As noted rock historian Triple H once said, in the world of heavy metal, there are legends, there are icons, and there are gods.
He was putting Motorhead in the latter category, which means that Black Sabbath must qualify as Titans. The most influential metal band ever to sing about the devil announced on Friday that the original lineup — Ozzy Osbourne, Geezer Butler, Bill Ward, and Tony Iommi — will be getting back together for a new album and tour in 2012. They’ll play the 2012 Download Festival, with more details forthcoming.
This particular reunion has been a long time coming — it will be the first time that combination has recorded together since the release of 1978’s Never Say Die!, though they have been on stage together a bunch since Osbourne’s initial departure. But ever since a one-off show way back in December 1997, there have been a number of derailments that have kept Black Sabbath from being together full time.
Ward’s health problems kept him in the sidelines for a while, and efforts to record a new album in 2001 dissipated while both Osbourne and Iommi worked on solo projects. Then Ozzy became a television star with The Osbournes, which created a whole new weird secondary career for him.
They did finally get back together to headline Ozzfest in 2004 and 2005 (playing extremely truncated show-closing sets), though Ozzy again focused on a solo album, leaving Iommi and Butler to reunite with singer Ronnie James Dio. Along with drummer Vinny Appice (Ward sat out due to “musical differences”), they recorded a few new songs for a Dio-era Sabbath box set, and then went on a tour as Heaven & Hell. That outing was received so well that they embarked on a number of subsequent tours, and ended up recording a full new album together called The Devil You Know. Released in 2009, it was the final recording Dio participated in before passing away from stomach cancer last year.
The timing for this get-together is especially shocking, as the most recent contact Osbourne had with Iommi was in court, as they fought over the rights to the Black Sabbath name. They settled last year, though the terms were never disclosed. That’s a lot of history to work through, but according to Iommi, everybody is getting along and, according to them, it’s now or never.
In interviews, Iommi has said the new album (which will be produced by Rick Rubin) sounds like “the old Sabbath style and sound,” which hopefully means it will be heavy on the Sabbath Bloody Sabbath–style psychedelic sludge. As for the tour, Osbourne can still kind of go — the adrenaline has yet to fail him — but anyone who saw the documentary God Bless Ozzy Osbourne knows that touring continues to take an ever-intensifying toll on Osbourne (and he’s the youngest member of the band). And considering Ward had to sit out a tour because of heart trouble 14 years ago, it doesn’t inspire much confidence for their return engagement on stage.
What do you think? Is it too late for a Black Sabbath reunion? Or are you happy to have the guys who brought us “War Pigs” back again for one last go-round? Leave your deepest, darkest thoughts in the comments.