Metal pioneer riffs it up for Ozzfest
The question remains -- when will the reunited Sabbath release a new album?
There are only a few influential guitarists who can truly claim to have created their own musical genre.
Led Zeppelin's Jimmy Page is often cited, and with good reason, as the originator of hard rock, but music historians are always quick to point out the influence Black Sabbath's Tony Iommi had over heavy metal. This notion still rings true today. From Alice in Chains and Pantera to Tool, you don't have to dig too deep to find lineage to Iommi's monster riffage from such classic tracks as "Iron Man," "Paranoia," "War Pigs" and "Black Sabbath."
Likes the attention
Perhaps finally getting his due after Black Sabbath's original lineup -- Iommi, Ozzy Osbourne, Geezer Butler and Bill Ward -- reunited in 1999, becoming a staple of the Ozzfest summer tours ever since, the guitarist doesn't mind the attention.
"It's lovely, it really is," said Iommi, calling from New York City. "And it's great to know that you've done something to help everybody. You couldn't complain about that. It's a great honor."
It's been a busy year for the 57-year-old, who in addition to the Ozzfest 2005 tour recently released "Fused," only the third solo album of his career. For fans of Black Sabbath, the album hits right in the metal wheelhouse, with old school-sounding track "I Go Insane" coming in at over nine minutes long.
While the album may get the attention of diehard followers, the real question remains -- when will the reunited Sabbath release a new album? Iommi said the band has talked about it, and while he admits they owe it to their fans, nothing is planned in the near future.
Instead, Sabbath followers will have to look forward to hearing album gems such as "Dirty Women" and "Symptom of the Universe" when Ozzfest 2005 pulls into Pittsburgh for a show July 23 at the Post Gazette Pavilion At Star Lake. If it were up to Iommi, the set list would be filled with more obscure tracks instead of the predictable rock radio songs.
"I've played them all," Iommi said. "And that's the thing, I like doing that. But the problem is during Ozzfest, you're limited on time. You can't play for two and a half hours. You have to play for an hour and 15 minutes or whatever it is. So, you're limited to what you can play, really."
Limited now, Iommi said he looks forward to an unfettered fall tour when he hits the road solo style in support of "Fused." In the meantime, he'll relish his time on stage with his old Birmingham, England school chums.
"It's amazing," Iommi said. "It just seems to get bigger and bigger, and I think the band's playing better now than ever. It's great to be on with the original lineup."