It’s safe to say that the genre of music known as metal might not have happened if John Michael Osbourne, Francis Anthony Melby Iommi, Terence Michael Joseph Butler and William Thomas Ward hadn’t met as teenagers in Birmingham, England (not to mention adopting nicknames like Ozzy and Geezer). The foursome, better known as Black Sabbath, formed in the late sixties and forever transformed the landscape of music with their sludgy riffs, foreboding lyrics and totally bad ass attitude. After releasing five platinum albums, the group disbanded in 1978, but the impact they made was undeniable, so much so that VH1 named them the #2 artist on our list of the 100 Greatest Artists of Hard Rock.
Black Sabbath briefly reformed in the summer of 1997 (sans drummer Bill Ward) for the Ozzfest tour and the 1998 album Reunion, but outside of that, the group has been dormant since the late seventies. However, earlier today at a press conference held in Los Angeles, the band announced that all four of the band’s original members have committed to recording their first album of original material since 1978, and will be embarking on a 2012 World Tour. (The rumors were true!)
Many metalheads and music fans are really excited about this news, because, well, how could you not be? It’s Black Sabbath! (Not to mention, their record is set to be produced by Rick Rubin.) However, some cynics out there might be curious about the band’s motives for deciding to bury the hatchet after 30+ years of acrimony, and here’s what they’re wondering:
First question: Can Black Sabbath get themselves in touring shape? Every member of the band was born during the baby boom, which puts all of them in their sixties now. Are they ready for the wear and tear of the road, and will they be able to get it up night after night for fans who, we imagine, will be paying big bucks to see them live? It’s worth noting that The Rolling Stones were also in their early sixties when they embarked on their A Bigger Bang Tour back in 2005 (and scored great reviews), and Leonard Cohen has been touring the world for the last few years at the age of 77 years young; the success of these two tours prove that, with the proper physical and mental preparation, age ain’t nothing but a number.
Second question: Are there actual artistic goals that they are trying to achieve by reforming and recording fresh material? All of the members of the group had successful careers after the demise of Sabbath’s original lineup in ’78, so there are some out there who are questioning what is left for them to say. Metal has long been a genre ruled by youth, but hopefully Black Sabbath will be able introduce the concept of mortality to a genre that’s always celebrated the fast life. We think that the fact that they’re going to the effort to record new material and aren’t simply settling on performing a “hits” tour bodes well. (Also, perhaps the tragic death of post-Ozzy-Sabbath frontman Ronnie James Dio last year caused them to bury the hatchet and gave them some inspiration?)
Either way, we want to know what you think. Are you ready to shell out your hard-earned dough for a Sabbath album and concert tickets next year, or are you content to spin your highly-worn copies of classic albums like Paranoid and Masters of Reality instead?
[Photo: Getty Images]