Heavy metal legends Black Sabbath announced on Nov. 11, 2011 at 11:11 am (PST) plans for a 2012 world tour and a new studio album to be produced by Rick Rubin. The news was announced at a special press conference at L.A.’s Whiskey A Go Go in Los Angeles, 41 years to the date after their Los Angeles debut. All four original members were present, including singer Ozzy Osbourne, guitarist Tony Iommi, bassist Geezer Butler and drummer Bill Ward. The event was hosted by Henry Rollins, Southern California punk/metal musician and spoken word artist.
The news of a tour alone is big news for Black Sabbath fans, as there has not been a tour featuring the original lineup since 2005’s Ozzfest. The 2012 tour plans include a headline appearance at the Download Festival at Donington Park in June. What really has fans abuzz though is anticipation of new material, as the original lineup has not released a new studio album since 1978’s Never Say Die!, the ironically named 8th and final record with Ozzy Osbourne. The as-yet-untitled album will be released on the band’s original label Vertigo/Universal Republic. Ozzy has stated that seven or eight songs are currently written and that recording will start in January for a fall release date.
The original lineup did release the live album Reunion in 1998, which featured a double CD of live material, plus two new songs “Psycho Man” and “Selling My Soul”. Some fans embrace these new songs, although they have been criticized for sounding too much like Ozzy’s solo material. “Selling My Soul” even replaced drummer Bill Ward with a drum machine, as the band was under a time crunch and they didn’t feel Ward’s drum part was in sync with the song. There is at least one other unreleased song from this era, “Scary Dreams”, but the band did not feel it was high enough quality to be released.
Ozzy was of course fired from Black Sabbath for substance abuse in 1978 and replaced with another famous singer, Ronnie James Dio, who took the band in an entirely new direction. Dio released three classic albums with the band (Heaven and Hell, Mob Rules and Live Evil) before forming his solo project Dio. Dio returned on 1992’s Dehumanizer, then left the band again. Black Sabbath fans were overjoyed in when Dio rejoined the band in 2007 under the moniker Heaven & Hell. Heaven & Hell had several successful tours and released a well-received studio album in 2009, The Devil You Know. Sadly, Dio died May 16, 2010 of complications of stomach cancer (R.I.P).
Apart from the periods of activity with either Ozzy or Dio, much of Black Sabbath’s output since Ozzy’s departure in 1978 has not been well-received, and the band has toiled in relative obscurity for much of this time. Singers over the years have included Tony Martin, Ian Gillan, Glennn Hughes and Ray Gillen, among others. When Dio died in 2010 many assumed that would be the final nail in the coffin of Black Sabbath. It is a welcome surprise that this is not the case.
Looking to celebrate the Black Sabbath reunion news locally here in Seattle? Seattle metal fans are in luck, as local Black Sabbath tribute band Bastard of Reality has several upcoming shows. Bastard of Reality only play material from the first six Black Sabbath albums with Ozzy, perfect in light of the reunion news.
- On Nov. 26 Bastard of Reality play in Ballard at the Tractor Tavern in Ballard. The 9 p.m. show also features AC/DC tribute Problem Child. Advance tickets are $12, $15 day of show. Advance tickets can be purchased online from TicketWeb.
- On Dec. 3 Bastard of Reality play again, this time at The Mix in Georgetown. The same day as Ozzy’s birthday, this show also features Dio tribute Stand Up and Shout. Tickets are only $8 and can be purchased at the venue.
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