Album Reviews

Black Sabbath – 13 Review

black sabbath 13 cover

Released by: Universal/Vertigo

Release Date: Out Now!!!

Genre: Classic Metal



Line Up:

Ozzy Osbourne

Tony Iommi

Geezer Butler

Bill Ward



01. End Of The Beginning

02. God Is Dead?

03. Loner

04. Zeitgeist

05. Age Of Reason

06. Live Forever

07. Damaged Soul

08. Dear Father



I was hesitant about checking out the new Black Sabbath album. Let’s face some truths for a moment. For starters, it’s been a long, long time since Ozzy has put out anything that I felt was quality work. Out of all the issues and fears I saw ahead of time upon hearing of the reunion happening, he was problem number one for me. Frankly, I’ve not particularly liked an album since No Rest for the Wicked, and the last one I loved was The Ultimate Sin. Sure, there’s been some decent stuff contained on a lot of the albums, but it just never measured up for me. Not to mention the last couple times I have seen him live it was pretty bad. I’ve said for many years now it’s time for him to hang it up. I wasn’t too concerned about Iommi and Butler. After the magnificent job they did under the name Heaven and Hell I knew they were already at the top of their game. After Bill Ward was out I wasn’t sure how to feel. This reunion was right about there with the KISS reunion for me. I was torn: part of me wanted to see/hear the outcome, but another part of me figured that it might detract from the greatness already created in the past. KISS had already proved my fears to be accurate. Then Tony was diagnosed with cancer. After the loss of Ronnie to cancer, this was devastating news to not just Tony, but fans worldwide. Automatically you start thinking the worst.

13 is an album that I’m conflicted about. I have remained “spoiler free” in regards to it since its release. I read brief stuff about it, like chart positions, and vague sentiments about it- some were good, some not so much. I’m not sure why I was so hesitant about it. I’m not sure I was even ready to check it out when my slave driver editor demanded I do it (actually, Denys is a super nice guy, and has given me the opportunities to do some pretty cool stuff. Damn glad to have met him and honored to be a part of the MGM family here.) On my first spin of it, I liked it. Didn’t love it, but there was enough going on to make me enjoy it. The main attraction for me, as always, is Tony Iommi’s incredible ability to create some killer metal riffs. Back in the day the man loses fingertips and goes on to create a new genre of music. Seems he took the fire and emotion of being diagnosed with cancer and churned out more incredible riffs to an already incredible back catalog of classic tunes. As if that’s not enough you add to the mix the heavy metal John Entwhistle that is Geezer Butler dropping some monster bass licks like always, continuing that special chemistry those two have always had. Since Bill Ward bailed on the reunion they utilized Rage Against the Machine drummer Brad Wilk. He does a good job on the album, but I believe I would’ve preferred someone like Vinny Appice since he has working knowledge of what Sabbath is all about. Not sure why he wasn’t asked to be a part of it, whether he was already busy with Kill Devil Hill or if some inner politics was involved (like Sharon Osbourne, the bane of Ozzy’s existence,) which is a nice segue to Ozzy. He is the weakest link on the album. Sure, he sounds better than he has in ages, but is that because he was focused and healthy or was it thanks to in-studio magic? I suppose the tour will be the telling point on that. What about the songs? Glad you asked! From the first song “End of the Beginning,” it is very clear they’re trying to channel the song “Black Sabbath.” It’s got the same droning, creepy vibe as the original. It was the perfect album opener. Then it goes into “God Is Dead,” which is not one of the stronger tunes on the album. It actually strikes me as a later Ozzy solo track re-tooled for the band. These first two tracks are indicative of the rest of the album. Some songs are good, hearkening back to the good days of Sabbath, and then others left me perplexed as to why it managed to make it on the album. The strongest tracks for me are “Age of Reason,” “Live Forever,” and “Methademic.”

This very well could be a sneaker of an album. Perhaps later on I’ll pop it in and realize that it truly is a great album- as of right now though I simply like it. Black Sabbath is a band that if there were no KISS, they would be my favorite band. Albums like Black Sabbath, Volume 4, and Sabbath Bloody Sabbath were just as important to the molding and shaping of my musical loves as Hotter Than Hell, Rock and Roll Over, and Love Gun were. KISS won out because as a kid the image stuck with me. And as I have gotten older I have found myself more interested in the Dio era as well as the much ignored Tony Martin period of the band. (Frankly, Tony Martin was the best of all choices because he could pull off all eras of Sabbath as well as the fantastic music created during his tenure, but don’t get me started on the paltry treatment he has received over the years from the band and fans alike.) I am glad that Sabbath have been able to spark some success with 13 and it’s good to have one more album and not have it be a total disgrace for their legacy. Perhaps the success of this album has turned on some new folks to their incredible music as well. I don’t necessarily anticipate another album from the band, though I suppose stranger things have happened. With Iommi’s illness ever-looming, this may spark him to create new stuff until the very end, and perhaps there will be another Ozzy album to add. But if 13 is the last for the guys, then I’m OK with that as well. It’s a good way to go out.
Written by Chris Martin

Ratings    Chris    7/10

Tell Us How You Feel