This has been out for awhile, almost as long as the break in-between Ozzy Osbourne’s last tenure with the band. Amazing to think that 13 is the first Black Sabbath studio album with Ozzy Osbourne since 1978’s Never Say Die. You’d think Ozzy’s resurgence in the early 2000s as a reality TV schmuck would have generated some interest from entertainment fat cats. Though it’s better that the band would decide to reunite on their own accord. Well, most of the band anyways. Due to a contract dispute, drummer Bill Ward does not appear on the album. Definitely, a buzz kill considering Sabbath has to be one of the few bands that still has all their original members. Still, we are treated to a nice substitute with Brad Wilk of Rage Against the Machine.
I was fully prepared for 13 to be the worst thing ever made by humans. How often are reunion albums even remotely good? Miraculously, 13 is good, not great, but a nice bookend to the career of these blokes from Birmingham. Throw producer Rick Rubin into the mix and you have something both modern and faithful to the band’s original sound. There’s no slew of extra studio musicians thrown into the mix, no cumbersome overdubs, just the band doing what they do.
All the familiar Black Sabbath trademarks are in full force on 13. Gotta love the crunchy riffs accompanied by a brooding rhythm that often segues into a faster mid-section. Ozzy sounds a little too polished but I imagine it’s just to make him intelligible. Yes, everything is in place for this to be great, except one thing. Sabbath’s songs are nowhere nearly as memorable as they used to be. Back in the early 70s, the whole metal sound felt like a fresh peach. Tack on years of both imitators and innovators and there’s nothing that groundbreaking about moldy ‘ol Sabbath. Still, there are some instances of awesomeness.
“End of the Beginning”, as featured in Seth Rogen/Evan Goldberg’s This is the End feels very much like a call back to the first two albums. “Zeitgeist” also fills the role of every Sabbath album having a trippy ballad. There’s plenty of sexy metal moments, but they’re often buried under eight minutes of forgettable sludge. It’s kind of like finding the needle in the haystack. A pain in the ass, but rewarding when you find it. All in all, it’s nice to see the band still has some gas. Hopefully, they don’t feel the need to continue taking it on the road. I think they’ve earned a nice pit stop.
Favorite Tracks: “End of the Beginning,” “Loner,” “Zeitgeist”