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4.5 out of 5 stars489
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on 18 June 2013
This album simply had to deliver given the catalogue of events that occurred prior to it's release and it does not disappoint. Sparse production (sounding amazingly powerful) with astonishing execution and delivery from the band. Rubin was clearly onto something when he sat the band down to simply listen to early recordings to capture the "feel and atmosphere" of the defining sound they carved out in the metal genre all those years ago. In summary, awesome production that is super heavy, great lyrics and music that tip a hat to the old but will no doubt appeal to the young who with fresh ears will be hooked. Sabbath have created an astonishingly heavy set of songs that do justice to the highlights of the past but with enough of a contemporary twist to place them at the top of the tree in the current music climate. The industry with it's tired ears and fans craving for something "real" needed this album. Here it is......
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on 20 August 2013
Wow what a father's day present this was from my darling little daughter and who knew a new Black Sabbath album would turn out as good as this, I mean it is a given that people are excited about this album almost as much as it is a given that there will be a certain amount of backlash. Really the most we should have been hoping for is an OK album which we all could have played once, gone "ahh that's nice" and barely ever touched it again, what we have actually got is a rather good album worth quite a few spins and one that helps to reinvigorate their back catalogue (not that the early stuff needed it) you will probably find yourself listening to this with a smile and following up the listening experience by immediately playing a load of their old stuff not in annoyance but merely to add to the joy of finding the album to be good.

The album itself is Doom done properly, drenched in its blues originators; heavy and groove laden, fiery and soothing, engaging mind and body simultaneously. There is even a most welcome sludge topping which gives it a raw and untamed feel (even if it isn't really) the furiously overdriven sound reminds you that you are worshipping at the feet of masters of sound.

It remains to be seen if 13 will enter the ranks of classic Black Sabbath, obviously only time will tell, in my opinion it is a good contender and even if it doesn't reach those lofty heights I am sure it has legs enough to be a part of many end of year best of 2013 lists maybe even top 10, and is bound to re ignite interest in the bands earlier work as a whole new generation begins their Sabbath worship and 13 is a good place for newcomers to prepare for the rollercoaster journey into the past.
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This album references the original Ozzy era all over the place,'End of the Beginning' immediately takes you back to 'Black Sabbath' whilst Iommi's solo reminds me of 'Dirty Women' from Technical Ecstacy','The Loner' has the presence of 'Johnny Blade' hanging over it,while 'Zeitgeist' clearly had 'Planet Caravan' in mind,so it goes on ...

You know what,who cares,its their legacy,they played it safe and have come up with a wonderful album,its too soon to hail it alongside the classics,only time will tell how its eventually graded,production is excellent,Iommi's riffs visceral,just as you would expect,Butler's doom laden Bass,growling in the background,while ,new boy Brad Wilk,does a sterling job,in truth you dont notice that Bill Wards not there,of course Ozzy does what Ozzy does,anyone expecting an imperious vocal delivery hasnt been listening for the last 40 odd years,that been said,i think its his best studio performance since the BLIZZARD OF OZZ days.

The 2 disc version is the one to go for,annoying as it is,it could all have easily sat one disc,of the bonus tracks 'Methademic' is superb,should have been on disc 1,a great album 4 stars easily.
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on 26 July 2013
I won't bore you with the history of Black Sabbath, it's already been well documented, but it's fair to say that for Metal fans, this album is a bit like the Beatles getting back together (if that were physically possible). I am sure you also know the hype that has surrounded this album.

I was worried that this might be a car crash (guys in their sixties trying to make an album that sounds like the material they did in their 20s concerned me), but I was quite hopeful when I heard they had teamed up with Rick Rubin to produce it. Rick's done a fine job of producing Slayer over the years and has had a hand in helping to keep them relevant so for me he was the best choice.

It sounds like Sabbath from the seventies, yet at the same time sounds very current and relevant; a gorgeous mix of metal, blues and those sounds that went on to influence the Stoner rock / Doom Metal genres.

Everyone performing on this album is in top form and it manages to sound fresh but familiar, and is not the slightest bit cynical or tired sounding. A very enjoyable album; for me the whole album says to metal bands of the past 20 years "we were doing this before you were born mate, get out of the way!".
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 18 June 2013
What is this that stands before me?"

According to the album title and track listing it's 13, the long-awaited studio album from Black Sabbath and first to feature Ozzy Osbourne, Tony Iommi and Geezer Butler for thirty five years.

But based on `End of the Beginning' and the subsequent seven tracks, it could also be a musical homage to Black Sabbath circa 1970 - 1975.

