The Mark of Excellence

Black Sabbath


> > Jun 10 2013

Black Sabbath - 13
By Greg PrattThe big deal here is that 75-percent of the original Black Sabbath line-up, including the perennially confused Ozzy Osbourne behind the mic, have reunited (sans ostracised drummer Bill Ward) for a new studio disc. Crunching the numbers, it's the best percentage/line-up we've seen from this long-suffering legends for a long time — the last album with the classic line-up being 1978's Never Say Die. Here, ex-Rage Against the Machine dude Brad Wilk is behind the kit, and he plays it straight, almost to the point of no personality, doing his best Bill Ward, but taking it down a notch. He hits hard and powerfully, but you're left wanting more of what he's capable of. It's a minor complaint in the face of such doom/trad metal magic though. Opener "End of the Beginning" sludges slow like classic drab Sab, then picks up the pace, doing the Sabbath boogie like only they can, with Ozzy oddly sounding like the only guy who's a bit restrained. The melodic mid-point of the tune is a nice surprise, sounding oddly '90s — definitely a bit of the happy, bouncy Sabbath sound. I didn't hear advance single "God Is Dead?" until in the context of 13, being too afraid of disappointment, but it doesn't — the only bummer being how similar it is to the opener. It's a great, stomping, powerful doom tune. "Live Forever" has some of the crash, crush und burn of the Sabotage era; the sordid depression is mixed with an up-tempo boogie that just baffles, confounds and pleases. "Damaged Forever" loosens things up with a side-step shuffle that drags and burns, harmonica wailing, guitar soloing interestingly — a nice breather at that late point in the disc, the production of the mysterious Rick Rubin bashing and crashing, although playing it a bit safe and controlled. It's a small issue considering it sounds like Rubin helped the band find their mojo again, finally. Colour me pleasantly surprised, a bit baffled at the lukewarm reaction out there, considering it's heavy, credible and lacks the dull, oppressive feel that the Heaven and Hell disc had overwhelmingly. Here, every riff is full of life, the chemistry popping out in the open spaces, Ozzy's melancholy once again finally, and fittingly, overtop the soundtrack of metallic joy and madness, the whole thing combining to create a perfect metal sound the way only the masters can.

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duh yah, "one thing that's not so good this, something else not so good that"....give it a nine anyway?

This album ended up what most expected it to be. Sab's "Death Magetic". Trying to recall their youth. Ozzy's voice sounds pasted over, one track is a blatant Budgie rip off (I guess they figured nobody knows the Welsh rockers). The rest, they just rip off themselves.

There are dozens of stoner/doom bands right now more worthy of your investigation than this. 5/10
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Hey, thanks for reading. Greg here, I wrote this review, and I totally stand behind my 9. I only mentioned a couple things wrong with the album in the review and think it's definitely deserving of a nine. It's a huge, killer album to my ears.

I don't think they rip off themselves here. I think Metallica tried to with some of their later albums and it didn't work. Here, Sabbath is just being Sabbath.

There ARE tons of great doom bands out there today worthy of exploration, agreed. And I think this album is as good as some of the best stuff out there.

Thanks for reading, fellow doom fan!
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Wow, better and better with every listen. Best thing Ozzy has done since his first two solo efforts. Iommi is as good as ever. I love Bill, but Brad Wilk does just fine.

That solo at 6:19 in God Is Dead. Wicked.
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Totally agree with the review.

So good to hear Sabbath sound like Sabbath again after Tony Iommi's previous subpar attempts after Heaven & Hell and I believe that Rick Rubin has played a major part in making this happen. He may not be on the song writing credits but I have no doubt he made a major contribution in helping the band create the songs on this album in the Sabbath mould and also nailing that Sabbath sound.

I remember the difference he made to Trouble, a band with good ideas but poor execution who ended up recording 2 of the 90s great hard rock albums with Rick Rubin producing. The guy has a talent for cutting the wheat from the chaff.

Yeh there are a few cool stoner/doom bands worth checking out like Graveyard, Black Space Riders & Truckfighters to name just a few who have or are releasing new albums at this time but 13 is up there with them.

If you don't like this album you don't like classic Sabbath, simple as!!
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Litmus test: Sitting in the South End Tavern/Oshawa nursing a shot and a beer at 5 in the afternoon as ' Is God Dead ' blasts out of the sub-par speaker system....and it sounds absolutely fantastic. Didn't see this one coming.
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I, for one, fully agree with this review. With any situation like this, naysayers and whiners abound, but, at least from my own experience, this album sounded completely earnest. I've probably listened to it 5 times already. Very inspiring. A great record.
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It'll be forgotten in a month.
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