Original BLACK SABBATH guitarist Tony Iommi, singer Ozzy Osbourne and bassist Geezer Butler are working with producer Rick Rubin on their first recording project together in 34 years. According to Metal Injection, 15 songs have been written for the CD, with 12 making the final cut and the additional three serving as bonus tracks for different special editions. The band has one songtitle confirmed: "God Is Dead".
Apparently, Iommi completed all 15 guitar tracks during the band's sessions in England earlier this year, and judging by the way most bands record, that would mean drums are done as well. Ozzy and Geezer are working to complete the tracks in five-song increments, with the first five being worked on currently at Shangri La Studios in Malibu, California. Ozzy is tracking vocals, with Butler writing all the lyrics.
As for Iommi, Ozzy told SiriusXM Liquid Metal DJ Jose Mangin that he spoke to the guitarist recently and he is in good spirits and recovery is coming along very well from his cancer scare earlier this year.
Iommi, Osbourne and Butler discussed their new album in a video interview posted at NME.com. Osbourne dropped a clue about the set's title, hinting, "Next year, 2013, is a good clue to what we're going to call the album."
As for how Rubin influenced the band's approach to writing together again, Butler explained, "He sat us down, put the first album on and said 'listen to this', imagine it's 1969, you've just done that, what would you do next?"
Iommi added, "It's taken on the flavor of the old stuff in the way we put things together, but with a different look on it."
The project suffered a blow earlier this year when Iommi was diagnosed with cancer, although he said that playing the warm-up show in Birmingham, was a boost to his spirits. "It was great," he said. "Going through what I've gone through over the past year has been like living in a different world — being onstage and to get that (reaction from the fans) is just fantastic, it really boosts you up."
BLACK SABBATH drummer Bill Ward announced earlier this year that he was declining to join his former bandmates for its scheduled 2012 dates, as well as the recording of a new album, due to a contractual dispute.
He also allegedly had his lawyers direct SABBATH to remove him from photos of the band posted at the official BLACK SABBATH web site "so as to not give the public the wrong impression about his involvement in the current BLACK SABBATH lineup," according to a statement issued by the band's publicist.
Geezer Butler issued a lengthy retort at his own web site, writing that Ward "hadn't told any one of us he was having contractual problems, and frankly those things are worked out between our representatives, and never between the four of us let alone in public."
Butler added that the band did not expect to make a lot of money from its Download appearance and planned to donate the proceeds from the Birmingham gig, saying, "Apparently, this wasn't acceptable to Bill's representatives, they wanted an amount that was so unrealistic that it seemed to have been a joke."
In addition to Download, the members of SABBATH played at Lollapalooza in early August in Chicago, their only U.S. gig. The rest of the scheduled SABBATH tour dates were played by Ozzy and billed as "Ozzy & Friends."