It was almost a year ago now that the original line-up of Black Sabbath announced they were back and were going to record their first album of new material in over thirty years.
And of course, as often happens in rock, there were a few snags along the way. Believing he wasn’t offered a fair business deal, original Sabbath drummer Bill Ward bowed out, and guitarist Tony Iommi became ill with lymphoma.
Because of Iommi’s health, Sabbath played one show this year, Lollapalooza in Chicago this summer, a gig that got mixed reviews. Now word has come out through Blabbermouth that Sabbath’s next album is reportedly due next April, and the band will also kick off a tour of Australia the same month.
Iommi recently said that fifteen songs are written for the new Sabbath album, and they’re being recorded right now with Rick Rubin producing. (Iommi said the band currently has six songs in the can.) It was Rubin who kept pushing for this reunion to happen, and as Iommi continued, “He’s a vibe merchant. He vibes you up. He’s not one that gets involved hands on. He leaves you to do it, and he sort of says, ‘I like it,’ or ‘I don’t like it.’”
Ozzy also said, “It’s great to be back recording with the guys and playing with them,” and in spite of the inherent darkness in Sabbath’s sound, “I never wanted to be serious, to have solemn music. It’s meant to be fun.”
As influential as Sabbath’s music has been throughout the decades, surprisingly Ozzy didn’t understand the band’s impact until Metallica were opening for him in 1986. The band did Sabbath covers during soundchecks, and at first Ozzy thought Metallica were making fun of him. He then found out how much the band loved Sabbath, and at the end of the tour, Metallica’s James Hetfield sang Paranoid with Ozzy onstage. “For someone to tell you ‘Black Sabbath changed my life is a weird thing to get your head around,” Ozzy continued.
It would be great if Sabbath would deliver another great album with most of the original line-up (the entire original line-up would have been even better), but even if the new album doesn’t deliver, the band’s place in history is secure. Metalheads everywhere, myself included, owe Iommi and company an enormous debt, because without Sabbath laying the groundwork all those years ago, there would be no metal as we know and love it.