Ed. Note: This article was also featured on WNCX.com.
At the most metal moment of the century – 11.11.11 at 11:11:11 a.m., Black Sabbath officially announced what had been rumored for months – that the band is getting back together – for real this time!
Pictured above, from left to right, are the original members of the band at today’s press conference – Bill Ward (drums), Tony Iommi (guitar) Ozzy Osbourne (vocals) and Geezer Butler (bass). To Geezer’s right is famed producer Rick Rubin, who will be behind the studio console as Sabbath records a new full-length album in 2012 (their first since 1978’s Never Say Die). The metal legends also revealed that a new world tour will commence in June of 2012, as Sabbath will co-headline Download Festival in Donington Park, England with Metallica.
Officially, Black Sabbath last reunited back in ’97. The band went on tour in subsequent years and even attempted to record an full-length album in 2001 with Rubin, but found the process difficult. “It’s quite different recording now,” Tony Iommi said in a 2004 interview with Blabbermouth, “We’ve all done so much in between. In those days there was no mobile phone ringing every five seconds. When we first started, we had nothing. We all worked for the same thing. Now everybody has done so many other things. It’s great fun and we all have a good chat, but it’s just different, trying to put an album together.”
Iommi expressed disappointment in ’04 that the band was not able to finish their album at the time. That process came to an end when singer Ozzy Osbourne had to leave the studio for good to finish work on his eighth solo album, 2001’s Down to Earth.
Hopefully the band won’t succumb to distraction this time around. From the official announcement today, the band sounds focused on their current reunion. “We’ve tried a reunion before,” Osbourne said, “But this time, we’ve written seven or eight songs so far and they’re really good – I mean, I’m not just saying it – I’m like, Wow, you know?”
Guitarist Iommi expressed true gratitude for the reunion. “It’s just great to be back together and being able to play and write some great music, you know, and be with the guys I’ve known all my life.”
Today’s reunion announcement might not have been possible even two years ago, as the Ronnie James Dio lineup of Sabbath (performing under the moniker Heaven and Hell) was going strong. Heaven and Hell split last year following Dio’s death, but not before recording 2009’s The Devil You Know and rocking world tours in ’07 and ’09. Dio died in May of 2010 only three months before the band had been scheduled to embark on another world tour.
According to Osbourne, Rick Rubin (known for his work with Slayer and most recently, Metallica) was the obvious choice to produce the album. “I’ve known Rick for many years, and I’d go over to his house, we’d chat, and we’d be playing Black Sabbath, or The Beatles, or whatever, and he’d always be asking me if we were getting back together – I mean, he has wanted to do it a long time ago.”
Iommi was asked who came up with the idea for the reunion. “It was Rick, he kept phoning us up every five minutes, you know!” Perhaps Rubin felt that the previous failed attempt at an album in ’99 had to be remedied…
According to Butler, “Tony’s really come up with some absolutely incredible music [for the new album], and it’s just great to be part of that. It really is back to the old ‘Sabbath style’. We tried to do that before and it didn’t seem to work, it really wasn’t up to our standards.”
For any fan of metal music, it goes without saying that this is truly a momentous occasion. As James McMahon of UK metal magazine Kerrang! stated at Guardian.co.uk, “They are The Beatles of heavy metal. It all starts with Black Sabbath.”
A new genre of music truly was invented when Black Sabbath released their self-titled debut album back in ’69. It is fitting that in 2012 (a year believed by many to be the end of the world) that Sabbath will reunite to tour and put out a new album. Metal began with Sabbath, and if the world ends in 2012, it will end with Sabbath.