Black Sabbath Unsure If They’ll Release Another Studio Album
Black Sabbath released 13 in early June of 2013. It was the band’s 19th studio album, their first new collection of songs since 1995, and their first studio album with original lead singer Ozzy Osbourne since 1978. It’s also the band’s first number one album in the United States.
Recently, the three original members of Sabbath–Ozzy Osbourne, Tony Iommi and Geezer Butler—hinted that 13 could be their last studio effort.
Osbourne doesn’t want to talk about a follow-up because he doesn’t want to answer questions about “where’s Black Sabbath’s next album” a year or two after saying Black Sabbath will release another album. He also said he’s open to the idea and is “not sorry at all for getting back together.”
Iommi worries that another album might be anticlimactic. He said the band will probably like to do one but he doesn’t know if it’s a good idea. He told the reporter: “Maybe I should talk to the others about it.”
Butler hasn’t given a follow-up much thought but believes the band will know instinctively if they can make one or not. In other words, the recording process will have to come naturally. “If we have to force it, then we won’t be doing it.”
The album 13 did well on the charts and it received slightly above-average reviews from critics—Rolling Stone gave it three and half stars; NME deemed it a seven; and Entertainment Weekly graded it a B-.
Judging from readers’ comments, fans either hated it or they thought it was a decent effort. Some didn’t like Rick Rubin’s production; some didn’t think it was a real Black Sabbath album without drummer Bill Ward; and some thought it was downright boring.
Black Sabbath’s lack of ambition to record another album, and their fans general lukewarm response to 13, begs the question should they even attempt to release a follow-up? Let’s take it a step further, should they have made 13 in the first place? And let’s not just pick on Sabbath, we could ask the same question about a lot of veteran rockers: Pearl Jam, Elton John, and Journey.
Not everyone can be Bob Dylan, Neil Young, or U2 and release quality and significant albums for 50-, 40-, and 30-straight years (respectively). Generally, rock acts have a small window where they produce their best work. Once that window closes (usually known in hindsight), no matter how hard they try they can never recreate the magic they had during their original run.
Of course, this doesn’t apply to one’s favorite artist. Hardcore fans of Black Sabbath—those who live, eat, and breathe the band—not only want a follow-up to 13 but they want about ten additional Black Sabbath albums.
I know that’s how I feel about my favorite bands. What I wouldn’t give for one more Beatles album or one more Clash record or one more LP by The Smiths. When it comes to my favorite acts I want them writing and recording new material up until they take their last breath.
For a band like Black Sabbath, fans will want to see them perform live regardless of what they’re doing, or not doing, in the studio. As one reader put it, “I didn’t like 13 but I’m sure I’ll buy a Black Sabbath ticket to hear them play their hits.”
There are only a few chances left for North American Sabbath fans to see their heavy metal heroes. On March 31, 2014, Barclays Center in Brooklyn hosts a Black Sabbath concert. That’s the first night of the second North American leg (the first went down over the summer) of their reunion tour.
After Brooklyn, Sabbath plays ten shows in Canada including stops in Montreal, Ottawa, Calgary, and Edmonton. Their New World jaunt concludes April 26 when Los Angeles welcomes Black Sabbath to the historic Hollywood Bowl.
All this talk of Black Sabbath’s 20th studio album might be moot. The band is getting up there in age, they’re not in the best of health, and they all have other music projects taking up their time. So we may not have to worry about another Black Sabbath album. Heck, we probably shouldn’t hold our breath that they’ll finish their world tour (their last scheduled date is June 27, 2014 in Essen, Germany).
No worries because another band that’s well past their prime will come along and release an album that tests the delicate sensibilities of rock snobs. Ultimately, it’s not the artists that need to change (however great that would be) but music fans. We, and I’m including myself in all of this, need to understand that not every great band can be great all the time. After a while, all that really matters is the bands we love keep doing what they love to do and that’s make music.
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