Black Sabbath – 13
I’ll keep this brief, since the entire world has reviewed the mighty Sabbath’s new album, which dropped last week. With three-quarters of the original Sabbath line-up represented (sadly, no Bill Ward—but we do get the drum guy from angry 90s alterna-rockers Rage Against the Machine!), the blandly titled 13 is quite a big deal. I won’t bother mentioning that my favorite Black Sabbath album is Born Again, or that I generally have had zero interest in the Ozzman since No More Tears. Instead, I will just focus on how good the new album actually is.
And it’s really good. The standard album is 8 blistering tracks long (well, 7 blistering tracks and one really weak one). The opener, “End of the Beginning” gets things cooking right out of the gate. Many reviewers have thrown around the descriptor ‘molten’, and that’s pretty much right on point. The riffs on this record are sludgy and heavy as hell. Lead single “God is Dead?” comes next. When I first heard this tune on Liquid Metal, I was disappointed. But after listening to it on the album, I quite like it. “Loner” is probably the heaviest track, and also my favorite. “Zeitgeist” is, in my opinion, the (aforementioned) weak track. It’s a direct throwback to fan fave “Planet Caravan”. I severely dislike “Planet Caravan”, and really don’t understand the mass adoration it receives. So, naturally, I don’t care much for a 21st century update. The album afterwards continues to smoke, and the Sabs pound out four more tunes of smoldering vintage-sounding rock n’ metal. And Iommi solos aplenty throughout.
If you’re listening to the deluxe version (and you probably are, as that seems to be the standard being sold on Amazon), then you get three more tunes. These “bonus” tracks are okay. Nothing special, in my opinion. In fact, the first bonus track, “Methademic”, is probably the second weakest on the album. It’s got a 90’s Ozzy sound to it, which is an immediate turn-off to me. But if you feel the need to own every note of music the band ever recorded, then they are there for the taking. One caveat: Best Buy has an exclusive version with an extra song, which I have not heard, called “Naïveté in Black”. But really, 8 songs is about how long a Sabbath album should be.(see their debut, Paranoid and Master of Reality).
So aside from a generic album cover and a boring title (Suicidal Tendencies and Megadeth both having released recent records with the same name, even), what Ozzy, Iommi, Geez and that other 90s guy have given us is a traditional Sabbath record, that’s heavy and “dirgey”, to use another frequently used Sab-jective. Buy it at your local record store, if you have one left, drop the needle (if you’re cool and got the vinyl version), and turn this bitch up to eleven.