Praise Papa Legba for conjuring this once-in-a-lifetime experience at Voodoo Music + Arts Experience. Ozzy Osbourne howled on the night before Halloween at the festival in 2010, so what's new here? Slash, the chain-smoking cat in the black hat, unrepentant guitar god of searing solos and creator of the lasting achievements of now defunct Guns N' Roses, shredding to pieces the monumental riffs of Black Sabbath — in tandem with Tom Morello, whose guitar drove Rage against the Machine.
The two '90s megastars have maintained a high degree of artistic and cultural relevance. Besides touring and recording with Bruce Springsteen, Morello has released protest anthems such as "Marching on Ferguson," referencing the death of Michael Brown at the hands of police. Slash has been touring internationally with Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators, and he ripped apart the House of Blues in April. But Black Sabbath hasn't rested on the laurels of its mega-grossing Rock and Roll Hall of Fame career, which includes selling more than 120 million albums among its first dozen releases. In 2013, the core trio of guitarist Tony Iommi, bassist and primary lyricist Geezer Butler and singer Osbourne released the album 13, and its single, "God Is Dead?", won the 2014 Grammy Award for Best Metal Performance. Black Sabbath launches a world tour next week.
Voodoo is the only scheduled performance for this lineup, so who knows what will happen. But this much is sure: Black Sabbath is the alpha and omega of heavy metal, the perfect band for its time and place, a rock monster roaming the radioactive nightmares of a post-Christian Europe disillusioned by the failure of the hippie dream. Who will play drums? What will be the set list? Will we get an answer to the haunting opening question from the 1970 Sabbath classic "Hand of Doom": "Whatcha gonna do? / Time's caught up with you." Here's to finding out.