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The Black Sabbath Reunion-Thumbs Up or Down?

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The Black Sabbath Reunion-Thumbs Up or Down?

15 November 2011

Pete Pardo

By now most of you have probably heard that the original line-up of Black Sabbath are reuniting for a studio album (to be produced by Rick Rubin) and tour in 2012. That's right, Tony Iommi, Ozzy Osbourne, Geezer Butler, and Bill Ward are going to once again see if they can make magic yet again for the first time in well over a decade.

Though the band have done a few tours in the 90's and even recorded 2 new songs in that time period, a full fledged Black Sabbath album with this line-up has not happened since the late 70's with Never Say Die. With the recent passing of Ronnie James DIo all but ending Heaven and Hell, and Ozzy's solo career really stumbling the last decade, the time seems to be right for this reunion…or does it?

To be honest, once the great Dio passed away and it seemed that Tony, Geezer, and Vinnie Appice were not going to resurrect H&H with another singer, you had to wonder if this was inevitable. Plus, we've all heard and seen just how poorly Ozzy has been drawing on the concert scene and how sales of his most recent CDs have really begun to sink lower than ever. Quite frankly, Ozzy has nowhere else to go but back to his old mates in Sabbath. His reality TV show behind him and the metal public tired of his generic and tame solo albums, it makes all the sense in the world for the singer to resurrect past glories with the godfathers of heavy metal.

Can he do it though? Anyone who has seen these four the last time around knows that Mr. Osbourne is extreme limited as to what he can sing these days, so if all we are going to get is another go around with "Paranoid", "Iron Man", "War Pigs", "Black Sabbath", "NIB", "Children of the Grave", etc., is that really anything to get excited about? Sure, these are all legendary songs, but how many times do you actually need to hear these tunes? What about "Symptom of the Universe", "Hole in the Sky", "Supernaut", "Tomorrow's Dream", "Snowblind", "Electric Funeral", "Sweet Leaf", "Sabbath Bloody Sabbath", or "Killing Yourself to Live" ? There are so many great songs that the original line-up recorded that just have not gotten any action on the concert stage for decades, but the question is, can Ozzy handle any of them?

Yes, it will certainly be cool to see these guys back together again, and sure, the initial reaction of them tearing into "Children of the Grave" or any of the other Sabbath 'staples' will no doubt induce goosebumps for most, but how soon will the luster wear off with the fans if they don't pull out some different material? And, how will the new material that they are recording fare? Seeing as how solid the tunes that Tony & Geezer created with Ronnie James Dio in recent years were, there will be a lot of high expectations here. Should Sabbath try and recreate that same vibe, but with Ozzy in place of Dio, or should they try and replicate the thunderous doom mixed with psychedelia and progressive rock as on the classic early/mid 70's albums? I'm sure many would love to hear the experimental nature of Sabbath Bloody Sabbath or Sabotage one more time, or even the out and out crushing nature of Vol. 4 or Master of Reality, but time will certainly tell what these four are capable of at this stage of the game.

As for the tour, the rumors are that Black Sabbath are going to hit the road with Judas Priest and Motorhead, which indeed would be an excellent bill for all us longtime fans. Let's hope that it's either a combination like that, or even with some other aging bands who are still cranking it out on the road, like Saxon, Nazareth, Uriah Heep, Thin Lizzy, Whitesnake, UFO, or Deep Purple, rather than taking the easy way out by dragging out the latest flavor or the month modern metal band who no real loyal Sabbath fan wants to see.

So I say this; if Black Sabbath can come up with some strong new material that brings back the spirit and adventure of their classic period, put together a set list for the tour that doesn't just rely on the 'same old same old' but dusts some gems out of the closet, take other classic bands out with them on the tour that the older fans can identify with and enjoy, AND Ozzy can make his vocals work, then this reunion will get a 'thumbs up' from me. If one or two of them doesn't happen, the air will quickly leak out from the balloon for this writer.

Pete Pardo


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