Black Sabbath performed at Gexa Energy Pavilion in Dallas on Sept. 7, 2016. 

Black Sabbath performed at Gexa Energy Pavilion in Dallas on Sept. 7, 2016. 

Ross Halfin/Special Contributor

Black Sabbath has dubbed its latest tour "The End," but is this really the grand finale?

Ozzy Osbourne looked like a 'slightly crazed aerobics instructor' at one point in the Dallas show.

Ozzy Osbourne looked like a 'slightly crazed aerobics instructor' at one point in the Dallas show.

Ross Halfin/Special Contributor

Considering Ozzy Osbourne already said goodbye to the music biz in 1993 -- only to break his promise two years later with his "Retirement Sucks" tour -- there's every reason to believe the British quartet will keep coming back as long as Osbourne and guitarist Tony Iommi are still breathing.

As well they should. One of the chief architects of heavy metal, Sabbath continues to rock with such bone-crushing ferocity that every budding young hard rock fan deserves at least once chance to see the masters onstage.

Performing Wednesday night at Gexa Energy Pavilion, Sabbath worked its ominous magic for a crowd of nearly 20,000 fans ranging from teens thrusting devil horns in the air to grizzled geezers older than even Geezer Butler, the band's 67-year-old bassist and main lyricist.

Iommi led the way, uncorking his trademark proto-grunge riffs and lightning-quick solos while managing to sound both jazzy and economical. After battling lymphoma in recent years, Iommi announced in August that his disease is in remission. Onstage, he looked and sounded as robust as ever.

Butler thrashed out foreboding rhythms with new recruit Tommy Clufetos on drums. Clufetos broke the show's momentum with a long, tedious solo but otherwise did an admirable job of replicating Bill Ward's beats.

All eyes, however, were on the Great Oz, the legendary drug-and-booze casualty of the '70s and '80s who survived to become the beloved doddering patriarch of MTV's The Osbournes in the early 2000s.

Always an erratic live singer, Osbourne, 67, hit plenty of flat notes during the concert, including several in "Iron Man." But as a showman, he was in full comic glory, dousing fans in the front row with a bucket of water before soaking his own head to cool off.

Peeling off his sweat-drenched black shirt to reveal impressive muscles for a rock star of his vintage, Osbourne looked like a slightly crazed aerobics teacher as he flapped his arms, clapped his hands and ordered fans to get physical.

The hour-and-a-half show stuck to a fairly predictable list of songs recorded between 1969 and 1976, most of them concert staples, except for the 1970 deep cut "Hand of Doom." The only tune glaring in its absence was the pro-marijuana anthem "Sweet Leaf" -- instead, Osbourne warned fans about the dangers of cocaine in "Snowblind."

Fire and devil horns. Obviously.

Fire and devil horns. Obviously.

Ross Halfin/Special Contributor

But if the song selection lacked risk, hearing all the classics bunched together made it clear how misunderstood Black Sabbath really is. Beyond the sinister sound and horror-film imagery lurked messages of love, hope and unity.

From the pacifist lyrics of "War Pigs" -- Sabbath's answer to Bob Dylan's "Masters of War" -- to the love-is-all-you-need tidings of "Children of The Grave," the band reminded fans that sometimes all is not what it seems in the all-too-obvious world of heavy metal. Osbourne might call himself "The Prince of Darkness," but on Wednesday, he reclaimed his legacy as a prince of peace.

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