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4.6 out of 5 stars
506
4.6 out of 5 stars
Format: Audio CD|Change
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on 9 August 2013
Sabbath are my favourite band. I've even written about them (my 2 books, Galactic Ramble and Endless Trip are on Amazon) but i'm sorry to say, whilst I'm thrilled they're back, this sounds like them going through the motions. It's a distillation of the Sabbath sound rather than anything new. I'd rate this below Never Say Die and level with Technical Ecstasy. Of course it's far from bad but this is the greatest rock band of all time and I wanted something a bit more.
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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 26 September 2013
Dear me, I am a long time Black Sabbath fan but I just don't like this album at all. Sure, Ozzy can still hold a tune but..... Yawn.

Well, time to admit my mistake. This album is a grower and accordingly I will update to 4 stars. Won't be so hasty to post a review in future.
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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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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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What's happening to the 'olduns'? Last year Van Halen, Rush, Bob Dylan and ZZ Top all showed us that entering old age was no barrier to producing great albums, added to that The Stones showed that even as they approached 70 they could still strut their stuff with the the best of them and now Sabbath return with an album that has no problem sitting comfortably with their classic era albums. It's almost as if the 80's never happened (Oh how I wish!!!!!).

Like the Van Halen and ZZ Top comebacks things did not start off promisingly, both those bands released singles that failed to initially set my juices flowing and Sabbath did the same, much as I wanted to like God Is Dead it just couldn't get under my skin. It made me think that this was all just an exercise for an excuse to tour the sheds of the World and rake in the money. Turns out I was wrong, this really is a very good album that takes them back to those early to mid '70's heights. The opening tack 'End of the Beginning' sounds like it is straight off the first album, 'Zeitgeist' is clearly 'Planet Caravans' long lost brother. It's almost as if they've looked at the project and thought right we need a song that would fit on 'Paranoid' and another one that would fit on 'Master of Reality' and so on up to 'Sabotage'. If anyone wants to criticize them for that, why? Do you want them to morph into U2 or something, no, this is the kind of music we love Sabbath for and they have showed they are the masters of the genre. To think that this was created whilst Tony Iommi was suffering and being treated for a serious illness makes it all the more remarkable. Perhaps he thought if it was to be his swansong he was going to make sure it was out of the top drawer, and he succeeded. More importantly he is on the road to recovery and we all wish him well.

Basically, I feel it boils down to this, if you like the Sabbath albums from 'Black Sabbath' through to 'Sabotage' I cannot see that you will not enjoy this. I've now had a fortnight to listen to it and soak up it's pleasures, and found the more I listen to it the more I enjoy it and that is the sign of a good album. If it keeps going like this in another fortnight it might even get that extra star!!!!!!!!! Roll on December and a visit to a shed to see them in the flesh, and much as I want to hear the 'classic' stuff I'll have no problem if a decent slice of this album is played, yes it is that good.
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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
"God Is Dead" is definitely a killer track, helped with plenty of airplay on the likes of Planet Rock. They're now playing the opening track "End Of The Beginning"...but I can't help feeling I've heard it all before..."End.." is definitely based on the exact same structure as the title track "Black Sabbath" on the debut album all the way back from 1970. Same quiet version of the opening power riff which Ozzy then sings slow lyrics over, followed by a double-time riff to close the track. Not as dynamic though as the original. Nowhere near. "Loner" is ok. Heard it about 6 times now and I still couldn't sing you the chorus (and yes, I can sing!). Track 4 "Zeitgeist" is a reasonable rework of "Planet Caravan", complete with conga percussion and similar vocal effect on Ozzy's voice. But it's still a rework. "Age of Reason" is another typical Iommi riff-fest, but where's the classic Sabbath hook of a "Fairies Wear Boots", "Tomorrows Dream", "Paranoid", "Sabbath Bloody Sabbath" etc...even "Never Say Die" if we really have to look for some commercialism. "Live Forever" is another track which promises plenty and falls short. Is it Ozzy's lacklustre vocal delivery throughout I wonder? Sure, the guy's nearly 70 years old and about 40 years beyond where he should be given his legendary lifestyle. No one really expects him to hit the notes of 20, 30, 40 years ago of course. But it sounds flat and more like a demo performance. I'm constantly waiting for the killer vocal. And it doesn't happen. Expectations too high, obviously. I'm actually bored before the album plays out its last two tracks...which do little to change my opinion: it's okay; formulaic; lacking in dynamism; not bad for a 'swan song'.

I'm sure in 30 year's time I'll think of this as classic Sabbath and will probably love it, I just wish it was an instant classic, not such a slow burner. Could have been the best thing since "Bloody Sabbath" back in 1973 (the very first heavy metal album I EVER heard and instantly loved for its genius, song writing, production, musicianship and originality...).

With regards to the vinyl release, the sound is superb. 2 discs. Lovely Vertigo swirl labels. Takes me back. Packaging is significantly better than the pre-release CD copy I purchased with my Sabbath tickets for December 2013. Lyric inner sleeves at least. The CD copy I got had a boringly plain 2 sided insert, with the bare minimum of information. Vinyl always trumps CDs anyway!
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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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