It's as if the mixed results of Technical Ecstasy and the much maligned Never Say Die! never happened -- in Sabbath's alternative doom-metal time and riff-laden space 13 becomes the natural follow up to Sabotage, the last classic Sabbath album of the Ozzy Osbourne era.

The opening statement of this review, as every heavy rock fan and his aunty knows, is also the first line from `Black Sabbath,' the track that almost single-handedly invented heavy metal and kick started the band's celebrated career.
It's also about the only thing missing from 'End of the Beginning' which, to all intents and purposes, is a rewrite of 'Black Sabbath,' right down to the spacious, doom-laden power chords, quiet and questioning first verse and a faster-tempo section that starts with a trademark Tony Iommi riff.

'God is Dead?' was made available as a single before the album was released and is a brooding, slow-tempo affair with a later sequence reminiscent of the driving rhythm from `Hole in the Sky.'
'Loner' also carries a DNA thread of earlier Sabbath but for the most part it stays on the vanilla path of mid-tempo, hard and heavy rock.

'Zeitgeist' is an interesting change of pace but is so close to `Planet Caravan' from Paranoid (including acoustic guitar, bongo percussion and ethereal atmosphere) it could be Son of Zeitgeist or Zeitgeist Part 2.

But then 13 unashamedly and intentionally draws its inspiration from Black Sabbath's initial six-album run and Ozzy Osbourne confirms as much on `End of the Beginning' with the line "reanimation of the sequence rewinds the future to the past."

And so the album continues with only a couple of gear changes until arriving at the heavy blues of `Damaged Soul' and culminating with the slow riff and grunge of `Dear Father.'
Perhaps the strongest song on the album, `Dear Father' tells the all too familiar and perverted tale of the wrong type of laying on of hands before thunder, pouring rain and a very familiar tolling bell fade the song to black, Sabbathly speaking.

Despite a drink and drug relapse that lasted a year and a half Ozzy Osbourne has been sober since March of this year and on 13 the singer delivers vocal enunciations and trademark "Oh Yeah!" interjections as only he can.
But then it's Ozzy Osbourne - you already know what to expect.

Tony Iommi has been dealing with lymphoma since 2012 (and the ongoing, successful treatments) but he can still riff with the best of `em and lays down solos that fit the 13 song template perfectly.

Geezer Butler anchors or drives the sound as each song requires and delivers bass riffs alongside Iommi's six-string phrasing as if 13 was, indeed, the follow up to Sabotage.

The other major players are drummer Brad Wilk of Rage Against the Machine, replacing original sticksman Bill Ward, and producer Rick Rubin.
Wilk knows his way around a drum kit but on 13 is fairly pedestrian, primarily because the song structures don't lend themselves to freedom of percussive expression or many drum fills.

But it's a shame band and management couldn't come to a contractual agreement with Bill Ward (or he couldn't commit for whatever reason, it depends what story you read/ believe), because his swing-drum style might just have added a little extra ingredient to the arrangements.

Rick Rubin has done a solid job and his trademark `stripped down' production sound is perfect for Black Sabbath and 13.
There have been comments that the album has been mastered too loud and loses its cohesion/ distorts at higher volumes (ironic for a Black Sabbath album) but that's poor mastering, not Rubin's production.

But the biggest negative isn't the mastering of 13 - it's the marketing of 13...

The standard 8 track, 53 minute album is also available in Deluxe 2CD and extended digital formats, containing three "exclusive" bonus tracks.
But they are, more accurately and honestly, nothing more than unnecessary and sadly typical ploys to pull in the `must have it all' fan base.

The predominately mid-tempo `Pariah' and `Peace of Mind' don't bring anything new to the 13 song base, but the fast-paced and semi-sinister `Methademic' would have added an edge to what should have been an 11 track, 68 minute album.

The majority of fans will love 13, proof of which can be seen on the 5 Star rating reviews on Amazon and fan forum/ critical plaudits elsewhere.

Some however will be dismissive or even hate it, hearing only a lazy rewrite of Osbourne, Iommi and Butler's shared musical history.
This review tries to capture both sides of 13's story, hence the 3 Star rating.

But you certainly can't ignore it.

Because it's Sabbath. Bloody Sabbath.
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on 16 August 2013
I bought this album late, mainly because I wanted to hear people's reaction to it. How can Black Sabbath ever return to their glory days at this stage in their lives? Well, I'm delighted to say they have done it with a masterful album. As Ozzy says, they are professionals and artisans in what they do.

