This written review is for the standard edition. Not any deluxe edition therefore tracklist will be the standard 8 songs.
This is the most anticipated album of all time… okay maybe not. But as soon as Black Sabbath announced; an original members reunion, world tour and a new album, the band were present in some part of the mind of every metalhead on the planet. Despite the loss of Bill Ward in the line up, despite Tony Iommi’s cancer diagnosis and following treatment, despite Ozzy’s re–submergence into drugs and alcohol and despite Geezer … well… he’s been fine actually, which is good! Anyway! Despite all this the band have managed to cover the drummer issue live with Tommy Clufetos, Ozzy’s solo touring drummer, and in studio with the inclusion of Rage Against The Machine/Audioslave’s Brad Wilk. Iommi is doing well with his cancer recovery, and Ozzy with his respective recovery. Now finally, almost a year and a half since the 11-11-11 announcement we have the Rick Rubin produced Black Sabbath album 13… Does it live up to expectation? Or is God truly dead?
From the get go you feel warm and in familiar territory. With a vibe similar to that of the band’s eponymous track, the song that effectively birthed heavy metal, ‘End of the Beginning’ pulls you into 13‘s dark world, those who frequent CSI will have already tapped into this song. The entire release reeks of old school Sabbath. With riffs that’ll make you think of ‘Fairies Wear Boots’ and even the Dio era classic ‘Heaven and Hell’. The album is not an unrelenting torrent of heavy riffs, ‘Zeitgeist’ explores calmer yet stranger territory in a ‘Planet Caravan’ inspiring journey, this introduced by a similarly spooky laugh from Ozzy. This track is probably one of the most emotive and passionate songs on here, a nice show of the band’s dynamics. Lyrically this album shows Geezer’s fantastic ability as a songwriter, Ozzy’s voice however accompanies these words perfectly in parts if they are perhaps a little overly produced in parts. Iommi‘s guitar work is nostalgic and at the same time totally refreshing, with blues inspired solos providing the necessary tracks a subtle lift. It’s a kick in the backside to all the ‘brutal’ bands out there when this music will forever be heavier than them. Brad Wilk manages to retain a constantly thumping beat and is a great pick as percussionist following the unfortunate circumstances.
The second half of the album, following ‘Zeitgeist’ holds no bars and reintroduces you to the guitar riffs in fantastic fashion. With the inclusion of synths or choral sections in ‘Age of Reason’ a huge wave of emotion may surround you and you will realise that despite the evolution of metal having been through some amazing and awful phases Black Sabbath are still here and still totally relevant. If you need more convincing to listen to this album then just know that you won’t regret it. This is an absolute statement that you can make something glorious regardless of history, current circumstance, illness, age or anything. One of the best albums of the year and at the end of all things it’s an incredibly important piece of art for any music fan.
Metal fans will unite, horns will be raised, and heads will bang.
Stick around til the end of ‘Dear Father’ where the significance of this full circle will be truly revealed. Majestic.
Verdict 5/5 Stars