Tag Archives: geezer butler

Opinion: Does age matter?

There comes a certain point in life where retirement is inevitable.  Most civilians have to wait until their 60’s before they can even think about retiring from work.  Conversely, most major sport athletes are not expected to continue working past their 30’s or 40’s.  If only some well-established musicians decided to retire from music, fans would not have to turn away due to “washed-up” artists.

Of course, there are exceptions as with any other theory ever logically constructed. For instance, Paul McCartney will be 72 years young this June.  While he may be far past his “prime,” he continues to properly perform to his celebrity level standards, not to mention he put out a solid set of new material in the form of New in 2013.  With that said, his type of music does not require much movement to maintain an enjoyable concert atmosphere.  Sir Paul has also perfected his brand of stage presence without exerting too much energy on stage.  Considering his age, that is a key skill to possess.  No fan wants to see their favorite music idol drop dead on stage from a heart attack.

Continuing with that last point, it is only a matter of time before Ozzy Osbourne and the rest of the Sabbath gents permanently retire, willingly or not.  Ozzy aimlessly bounces around on stage, missing vocal notes and keys in almost every line while performing live.  The Prince of Darkness is not what he used to be, considering how much toxicity he has ingested over the years.  As for the others, Tony Iommi is currently fighting cancer. Geezer Butler seems to be healthy, at least in comparison to his band mates.  In terms of age, all three are in their 60’s and not getting any younger.  It is actually surprising how excellent 13 turned out.  That would be a phenomenal departure release once they complete this grueling world tour.

To clarify, I love Black Sabbath, but they are not honoring their legacy if they keep going until fate takes them.

Another example is The Rolling Stones.  Although they have not been in the limelight recently, that Super Bowl performance several years ago should never have happened. Old Mick Jagger prancing around in tights is a disturbing image burned into millions of viewers’ eyes for eternity.

While “washed-up” musicians may be ruining their respective legacies by continuing until they physically cannot, we should respect their wishes, as fans.  They won’t be around forever and if they don’t keep doing what they love, how will they keep busy? What would keep them wanting to live if not their lifelong passion?


[REVIEW] The Past Collides with the Present on Black Sabbath’s “13”

Following the 11/11/11 announcement of a Black Sabbath reunion, heavy metal fans across the globe anxiously awaited what would become 2013’s 13.  This reunion was inevitable after Tony Iommi and Geezer Butler lost their beloved Heaven & Hell lead singer and dear friend, Ronnie James Dio, to stomach cancer in May of 2010.  However, shortly after the announcement, Iommi was diagnosed with lymphoma and underwent chemotherapy.  Being the heavy metal king, Iommi fought through it and helped provide worldwide Black Sabbath fans with 13.

With the excellence of Heaven & Hell’s The Devil You Know under their belts, it was highly unlikely that Iommi and Butler could top that with Ozzy Osbourne on vocals.  Conversely, with the beauties of technology in action, the Prince of Darkness actually sounds pretty good in several parts of 13.  The heavy metal founders clearly came together in the songwriting process this time around.  While it may not top The Devil You Know, 13 comes pretty close.

The album’s first single, “God Is Dead?” revealed a peek into the new material, but did not offer the whole picture.  It could arguably be considered one of the weakest tracks on the album.

Highlights include “End of the Beginning,” “Zeitgeist,” and “Dear Father,” among others.  “End of the Beginning” kicks off the album with a sound almost too reminiscent of the title track off of Black Sabbath’s self-titled debut record.  “Zeitgeist” then brings the listener back to “Planet Caravan” from 1970’s Paranoid.  “Dear Father” is a dark, heavy doom song, clocking in at over seven minutes and closing out the standard edition of 13 with flying colors.

13 is extremely well-executed and I was thoroughly impressed with the finished product. Rage Against the Machine’s Brad Wilk was unbelievably great on handling the drum duties, since the Sabs and Bill Ward could not agree on financial terms, leading to Ward stepping out of the reunion.

For Boston area fans, Black Sabbath are scheduled to perform at the Comcast Center in Mansfield, MA on Monday, August 12th.


