Black Sabbath, a popular UK metal band with its roots planted firmly in the late '60s leading into the '70s, enjoyed several popular versions of itself. The first—and most classic—was the Ozzy Osbourne-fronted era, which lasted from the band's beginnings in 1969 until his firing due to heavy drug usage just ten years later. During that Mark I lineup, which also featured Geezer Butler (bass), Tommy Iommi (guitars), and Bill Ward (drums), the band produced million-seller albums up through Sabbath, Bloody Sabbath (1973). After that album, sales numbers dropped for the remaining Ozzy-fronted period through his last album with the band, Never Say Die! From that point forward, Black Sabbath enjoyed varying levels of success, with the second most accepted version being with Ronnie James Dio.
Black Sabbath is an icon of sorts for all of heavy metal. Using an approach unique at the time, they embraced a horror theme that explored societal ills and injustices, writing songs of discontent and occultism, and wrapping the entire package in an explosive, bluesy metal that won them a massive fan base.
After Ozzy Osbourne left Black Sabbath, he enjoyed a successful solo career. Since, neither Ozzy nor Black Sabbath have left the consciousness of metal fans. Since his departure, fans have held out hope for the eventual reunion of the once troubled singer with his first band. That reunion has since occurred over several live appearances. But now, for the first time since Never Say Die! (1978), Ozzy Osbourne and Black Sabbath have given metal fans what they have long desired — a new studio album.
But the reunion of the original lineup would still be a sticky affair. Bill Ward would balk at the idea, thus marring what would have been a perfect reunion. Nevertheless, the new album was recorded, and is being prepped for a release in June, on a date to be announced. The album, titled 13, will fulfill many Sabbath fans' hopes. How thrilled fans will be with the album's content remains to be seen. Regardless, a near miracle has occurred. Ozzy is back with the band. Hopefully, Bill Ward will return soon enough to make it complete should the band decide to record another long player.