Whenever a conversation arises about the heavy metal genre, there is quite a list of names worth mentioning: from classic acts like Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Slayer and Metallica to more extreme, cutting edge inclusions such as Converge, Lamb of God and Meshuggah; names like Hatebreed and DRI are often mentioned for bridging the gaps between distinct genres; the likes of Cannibal Corpse and Mayhem garner tales of controversy; and the topics of metalcore and nu metal are thrown in as complaint pieces.
However, there is one band that never escapes the radar in a metal conversation. They are considered by many to be the Godfathers of Heavy Metal, the inspiration to all the aforementioned bands and more: the inventors of the doom-induced ambience that is Black Sabbath.
Black Sabbath is currently on their final tour as of January of this year. That tour will end in February 2017 in their home city and the birthplace of metal: Birmingham, England. Black Sabbath have celebrated almost five decades as a band, going through countless line-up changes and producing plenty of albums, which, combined with the onslaught of songs in their back catalog that have solidified their legacy, make them music legends — even if you’re not a fan of Sabbath or metal in general, you can still recognize the tune to “Iron Man.”
The sole surviving member of Black Sabbath is founding guitarist Tony Iommi. Most people call to mind images of incredible frontman Ozzy Osbourne when the band’s name is mentioned; however, he was in the band for a shade under a decade before Iommi fired and replaced him with the soon to be iconic Ronnie James Dio. Iommi has seen the band through its drug-infused days of the late 70s, the struggle of maintaining relevance throughout the 80s, and two reunion tours in 1998 and 2012.
It’s fitting that Sabbath started with Iommi and that it would also end with him, as his ongoing battles with cancer and lymphoma have made it difficult for him to keep touring and recording. Now that Iommi’s cancer is in remission, one of the most important bands to ever play can go out with a bang and say goodbye to fans and audiences around the world.
This year has been a mixed bag for music, hasn’t it? There have already been two reunions that were once thought would never occur, with the original members of Guns N’ Roses and the Misfits rejoining on stage once again. However, we have lost David Bowie, Prince and Lemmy of Motörhead (though he was taken in December of last year, he still counts!); AC/DC are on their last legs with only one remaining original member; and Mötley Crüe, Dillinger Escape Plan, and, of course, Black Sabbath are just flat out calling it quits. It goes without saying, but the legacy of Black Sabbath has inspired and will continue to inspire all bands under the sun of metal.
Black Sabbath @ USANA Amphitheater, 5200 S. 6200 West, Salt Lake City, Sept. 11, 7:30 p.m., USANA-amp.com.