Black Sabbath reunion will continue, members say, with or without original drummer Bill Ward

The question of whether a Black Sabbath reunion album and tour will proceed without original drummer Bill Ward has been definitively settled: The group vows to move forward, if needed, with founding members Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler and Ozzy Osbourne.

“We were saddened to hear yesterday via Facebook that Bill declined publicly to participate in our current Black Sabbath plans,” the band said, in a Friday Internet posting. “We have no choice but to continue recording without him — although our door is always open.”

The troubled reunion has already been slowed by a cancer diagnosis for Iommi — though he has continued work on the album after band members and crew joined him in the UK, where the guitarist has begun treatment. Then came word that Ward has yet to agree to a deal to join the reunited metal forefathers, who were attempting to complete the first project to include all four founding members since 1978.

“At this time, I would love nothing more than to be able to proceed with the Black Sabbath album and tour,” Ward said earlier in the week. “However, I am unable to continue unless a ‘signable’ contract is drawn up; a contract that reflects some dignity and respect toward me as an original member of the band.”

Black Sabbath has already announced a series of European tour dates, including a stop at the Download Festival.

“We are still in the UK with Tony,” band members said, in the same new statement on Friday. “Writing and recording the new album and on a roll … See you at Download!!!”

Here’s a look back at our recent thoughts on Black Sabbath, and related solo projects. Click through the titles for complete reviews …

WHOCARES, FEATURING TONY IOMMI AND IAN GILLAN – OUT OF MY MIND (2011): Just the reunion of Iommi and Gillan would likely be enough for most heavy rock fans, but the rest of the band reads like a who’s who of the genre. Gillan’s former Deep Purple bandmate Jon Lord handles the keys for the project. Iron Maiden drummer Nicko McBrain and ex-Metallica bassist Jason Newsted make up the rhythm section. Representing the younger generation is guitarist Mikko “Linde” Lindstrom of HIM, who, at 34, is 14 years the junior of Newsted, the next youngest member, and 35 years younger than oldest member, Lord, who is 69. But all that goes to show is age doesn’t really matter when it comes to good music, and “Out of My Mind” is really good.

FORGOTTEN SERIES: BLACK SABBATH – SABOTAGE (1975): Sabotage isn’t likely to overtake the groundbreaking debut record or the hit-filled Paranoid as Sabbath’s best work in most people’s minds, and I understand that. But the next time you’re looking for a Sabbath fix, dig a little deeper and give it a listen, especially if you haven’t heard it in a while. It might just be a much better record than you remember. Recorded at a time when the relationships in the band were just beginning to fracture, the album has a slightly different feel than the first five Sabbath albums. Sabotage represents a band still at the height of its powers, but just on the brink of slipping into chaos, and that translates into the music.

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  • LordMenace

    Sabotage to me is simply a masterpiece & worthy of any classic album series! It stands tall in its own unique right as an album which lures the listener into a sublime yet heavy journey of an almost insane gospel of metal & wrath.

    A true heavy & incredibly underrated Black Sabbath album & which in a way, makes it even that more special.