Album Review: Black Sabbath - '13'

20 June 2013 | 1:41 pm | Staff Writer

A solid doom filled album worth a listen.

The reunion of Black Sabbath has been a hot topic ever since the press conference in November 2011, in which members Ozzy Osbourne, Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler, and Bill Ward announced a tour and new album. However, time brought a cancer diagnosis for Iommi, a drug relapse for Ozzy and also a contract dispute with Ward, causing him to leave the band. Ward replaced with Rage Against the Machine's Brad Wilk. Interesting sub-plots if nothing else. It's Sabbath after all. Despite complications the band have soldiered on to present ‘13‘, with complications only adding more sustenance to the album.

13’ is somewhat of a surprise, it has both great and some not so grand elements, as it works to recapture the band's original sounds and aesthetic. The songs on the album are not out of touch with the metal world, but rather they are filled with chemistry, engaging the listener with skilful riffs and solos mixed with the voice of Ozzy - still as strong as it ever was. However, the use of Wilk behind the kit, at times, proves to pull the group down somewhat, as he is like a puzzle piece that just doesn’t quite fit. Not to discredit him as a drummer as he has done stellar work with his mainstays, but the direction of Wilk seems to diverge just that little bit from the rest of Sabbath. Put simply, the sounds found in earlier Sabbath drumming are arguably lost.

The two opening songs on ‘13’ run for around eight minutes each and show the band has certainly kept up its stamina, gracing our ears with an initial collective 16 minutes of quality Black Sabbath that would make the oldest of die hard fans excited to hear the rest of the album. ‘The End of the Beginning‘ and ‘God is Dead’ manage to revive the group and set some high expectations for the remainder of the album, as they also lean on the heavier side of Sabbath’s sound.

This full-length holds other stand out gems, as it explores a few different elements of the styles of their past with songs such as ‘Age of Reason’ and ’Zeitgeist’, which captures Sabbath's old psychedelic, hippie-esque vibe, with a pinch of doom and gloom mixed in.

Damaged Soul’ is a song off the album that has already received much praise...and rightly so. The uplifting moment on the album, if anyone is disappointed with other areas of the release, you would at least thank the Dark Prince for this track. It's filled with the right amount of menace, with Iommi’s unquestionably talented guitar solos. The real reincarnation of what Black Sabbath used to and should be.

13’ overall is a decent album. Black Sabbath have proved they still have what it takes to make an consistent metal album. The offering might fall short at some points, with songs that are catchy but may try too hard to make it back to the old Sabbath and lack real meaning. It might not be their best album, but it is in no way bad, it definitely deserves a listen and a spot in your iTunes or record collection.

Black Sabbath's '13' certainly shows the band have not lost their touch at all and still know how to create great metal tunes like they have in the past. The album is not the best in their career, but still shows skill and is definitely worth a purchase and a listen.

1. End of the Beginning

2. God is Dead?

3. Loner

4. Zeitgeist

5. Age of Reason

6. Live Forever

7. Damaged Soul

8. Dear Father

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