The original lineup of the legendary heavy metal band BLACK SABBATH Ozzy Osbourne (vocals), Tony Iommi (guitar), Geezer Butler (bass) and Bill Ward (drums) has reunited and has begun work on a brand new album. The group's first studio effort in 33 years the songwriting for which is already half complete will be produced by Rick Rubin, who has previously worked with METALLICA, SLIPKNOT, SLAYER and SYSTEM OF A DOWN, among many others. The band hopes to begin recording the CD in January for a fall 2012 release via Vertigo/Universal Republic in the U.S. and Vertigo in all other territories. A world tour will follow, including an appearance at the U.K.'s Download festival on June 10, 2012.
BLACK SABBATH's reunion was officially confirmed a few minutes ago during a special announcement ceremony at the Whisky A Go Go in Hollywood, California the same venue where the band made its Los Angeles debut on November 11, 1970 (41 years ago), opening for ALICE COOPER. All four original members of the group attended the event, which was hosted by former BLACK FLAG frontman Henry Rollins.
"I was a very alienated young person," Rollins said, "and when I heard BLACK SABBATH, I realized my life had a soundtrack. I realized there were people out there using music to make great statements. When I heard 'Iron Man', high school became powerless over me. This is true outsider music."
The band credited Rubin's persistence for helping get them back in the studio. "He phoned us every five minutes," Iommi joked.
"It was the obvious choice," explained Osbourne of Rubin as producer. "I've known Rick for many years."
"It was time," said Osbourne of the reunion. "The timing was right." Iommi added: "It's now or never. We get along great. Everything's really good."
Osbourne went on to reveal that they've written "seven or eight" new songs for the album, which they plan to release at the end of next year.
Butler added that the new songs are "back to the old SABBATH style and sound. The stuff that Tony's been playing is absolutely brilliant."
Iommi said, "It's like putting on an old glove. It's fantastic."
Rubin, who was also present at the event, said: "We've been working on developing material and we're halfway into the writing process. It's inspiring hearing what's coming out."
SABBATH will return to Donington for the first time since 2005 as a U.K. festival exclusive, joining Saturday headliners METALLICA, who were confirmed yesterday and will be playing their seminal, self-titled "Black Album" in full.
"The reunion of the original lineup of BLACK SABBATH has been one of the most talked about stories of the year," says Live Nation's Andy Copping. "I am thrilled that the band will return to Donington Park next year to help us mark 10 years of the Download festival."
BLACK SABBATH also announced today the launch of BlackSabbath.com, the first-ever official BLACK SABBATH web site for all authorized BLACK SABBATH news. In addition, the bands online presence will also be supported by social media via Facebook and Twitter again, marking the band's first-ever foray into the social media world.
According to Guardian.co.uk, James McMahon, editor of U.K.'s Kerrang! magazine, insisted the reunion did not represent just another bunch of old-timers getting back together to cash in on their cult status, and predicted fans would feel the same way.
"Metal fans can be the most cynical people in the world," he said. "But the return of BLACK SABBATH I don't think anyone thinks that's a bad thing.
"It's different because they announced they're making a record and that's really exciting. It doesn't feel weary in the way a lot of reunions of classic bands does.
"They are THE BEATLES of heavy metal. It all starts with BLACK SABBATH."
A three-and-a-half-minute reunion-announcement video can be seen below.
The Ozzy-fronted lineup of SABBATH hasn't toured since 2005 and last appeared together when they were inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in 2006. They attempted to cut a new album their first since 1978's "Never Say Die!" with Rick Rubin in 1999, but the sessions fell apart after just a couple of songs and Osbourne turned his attention to his solo career. The Ronnie James Dio lineup reunited under the moniker HEAVEN & HELL in 2006 but split four years later, after Dio passed away.
Iommi told U.K.'s Terrorizer magazine that the four original members of BLACK SABBATH recently got together in a rehearsal room for the first time in years, adding, "[We] played some of the old stuff and to be together again was great. We're all on good terms and we're at a stage where we can play together again. It would be good if we could and I suppose it's the closest it's been to be able to do that."
Osbourne told Billboard.com last month that a reunion of the original BLACK SABBATH lineup was a "very, very strong possibility." He added, "It's in the very early stages, so we haven't recorded anything yet. If it works out, it'll work out. If it doesn't, I'll keep doing my thing."
The Birmingham Mail reported in August that the original SABBATH lineup had begun rehearsing and writing music in secret for a new album. The Mail based its story around remarks made by Iommi, who later said the comments were off the record and taken out of context. Iommi's manager, however, did not deny that a reunion was underway.
Speculation about a reunion was fueled later that month when Ozzy skipped the Hollywood premiere of the documentary about his life, "God Bless Ozzy Osbourne". Both his son Jack and daughter Kelly hinted at the time that their dad was "doing something that is very, very exciting."
Osbourne and Iommi last year amicably resolved their problems over the ownership of the BLACK SABBATH name and court proceedings in New York were discontinued.
Ozzy filed a lawsuit against Iommi in May 2009, claiming that Iommi illegally took sole ownership of the band's name in a filing with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
Osbourne sued Iommi for a 50 percent interest in the "Black Sabbath" trademark, along with a portion of Iommi's profits from use of the name.
The Manhattan federal court suit also charged that Osbourne's "signature lead vocals" are largely responsible for the band's "extraordinary success," noting that its popularity plummeted during his absence from 1980 through 1996.
Lawyer Andrew DeVore argued that Osbourne signed away all his rights to the BLACK SABBATH trademark after he quit the band in 1979.
Osbourne's lawyer, Howard Shire, called that agreement a "red herring" that was "repudiated" when the singer rejoined in 1997 and took over "quality control" of the band's merchandise, tours and recordings.
Photo below courtesy of Black-Sabbath.com