A Gift From the Metal Gods – Black Sabbath’s 13 Reviewed

When it comes to Black Sabbath, I’m a Dio guy, through and through.

But holy devil horns! 13, the band’s first studio release with Ozzy Osbourne since 1978’s Never Say Die!, is a heaping slab of absolutely awesome hard rock.

Raise your horns and read on after the jump!
Black_Sabbath_13Long considered to be the forefathers of heavy metal, the original Black Sabbath consisted of Ozzy on vocals, guitarist Tony Iommi, bassist/lyricist Geezer Butler and drummer Bill Ward. While the classic line-up have played together on and off since Ozzy was fired at the end of the 70s, fans have been eager for the icons to get back into the studio. Though drummer Ward sat out this reunion for various reasons, his spot taken by Rage Against The Machine’s Brad Wilke, Iommi, Osbourne, Butler have come up with the goods in a way I doubt any of us thought was possible.

Producer by the brilliant mastermind Rick Rubin, 13 could have been written 35 years ago. It’s dirty, grungy, plodding, and just plain heavy – everything you’d want out of a Black Sabbath album. Really, it’s everything you should want out of any hard rock album. The one-two punch that kicks off the album, “End Of The Beginning” and “God Is Dead?”, are as powerful and dramatic as anything the band ever recorded, with or without Ozzy on the mic. Speaking of which, 13 has got to be the best work Ozzy has done since No More Tears back in 1991. He sounds so committed to his performance that I can’t help but take him seriously as the Prince of Darkness.

The secret sauce of Black Sabbath has always been the interplay and creativity of Tony Iommi and Geezer Butler, and both of them shine something bright on 13. Iommi delivers riff after riff of metal goodness – “Age Of Reason” is full of them. If Iommi is feeling the effects of his bout with lymphoma, he somehow conquered them when he strapped on his guitar for this album. Meanwhile, Butler’s bass is as prominent as it ever was, and his lyrics continue his search for light in the darkness of life.

Often times when a classic rock band releases a new album, critics and fans tend to agree that you won’t be using it to demonstrate their relevance or power. 13 throws that notion to the wind – it’s an outstanding piece of heavy music that highlights what made Black Sabbath legends, a label that certainly suits them still today. A must for metalheads and hard rock lovers.

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