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Black Sabbath - 13 (June 10th)


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Here's a review from the listening party:

 

Specific track remarks:

 

'End Of The Beginning' (8:07). Too long a track for an opener but otherwise very good. Very heavy. Ozzy’s vocals don’t evoke dragons and knights and the soaring evil of Dio…rather, they have a melodic but, unsettling quality to then. Not operatic bombast, but understated, melodic eeriness. But it works. This is not the uninspired songwriting of those two songs from the Reunion album — this is real songwriting with some good riffs from Iommi. A very good song.

 

'God Is Dead?' (8:54). This song slays. Very cool riffing and a good melody line. The B section is evocative of the Holy in the Sky riff but it still works really well. This is an excellent song, worthy of standing with anything in the Ozzy catalog (thought it lacks the instant memorability of Iron Man or Paranoid).

 

'Loner' (5:06). Sounds a LOT like a heavy, modern-production version of NIB (I even sang 'Oh yeah' after the appropriate riff). Lyrically and mood-wise it mixes in some Johnny Blade. It’s a good song, but not as good as the previous ones.

 

'Zeitgeist' (4:28). Mellow, and somewhat evocative of 'Planet Caravan'. It’s fine, but I anticipate skipping this on CD.

 

'Age of Reason' (7:02). This song kills. My notes (again, scratched in there by keys) are unintelligible. But this one had people pretty fired up.

 

'Live Forever' (4:49). Has a 'Children Of The Grave' / 'Hole In The Sky' feel once again. A good song, if not as ambitious as some of the others.

 

'Damaged Soul' (7:43). Very heavy blues. Too bluesy for my tastes. Blues blues and more blues, and when you are done with the blues, it shoves another does of blues up your ass. This is overstated — it’s plenty heavy. It just is too (wait for it) bluesy for my tastes. Others enjoyed it more than me. Still, this is not a throwaway, just not one of my favorites.

 

'Dear Father' (7:06). A great song to finish with, again quite heavy with a lot of energy. The B section is the one featured in the video with Rubin telling Ozzy to try again (“…the victims of the sins you devise.”) The main section is beefier than that part. There is a recurrent tritone riff that is very evocative of the first notes played in the song Black Sabbath. It’s so evocative that one wonders if it’s purposeful…and the riffs appears again at the very end of the song…and then the song ends…with rain…and church bells. Very cool. Very cool indeed.

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And another:

 

"I don't wanna live forever / But I don't wanna die," Ozzy Osbourne wails over the galloping, angry power of "Live Forever" – as honest and direct as a 65 year old man can be when attempting to orchestrate one of the most maniacally anticipated albums of all time.

 

Black Sabbath's new album 13 is due out June 11 on Vertigo/Republic, their original label, and it marks the group's first studio effort together since 1978's Never Say Die! A revitalized backbone with Rage Against The Machine's Brad Wilk on drums and the oversight of a production guru, Rick Rubin, working the knobs brings the pioneers of heavy metal to the modern age with surprising efficiency – and just enough downtuning to accommodate age to be noticeable.

 

Wednesday in Los Angeles I was invited to a first-listen party for 13, with a making-of documentary and an appearance by the band themselves. Thankfully, this is not old man hyping a tired sound to appease the fans, what I had feared when entering the Ricardo Montalban Theater. Running eight songs, five over seven minutes long, some things never change: Geezer Butler and Tony Iommi still hone in on one another's movement with a brooding, symbiotic excellence, and Ozzy's lyrics (or Geezer's, rather?) still reflect the gloomy color-by-numbers cliches of an eighth grader – but the delivery is as forebodingly dark and excellent as ever. Thankfully, we're reminded once again not of the shuffling, mumbling mess of hair and sweatpants on his reality show, but of the bat-biting Prince of Fucking Darkness that we often consider a relic of the past, a cartoon.