Artist of the Week [5/17/13]: Orchid

Formed in 2007 in San Francisco, hard rockers Orchid have been referred to being “more Sabbath than Sabbath themselves.”  Yes, Orchid take a lot of the musical tricks forged by the heavy metal forefathers, Black Sabbath.  However, they also draw heavy influences from Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd.  Furthermore, that statement is almost blasphemous as all of these retro bands would not be around if not for Sabbath.  Perhaps, it may be somewhat forgivable if the term “modern-day” was included in referring to the band in question.  That should be expected, though, seeing how the Sabs are all in their 60’s while Orchid are still young and fresh.

Anyway, this article is supposed to be about Orchid, not Black Sabbath.  While guitarist Mark Thomas Baker may play riffs heavily inspired by the great Tony Iommi, he does it with flying colors.  Keith Nickel and Carter Kennedy sound like Geezer Butler and Bill Ward, respectively. Theo Mindell sounds like a grittier, young Ozzy Osbourne with a much wider vocal range and with more vocal melodies incorporated into each song.

While they may currently sit in the shadows of the retro-Sabbath band category, it will not be for much longer.  With the recent release of their second full-length album, The Mouths Of Madness, Orchid are sure to continue their march toward the frontlines of the doom metal scene.  The band has yet to disappoint anyone, new and long-time listeners alike, with a release.

Fans of Black Sabbath, Saint Vitus, Electric Wizard, etc. need to check Orchid out.  Five focus tracks are “Wizard Of War,” “Mouths of Madness,” “He Who Walks Alone,” “Heretic,” and “Into The Sun.”  Honestly, though, every single one of their songs is worth checking out if you like this kind of music.

For more information on Orchid, check out their Facebook page.


[SONG REVIEW] Black Sabbath – “God Is Dead?”

After starting off relatively slowly, the brand new single from the reunited heavy metal founders, Black Sabbath, becomes a classic-sounding Sabbath tune about six-and-a-half minutes in.  The last two minutes or so of this nearly nine minute long song are the most worthwhile.

It is not surprising that “God Is Dead?” sounds nothing like anything off of Heaven & Hell’s The Devil You Know.  After all, Dio-era Black Sabbath was an entirely different breed than that of the Ozzy era.  Still, this new Sabbath song is great in its own right.  It may have taken a few listens to fully appreciate, but it is exciting to hear the metal gods back at it.

One important thing to note is that fans should not approach this song with the expectation of hearing old school Black Sabbath.  Keep in mind that it has been 35 years since their last studio album together, 1978’s Never Say Die!  Therefore, the musicians themselves are 35 years older.  With the exception of studio session drummer Brad Wilk, they are all in their 60’s now.  With that said, approach this new song with an open mind and realize that they all sound very aged, especially Ozzy Osbourne.

Another warning is that Rick Rubin produced the new album.  For those unaware, Rubin produced Metallica’s Death Magnetic, which was openly criticized for having awful sound quality.  In terms of this particular collaboration between Rubin and Black Sabbath, “God Is Dead?” mildly shows the producer’s devotion to muddy sound quality.  However, it is nowhere near the muddiness portrayed in Death Magnetic.  The sound quality of the remainder of Sabbath’s reunion album has yet to be heard.

Otherwise, this new Sabbath song is definitely worth a listen.  Its dark, gloomy tone reverts back to the song that started it all: “Black Sabbath.”  The heavy riffs are comparable to “War Pigs.” Once the music speeds up later in the song, a “Paranoid” influence can be heard.  If this one song can portray such nostalgic elements, perhaps 13 will be a great comeback for the almighty Black Sabbath.  While the lyrics may not be the strongest word combinations, they still contain the dark themes for which Geezer Butler is known.

With Geezer’s dark lyrics, Tony Iommi’s heavy riffs, and Ozzy’s shaky yet satisfying vocals, Black Sabbath seems to be back.  Let’s hope Iommi continues to fight his cancer enough to pass away at an adequately old age.  Lastly, the band is set to tour throughout the rest of 2013, beginning with a handful of New Zealand and Australia dates which kick off tomorrow, April 20 in Auckland, New Zealand.  On May 12, they will perform at Ozzfest Japan in Tokyo.  August will see them in North America before they head to Europe in late November.

Black Sabbath’s reunion album, 13, will be released [in North America] via Vertigo/Republic on June 11, 2013.


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