During a three-minute New Year message, riff godfather Tony Iommi has reflected on a “fun and interesting” 2023 as he looks ahead to new releases across 2024.
Whilst he remains coy on the guise of his latest project, the Black Sabbath guitarist reveals he’s been busy working on new material. That means 2024 should be a year in which more Iommi riffs come to pass.
“I've been working in the studio, writing and doing plenty of stuff,” says the 75-year-old, with the body of a Gibson SG in the back of shot. “I'm very happy with it. I might use some orchestration, I might not. So we'll see how it goes."
Iommi also announced that, a year later than planned, a boxset celebrating the Tony Martin-fronted Black Sabbath albums will be released. Martin was a hurried replacement for Glenn Hughes in 1987 and went on to front the band across five albums, making him the second longest-serving vocalist, behind Ozzy Osbourne. The boxset will focus on their first three albums together, The Eternal Idol, Headless Cross and Tyr.
Referring to his New Year 2023 message, where he had promised the boxset’s release later that year, Iommi said: “Last year when I did my message, I did say we'd have a boxset coming out. Well, now I've been informed that it'll be out in May... it's been held up with paperwork and legal stuff. But anyway, it's coming out in May now, if you're interested, and I hope you are.
Turning his attention to 2023’s activities, he also spoke about his work with the Birmingham Royal Ballet and its director, Carlos Acosta on the Black Sabbath ballet. It’s a project the guitarist has called “absolutely marvellous”.
Says Iommi: “They've done such a brilliant job. And the dancers are fantastic. All the people involved were just so into it, and it was great fun. I [also] was making an appearance on the end of some of the shows.
“As soon as they put it on sale, the tickets sold out like that, which was fantastic. We had a lot of Sabbath fans come in, who really enjoyed it. So, hopefully [in 2024] they're talking of taking it to America and Europe. So hopefully that'll happen, and everybody can get to see it. But it's well worth watching. Fantastic.”
He also took part in a “very interesting” Sky documentary, Greatest Guitar Riffs, alongside Brian May.
“I'd done it at home and done some away,” he recalls. “But it was good fun and I had Brian May come up and we worked together and played together and that was great.”
He continues: “I also did a track with Cesar [Gueikian, Gibson CEO] and Serj [Tankian] from System of a Down to raise money for Armenia, which was good. So that's out as well."
In the video, he also called sharing the stage with The Hollywood Vampires - which includes Joe Perry, Alice Cooper and actor-cum-riff-slinger Johnny Depp - “really great”.
“It was something different for me,” he expands. “Hopefully there'll be more going on in the next year."