 

But here he was, in the flesh, on fire once again. The colossal slow stomp opening of "End of the Beginning" teases what's to come with a gentle melody over spacious instrumentation, until after the second verse when the main riff arrives and ushers in the real meat we've been waiting for. Tony and Geezer are immediately in lockstep, with some surprising bass flourishes before an absolutely ripping solo.

 

"Lost in the Darkness" has a meandering, rising instrumental under a vocal that concludes with Ozzy screaming "God is dead!" over and over, a cauldron of beats arriving from Wilk's eager – and able – pounding. With the first two tracks pushing a total seventeen minutes in length, the first sensations of tedium arrive here, though the powerful finish revitalizes the sensation that holy shit I'm listening to a new Black Sabbath album.

 

We're not used to taking our time anymore. We're not used to the rising sound anymore. You'd think we'd have to retrain our minds, even our hearts, to remember why these legends were legendary in the first place. But no, this album sets out to kick the shit out of you, and even the most hardened, cynical message-board mercenaries are going to have to concede some solid ground this time around.

 

"Loner"'s chuggy lead riff is powerfully similar to "N.I.B.," clearly an eager embrace of lean & mean, ending with a delicious abruptness. Its energy is a direct contrast to the excellent "Zeitgeist," which leads with a laugh before an acoustic guitar and tabla frame a ghostly vocal. "I'm falling through the universe again," our narrator laments, "I wonder will my ship be found?" The classically-laced solo is gorgeous, and it's a delightful irony that it seems to end too soon at 4:28.

 

Wilk's thundering drum intro to "Age of Reason" leads into a head-nodder riff and an epically cascading melody, lamenting "So many lies". It immediately strikes the ear as a winning track, but when it grows fangs and gets goddamned mean in the third act, you know you've hit gold. The return of Ozzy's "Oh yeaaah!" is just icing. And Iommi? The man is possessed – just a reminder, if your parents and friends were terrible people and didn't show you the light of Sabbath growing up. He offers many, many reminders throughout 13 as to why he stands among the greatest of axemen all time.

 

"Just before you die, they say you see your whole life flash before your eyes," Ozzy warns in "Live Forever," one of the more lyrically honest and poignant songs on 13. To hear these pioneering heroes addressing their inevitable mortality head on, particularly at such a twilight stage in life, is a remarkable thing. "I'll probably forget this next month," Geezer jokes in the making-of documentary we saw before the album screening. It's not that far-fetched a notion, but at the very least he'll have the record to remind him that nearly three quarters of a century into the game he can still rock the shit out of the legions of incredible musicians he directly inspired to pick up an instrument.

 

The blues overdrive of "Damaged Soul" arrives in a wash of reverse effects and voices, building on giant, pendular beats. This one will serve as the deep-album cut that hits when the joint is on its last legs and the mood gets darker. Wilk is a core component here, as he is on "Dear Father," a high-energy rocker that sends the collection off on a high note. The album ends with the sound of a rainstorm, distant church bells ringing.

 

Does 13 measure up to the band's first four records? Come on, is it really supposed to? If you're expecting a release with the impact and cultural significance of Paranoid, you're delusional. But with a full-throttle return delivering a great many surprising twists and turns, after 35 years the architects of heavy metal weren't in this for the payload victory-lap. They came to kill it.

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I'm not much of a 'Sabbath-with-Ozzy' fan (give me Dio or Tony Martin), but I REALLY want this album to be the dog's bollocks ...

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Nope, not impressed with that ... takes forever to get anywhere ... :(

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Really crossing my fingers about this disc...don't want to get my hopes up to much to be let down :whistle:

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Really crossing my fingers about this disc...don't want to get my hopes up to much to be let down :whistle:

Like I said earlier, I'm not much of an 'Ozzy-era' fan, but I want this album to be great ... the Sabbath name/legacy has been through the mill with all the reunion false-starts, cock-ups and 'Ozzy back off the wagon' disasters of recent years, and it would be a real shame if this turned out to be another damp squib ... the Heaven and Hell material proved that there was still life in one version of the old dog! :)

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Call me a bitter old cynic if you like, but isn't the timing of the recent news about Ozzy's continuing 'problems' just a little bit too ... um ... convenient? It's interesting to see how every news item about the lastest saga to hit the Osbourne household makes mention of the fact that there's a new Sabbath abum on the way ...

