Black Sabbath - 13Never Say Die! Wouldn’t it have been a major shame if that album would have been the last one the Ozzy Osbourne fronted Black Sabbath line up had recorded? It wasn’t a horrible album, but quite frankly, it really wasn’t that damn good either. That album came out in 1978 and since then we have had a whole lot of different Sabbath line ups and they have also been around as Heaven & Hell a few years with Ronnie James Dio before he bit the dust in 2010. But this isn’t the first reunion by this line up – the first one was back in 1985 on the Live Aid concert where they performed three songs and later in 1998, when they did one big world tour that resulted in a live album, Reunion, that also included two new songs, “Psycho Man” and “Selling My Soul”, that apparently was an attempt to see if they could record a new album together. Well, the songs weren’t bad at all, but they still had a pretty long way to go to match up with their legend and after that the whole thing fell apart. When all four original members, Ozzy, Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler and Bill Ward made it official that they would once again reunite and make a big world tour and hopefully a new album, they knew as well as we knew, that they had some really big shoes to fill. Everything they did from that moment would be looked into with a magnifying glass and every note they played would be compared to the stuff that once made them one of the biggest and most influential bands in the world. And when the album now is released, we will all look back on Master Of Reality and Volume 4, not on Technical Ecstasy and Never Say Die, when we listen to it. But of course, all couldn’t be well in the Sabbath camp. Not only was Iommi diagnosed with cancer, something we all wish – and it looks like – he will beat, no, drummer Bill Ward –  a drummer that played a big part in the Sabbath sound – decided to not take part in the reunion after all. All because of contractual reasons, reasons that spells money. Who’s the bad guy / guys in this aren’t anything I want to speculate on, I will only state that it is such a shame that we didn’t get the original line up after all. Also, what was weird was that Tommy Clufetos (ex Rob Zombie), who had been filling in for Ward on tour, wouldn’t be part of the recording either. That job went to Brad Wilk (Rage Against The Machine, Audioslave). Now, let’s talk about big shoes to fill….

It was also said that Rick Rubin would produce the whole thing. That guy has produced records with everyone from Johnny Cash to Beastie Boys to Red Hot Chili Peppers to Slayer and Metallica. I was very suspicious of that choice as I really couldn’t figure out how Rubin could make a difference producing a Black Sabbath album. Apparently he did something right, because it only took me one listen to state that Sabbath has made one hell of a comeback album. And being a Sabbath-fan, I must admit I was worried that the guys wouldn’t come up with the goods and we would have a comeback album that didn’t do justice to the Sabbath name. But this one does, believe me you! Opening track “End Of The Beginning” is just masterful, a true Sabbath cruncher that has both elements of their debut, I hear a bit of “Black Sabbath” here and also some traces of the Heaven & Hell album, the band that is. “God Is Dead” is pure heaviness, dark shit that is so awesome and classic Sabbath to my ears, “Loner” is also a fantastic tune where I trace the sound of Master Of Reality with an “N.I.B.”-ish riff and Ozzy going “Alright now!”. I love this. “Zeitgeist” is one dark f**ker, a slow jazzy thing where they have gone back to “Planet Caravan” from Paranoid and added small bits of “Solitude” and then given the song a life of its own and “Age Of Reason” is real heavy stuff with a some catchy melodies added to it. It has this Volume 4 mixed with Sabotage feel to it. My least favourite track on here is “Live Forever”, a good song but it never got to me like the rest of them did. But with “Damaged Soul” they get right in there again, this is classic doomy Sabbath stuff where they go back to their really early days when the blues was their thing. Yes sir, we even get a bit of harmonica playing by the old Oz. “Dear Father” ends the album in a great manner. The song itself is a bit more uptempo, but with a melody to die for and some classic Sabbath heaviness. It also ends with a bell and thunder, which makes me think of how their self titled debut began back in 1970.

All I can say is – Brilliant comeback. And much better than I expected it to be. They still got it in every Sabbath sense – Iommi’s heavy and dark riffing, Butler’s distorted bass and Ozzy’s voice, that we all know by now. Credit must also be given to Brad Wilk, who does an astounding achievement here. The guy is, of course, no Bill Ward, we really can’t expect that from anyone, but he does a brilliant job here and on many of the songs, you just don’t think about the fact that Bill Ward’s not on here – Thumbs up! I never though I was gonna write this, but I can put this album right up there with their classic stuff – it’s a lot better than both Technical Ecstasy and Never Say Die and it really stands side by side with the rest of the Ozzy fronted Sabbath albums. If this is the last thing these guys ever release, they don’t have to worry about how they will be remembered. They will be remembered as one of the true greats, as the band that started a genre and influenced thousands of musicians and as a band that managed to record an album as senior blokes that puts many of their younger colleagues to shame, an album that sounds both like it did in the old days and modern. Well done, boys. Well done!

