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Black Sabbath - 13

Black Sabbath
13
by Tomer "Tommy-Foxx" Darmon / Dorothy Cheng / Vasilis Odontidis at 13 June 2013, 12:25 PM

TOMMY-FOXX (7/10)

So here it comes, after too much talking, after too many fights, after too much waiting…,"13", the new album of the almighty BLACK SABBATH.

From the outside, the cover isn't impressive showing the number lighted by fire. Furthermore, enclosed within is unfortunately not the whole original lineup, Bill Ward, which was one of BLACK SABBATH's trademarks with his massive drumming, chose not to reunite with the band. Taking his place is Brad Wilk, best known as the drummer of RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE. In general, BLACK SABBATH tried to restore their original sound of the 70s, back when Ozzy Osbourne was at the helm of the vocals. Their collaboration with the famous producer Rick Rubin, which provided his magical touch, ended up as a proud blink to the old vintage sound.

The album opens with "End Of The Beginning", which starts with the famous tritons that been well known in the classic emblem, "Black Sabbath", very heavy, doomy with a mystifying atmosphere. Ozzy has been maintaining the status as the best singer in the world, but he fit himself well to the song with evil singing, reminding older days. Right through the middle I noticed the sensation of groove driven section, stepping in, highly mesmerizing. "God Is Dead" is the first single released right before the album came out. It starts also with the devil's interval. It's not one of the best, yet I can mention the great bass work of Geezer Butler with his lines that after all these years uphold such richness and depth. The only part that really got me on this track is the near its end, where Tony Iommi enters with a little lead lick. "Loner" a simple song with a simple main riff, didn't strike me as wondrous, but through its middle it shared a boost and more power, mainly thanks to Wilk's drumming, which reminded me a little bit of Bill Ward's technique from time to time.

"Zeitgeist" sounds like an attempt for "Changes" #2, Iommi sinks a Bluesy dope on this acoustic section. Honestly, this album started to change dramatically, in a good way, from "Age Of Reason", this song has everything in it: evil type attitude, tons of energy with heavily riffs and a great melodic chorus that shows that BLACK SABBATH haven't lost their magic. This song is a masterpiece. "Live Forever" a groove driven track with heavy verses, the chorus is probably the best of the entire release.

"Damaged Soul" is the heaviest one around, very slow tempo, doomy, with Ozzy's vocals crying out desperation. The melodic nature of the chorus / intro, hooked me up right from the start. This song brings some memories of the past that in a way it is the turn of the circle. "Dear Father" highlights the brilliant bass work of Butler, even when the tempo became faster. Nice ending with thunders and heavy rain that once echoed on "Black Sabbath", opening the historical beginning.

This album is a pure heaviness and continues the line of the 70' period until "Technical Ecstasy" album. Ozzy sounds more or less like his younger self, Iommi shows that he is still the mind behind all the devilish riffs that became the BLACK SABBATH trademarks, Geezer amazed with his virtuosi playing and gratifying the songs' enchanted touch, and Wilk proved that no matter the absence of Bill Ward, he is still a potent drummer.

This album is good, not one of their best with Ozzy but it has the highlighting moments along with the original sound. I had a lot of expectations from it and most of them were fulfilled.

DOROTHY CHENG (6/10)

My god, what can I even say about freaking BLACK SABBATH in an intro anyway? What has not been written about them over the past few decades exhorting their very existence already? I mean without with these men, I mean, gods, would Heavy Metal music exist as it does now?

Let’s just say the band’s new album "13" was greeted with much enthusiasm from hardcore fans that have waited forever, and by the musical world who revere BLACK SABBATH by default. Needless to say, the album had a lot to live up to, which it managed to do in some ways, but also struggled to finish the job. The first song “End of the Beginning”, brought some serious nostalgia to me. And honestly, I cannot tell you how much I value musical nostalgia. If a song can remind you of the first time you ever heard Heavy Metal – that song’s got power.

However, I cannot exactly greet the intro to “End Of The Beginning” was total positivity. It was a bit too reminiscent of “Black Sabbath”, the band’s breakthrough track inspired by another musical god, Richard Wagner, giving me the impression that the band was trying to emulate the older track to get the best reactions from listeners. To be honest, I was both excited yet apprehensive to hear Ozzy sing again. But wonderfully, his voice came through really pleasantly and even had a gritty alternative edge it. By the time the verse kicked it and the song rocked up, I was banging my head contentedly.

Tony Iommi is as spot on as ever – I mean, can the man do any wrong? Geezer Butler of course reprises his role as bassist, and he has that low, heavy, morbid twang to his strings just like he did 40 years ago. Bill Wilk of course, is still as sick as ever on the drums. He’s like a funk guru who brings his jazz roots to every song, spicing up the entire album. The first song proved one thing: that BLACK SABBATH is still as heavy as ever. However, it also showed that they are embracing alternative and even pop sensibilities, veering slightly more towards rock than the Metal that they are known are praised for. The rest of the tracks were awaiting me though, eager for something more to prove, and I jumped right to it.