They have stuck to their roots and come up with some great tracks. Yes, some of the riffs and themes are familiar but subtly altered to become sufficiently different and new. The lyrics have clearly been well written, probably with Geezer and Ozzy working together. Lines like, 'take another pill and you'll believe what I say' or 'you say that you can read my mind, be careful of what you might find' are among many that make me smile as i listen to the album. Tony on guitar is as brilliant as ever and putting more modern tones and complexity into his solos. He can do no wrong in my book.

All in all, a classic album and well worth buying if you're in any way a fan. Have bought tickets to see them do it all live in Belfast in December. The Thrill of it All !!!!
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on 19 July 2013
If a mid twenties instead of a mid sixties Ozzy was doing the vocals on this album it would have slotted in between the first and second or second and third albums and would be regarded as a Sabbath "Classic" The songs are that good.
Dont get me wrong. Ozzy does a good job but you can't turn back time. Ok, it's not Bill Ward on the drums but whoever it is has done a reasonable job of impersonating him.
I like the fact that they've tipped their hats to some of the old stuff. If you listen to one of the riffs in the "Loner" you could probably start singing Lady Evil. When the harmonica comes in at one point it takes you back to the Wizard and we have tracks which could have been called Planet Caravan 2 and Black Sabbath 2.
I waited a month before writing this because I didnt want to get carried away with the emotion of it all. If this is it they have gone out in style and I'd like to thank them for the hours and hours and hours and hours of pleasure listening to their music has given me over the last thirty years.
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on 17 July 2013
It is a good album, albeit one paced. It nods and sometimes plagiarizes old sounds of Sabbath, but old sounding this isn't. There is not the diversity of old. The sheer brazen ability to do a blues track, synth track, love song, pop chart number. What Sabbath have done is what Metallica did. Go from being dynamic, changeable and downright exhilarating, to medium-to-slow-paced heavy for the sake of heavy. This sounds quite critical, but I need to raise the point.

There are genuinely great high points, not least my favourite track "Damaged Soul", which has a very old, timeless beauty about it as well as "Dear Father", "End of the beginning" which have nice tricks up their sleeve, given many plays."Zeitgeist" is intriguing as it tries to emulate the hippy side of Sabbath, but, for some reason, it doesn't hit the mark. I don't know why. It just doesn't. An ingredient is missing.

There are no "Dirty Women" guitar solos (Iommi's solos have become very pedestrian over the years - he has definitely run out of imagination and passion and replaced it with well done but samey solos), no "Sabbath Bloody Sabbath" anthems, no "Shockwave" stunning intensity, no "Junior's Eyes" melodies, no "Evil woman" tongue in cheek attitude and certainly no "The Writ" sheer prog rock gorgeousness.

The multi-layered appeal of Sabbath is well and truly dead - all you have now is "Heaven & Hell" continued which, for me, has a very short shelf life. The drumming misses Ward's gorgeous subtleties in style and pace change. Not the ending I had hoped for.....oh well, it got to No.1 so I am sure many will disagree with me on this
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on 29 August 2013
Being a lifelong Sabbath fan I was sceptical about this album. How wrong could I have been? It just gets better with each listen!

Rick Rubin was certainly a good choice to produce as he has managed to reproduce a vintage-esque sound and maintained a lot of the Sabbath traditions, such as keeping Ozzy's vocals fairly high in the mix. (And even keeping it to a brief 8 tracks, perhaps in order to keep it in a similar vein to the classic Ozzy era albums)
I can't image fans of the band being disappointed with this record, and if you are I would say stick with it as its almost certainly worth it!

My only issues with this album are: Why was the track 'Methademic' not on the album?? It's one of the strongest Sabbath songs in recent memory and really would have added to the album.
Secondly, why do the drums sound so bad on 'Age of reason' but no other track?
Ah well, all in all a really exciting and welcome album from the true masters!
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on 6 August 2013
Any ozzy era sabbath fan will find themselves in familiar territory as soon as the first track kicks in - slow, dirgey, bluesy, doomy and down right 'heavy' (in the classic sense as opposed to modern over-distortion) but has it been worth the wait? After much deliberation the answer is yes, just. Ozzy and sabbath have been my favorite band ironically for thirteen years and this new album, perhaps first of more? is a real gem. BUT I have to wonder do i love it because it sounds so familiar? And therefore is that really a good thing? Metallica's rehash comeback 'Death Magnetic' was so obvious an attempt to cash in on their past it put me right off, and this is why 13 fails to get a five star from me. In fact, if it wasn't for the bonus tracks on this edition it might have been a three star. As a Sabbath fan I hate to admit that, but to round up, ANY fan of classic, heavy, doom metal should love this gem from the guys who started it all! Roll on the next album!!
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