Album revew – Black Sabbath: 13

More heavy metal talk from me, eh? I can’t help it. You can never really escape from the stuff you like as a kid.

The last time Black Sabbath released an album with Ozzy Osbourne I wasn’t even conceived. I can’t say that I’m a veteran fan either as I pieced together their work here and there because of the artists they influenced. Indeed, though, Black Sabbath are seen as the first heavy metal band, contemporarily you could better class them as a rock band, a label guitarist Tony Iommi would be happier with. Though they conjured up fire and brimstone, the blues DNA wasn’t washed-out. They’ve been compared to Cream, show shades of Hendrix, and actually have closer peerage to grunge. Anyway, enough musicology, is this new album any good?

Though some sort of financial dispute meant that the only original member lacking is drummer Bill Ward, it is rewarding. Brad Wilk of Rage Against The Machine (I met him once, by the way, in ’96) does a good job of aping Ward, and if you said to someone that the whole original band recorded this, they would have to have some sort of supernatural insight to see through your bluff.

The only downside which is actually a plus is that a lot of songs seem familiar, or at least riffs, beats and vocal melodies remind you of some older material. So, though it’s not an evolution, you don’t really want that either. This is safely what Black Sabbath were and are; it’s sort of like a modern greatest hits of new songs – if that makes sense. And Rick Rubin does a good job of compromising between modernity and old-style production.

I’d actually recommend getting the deluxe edition solely for Methademic. I can see why that isn’t part of the main album as maybe its tempo is quite a bit out of the sludge.

Isolation, religion, floating through space – all those themes are there. Ozzy’s voice sounds good and though the 8 core songs are lengthy, as a whole 13 actually pulls off as a very worthy album. It ends with the thunder and bells that we hear open the song Black Sabbath from their self-titled 1970 debut, so that possibly is some attempt to make it a prequel to that album, maybe?

I actually really like the whole album so I’m not going to pick out any highlights. Essentially, if you like Sabbath – indeed any dark rock – you’ll love it.

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