BLACK SABBATH — 13 (review)

BLACK SABBATH — 13 album cover Album · 2013 · Heavy Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
3.5/5 ·
"13" is the 19th full-length studio album by UK heavy/doom metal act Black Sabbath. The album was released through Vertigo Records in June 2013. It´s the first album by the group since the release of "Forbidden" in 1995 and the first with Ozzy Osbourne since "Never Say Die! (1978)". The members have of course been busy with other projects in the intermediate years. Ozzy Osbourne, Geezer Butler and Tony Iommi with solo careers and the two latter mentioned gentlemen also with Heaven and Hell (and with other projects). "13" was originally meant to feature original drummer Bill Ward too, but he bailed out because of contractual issues and his place is taken by Rage Against the Machine drummer Brad Wilk. So this is almost a reunion album by the original Black Sabbath lineup. As close as it gets anyway.

35 Years since these guys last recorded an album together and a new drummer do not affect the fact that the music on "13" sounds unmistakably like Black Sabbath. It´s audible that the band have gone for a vintage sound and it is the Ozzy-led albums from the early- to mid 70s that are the reference here. So we´re talking a heavy and organic sounding rhythm section, brick heavy guitar riffing, blues influenced soloing, and of course Ozzy Osbourne´s distinct sounding vocals in front. The lack of any surprises and the fact that the band have chosen to "play it safe" were slightly disappointing upon my initial listen, but slowly the quality of the tracks and the excellent musicianship begin to unfold and combined they actually make for a great listening experience. The Rick Rubin sound production is unfortunately not the best. Especially the drums sound a bit thin.

The opening pair of tracks, "End of the Beginning" and "God is Dead?" open the album in crushingly heavy style. Add a more dark and gritty sound and you´re close to being transported back to the 70s. The mellow and stoned "Zeitgeist" sounds like the younger brother to "Planet Caravan", and is a highlight on the album. Another highlight is "Damaged Soul", which sounds very retro and organic. The material are generally strong but not extraordinary, but if this turns out to the last album released by Black Sabbath, at least it´s a much, much stronger album than "Forbidden (1995)" and a much more suiting end to a great career. A 3.5 star (70%) rating is deserved.
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