid" is missing). Nothing groundbreaking occurs -- much like the reunion tour of Kiss' original lineup in the '90s, Sabbath's 1998 performances were meant to be a trip down metal's memory lane. Ozzy Rules Budapest falls short of essential, but if you're a seasoned, diehard Sabbath addict, it's definitely worth picking up should you come across a copy.
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