North Texas Daily

Review: Black Sabbath’s “13”

Review: Black Sabbath’s “13”

Photo courtesy of Universal Records

Review: Black Sabbath’s “13”
June 13
14:13 2013

Michael Felder / Staff Writer

With over 70 million records sold worldwide and membership in both the UK Music Hall of Fame and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, calling Black Sabbath a “big deal” would be a terrible understatement.

Its line-up has changed throughout the years, but 13 represents a new beginning for Black Sabbath, featuring the first songs with the band’s, mostly original lineup in 35 years. Comprised of vocalist Ozzy Osbourne, 64, guitarist Anthony Frank “Tony” Iommi, 65, and songwriter/bassist Terence Michael Joseph “Geezer” Butler, 63, Black Sabbath has been upholding their reputation as pioneers of the heavy metal genre since its first album was released in 1970.

Osbourne was kicked out of the band in 1979 due to his heavy drug use. He would then go on to make ten albums worth of material between 1980 and 2010.

His first solo single, “Crazy Train,” became one of the most recognizable metal songs of all time. Also worth mentioning is that the television show chronicling Osbourne’s home life “The Osbournes,” was MTV’s highest rated reality show of the early 2000’s.

In spite of his past issues with the band, Osbourne’s vocal contribution on 13 makes everything right. He takes Butler’s songs and gives them a nightmarish spin that only someone nicknamed “the Prince of Darkness” could. It’s almost as if he never left the throne. In his voice lies a strange wisdom, the knowledge of being a legend, yet sentenced to an eventual death with the rest of the world. It’s downright scary, which is nothing, if not a sign of the times.

Sabbath’s original drummer, Bill Ward, decided not to participate in the reunion due to “contractual obligations.” Instead of waiting, the band decided that the show must go on, and drummer Brad Wilk definitely helps with that and then some. Famous for his role in the band Rage Against The Machine, Wilk’s drumming brings the entire band together and pushes them just over the edge. It’s loud, but for Black Sabbath, loud is necessary.

Just as the band was reuniting and preparing to record together again, guitarist Tony Iommi was diagnosed with lymphatic cancer. Remarkably, his sound has not waivered and sounds even better. You can almost hear the intense despair flowing out of him and onto his strings. His solos have a strong feeling of urgency to them, minus the churchy organ sound from the band’s earlier work.

Overall, the album’s recording makes Black Sabbath sound better than ever. It’s smooth and focused, without sacrificing its sharp attitude. These qualities can only be credited to the album’s producer, Rick Rubin, who has worked with Aerosmith, AC/DC, Jay-Z, Adele, System of a Down and Kanye West, among others.

Prepare yourself for a long ride with 13: only one song on the album is under five minutes. Though they’re well worth the wait, these longer songs may turn off some listeners who only want a nice four-minute experience. On the flip side, with only eight tracks on the regular version of the album, the length may leave some fans wanting more. Be sure to take advantage of the bonus tracks included on Spotify or on the album’s deluxe edition.

With a trademark hellish vibe that’ll be sure to please die-hard fans of the band as well as newcomers who may only be familiar with a couple of hits, 13 is Black Sabbath’s way of getting back in the saddle. Equal doses of heavy guitars, powerful drum lines and apocalyptic, sometimes paranoid lyrics are all added to the mix to create what is slated to be Black Sabbath’s first (and according to the band, its last) No. 1 album ever. You can never say enough about a legend, so sometimes you just have to sit back and enjoy the show, until the band is out for good.

4 stars out of 5

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