Jon Wilmenius (9/10)

Track list:

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

29 comments on “BLACK SABBATH – 13

  1. So much to be said here, but bottom line is, I feel largely the same about the album. I had another guy review it for my site and he gave it a 7. I’m going to do my own review (of the deluxe and Best Buy versions) and I think I’m leaning towards an 8/10. This album is a grower though and demands full listens.

    Jon if you don’t have the version with the bonus tracks, I recommend them. As strong as the album tracks. I felt the one song “Naivete in Black”, was very Dio-era Sabbath musically.

  2. I just ordered the album on WOW HD, but I’m not really sure if it was the one with the bonus tracks as I ordered the disc in a bit of a hurry.
    If it’s it not, I might give it away as present or something and buy the edition w/ bonus tracks. 🙂

  3. I had to pay a fair chunk for the Best Buy version (which has all the bonus tracks). I know if I had waited patiently, I could have had it cheaper. My buddy got his for $23. I paid more, close to $50 with shipping, but my version comes with an “exclusive” T-shirt.

  4. The original Black Sabbath lineup including Ward reunited 2005 to do Ozzfest fyi….incredible live performers, as i exited Ozz fest in Tampa after Sabbath and Priest as there opener I knew I saw the two Godfathers of heavy metal in one night “the pioneers”! Unreal! Especially Sabbath a perfect live performance.

    The quality of 13 surprises me none….

    Why 13 as title?

    • Bill Ward was in Sabbath since 1998 — they had Mike Bordin on the 1997 tour but wisely made amends with Ward in time for the Reunion live CD. Although they replaced him with a drum machine on “Selling My Soul”. That wasn’t a good idea.

  5. According to Tony Iommi’s biography, him and Ozzy are the only ones playing on “Selling My Soul” and “Psycho Man”.
    And yes, I remember reding about the Ozzfest thing with Priest in his bio as well.

  6. I can’t believe I haven’t purchased 13 yet! Tomorrow for sure it is bad*ss! Which version do you recommend? I don’t know what is available?

    Still why 13 for title?

    • You heckle us in the Queensrÿche review, being obnoxious and in this review you want to be buddies and act like nothing? For real?

      • Im still trying to figure why 13 as title………….heckling is a good way to start debate. Relax.

  7. I haven’t got a clue why they named the album 13, maybe something with 2013?

    And no, heckling is not a good way to start a debate. Not a healthy one, at least. Which the QR review kinda shows. But it is a good way making people dislike you. Or at least the way you express yourself. Next time, try to start discussing things like an adult. If you are one.

      • If you don’t know why the title is 13 you’ll never understand the complete genius of the album or the concept of the album. You should know these things “Mastermind”

      • No, I haven’t. Because I actually don’t care why the album is called 13.
        And you’re a real piece of work. I won’t understand the complete genius of the album if I don’t know why the album is called 13??? Really? Well, poor me, then, because it’s enough for me to state that the album is a killer and to me it doesn’t matter if the album is called 13 or Heavy Metal Baby Yeah In The Night. It’s only a title. A title that Geezer Butler hates. So much for the genius of that title…

      • So Jon let me see if I understand what your saying?? You did a review on a new Black Sabbath album and you don’t know what the concept of the album is? And you don’t want to know? And last but not least, you could careless what the concept of the album is? Come on “Mastermind”!

      • Oh dear! Alright, here we go. There is no concept of the album. It’s just a title. Has nothing to do with anything. I’ve read lots of inteviews with the band and the only thing that comes up is that the title really means nothing and that Geezer hoped that it wouldn’t stick. But it did. So, no, I’m not giving any thought to that title.

  8. This guy is a clown! Earlier he said he hates the keyboard hecklers, now he’s insisting it’s just a way to start a conversation.

    I don’t know about you, but I’ve never had a good constructive conversation with anybody who starts by heckling.

    • Yeah. he’s being doing that on several occasions, writing one thing and then the oposite. He’s constantly talking against himself. Also, he claims that you’re obsessed with him and he’s writing about himself in third person. Shrink alert!

    • I said “Keyboard experts” geez! Im gonna have to watch a episode of old captain kangaroo to get my IQ back to normal after reading your posts. Geez!

      • Also, did you bump your head one too many times as a child mike? Show or tell me where I used the word hate anywhere on the net?…….geez!

      • “To all Keyboard music experts all over the world heckling from the peanut gallery”
        These are your words. If you’re a keyboard expert that heckles, then aren’t you a keyboard heckler?
        And what do you mean with “back to normal”…?

      • I know what the peanut gallery is. It’s not relevant, however. A keyboard heckler is a keyboard heckler, no matter what row you’re in.

      • If that was a question, is it hard adding a question mark? You do know what that is, right?
        And speaking of questions, here’s three for ya: Are you an idiot? Did you see what wrote about the title? Do you really think I have even tried figuring that out? Enuff already!

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