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Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Music Review: Black Sabbath - 13

BLACK SABBATH, the originators of Heavy Metal...are BACK! Returning after 18 years since the release of their last studio album, Forbidden (1995) and since the reunions with both Ozzy Osbourne  and Ronnie James Dio, also during their brief incarnation as Heaven & Hell (2006-2010, after the untimely death of Dio). Now, three of the original members have reunited (again!) to bring Black Sabbath "back from the dead" with their nineteenth studio album, 13! While many call this album a reunion (although Black Sabbath has "reunited" several times since 1997) this is not a full reunion since it is without founding member and drummer Bill Ward, who left Black Sabbath, saying that he "failed to reach an agreement regarding his contract" in February 2012.  Legendary metal producer Rick Rubin, who is known for his "idiosyncratic hands-off way of producing", wanted to create the same vibe as the first Sabbath record drawing upon the raw and natural sound of that album. 13 also features drummer Brad Wilk from Rage Against The Machine and Audioslave. While the standard album only features 8 tracks, the special deluxe edition has 11 tracks included with a bonus CD. The album is also available in a "Super Deluxe Box Set" which includes a DVD and vinyl. There is little or no explanation for the name of the album since 13 is in fact the 19th studio album from Black Sabbath although some suggest because it was released in 2013, also coincidentally since Sabbath performed on the season 13 finale of CSI. As for the design of the album, the artwork was created by Zip Design in London who commissioned sculptor Spencer Jenkins to create an 8 foot tall "13" made from wicker, which was then set on fire in the Buckinghamshire countryside. The image was shot by photographer Jonathan Knowles. The first single from 13, "God Is Dead?", is a slow-paced, deep, yet somewhat thought-provoking song, which hearkens back to the early "War Pigs" style Black Sabbath. The second single and first track of the album, "End of the Beginning", a very old-school-like Sabbath song, was featured on a recent episode of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation for publicity. With songs such as "Loner", "Age of Reason", "Live Forever" and "Damaged Soul", the signature Black Sabbath sound is apparent in both Iommi's accomplished guitar-work as well as Ozzy's well-known wailing vocals. The oddest song on the album would have to be "Zeitgeist" which uses a combination of acoustic guitar and bongos, which sounds an awful lot like "Planet Caravan" from Paranoid (1970). Another song which references an older Sabbath song is "Dear Father", while one of the heavier songs on the album, it has a curious outro featuring the sounds of a thunderstorm and bells, not unlike the infamous intro to their namesake song "Black Sabbath" from their first album. Also included in the deluxe version of the album are three extra tracks: "Methademic", "Peace of Mind", and "Pariah". Following the release of the album, the band will set out on a world tour beginning this summer in the U.S., followed by shows in South America and Europe later in the year.
Since their formation in 1968, Black Sabbath has been THE most original, influential, and yet controversial heavy metal band in the world!
Iommi, Osbourne & Butler

The original founding members included Tony Iommi on guitar, Geezer Butler on bass guitar, Bill Ward on drums, and of course, Ozzy Osbourne on vocals. With their first two albums, their self-titled debut Black Sabbath, and Paranoid released in 1970, Black Sabbath immediately took the rock n' roll world by storm. Shortly after the release of their 1978 album Never Say Die, Ozzy was fired from the band and replaced by former Rainbow singer Dio with Heaven & Hell (1980), who then left the band in 1982, and respectively both singers went on to pursue  successful solo careers. Afterwards, former Deep Purple vocalist Ian Gillan sang for Black Sabbath for the album Born Again (1983).
Throughout its tumultuous history, Black Sabbath has been through a number of lineup changes including singers, but one constant has remained, lead guitarist Tony Iommi, who has been the driving force of the band for over 40 years. This fact became an important factor back in May of 2009, when Ozzy filed a lawsuit over the trademarking of the Black Sabbath name and logo, which ended in June 2010. Many were skeptic when in 2011 it was announced that Black Sabbath would be reuniting yet again and recording a new album. However the tour and album was put on hold due to Iommi being diagnosed with lymphoma in 2012 and is continuing treatments. Knowing Black Sabbath's history, who knows how long this "reunion" will last. Evidence from Ozzy's recent troubles with his wife and his admitted re-addiction to drugs is a sure sign that we have not heard the last of Black Sabbath's troubles and it will only be a matter of time before they either disband completely or just get too old to do this anymore! Either way, 13 is an impressive album and a treat for any long-time Black Sabbath fan or even new ones who can have the opportunity to rediscover just what true heavy metal is all about!
 "I don't know what's down the road. I just do what I can and enjoy it while I can. No one knew if Sabbath would ever put out another record. So that's done. And now the next thing is to do a great show. We don't have to prove anything. We just have to go out, play our music and enjoy what we do. - Tony Iommi, Guitar World, July 2013