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on 13 June 2006
If you're interested in getting into Sabbath, get this. If you already have the 96 Castle masters (or the even earlier first issue CD's), you still need to get this.

For some, increased volume is a dirty word, as is compression. And lets be honest, the very best experience will be had with original Vinyl copies - this is obvious.

Taking an analog master and slapping it onto a CD just doesn't work well enough. When you're trying to capture a true analog recording on a format like CD (which does have much lower dynamic range), clever control of this EQing and compressing process is essential. And that is exactly what has happened here.

The guitars sound familiar - almost exactly as they do on the Castle masters - but the rest is a LOT nicer. The drums are much more clearly defined and have better tone, as does the bass guitar, which creates a noticably tighter sound (the Castle masters make the first 3 records sounds pretty muddy, with intricate drum parts getting lost - not here!) And the vocals are a great improvement - smoother and less grating when they're nasal, and generally clearer. Whether the better sound quality is due to better mastering or better source tapes is hard to say, but I care not a jot.

If the mastering bothers you (and you're sure its not just about 96 Castle Master elitism), enjoy looking at your spectrometer; if you need me for anything, I'll be in the corner rocking out to a newly-revitalised Children Of The Grave... Awesome!
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on 13 June 2008
I grew up listening to Black Sabbath. During the mid-70s they, along with Rush, established themselves as my favorite band. I've had all the early Ozzy era albums on vinyl, then on CD and now I treated myself to these remasters on the strength of Joe Siegler's review on his excellent Sabbath webpage.

I wasn't disappointed. There's a clarity and depth here that isn't present on the other versions I've owned previosuly, so its a delight to listen to these newly polished versions. Bill comes across better than ever, and they haven't mucked up Tony and Geezer's sounds in the process.

Well packaged, with a smart velvet-covered booklet telling the band's story & including the full set of Geezer-sanctioned lyrics.

I won't go into detail on the music : if you're reading this, you probably know the material off by heart anyway. If you don't, this is the best package you can buy that covers Ozzy's Sabbath tenure if you are interested in getting to know what all the fuss was (and still is for some of us) about.

All I will say is that listening to Technical Ecstasy and Never Say Die again, I think these two have been hard done by through the test of time, because they really are pretty special in their own right. Folk should give them another chance alongside the established, recognised masterpieces of the first 6 albums done by the band. Sabbath had to go somewhere in the late 70s, and before Ozzy crashed and burned, these were a couple of worthy excursions into newer material for them under conditions of very difficult internal strife.

Overall, a definitive reference box set for all hard rock lovers. Not to be missed.
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on 13 December 2014
Let's face it, in the musical landscape we now live in, it's hard to think that a band could invent a whole new genre and sound. That's what Black Sabbath did. They gave rise to the biggest selling genre of music on the planet, Heavy Metal. And for that alone we should be truly grateful. Then you listen to the music, and you get why this band is so seminal and held in such high regard.

Right from the very start metal was about being diverse. Sabbath have a lot of jazz influence in their rhythm section, and refuse to just do the same thing over and over. They put the heavy and soft together with great effect from the start. None of these 8 albums are the same or a rehash of what has come previously. Then you realise that Tony Iommi is making his guitar sound like this without all the studio trickery of today. And that Geezers lyrics by the way of Ozzy aren't a cliché, but the beginning, and your head has a little trouble taking it all in. That's the beauty of Sabbath. They're supposed to be dumb right? But, they're not. They are the instigators. There's a sophistication to Black Sabbath that's lost on a lot of people. Which is what makes getting it so much sweeter.

For me as a died in the wool metal head the best album on offer here is Masters of Reality. But then you listen to Black Sabbath or Paranoid or 4 or Sabbath Bloody Sabbath and you can't switch it off. You have to listen all the way to the end. I wish I could totally imagine what it was like hearing this when it was breaking the musical mould. When, at the same time as Led Zeppelin or Deep Purple, Sabbath was just going that bit heavier, darker and real. And the music buying world was able to accept something this different.

