So, the moment arrives when I finally have the new Black Sabbath album. After months of waiting and waiting, without downloading the leak and not streaming it through iTunes, I put 13 into my CD player with much hesitation and worry — Would I love it, or would I hate it?
Apart from the obvious constant dispute about Bill Ward, who decided not to participate in the reunion of Black Sabbath, and since I have given up on caring whether Ward is in Sabbath anymore. Ozzy, Geezer, and Iommi will carry on regardless, and there are plenty more worthwhile drummers out there to fill the spot. I must, however, digress that when listening to older Sabbath albums, Bill Ward has that ‘feel’ which many of the stand-ins lacked, like many bands who have had drummers pass away or no longer be in bands.
In saying that, I have read many reviews of this where they have been rather harsh, and I’m not going to do that. Fact is from the first moment I started listening to this album I instantly loved it, and further listens only affirmed that my hold-off of not listening until I had it was worthwhile. It took me back to being a kid again and listening to my first metal album (which was Korn’s debut self-titled album), just that feeling of actually grinning, smiling, and nodding your head all the way through the entire album.
Since the years that Sabbath have not been active I have gotten very much into them, collecting all the “Ozzy-era”, albums as I like to call them (save from Technical Ecstacy — I’ve heard it’s a poor album), and I have really gotten to know the older albums by heart. The new album, 13, proves why Sabbath have been so influential throughout their career — being active or not active — and why another reviewer hit the nail on the head by calling Sabbath “it”. They are truly the founding fathers of heavy metal, whether you like it or not.
13 beneath the layers of all the instruments is a fantastic album from start to finish, even the bonus tracks on the second disc help to add more fuel to the fire, with “End of the Beginning” helping to sound much like “War Pigs” from Paranoid, but almost like a modern day twist on it. It’s a fantastic opener and one which had me grinning at those opening doomy chords, as Sabbath get into full gear once again. I must admit, there are a lot of parts on this album where they do remind me of songs already heard, but truthfully I think this album makes the album seem familiar as if you already know it.
“God is Dead?”, which you’ve all probably heard by now, is probably not the strongest song on the album. In saying that listening through the album again it still knocked me for six when the rumbling bass lines from Geezer kick in after the soft intro, with Brad (Wilk, formerly of Rage Against The Machine and Audioslave) hammering away on the drums. People say that Ozzy’s vocals are poor on the album, but I’m going to say differently: He has been at his best, vocal wise in the past couple of years and definitely on his last solo album Scream.
I listened through 13 with the clear thought of “Yes, Sabbath are back!” as each guitar lick, bass line, vocals, and drum beat rumbled through my speakers. I couldn’t care less if anyone disagrees with me on this, but this has to be one of the best metal releases of this century. There’s a lot to be said for older bands returning to release albums in the past few years, making more modern bands’ albums seem outdated and tame. Deep Purple returned this year with Now What!? and Sabbath have returned with 13, now the question: who else will return?
Personally as being a major Black Sabbath fan I couldn’t help but love this album. On holiday its all I listened to (mostly) and I am hooked on it. I just love everything about it: it sounds like the old Sabbath, albeit a little bit heavier and a little less bluesy. Considering the current age of all the band members, what’s not to love? It’s Black Sabbath, for crying out loud! The production is fantastic. It sounds so vibrant, distinct, and clear.
Overall, the new Sabbath album is fantastic. There is a real tightness in the musicianship and the playing is absolutely fantastic. I really find it amazing that, even after all these years and with the members being over 60-years-old, they still sound as good as they do. A definite contender for album of the year as we near towards the end of 2013.
RATING: 4 / 5