In the hallowed realm of rock and heavy metal, the moniker Black Sabbath resonates with an almost holy respect.
This legendary UK powerhouse, since its inception in 1968, has fundamentally redefined the genre with its distinct and hauntingly grim tunes.
But, amidst the cornucopia of records Sabbath has released, one has constantly stirred debate and elicited strong criticism, an album Tony Iommi, their guitarist, dismissed as “inconsequential”: Forbidden.
Unveiled in 1995, Forbidden marked the seventeenth sonic offering from this British titan and the last instance of the original assembly featuring Ozzy Osbourne’s voice, Iommi’s guitar, Geezer Butler on bass, and Bill Ward behind the drums.
While this ensemble was projected to revisit the quintessential Sabbath magic, the eventual delivery was a disheartening departure from both fans’ and the musicians’ anticipations.
Toni Iommi, in particular, harbored significant aversion towards the Forbidden album.
“The ’90s were more like a barren desert for me. The constant alterations in the line-up made it hard to persevere with Sabbath,” he shared in an interview with Louder.
A musical voyage that set sail in stormy weather and ended on rocky shores
Iommi’s recollections reveal that the birth of Forbidden was fraught with hitches right from the onset. The original strategy involved famed producer Rick Rubin helming the album, but due to unforeseen circumstances, this alliance never materialized.
In his stead, Ernie C, the guitarist from the rap metal group Body Count, was entrusted with the production, propelling the musical compass in a direction alien to the band’s core essence.
“The reins of Forbidden’s production ended up in Ernie C’s hands, which was a grievous misstep. Ernie attempted to coax Cozy Powell into delivering hip-hop-infused drum parts, which understandably offended him,” Iommi reminisced about the tumultuous creative journey behind the album.
This experimental blend of Black Sabbath’s seminal heavy metal with nuances of rap and alternative genres perplexed and displeased their dedicated fan base.
A gloomy interlude in Black Sabbath’s epic saga
Despite the harsh criticism and lukewarm reception, Forbidden did present some commendable tracks, including “The Illusion of Power”, graced by Ice-T, and “Get a Grip”.
Regrettably, even these couldn’t shield the album from the avalanche of critical backlash.
In retrospect, Forbidden symbolizes a troubled and shadowy interlude in Sabbath’s illustrious musical narrative.
Fortunately, the band regained their momentum, and Iommi continued his creative journey with diverse projects.
In due course, Black Sabbath healed their rift with Ozzy and in 2013 released the universally acclaimed album, 13, thus reminding the world that their creative spark was far from extinguished.