Dear Black Sabbath, I Love You, So Why Are You Doing This To Me?
Over the past few weeks and my absence from the internet the only real news out there is that Black Sabbath is reuniting. Of course everyone is poop in their pants excited about a new album and a new tour – except for me. While Sabbath has been an influence for many bands of every single genre over the past thirty years, can they do anything more to improve their résumé, or do they just become a mockery who didn’t know when to say enough is enough like The Rolling Stones? Or does none of that even matter because it’s only for a giant paycheck anyhow? While I hope for nothing but the best and still anxiously await the outcome, I am hesitant to hail this decision yet.
On one hand this is a pretty cool thing because after all it is the original lineup of Black Sabbath and there are plenty of people who have never gotten the chance to see them live. The talent is still there mainly because Tony Iommi is a guitar God who more than likely won’t wake up and forget how to play anytime soon. Of course thanks to all of the recording and mastering technology out there today, there is still hope in making Ozzy’s voice marketable for a new studio album. On the other hand, all four members of the band will be nearing 65 by the time the new album is released. It leaves me wondering how much it will actually feel like I’m seeing a real incarnation of Sabbath and not an uninspired money hungry four piece when it’s rumored that their summer of touring will bring in about $159 million dollars.
Sure, a Black Sabbath reunion is great for the metal economy in many ways. Presumably it means there is a reason for Ozzfest in 2012, which generates millions of dollars and gives some other bands an income at the same time. It also brings an added sense of relevance back to the hard rock and metal world. Even Terry Schiavo presumably was sick of seeing Ozzy’s face, his gnome of a wife and their two overweight troll children during the turn of the century. Ozzy became an instant MTV celebrity by incessantly swearing and mumbling without being a juicehead or a gorilla (both are seemingly slang for ‘creepy orange douchebag’) regardless of his prior music history. Even fifteen year old girls who spend their Friday nights pleasuring themselves to the ‘Glee’ soundtrack know exactly who Ozzy is and have accidentally heard ‘War Pigs’ or ‘Iron Man’ many tiems before just by watching Fox. They are a household name like Led Zeppelin, The Beatles or AC/DC. With that comes a large demographic of people who will flock to see them play essentially an Ozzy-era greatest hits set.
I know that I sound like a terrible metalhead right now because it sounds like I’m bashing Black Sabbath, but it is anything but that. Sabbath is one of the essential bands that I grew up to that was a stepping stone into many other genres and amazing bands. I am worried that this will turn into a repeat of Ozzy constantly having to cancel shows due to his health and him making another uninspired album, which is where a majority of his solo stuff has gone lately. If Black Sabbath hadn’t cemented such an epic place in music history with their first six Ozzy-era albums, they have tried their best to push themselves to musical irrelevance once already. The last two albums with Ozzy the first time around quite frsabbath2ankly sucked and were an obvious sign of their dissent. The two Dio-era albums were successful enough to regain some relevance and then the last eight albums could have been considered a slap in the face to most long time Sabbath fans. With time, the songs that everyone remembers Black Sabbath for have become even more immortalized while the songs from their 1983-1995 era are less relevant now than they ever were. If the new album bombs, does it go down as just another one of their questionable decisions because they are untouchable icons or do they become a punch line for bands who should have known when to say enough is enough? Maybe as long as it’s the long time coming brainchild of the four original members of Black Sabbath, nobody will dare to critique it.
If I were a betting man, my money would go on the new album being a mildly above average release of another 70’s band trying to recapture their lost magic that will sit atop the charts for a few weeks. The tour will be at times messy but the money on the table will help them all trudge through it until the end. Most bands like AC/DC, Aerosmith and KISS that are still going strong all of these years later still know what their fans want to hear and will make that same album over and over. This will be no different. There will be a handful of bright spots and a few throwaway songs mixed in to get the running time over 50 minutes. There will be assholes like me to complain about an obvious lack of passion found in the majority of it, and then there will be publications who must take bribes from the labels to give favorable reviews and will hail it as the second coming of the Dark Lord and one of the greatest albums of the decade. In the end, almost everybody will be happy to download a new album and some will get off of their lazy asses to finally see their childhood heroes take the stage for the first time or for the fiftieth time.
I think I have just reasons to worry about what the future holds for Black Sabbath. If Ozzy were still in his prime and the demise of the band were only due to fighting and egos, I wouldn’t bat an eye (did you hear that Van Halen and Guns ‘N Roses?). Let’s just hope that I’m wrong and my expectations are blown away here. Let’s hope that unlike AC/DC, KISS or Aerosmith, Black Sabbath will know when they don’t have anything left in the tank and will bow out gracefully. Let’s hope that if they are going to make fistfuls of money that they earn it and recoup the magic that got lost over the past 28 years of the band. Put simply, the fate of Black Sabbath version 2012 is whether Ozzy, Tony, Bill and Geezer’s hearts are bigger than Sharon’s desire for a fat purse.