Legendary. It is the only word that fits the band Black Sabbath! It is mind-blowing to me that Black Sabbath has been recording metal music off & on for over 40 years now. Their music has stood against the test of time. There have been many imitators, but no band has been able to reproduce the amazing music that Black Sabbath has put out over the years. With that being said, Black Sabbath’s latest album 13, is not what I would call legendary, but it is a great bookend to what could easily be the final chapter in the careers of this amazing metal band.
Before the release of 13, I had not listened to a single song from the album, so I had no idea what to expect. After the first play, the only song that grabbed my attention initially was “God Is Dead”. On the first play, I thought, this could easily be a staple for Sabbath’s live set. It is a very classic sounding Sabbath song and easily one of my favorites on the album. I struggled at first to find another song that really made an impact on me, but I kept listening, and then a funny thing happened, I couldn’t QUIT listening.
13 really started sinking in after the second listen, and I started to enjoy it more. “End of the Beginning” does a great job re-capturing the vibe of the awe-inspiring 1970 debut Black Sabbath. Tony Iommi is absolutely riffdiculous. On 13, he has once again put together a stellar performance, creating a bunch of new riffs from his endless bag of tricks. It is his guitar work that will make you want to give this album endless spins. Geezer Butler deserves a strong mention here as well. His powerful bass is the driving force behind this music. It is awesome to listen to someone who can truly play, and not just remain hidden in the background playing rhythm. His deep and sometimes jangly bass riffs are amazing. Geezer does not always get the credit he deserves. It is my opinion that his playing on 13 is stellar.
As much as I love Ozzy Osbourne, I didn’t think his vocals were as strong or as aggressive as past releases. I get the fact that Ozzy is 64 years old, but I was hoping that producer Rick Rubin would push him a little further than he did. With that being said, Ozzy’s vocals aren’t bad, just not as good as they have been in the past.
As much as I am disappointed that Bill Ward was not involved in the making of this album, I have to give credit to Brad Wilk from Rage Against the Machine. He provided the thunder for this album, and I truly believe he did an outstanding job.
There are three of songs that have really grown on me since I started listening to 13, and those are “Loner”, “Zeitgeist” and “Live Forever”. “Loner” is maybe the most upbeat track on the album, while “Zeitgeist” is the slowest. “Zeitgeist” may just be one of the most different sounding Sabbath tracks of all time. That is the song’s pure brilliance. Iommi nearly treads into Eric Clapton territory with his playing on this one, and Brad Wilk plays the bongos throughout this song. “Zeitgeist” is clever and cool. Metal purists may turn their nose at this one, but I appreciate the creativity, and outstanding musicianship. I love the chorus on “Live Forever”. “Well I don’t want to live forever, but I don’t want to die….”. This lyric has really stuck in my head.
If you buy one version of this album, I highly recommend the bonus version (available at Best Buy) with four bonus tracks.
The bonus track “Methademic” is nearly worth the price of admission all by itself. This is a killer up tempo number that should have been on the main disc. I don’t know why this one got picked over. It is better than some of the songs on the main disc. This is a song that you won’t want to miss. (Check it out below!) “Pariah” is also an outstanding tune that should not be missed.
Overall, 13 is a solid, but not spectacular album. The more I listen to it, the more I have grown to like and appreciate it. It may not be perfect, but it does have good song writing, and outstanding musicianship. Black Sabbath fans should rush to get this, and all other metal fans should give this one a chance.
Rating: Out of 10
01. End of The Beginning
02. God is Dead?
05. Age of Reason
06. Live Forever
07. Damaged Soul
08. Dear Father
* Bonus Tracks
02. Peace of Mind
04. Naivete In Black
Black Sabbath is:
Tony Iommi – lead guitar
Geezer Butler – bass guitar
Ozzy Osbourne – lead vocals
Brad Wilk – drums