Black Sabbath invented heavy metal.
It’s a widely debated assertion (Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, Steppenwolf and even The Beatles are frequently nominated for the title), but the vast majority of fans and musicians trace heavy metal directly back to the Sab Four.
For better or worse, practically all rock music that’s remotely “heavy” — distorted, downtuned and loud as hell — owes a debt to Black Sabbath. Even Poison, Nickelback and Limp Bizkit are spawned from the Sabbath sound, but we can’t hold the Sabs accountable every time someone befouls their legacy.
So metalheads have been rightfully abuzz about the news that the original members of Black Sabbath (minus drummer Bill Ward, who deemed his contract to rejoin the band “unsignable”) are in the studio to create their first full album together in 35 years.
It has the potential to be amazing. It has the potential to be awful.
Black Sabbath carried on long after the 1979 departure of frontman Ozzy Osbourne, churning out mostly lackluster albums with an ever-changing line-up that directly inspired parts of This is Spinal Tap. Ozzy, meanwhile, went on to chart-topping success, bat-biting excess and reality TV nonsense.
Now that they’re back together, will they recapture their past glory, or merely prove that the magic of their early albums was a mixture of drugs, luck and youthful bravado?
There are reasons to be optimistic. Legendary rock producer Rick Rubin is at the helm, and he’s reportedly pushing Sabbath to recapture the bluesy vibe of their earliest albums. Guitarist Tony Iommi, looking surprisingly hairless due to cancer treatments, still seems up to the task.
And Ozzy? Let’s hope he sings better than he speaks. He always has.
The footage in this just-released video looks pretty cool. But if you’re hoping for an earful of the new Sabbath sound, you might have to wait a bit longer for that.