This collection of remastered CD albums is the most amazing way you could ever be introduced to Black Sabbath, other than being there at the time and buying it on new fangled vinyl. I will never regret buying this collection. I can't recommend it enough. It's because of the music that Black Sabbath are remembered this far down the line. Do yourself the most wonderful favour and get this collection. It's fantastic.
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on 11 May 2004
My name is Joe Siegler and I run "Black Sabbath Online". I have a much longer review of this disc at my site, but I had to crop it down to make it fit within Amazon's 1000 word limit, so if you want to read my full review, hit [...]
What is Black Box? It's a 9 disc collection (8 audio CD's, one DVD) comprising all the of the songs the original Black Sabbath released from 1970-1978.
The albums themselves have an unbelievable sound quality never heard in these recordings before. It's not like we have new songs here - these are after all the same songs released before. But they've never been heard like this before. I cannot stress how great these discs sound. I've been listening to Black Sabbath since 1981. I know these songs extremely well - EXTREMELY well. So much so that the slightest change is noticeable. Well, the sound range here is far more powerful than I've ever heard it before. Ever put in an old CD in your player, and it sounds flat, and a newer one you put in has a really rich, vibrant range? That's the kind of thing I'm talking about here. In addition to the songs just sounding more powerful and cleaner, individual instruments are more noticeable here. There's tons of places where I've heard drum fills by Bill Ward that I've never heard before. It's very cool finding bits in songs you've heard God knows how many times over the years. Coupled with the fact that the albums have a sonic power that I can't recall the songs having before make this by far the version to get - even if you already own all these albums.
That brings me to another point. The notion that Black Sabbath is just "out for money" by releasing this set without a ton of extras. In running my Black Sabbath site at [...] I see a lot of feedback on various things, and ever since Black Box was originally announced ages ago, the #1 thing I think I've heard is something along the lines of "Where are the rarities? Where are The Rebel, and Song for Jim? What kind of cheap ass set is this without the extras?" No, they're not here. In fact, the only "oddity" songs on this set are "Evil Woman" from the first album, and "Blow on a Jug" from Sabotage. If you're looking to buy this based on the recent trend of other box sets to include rare songs and things like that, you WILL be disappointed. But if you're interested in how the songs SOUND, then my god, this is for you.
And that's just the music. There's other stuff here, too. The ninth disc is a DVD which contains what's known as the "Beat Club footage", which comprises four songs. The four songs are "Iron Man", "Paranoid, "Black Sabbath", and the rather loose cover of "Blue Suede Shoes". This footage (well, not Blue Suede Shows) is also used on MTV as "videos" and the like, most of this stuff won't be new to most people, but it's nice to have it here. It does appear to be a bit cleaner than the VHS release of this stuff that happened some time ago.
The packaging itself is rather Black. I say that because the box itself is Black, and the writing on the box is also black, so it's not terribly visible when viewed straight on. Inside the box are two smaller boxes, each containing four CD's. Each of those four CD's are the 8 individual Sabbath studio albums with Ozzy. Each is in it's own digipak style packaging - it's not jewel case packaging. On the front and back sides of the individual CD cases are the original front and back cover art that appeared on the albums as they were released ages ago. Inside the digpaks are art that I believe appeared on the original print vinyl sleeves as released originally. So much so that albums that had lyrics on their original vinyl sleeves are reproduced here, too (much to small to read without hurting your eyes). I haven't seen a vinyl print of Sabotage in ages, and it was funny to see the guys backsides again like that. :) The CD's themselves have the same kind of "black on black" print that the exterior of the box has. The logos on the individual CD's match the lettering used on the original artwork for the albums, a nice touch - it's not standard lettering across all of them. Overall, nice packaging of the albums - no complaints here.