God Is Dead?” started slowly, bringing backs the solemnity of old BLACK SABBATH, but unfortunately didn’t manage to deliver the same spell of atmosphere old BLACK SABBATH was so adapt at delivering. The rest of the songs carried with them a very Hard Rock sensibility coupled with some interesting experimentation here. “Age Of Reason” had a really funky, almost Indie Rock intro, which made me really happy to know that despite years of being in the business and actually defining the damn business, BLACK SABBATH is still open to new frontiers and experimentation. However, their signature eeriness is very much gone, whether due to newer bands having taken hold of modern listeners’ perceptions and pushing BLACK SABBATH farther back in the race or whether through the band’s own doing, I’m not sure. I am sure of one thing though, that the band knows the current state of the industry and how it relates to them and have probably decided on a strategy plan that involves them opening up to more audiences through different influences.

Don’t come listening to the album expecting to hear the same style of BLACK SABBATH that you’ve grown to love. They are an ever-evolving band and always have been. The good thing about this album is that the band still sounds very much like the classic Heavy Metal act they are, despite the many new influences. Oh, there is also another good thing about this album – it’s BLACK SABBATH's comeback album after a million freaking years. They show us that music never goes away despite everything. 40 years on and “N.I.B.” is still as freaky as ever and it will continue to be that way for as long as humanity exists.

I have to give thumbs up to all members of BLACK SABBATH for keeping up the spirit and remaining as badass as ever, but I do hope better albums come in the future. This is not the band’s best album what with the band falling slightly short in terms of innovation and engaging the listener. However, the very fact that BLACK SABBATH is active again makes the album a symbol to everybody in the industry and community.

VASILIS ODONTIDIS (7/10)

If one opened the ancient lexicon of Metal Wisdom under the term Heavy Metal there would be only one term that would describe and define it, BLACK SABBATH. The grandfathers of our beloved music, the band that shaped this more than anyone else is returning with a new album, “13”. Despite the initial announcement that the band would return with its original lineup, on the way things broke and Bill Ward stepped down, citing a given contract that was disrespectful to him. No one tried to mend the broken glass and eventually the so called reunion never took place. Still the remaining members, Geezer Butler, Tony Iommi and Ozzy Osbourne under the guidance of Rick Rubin and with Brad Wilk (RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE) handling the drumming duties delivered “13", which is considered the continuation of “Never Say Die!”. Of the original members Iommi was diagnosed with lymphoma and Osbourne was battling with drugs and alcoholism (guess who won …) and thus “13” came under quite a storming period for the band.

“13” is an album of eight tracks five of which are more than seven minute long, concerning the standard version that we got. There is a handful of additional songs that will appear in various versions of the album. “God is Dead?” is the first single that came out of the new record and it was a very good one. The band opted for writing songs that bear some references to their old records, without overdoing it and in fact it seems that it worked really well. For instance the opener track, “End of the Beginning” resembles “Black Sabbath” in the beginning or the beautiful “Zeitgest” is referencing “Planet Caravan”. In any case the record is having some very strong moments like “Age of Reason”, the bluesy “Damaged Soul” or “Dear Father” that ends the same way “Black Sabbath” starts. Supposing that there is not going to be another record this one marks the ending of a circle that opened almost forty five (!!!) years ago.

Musically “13” is by far better than the below mediocre “The Devil You Know” (I still wonder why the excellent tracks from the best of were not included in this one). The band didn’t try to redefine itself but instead did what they do best, an album built upon the major virtues of their sound. Iommi’s riffs are as heavy as ever and Geezer’s bass lines are an army of their own. After all these years there is still that awesome magic between those two. Ozzy’s voice is getting worse year by year and it is a miracle he still has any kind of voice after the insane abuses he has been through. Even with the help of technological settings, he does a decent job in the most parts of the songs. Wilk’s is sounding as SABBATHesque as he can get and he seems to be the right man sitting behind the drum kit. The cover of the album seemed like a CGI picture but as it turned out it is a real photo, yet it never managed to impress me - at all. Rick Rubin has managed to connect all the pieces and present a unique result, a record can be considered as a very fine work by the masters of reality, BLACK SABBATH, and probably a fitting epilogue to their huge career. The ending result is rewarding musically and aesthetically.

The importance and contribution of BLACK SABBATH to the Metal universe can’t be counted in words and can’t be contained in given spaces. “13” is a record that does justice to their legacy and name and the proper soundtrack that could play while the curtain falls.

3 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. End of the Beginning
2. God is Dead
3. Loner
4. Zeitgeist
5. Age of Reason
6. Live Forever
7. Damaged Soul
8. Dear Father
Lineup:
Ozzy Osbourne – Vocals, Harmonica
Tony Iommi – Guitar
Geezer Butler – Bass
Brad Wilk – Drums
Record Label: Vertigo Records
     


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Edited 19 July 2019
 

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