It goes without saying after having listened to it that Black Sabbath’s 13 is one of the best hard rock/metal albums of 2013. This record has been decades in the making. And the wait was well worth it, even with someone other than Bill Ward on drums. Ozzy’s vocals and Tony Iommi’s guitar work are at their peak throughout this record. So many rock bands have tried hard to emulate Sabbath’s sound since its breakup so long ago. But few if any have managed to come close since then. So it is nice to have one of rock’s elite back (even if one member isn’t present) to reclaim its proper place in rock’s upper echelons.
Right from the opening moments of the album’s opener, ‘End of the Beginning’, listeners know they are in for something special on this record. Geezer’s bass and Tony’s guitar work are pummeling along with Brad Wilk (Rage Against The Machine) on drums in the song’s opening moments before laying back to let Ozzy’s haunting vocals take the spotlight. Rick Rubin actually made the right choice bringing in Wilk to cover the drums in place of Bill Ward for this record. When the rest of the band comes back in, the combined wound will take audiences back to Black Sabbath’s glory days. Ozzy, Tony, and Geezer show that they are still the originators and have not lost a single step along the way. It’s like old times. As Ozzy sings here, “Don’t look back/Live for today/Tomorrow is too late.” It couldn’t have been better said considering this band’s history.
13 offers listeners plenty of heaviness. For all the heavy moments, worthy of raising the horns high, it also has a more subdued moment in the song, ‘Zeitgeist.’ This is such an interesting song in that it is a full-on acoustic opus. In lieu of drums, Wilk has opted instead for perhaps a pair of bongos. And Tony and Geezer have both gone acoustic, too. There is something about this combination (along with Ozzy’s vocals) that makes for a work that could easily be compared to the likes Pink Floyd, believe it or not. It is also the album’s shortest track. It clocks in at just over four and a half minutes long. In that short time, it makes for one of the album’s most interesting moments.
If any one song on this new album stands out more than the others, it is ‘Live Forever.’ This is the second shortest song on the record. It comes in at just under five minutes long. It’s also one of the album’s heaviest numbers. Yet again, it’s more proof that Ozzy and company haven’t lost any steam in the three decades plus since the band’s last album. Of course, having mega-producer Rick Rubin manning the boards doesn’t hurt, either. Rubin really brought out the best of the band on this track. Tony’s guitar solos are incredible to say the least. They are the sort of solos that will have young guitarists around the world trying to emulate him, putting their own takes on his work on YouTube. And yet again, Brad Wilk is just as impressive behind the kit. He shows here, and throughout the record just how versatile he is as a drummer, pounding out some impressive polyrhythmic patters without missing a second. And Ozzy sounds more in control of his vocals here than anywhere else on the album. That isn’t to say that he sounds bad anywhere else. The way that Ozzy laments in this song, “I don’t mind dying/Cause I’m already dead/Pray not for the living/I live in your head/Dying is easy/It’s living that’s hard/I’m losing the battle/Between Satan and God” could so easily be interpreted in direct relation to everything that Ozzy has gone through in recent years. Considering recent reports concerning his admission to having been addicted to certain substances over recent years, instead of staying clean, it sounds like a personal statement that he perhaps felt during that time. If so, it’s a powerful statement, especially with the song’s musical backing. Though interestingly enough, the rest of the song sounds like a tongue in cheek stab at the religious establishment, considering Ozzy is actually anything but the “Prince of Darkness” that he has been made out to be.
‘Live Forever’ is one of the best of the best on Black Sabbath’s new album, 13. It musical side and lyrical side together make it quite the interesting track. Though, it’s just one of eight total tracks on the band’s new album that any long-time Black Sabbath fan will enjoy. There are seven other tracks on this disc that any true metal and hard rock purist from which they can choose as their favorite. The album will be available in stores and online June 11th via Republic Records. The band will tour in support of the album beginning July 25th in The Woodlands, Texas. Fans can keep up with the band’s tour dates and more on its official Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/BlackSabbath and on its official website, http://www.blacksabbath.com.
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