For a legendary band like Black Sabbath, the coming of new music material is magnanimous. The band released the full length,13, June 11 and validated any inquisitiveness of whether the Britain natives could ever reawaken and conjure the spirit of the heavy rock foundation. The album offers parallel features of older Sabbath, albeit it does not lack the element of artistic surprises. The lineup for 13 is: Ozzy Osbourne, Geezer Butler, Tony Iommi and Brad Wilk.
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With “End of the Beginning,” the album opens with an easily recognizable raw appeal that ceases to fade into inconsistency. Sparse notes make it comfortably reminiscent of the days when ”Black Sabbath” first delivered its creepiness. The song, though, eventually builds and morphs into its own personality.
A fitting song to follow is the suspenseful and chill-evoking, “God Is Dead?”; the sluggish creep of a string of melancholic guitar notes evolves into a palatable, chromatic riff that Sabbath fans have grown to appreciate. “God Is Dead?” was the debut track off of 13, reaching listeners through radio and online streaming sites. Lyrically, the question raised, “God Is Dead?,” teases a philosophical chiming on religion, falling rather apparent on the writings of Friedrich Nietzsche.
“Loner” announces itself in a rhythmic fashion and suspends a catchy riff equipped with bluesy undertones; opposite in nature is the arrival of “Zeitgeist,” which is drowsily distant with an acoustic scraping underneath soft electric soloing.
“Age of Reason” defies any tendencies of remaining stagnant as it channels different movements throughout the piece. An appreciative element is its daring to stamp an atmosphere of overcoming. Where the preceding track could thrive on its activeness, perhaps “Live Forever” exists too loosely defined as solos nearly interject singing.
The following song, “Damaged Soul,” slowly paces and could simply be the next number at local hazy blues club, as it is has only faint traces of heavy rock. “Dear Father” makes it effortless to head-bang since it is built on a low, crunchy pattern; the song fizzles out with rumbles of thunder and light rainfall. “Methademic” transforms from a soft beginning to a speedy musical churning, aligning with the recurring line, “You live too fast.”
“Peace of Mind” is, at the most, declarative and only rambles to listeners for a spell.
“Pariah” could be the rhythmic twin of “Loner,” but independently stands with proclamations that seem introspective. It is nearly applicable to a jam session with its casualness.
The final song is “Dirty Women,” which happens to be a live number played in Australia. Fully representative of its title, the song mysteriously buzzes along with an offbeat break led by drumming.
Technical elements of 13 can be appreciated for their nostalgic reaching of the original recordings of Black Sabbath. The album’s known producer, Rick Rubin, ensured that the recordings were detached from sonic enhancements. Still, each song is crisp, and there is a small amount of flaws, glitches that would otherwise be frowned upon for their lack of artistic quirks.
13, overall, speaks with a clear voice and is confident in its willingness to return to comfort zone of when Black Sabbath was spun on LPs and spiraled out of cassettes. Though, it could be perceived as an generous intent on merely satisfying listeners. Riffs are raw and memorable, and vocals are as confrontational as ever before. The album is not distracted from its retrospective direction, and that is enough to keep ears attentive.