Anyway, the biggest "new" item would be the booklet. It's a 77 page hardcover booklet, which is covered in black velvet. Let me say this. When you pick up, don't have your hands dirty. It looks like it'll pick up dirt pretty easily. It's got a very nice feeling in your hands. It's got no writing or lettering on the outside, save for that Sabbath flying angel logo we've seen many times before. There's a few portions to the book. There are two stories of the band, a Sabbath timeline, and finally, some "official" lyrics. This should put to rest some long standing debates over some Sab lyrics. There's much goodness in here.
This is a wonderful package, both from the looks to the sounds, to the booklet. Get it. Your ears will thank you.
MAKE NO MISTAKE. Black Box is the most definitive version of the original eight albums by Black Sabbath. PERIOD. END OF DISCUSSION.
Joe Siegler
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on 1 January 2011
The product is excellent and the service couldn't have been better. The product was late due to the severe weather before Xmas, however, we were fully reimbursed!! The company didn't have to do this - the weather wasn't their fault. Thankyou very much, excellent customer service -HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!!
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on 6 October 2010
Black sabbath were and always have been, one of the greatest and the first heavy metal bands ever, and their groundbreaking music still stands at the top today, alongside iron maiden and metallica.
This fantastic box set contains the first 8 albums (all the ones from the ozzy osbourne era, and the best era),
and the albums that really stand out for me are paranoid and black sabbath as they are some of the most iconic metal tracks of all time, although the other albums are still worth many listens as they rock too.
It also comes with a kickass book containing biographies and all their lyrics.
So If you like metal music, then you absolutely have to buy this box set!
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on 27 March 2004
Wow,What a set,
BLACK SABBATH,PARANOID (THE BEST), MASTER OF REALITY, VOLUME 4, SABOTAGE, SABBATH BLOODY SABBATH, TECHNICAL ECSTASY (SOUNDS AMAZING, SOME HOW!), AND NEVER SAY DIE. It is the definitive box set for any black sabbath fan and is newly remastered,though the diffirence is very profound, they sound better than ever due to the professional bursting of your ears by the amazing warner brothers team.
This set unlike the others is band sponsored and is remastered from the source tapes and sound very good especially on a home theatre system. The DVD was the only thing I really didn't pay attention to since it didn't work on my player and neither on my computer (since I region locked it to 2), but is the same footage as the musikladen dvd footage except for the promo clip.
Over and above excellent but should have been made to resemble the LPs (for nostalgic purposes) but nevertheless 5 STARS.
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on 10 January 2011
The product was excellent, it was a present for my son, who enjoyed it very much. However despite being free delivery, I had to pay exorbitant import tax & handling fees. Not very happy about that.
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on 11 June 2015
If you're into the original, best and most correctly sounding digital versions of Black Sabbath's first eight albums, this box is it!
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on 28 March 2005
The Black Box is an inferior product compared to the 1996 Castle Remasters. The Booklet is good, and contains approved lyrics, but that's the end of it. Even the original artwork is not all present. And as for the quality of the CD mastering....
The Black Box remasters don't have more presence - they're just louder - try using your volume control!
Heard things you've never heard before? That's either because your hearing the quite bits now far louder than they were intended to be, or your hearing the bonus distortion the limiting process introduces when it crushes the momentary peaks to flatten the dynamics.
I've done both listening tests and a close comparison on a waveform editor. The Black Box remasters appear to be compressed and soft limited, with a trace of hard limiting too. There is serious waveform distortion.
What does this mean? They've given it a workover like most new titles to get the volume as high as possible without being "too" obvious.
The only use I see for the Black Box discs is for in-car entertainment or in other noisey environments where the compression may be of some use.
Buy the 1996 Castle remasters instead, they may have duplicated some flaws on the master tapes, but at least they duplicated the tapes, and not created a mutilated version of them.
Is a remaster about producing a sound to meet current marketing fads, or about giving us the most accurate copy of the original master tape possible? I prefer the latter, Warners the former.
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