ETA Autumn 2012
What they’re saying:
After the world of heavy metal mourned the loss of Ronnie James Dio in 2010, it seemed only a matter of time before the original Black Sabbath line-up would get around to reforming. After all, Ozzy would eventually get tired of touring a record no-one really cared about, and Tony Iommi and Geezer Butler could only lick their wounds for so long as they closed the chapter of their career known as Heaven & Hell. A reunion was inevitable, even if Geezer did his very best to deny it back in February 2011:
“I would like to make it clear, because of mounting speculation and rumors, that there will definitely be NO reunion of all four original members of Black Sabbath, whether to record an album or to tour.”
Then later in August, an interview with Tony Iommi in the Birmingham Mail seemed to confirm the reunion was back on. This article angered Iommi who was very quick to release a statement that neither confirmed his words were fabricated nor denied the rumour of a reunion. If anything, it just confirmed that he was annoyed about something he said being published at an inconvenient time:
“I’m saddened that a Birmingham journalist whom I trusted has chosen this point in time to take a conversation we had back in June and make it sound like we spoke yesterday about a Black Sabbath reunion. At the time I was supporting the Home of Metal exhibition was merely speculating shooting the breeze on something all of us get asked constantly ‘Are you getting back together?’“
“Merely speculating shooting the breeze”? If you’re the guitarist in the most important heavy metal band of all time, at a convention about heavy metal in the town your band came from – you might want to choose your words a bit more carefully. All this posturing – for that’s what it was – ended at 11:11am on the 11/11/2011, when Black Sabbath finally admitted they were just playing hard-to-get and confirmed their reformation and plans to tour and release a new record in 2012:
Iommi: “It’s now or never. We are getting along great. Everything’s really good. It’s like putting on an old glove. It’s fantastic.”
Ozzy: “It’s just time. This time, for some magical reason, we have written about seven or eight songs.”
The re-united Black Sabbath also confirmed that bearded über-producer, Rick Rubin, was the man they’d chosen to produce their new album. Rubin is of course responsible for some veritable heavy metal classics – if if his recent form and reports of his producing style haven’t exactly engendered positive feeling towards him in the metal community.
How these plans will change following the news yesterday that Tony Iommi has been diagnosed with lymphoma remains to be seen. At present, the band is still reportedly working on writing their new album in Los Angeles, but plans to move to the UK to continue working on it while Iommi undergoes treatment.
Thrash Hits verdict:
Does anyone cares how many times they denied it before admitting the rumours were legit? BLACK FUCKING SABBATH are back and this can only be great news. It means that this Summer, many of us will be able to stand in a field and sing the riff to ‘Iron Man’ like lager louts during happy hour. And perhaps more importantly, we might get to hear new music from Black Sabbath’s original line-up for the first time since 1978’s Never Say Die!. And it will rule, because Ozzy, Tony, Geezer and Bill will be the ones playing on it – if there’s one thing Heaven & Hell proved, it’s that Tony and Geezer can still shit out riffs that make the Earth tremble beneath them. This could be just about the biggest release in the heavy metal calendar for 2012, fingers crossed it will live up to expectation.
Of course, the sad news of Tony Iommi’s diagnosis of lymphoma means that any and all predictions regarding the new album – and indeed, the future of the reformed Black Sabbath – now have an extra degree of uncertainty. All we can do is repeat what we said yesterday – the thoughts of everyone here at Thrash Hits are with Iommi, and we hope you join us in our hopes that he makes a full and speedy recovery.
Guitar solo potential: 4/6