Here’s a reprint of my review of the new Sabbath album that ran in Hot Press.
Key Track: ‘Damaged Soul’
REUNITED ROCK LEGENDS SHOW US THEIR RIFFS.
Even as recently as a year ago, most metal fans with a thimble-full of knowledge on Black Sabbath would have scoffed at the idea that they’d be releasing a brand new studio album in 2013. A band that have had more bust-ups and break-downs than the entire residents of Coronation Street, the Brummie legends’ lives really has been just like a soap opera over the decades. They’ve sued each other, survived cancer and various other near-death experiences, snorted anything they could get their hands on and been involved in generations-worth of slagging matches. Despite all the bitterness, bad blood and poop-filled boxes posted to ex-band members however, one thing always remained pure and that was their music and 13 (their first full length record to feature Ozzy Osbourne, Tony Iommi and Geezer Butler together since ’78’s Never Say Die!) sees the band try to rekindle that spark that birthed a genre.
Featuring eight tracks, 13 is an incredibly self-referential record and over the course of 50minutes there are plenty of nods to some classic cuts from the Ozzy-era of Sabbath. ‘Zeitgeist’ bears more than a passing resemblance to their beautiful sci-fi lullaby ‘Planet Caravan,’ while the harmonica on ‘Damaged Soul’ calls to mind ‘The Wizard,’ and the riff-laden album resonates with a defiant “if it ain’t broke” mentality.
Iommi’s guitar playing is immaculate throughout and his blistering solo on ‘Loner’ is up there with his best work and Ozzy’s voice is nice and eerie, holding together for the most part. While it almost goes without saying that 13 isn’t as good as the standard-setting Master Of Reality or Heaven And Hell from the Dio-era, the record is a welcome new chapter in the band’s story and here’s hoping they can get drummer/founding member Bill Ward back into the fold for its follow-up.