Picture this, if you will… Black Sabbath rents out the Whisky-A-Go-Go for a big press conference, which they announce on their website through a curious ad banner. The day comes, Henry Rollins introduces the band, who then declare that because they owe so much in back taxes, they’ll be auctioning off Ozzy’s vacation properties in order to cover the bill.
Yeah, I think we knew that wasn’t going to happen. Clearly, the purpose of this whole 11/11/11 thing was to announce a reunion. I saw it coming from a mile away. Right from the day Dio died, I had a hunch that Ozzy would get back together with his old bandmates. I mean, half of the original lineup was touring with Heaven and Hell at the time, and Ozzy still had his solo work–playing a buncha Black Sabbath tunes live, to boot. Notice how Iommi issued a statement after that infamous Birmingham Mail story that didn’t actually deny what he’d said, just that it wasn’t meant for publication? That was definitely a dead giveaway.
But while a reunion tour was almost to be expected, I am a little intrigued at the idea of a new studio album. The band members had long said they wouldn’t be able to recapture that old magic, and when The Devil You Know came out, the commonly-used line from Iommi and Butler was that they never could’ve done it with Ozzy, the dude just couldn’t get his shit together. That said, while the Iommi-led lineup of the 80′s and 90′s released a lot of albums that only a true diehard could love, I think a new album could do more to tarnish their legacy, if it flops, than any of the Tony Martin-era stuff. After all, several media outlets have actually reported that they haven’t recorded an album since 1978… (I’m looking at you, KLOS!)
Let’s face it, these guys are a lot older now, and we know that Ozzy can’t sing like he used to. I’m seriously debating whether the band tuning down for his benefit would make things sound better or worse. And Bill Ward is a definite wild card, being the only member who hasn’t been out on tour recently, and with a history of health issues, as well. Don’t get me wrong, it wouldn’t be a proper reunion without him, but you almost hafta wonder how he’ll hold up, the drums being the most physically-demanding instrument, and whatnot.
All things considered, I’m definitely buying a ticket to see ‘em in Toronto, or barring that, the nearest U.S. city. (Pretty sure they’ll be playing here, though.) Will I buy the new album when it comes out? I dunno, I’ll hafta read a few reviews first. I mean, at this point I don’t think they have any songs written, much less recorded, so there’s no telling what this thing’s gonna sound like. As for what to expect live? Well, this Ozzfest gig from six years ago should give us some idea:
As for touring partners, well, there’s been rumours of them touring with Priest and Motorhead–which would be kinda like deja vu, since Heaven and Hell’s last tour also featured those two bands, along with Testament. Of course, Priest are headliners in their own right, and Motorhead can still pack smaller venues, but if it was up to me, I’d like to see them tour with some lesser-known, yet well-established doom bands that would clearly appeal to the true Sabbath fans. Here’s what I’m thinking…
There’s no question that Sleep are Sabbath worshippers. Hell, when I saw ‘em on their 2010 reunion tour, they projected a giant image of Tony Iommi behind the stage, and sold shirts with his image and likeness and the words “The Deity” written underneath. Having only played sporadically these past few years, I think they’d attract a crowd in several cities where people haven’t seen ‘em, as I know they did in Portland and in Calgary these past two years. I’d also hope that a chance to tour with Sabbath would bring Chris Hakius back into the fold. Fuck, I’d even drive to see ‘em on an off-date if that were to happen!
As for the other two, both Count Raven and Sheavy are still going strong after several years, though the former hasn’t played North America in forever, and the latter rarely leaves their native Newfoundland. Besides, if Ozzy needs someone to hide under the stage and hit the high notes for him, either Steve Hennessy or Dan Fondelius would surely be up for it. Those guys can probably sing Sabbath songs better than he can nowadays…
Mind you, I’d also kill for a Legends of Doom tour featuring Sabbath, Vitus and Pentagram in North America, and I’d even consider crossing the pond for a European edition with Sabbath, Cathedral and Candlemass. But we all know neither of those are gonna happen. After all, Sharon Osbourne’s the one booking this thing.
On that note, don’t be surprised if the floors have assigned seating and the best seats cost upwards of 100 bucks. My guess is this tour will be more comparable to a KISS or AC/DC gig than Iron Maiden or the Heaven and Hell headlining jaunt in that regard. Man, I can’t wait to shell out 40 dollars for a Black Sabbath photo book…
(I’m fucking serious!)