Since the wake of the Black Sabbath reunion and the promise of a brand new album made back in November 2011 fans have been eagerly awaiting the return of the original lineup of Black Sabbath since 1978’s ‘Never Say Die!’ Sure there was the whole Bill Ward dilemma when it came to touring duties but alas, nearly two years following the promise of the new album, ’13’ is finally here. Does it live up to the huge anticipation and excitement built over this two year period?
The main focus point of ’13’ is the fact that it is the ORIGINAL Black Sabbath. All original members back at the helm, and the entire album is reminiscent of the sound they created. And that sound is the pillar that what is widely recognised as doom metal, ’13’ is jam-packed with solid and slick riffs provided by Tony Iommi. Fans were already teased with the second track, ‘God is Dead?’ but that is merely scratching the surface of what this record brings to the table.
‘Live Forever’ & ‘End of Beginning’ are both incredibly similar in their music style but that is not necessarily a bad thing. Ozzy Osbourne’s signature vocal style is so clear on these tracks accompanied with a pounding bass provided by Geezer Butler and absolutely breathtaking guitar play by Iommi. Whilst most tracks on ’13’ have a average length of around 7 minutes that slowly build up to a doom outburst, the one anomaly here is the 4 minute ‘Zeitgeist’ which screams back to their early hit from 1970’s Paranoid; ‘Planet Caraven’. The inclusion of this relaxed track gives a extra level of depth to the album, bringing flow and diversity to an already solid album.
Forget the dilemma of Bill Ward’s departure from the originally promised ‘original lineup’ and Tony Iommi’s battle with lymphoma, this is what Black Sabbath fans and ultimately what fans of heavy metal have been waiting for. ’13’ is a stone cold masterpiece from start to finish, marking the return of one of the founders and titans of heavy metal. ’13’ is Black Sabbath back to the roots, doom glazed and ultimately masterful and one of the best heavy metal records to be released in 2013.