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Call me a bitter old cynic if you like, but isn't the timing of the recent news about Ozzy's continuing 'problems' just a little bit too ... um ... convenient? It's interesting to see how every news item about the lastest saga to hit the Osbourne household makes mention of the fact that there's a new Sabbath abum on the way ...

Nice shot my friend. ;)
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  • 1 month later...

Disappointment. The only song I really like is the blousy 'Damaged Soul' but overall it's plain and boring. Good musicians, nice production, etc. but for a returning album it's just not good enough. Maybe a few more spins later...

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Holy Moly, the bonus songs are so much better than the original album! :huhsign:

 

I agree. Glad they made it to you okay. Anybody else who wants them drop me a PM.

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Black Sabbath will land at its first No. 1 next week on the Billboard 200 with the lucky “13.” The title will be the only project to surpass 100,00 in sales, as the Ozzy Osbourne-fronted album is expected to sell up to 125,000 copies.

 

The other debuts in the Top 10 couldn’t be more different from the metal gods: Big Time Rush’s “24/Seven” will bow at No 3, Hans Zimmer’s “Man of Steel” soundtrack at No. 4 (when’s the last time we saw a composer in the top 10?), Goo Goo Dolls’ “Magnetic” at No. 6 and Lonely Island’s "The Wack Album" at No. 10, according to Hits Daily Double.

 

Daft Punk’s “Random Access Memories” continues to sell well to be at No. 2, with sales of up to 50,000. Darius Rucker’s former No. 1 country album, “True Believers” holds steady at No. 5, while this week’s No. 1, Queens of the Stone Age’s “Like Clockwork” drops to 7.

 

Country act Florida Georgia Line continues to “cruise” in the top 10, as “Here’s To The Good Times” looks good for No. 8 and Blake Shelton’s “Based on a True Story...” will be at No. 9.

 

Justin Timberlake’s “The 20/20 Experience” will likely fall out of the top 10 for the first time since its debut more than two months ago.

 

 

Read more at http://www.hitfix.com/news/black-sabbath-will-land-its-first-no-1-on-the-billboard-200-next-week#HzfHI3yPvX1EXZIe.99

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This album is clearly a nostalgic trip straight back to the early years of Ozzy-Sabbath and reminds me of how 'Revelation' is like JOURNEY's attempt to capture the old magic, '13' is probably same thing done to capture the doom era of early Sabbath. Vocally, Ozzy is almost the same as he was 40 years ago, and Iommi's riffing is splendid, at times sounded dark and also heavy, and some clever solos are there as usual.

 

'End of The Beginning' is quite similar to the dark and haunted track of 'Black Sabbath', lengthy with good melodies but I can see how they can omit at least 2 minutes off the later part of this song. 'Loner' has NIB riffs style, love this song, amazing solos too, one of my fave. 'God Is Dead' is apparently the first single, quite okay and better than some tracks like 'Age of Reason', 'Live Forever', or 'Dear Father'. 'Zeitgeist' is enchanting and beautiful at the same time, some part of it may remind you of 'Planet Caravan'.

 

'Damaged Soul' is up there with 'Loner', perhaps two best tracks of the album, started slow before erupted into a great heavy metal piece. The bonus tracks are worth the quid too. 'Methademic' and 'Pariah' are worth around 8/10, and one of two best songs that probably should have been in the main tracklist, but this might be a business strategy to sell a more expensive 2CD package.

 

Although I haven't rated it highly as the other, I can assure fans of Sabbath's early years must be pleased with this, and since it requires to have a certain mood for more spins, I'll say it's a good comeback and interested to invest more time for further spins.

 

76%

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