BLACK SABBATH – 13

blacksabbathBLACK SABBATH – 13
Despite health problems and the resistance of drummer Bill Ward, the original members of Black Sabbath have reunited to produce 13, their first album in over 3 decades.  Officially out on Universal, the album features drummer Brad Wilk (Rage Against the Machine and Audioslave) and credits the insane production talents of Rick Rubin.  The producer insists that this is ‘pure’ Black Sabbath, not ‘retro’.  But there’s no denying that 13 does little to shy from the hard, shadowy groove that put Black Sabbath on the map.  Imagine Sabbath Bloody Sabbath with a fatter, more raw and thunderous sound.  Admittedly, Ozzy’s vocals no longer soar so celestially.  But, thanks to Rubin’s influence and the front man’s long-time-coming crash with maturity, Ozzy’s vocal melodies and lyrics are infinitely more refined.  ’God is Dead?’ is the perfect example of this.  On this one the vocals are undeniably modern and fresh, yet packed with an eerie energy only Ozzy can summon, as if swirling the mists of a dark, mysterious brew.  Rubin did his best to keep the album as live as possible, even capturing some ambient sound and background chatter on the intro to ‘Dear Father’.  A total standout, ’Zeitgeist’, is more like a super minimal vision of a slow motion atomic explosion, than anything resembling a hard rock song.  With its laidback percussion mix and a quasi-Floyd-like feel, relying almost entirely on Geezer’s simple groove on the bass and Ozzy’s misty, moody midnight call, this one is a gut-wrencher.  To ponder Ozzy’s query on the opening track, “is this the end of the beginning or the beginning of the end?” let us only hope it is the latter.  To any Sabbath fan, this is a much-welcomed return for the godfathers of groovy demonic hard rock.  And to those who missed out on the first wave of this monolithic band, watch out, there’s another wave coming.  Full Marks!  (10)
MOODY ANDERS

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