aNewDomain — In the wake of enormous commercial and critical success with the album 13, the ol’ boys in Black Sabbath have made it official: They are recording one more album for the dark haunted road, to be followed up with one more tour along the dark haunted road. And then they will let the bell toll on the most legendary heavy metal group in music history.
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Black Sabbath’s 2013 release, titled 13, debuted at No. 1 on Billboard charts in the United States, Great Britain and several other places globally. 13 marked the first time that “godfather of heavy metal” vocalist Ozzy Osbourne had recorded a new studio album of original material with his old bandmates, Tony Iommi (guitar) and Terry “Geezer” Butler (electric bass) in 35 years. The trio were not joined by the original fourth band member, drummer Bill Ward, who was displeased with the financial details of the proposed recording contract. Brad Wilk (of Rage Against the Machine) sat on the drumming stool for Ward and did an impressive job of sounding very much like him.
One Last Record
13 sounded so much like original Black Sabbath and, along with its supporting tour, was so successful that the original trio have officially decided to do it again — one final time. As with 13, the producer on this final record will be Rick Rubin.
The final record and tour were anticipated as early as Autumn of 2014. At that time, Osbourne said:
I said to Sharon , ‘What’s going on? Because if there’s no more Sabbath I want to get on with my own thing again,’ and she came back and said ‘Let me look into it.’
Three weeks later, I asked her about it again, and she said, ‘Oh, I still have to talk to so and so … ‘ And I said, ‘Sharon, I ain’t f*****g 21 anymore. If we’re going to do it, I want to do it before I’m 70. Time isn’t on our side.’ So she made the call and came back and said, ‘Yeah, the record company wants another album. I believe Rick Rubin is going to do it with us again.’ ”
Likewise, it was announced that Black Sabbath’s final concert is going to take place in Japan, on November 22, 2015, at the annual Ozzfest. Bill Ward is still not signing on to make the record or even to do the final tour, but Osbourne says he’s confident that Ward will show up for the final concert, at the very least.
In addition to the aging factor of the band members, Black Sabbath co-founder and guitar player Tony Iommi was diagnosed with lymphoma while recording the sessions for 13. He is enduring ongoing treatment for this form of cancer and the treatments themselves can leave him feeling weak.
The original Black Sabbath, one of the biggest rock music artists on the planet from the early to mid 1970s, began to crumble in 1976, mostly because of drugs and alcohol abuse. Osbourne, in particular, was fired from the band twice, between 1977 and (for good) in 1978, after recording the hollowly titled Never Say Die! album. Osbourne was fired for substance abuses so extreme that they had wrecked his voice before he was even 30 years old, even though he didn’t smoke tobacco.
On the 13 album, Osbourne learned how to use his much-older voice to renewed creative effect, and his vocals are a key reason the record sounds so good. Although Osbourne’s voice was never, technically, the greatest, he developed a unique sound and delivery which drove Black Sabbath to the heights (or depths) of heavy metal lore and influence.
Drummer Bill Ward remained with the band until 1980, finally quitting due to depression and physical health concerns. He rejoined the band for the 1983 recording of Born Again, which featured the original band except for Ozzy. Ian Gillan, formerly of Deep Purple, wrote the lyrics and sang on that album, but Ward quit the band again before the supporting tour commenced.
Butler left the band in 1984, leaving Tony Iommi to carry on Black Sabbath in name only. Butler rejoined in 1992 to record Dehumanizer, but left again in 1994 after playing on the Cross Purposes album. The band officially dissolved after a 1995 tour.
Although the band did a reunion concert tour in 1997 and 1998, which at one point featured all four of the original band members, the album 13 marked the first time Black Sabbath was “officially” back together since 1995 (or 1994, if you’re one of those who insists that there can’t be any Black Sabbath without Geezer).
If you can make it, go see Black Sabbath before the tolling of the bell.
Featured image: Black Sabbath 1970. Wikimedia Commons