It’s been 35 years since Black Sabbath has put out new material with Ozzy Osbourne at the helm. The eagerly anticipated new album “13” was released yesterday, garnering greater success than anyone, including the band themselves, could have ever anticipated, debuting in the #1 position in 50 countries. In celebration of the release of “13,” Black Sabbath held a town hall with the help of SiriusXM, YouTube and Google+.
Hosted by comedian, Jim Norton, contest winning fans were able to ask questions directly to the band. This is a stark contrast to the band’s heyday, where rock stars were virtually inaccessible to the public. Clearly a lot has changed since “Never Say Die” was released in 1978.
In the 1970’s, Black Sabbath had an incredible fanbase, but little to no support from radio and media. Perhaps it is the ability to look backwards and see just how influential Black Sabbath has been in metal and all of its sub-genres, but this time around, Black Sabbath is in the unfamiliar position of being media darlings.
The entire metal world has accepted “13” with open arms, drawing near universal praise for an album that would have easily held its own in the late 1970s.
Last night’s town hall with Black Sabbath was not only groundbreaking; it was also very entertaining and informative.
Ozzy, in his typical way, stated…
“We’re not used to people saying nice things about us. They can fuck off with that nice shit!”
The band discussed the recording process that was devised by producer, Rick Rubin. Because Rubin is such an enormous fan of the band, they trusted his judgment. He implored the band to sit in a room and listen to the first album, something that the band admitted was a bit awkward, but ultimately helpful. Tony Iommi, in particular, appreciated this approach.
Ozzy revealed that he contributes some lyrical ideas, but Geezer Butler is the genius that brings the concepts to life. Butler admitted that because their lives are so comfortable now, and the older material was written from their personal perspective of the working class, the new songs are more observational.
Technology has advanced by leaps and bounds since 1978, but Rubin went old school with this recording, forgoing the use of Pro Tools and tracking in favor of capturing the live band in its entirety. There was no punching up this album. If one band member made a mistake, the take was redone like it was in the old days.
In order to keep the band fresh, given their age, the recordings were done from 1-6pm daily, although one member probably would have had the energy to go for much longer.
If there is one disappointment with “13” for Sabbath fans, it is the absence of drummer, Bill Ward.
Ward and the band could not settle upon financial terms that would have brought the original lineup back together again. To Sabbath’s credit, they found an extremely capable replacement in Brad Wilk (Rage Against The Machine), no easy task considering that he had to create original parts in Ward’s distinct style.
Wilk grew up as a huge fan of the band, so replacing his childhood hero was a bit surreal. He admitted that it took him about a week or so to stop being in awe of his new bandmates.
Despite the absence of Ward, the band agreed that this was the best recording sessions that they have ever had in their history. In fact, the reunion has gone so well that Sabbath has plenty of material for more albums in the future. Ozzy plainly stated that he is back in the band, so Sabbath fans can rejoice in the fact that they are back together for the foreseeable future.
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