Black Sabbath
13


3.0
good

Review

by Seth Barry-Hinton USER (18 Reviews)
June 7th, 2013 | 16 replies


Release Date: 06/10/2013 | Tracklist

Review Summary: A fine note to end on for Black Sabbath.

Remember when David Bowie, earlier this year, kicked the laurels out from underneath him and released a comeback album that eschewed nostalgia for refined songcraft? And it was one of his best? That's the standard that records like Black Sabbath's 13 need to be held to – and it manages to, if not exactly grab hold of that height, at least brush up against it.

Like Bowie's album, 13 just rocks without reservation. Guitarist Tony Iommi switches from groove to groove without effort, creating new moods to match the lyrics and turn the songs into pieces that rival “War Pigs” in their intensity and level of development. Opener “End of the Beginning” transitions seamlessly from an ominous chord-driven intro to a quieter, more menacing slide from note to note, before eventually exploding into a dangerous riff that soon turns uplifting, as Osbourne declares “Rise up, resist, and be the masters of your fate/Don’t look back, look for today, tomorrow is too late”. In any other context, this would be the obnoxious posturing of any generic hard rock band (or of Osbourne’s recent work as a solo artist) attempting to be inspirational. But because of the way in which the instrumentalists ebb and flow from tempo to tempo, and the way that Osbourne’s voice and the instruments are polished but not overproduced, the song actually achieves its desired, uplifting effect.

13's production, for that matter, paradoxically retains the grit of older Sabbath material and the sheen of recent, popular New Wave of American Heavy Metal bands. Geezer Butler’s basslines are actually audible and musically complex, as opposed to Sabbath's imitators who bury their repetitive root notes in the mix like they bury their dead prostitutes. Brad Wilk’s drumming is efficient and intricate, and there’s even a bit of odd percussion on the slower, acoustic song “Zeitgeist”.

Except that “Zeitgeist” marks something of a turning point for 13. The song is a barefaced attempt to rewrite “Planet Caravan” – the percussion, vocal mixings, trippy astronomical lyrics, and slow-burning mood. And the rest of the album doesn’t hit quite as hard as the first four songs – “Age of Reason” is powerful enough albeit formulaic when one considers its similar structure to "End of the Beginning and "God Is Dead?", but “Live Forever” is unmemorable and “Damaged Soul” amounts to an excessive blues jam with some painful lyrics (“Dying is easy, it’s living that’s hard”). “Zeitgeist” through “Dear Father” highlight 13’s biggest problem: it’s scraping by on their past works, covering the same musical bases that their earliest works did with modern glamor, and covering the same lyrical subjects without uniqueness. “Loner”, “God Is Dead?”, “Zeitgeist”, “Age of Reason” – the concepts of these songs can all be found in earlier Sabbath records, performed more eloquently and distinctively.

Still, none of that necessitates that 13 is a bad album. It’s the best album that Black Sabbath have made since Mob Rules. The problem is that its appeal lies in pandering to a preexisting audience by imitating revered works, at the sacrifice of innovation. But it's still a worthwhile listen, and more importantly, it's still an enjoyable listen. And the way that “Dear Father” concludes with the sound of a rainstorm, just as the first Sabbath record opened, is both a fitting close to the album and Black Sabbath as a band – because if they break up or get murdered in their sleep by a furious Bill Ward, this would be the best possible note to end on.



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user ratings (724)
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other reviews of this album
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Comments:Add a Comment 
facupm
June 6th 2013


7709 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

idk bout Bowie's comeback, but this is a good one
nice review anyway, pos'd

PsychicChris
June 6th 2013


211 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

It’s the best album that Black Sabbath have made since Mob Rules.

So no love for Dehumanizer?

facupm
June 6th 2013


7709 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

dehumanizer is overrated imo, this is better

Friday13th
June 6th 2013


2431 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Yeah, best since Mob Rules

Digging: Manfred Mann's Earth Band - Solar Fire

tommygun
June 6th 2013


24950 Comments


Geezer Butler’s basslines are actually audible and musically complex, as opposed to Sabbath's imitators who bury their repetitive root notes in the mix like they bury their dead prostitutes.


pos

Digging: Broods - Evergreen

NeoSpaz
June 7th 2013


4518 Comments


hehehe

manosg
June 7th 2013


6101 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I disagree with your rating but not with the fact that this review is very well written. I also though about Bill Ward's reaction towards this album. And yes, this is the best they've done since Mob Rules and Dehumanizer is overrated (as much as I love Dio).

Digging: John Coltrane - Ballads

ksoflas
June 7th 2013


389 Comments


Well said man. Have a pos.

ViperAces
June 7th 2013


12430 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

rules

cagedescending
June 7th 2013


4124 Comments


best review so far, agreed completely

hard pos

KevinKC
June 7th 2013


204 Comments


Posed of course, but this album is a 3.5 at least. And "Damaged soul" could be my favorite track even though it is 1min too long. But every track is one minute too long on this album, I think they decided this before writing it: "Hey guys, let's just make each track one minute too long just to show that we still can do great music and spoil it."

ViperAces
June 7th 2013


12430 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

"posed"

facupm
June 7th 2013


7709 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

God is dead is 2 minutes too long

manosg
June 7th 2013


6101 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

C'mon now.

ViperAces
June 7th 2013


12430 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

nothing is too long imo

Epictemptation
June 7th 2013


88 Comments


oh boy now I got to go check out this album..



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