Black Sabbath – 13 – music review
After reviewing Cds for 12 years (1994 – 2006) when I ran my own small press publication (Zine) and wrote for other music websites, I had sworn I wouldn’t do any more music reviews. Since that time I have only purchased 2 New CD releases, Black Ice by AD/DC and now, 13 from Black Sabbath. I’ve purchased a lot of older CD s, mostly 1970’s albums but that’s the topic of another post.
My original intention was to ignore this release because without original drummer, Bill Ward, to me, it was not a full reunion of the band Black Sabbath. Each member of that original band brought something unique to the music of those early albums. It took all four members to create the sound that made that early music special. It seems Led Zeppelin is the only iconic band that truly understands this concept. For bands that came after the 1970s, band members could be replaced without anyone even noticing – that is how homogenized rock music had become.
However, with the news of Tony Iommi getting blood cancer, I decided this may be the last time we get to hear Ozzy sing with a near original Sabbath reunion. So, I purchased the CD with uneasiness and apprehension. I hadn’t bought an Ozzy CD in 20 years. I was tired of many older bands trying to sound modern and others sounding like they were putting out the same 10 songs with different titles repeatedly. Was there a happy medium? Was it possible for a veteran band to put out a CD that sounded fresh and original and also classic, simultaneously?
To my surprise and delight, the answer is yes.
The first song contains all the old Sabbath virtues, the dissonant notes, the moody atmosphere, the raised and dropped dynamics and even the theatrical drumming. However, it sounded somewhat purposeful and Ozzy seemed to still be singing in his more recent modern style. Ozzy’s voice even seemed to have too much production in this song. It is not until the second song, God is Dead?, that Ozzy settles into the rhythm like an old worn shoe and the real magic happens. From there, the songs breath with life, the music sounds like a band that has been together for decades, and you feel the heart and soul of the original Sabbath shine through. Shades of NIB and Sweet Leaf in ‘The Loner,’ a revisit of Planet Caravan in ‘Zeitgest,’ riffs reminiscent of Hole in the Sky and Hand of Doom in ‘Live Forever,’ and even some early blues influences can be heard in “Damaged Soul.’ But the most important aspect is that it sounds like a band relaxed in the knowledge of who they are, not worried about putting out a hit record or radio-friendly song, enjoying the creative process and each other’s contributions to the whole. It makes you remember why guitarist, Tony Iommi has created some of the most memorable riffs in rock history, why Ozzy was famous before his family’s reality TV show and why Geezer, aside from being a respected bassist, penned most of the lyrics on those early records.
By the fourth song I had closed my eyes and listened to the rest of the album the way I used to, experiencing the album as a whole – not dissecting each song. I was transported by the music into both; my own realm and the journey the band has provided. In the old days, it wasn’t about radio hits and money, it wasn’t about getting dolled-up for the cameras, it wasn’t about being a rock star, or keeping up with the new bands, it wasn’t about playing the fastest or the loudest – it was about making the listener examine the stranger within themselves, it was about telling a story with music, and it was about rocking through the energy of the band. For the next 40 minutes, the real world was gone and it was once again 1974; I had just been introduced to this darker, brooding, music that would eventually become known as Heavy Metal.
*** Black Sabbath 13 – has debuted at # 1 on charts in the US, UK, Germany, and in the Top 10 in 6 other countries during the 1st week of release. This is their first album that has debuted at #1 in the US.
**Drumming Duties – The album was recorded with drummer, Brad Wilk, formerly of Rage Against the Machine.
* Bonus Tracks – The deluxe edition has three more songs. To me, these songs don’t feel like they are cut from the same cloth and kinda’ ruin the illusion of 13 being a time capsule brought to us from the early days of Sabbath origins.
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