After 35 years, Ozzy Osbourne, Geezer Butler, and Tony Iommi have finally gotten together and given the masses an album of entirely new material, 13. Brad Wilk (Rage Against the Machine) stepped in to play drums and the mighty Rick Rubin helmed the project, and the results are quite good. This feels like 70’s era Black Sabbath, which should come as a surprise to no one.
Lead off single “God Is Dead?” and album opener “End of the Beginning” mine the doom and gloom sound for all its worth, but at over 8 minutes apiece they’re a bit repetitive, and kind of droning. “Loner” is decidedly more upbeat, while sounding like a distant cousin of “Faeries Wear Boots”, and change of pace number “Zeitgeist” is basically “Planet Caravan Part II”, only with a very good solo from Mr. Iommi.
The best songs on this disc are without a doubt “Age Of Reason” and “Dear Father”. The former showcases some free-form drumming from Wilk, while the latter displays a fire in the belly of this beast not seen in a very long time. If these aren’t in the upcoming set lists, I’ll be shocked.
“Live Forever” has a driving riff that kept drawing me in, and I found myself going back to it often, and “Damaged Soul” is a bluesy jam that has all three musicians feeding off each other and sounding like the world-weary Sabbath we all fell in love with. Again, Brad Wilk has some big shoes to fill, and fill them he does by embracing groove and feel over bombast. It works beautifully.
The deluxe version of 13 includes three bonus tracks: “Methademic”, “Peace of Mind”, and “Pariah”. This is the version I recommend picking up. These songs really bring the ruckus and should be on ALL versions of the album, quite frankly. Overall, I’m very satisfied. Hey, it’s Black Sabbath, so by now you should know what you’re getting.
– Originally published in Dallas Metal Music Examiner, June 10, 2013