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on 12 June 2013
The long awaited album from Black Sabbath 13 is a tale of two Black Sabbath Re -Unions.
There is the one here with Ozzy and the Ronnie James Dio Heaven and Hell(Black Sabbath all in Name) and the two could not be more distant from one another.
13 tries too hard to be like the first few albums that Sabbath made which were classics but the Band under Tony Iommi had moved a lot more forward than those days with Ronnie James Dio.
The problem here is that the Band are trying to recreate the old days with Ozzy Osbourne and it all fails dismally and it all comes across that it has all been done for nostalgia's sake.
End of the Beginning and God is Dead are not a patch on Bible Black or Heaven and Hell with Ronnie Dio and the riffs all seem like that are trying to hard to recycle the old riffs from the first three Black Sabbath Albums and all seems rather downbeat and tired.
All this Album does for me is to tell me how much Ronnie James Dio is missed as he would be turning in his grave if he ever heard this.
Tony Iommi and Geezer Butler are the driving force behind Sabbath and i wouldn't mind betting that in reality even they are disappointed by this release and are thinking what direction do we take now for the Band as Ozzy Osbourne still has a voice but it is nowhere near as powerful as it was and we wish Ronnie Dio was still here as we could have made a much better album.
All in all it all seems like a Black Sabbath Nostalgia Trip which has failed disastrously.
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on 11 June 2013
Ozzy Osbourne is the only 'singer' I know that gets praised simply for not sucking. He may sound slightly better (thanks to umpteen studio takes no doubt) than he has in years but he's still awful. His snail-paced enunciation throughout this contrived material makes already unnecessarily long crushingly dull. If you can stomach Ozzy you might be able to get through this all style no substance mess. Long boring filler songs like "End Of The Beginning", "God Is Dead?", "Age OF Reason", etc...all sound like the same bloody song. Ssssssssslow and ploding. There's only two songs hat rise above mediocrity- the "Planet Caravan"-like "Zeitgeist" and the bluesy "Damaged Soul". I listened to this disc 2 times through and I doubt I will ever do that to myself again. I'll keep the two good songs and forget the forgettable rest. Fail.
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on 15 June 2013
This review is for the product, not the musicality. I'm giving this CD 1 star because the audio quality is absolutely terrible and therefore worthless to many customers. The audio quality on the 13 CD contains so much DR compression that it is only listenable on little crap earphones or laptop speakers. If that's how you listen to music then rate it 5 stars!! For the rest of us, it's a useless CD!

Read more about this specific albums audio quality on the wikipedia page below. Adding insane amounts of DR compression in order to make a CD sound louder in comparison to another CD when played back at precisely the same volume, is all very intential and then they charge you £10 for it on release day.

They are intentionally making CD's sound inferior. Search for "loudness war" if you want more information.
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TOP 500 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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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 11 June 2013
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 11 June 2013
Before I start, I would like it to be known that I'm a huge fan of Ozzy-era Sabbath, they are rock legends and have released some of the heaviest, darkest and most powerful rock music of all time. I was very excited about this release but unlike many fans, I refuse to give the band a free pass (lets face it, some fans are so desperate for new material they would hail it a masterpiece before even listening to the record).

As for me, I didn't hate it, I just found it tedious and in all honesty a bit dull. It doesn't really sound like they're even trying. There's only so many ways you can recycle the riffs to War Pigs, NIB and Black Sabbath before it just gets embarassing. Black Sabbath albums used to be so eclectic and varied, but this is just straight up doom metal, each song blending into the next with no real identity of its own.

It isn't completely without merit, Pariah is a decent enough track and Dear Father offers a much needed tempo change, but it's not even close to any of the other Ozzy-era albums. And anybody who says this is better than Never Say Die or Technical Ecstasy is kidding themselves.

I think what irks me most is that it could have and should have been so much better. It's not that it isn't good but the whole premise for the album seems so contrived. I blame Rick Rubin for that. You can't and shouldn't even attempt to re-create an older sound. Genuine inspiration doesn't work like that, any songwriter will tell you that. You create what comes naturally to you and you let the muse take you where it wants to go. That's how the old Sabbath albums were created, not with some douchebag producer breathing down their necks telling them how it should sound. If I was Ozzy or Tony I'd be like "who the hell are you to tell us how a Sabbath album should sound?".

I think the results would've been so much better if they had just gone into the studio and created whatever came naturally to them at their age. It probably wouldn't sound anything like Paranoid, Master of Reality or Black Sabbath (album), but then neither did Sabotage or Sabbath Bloody Sabbath and they were amongst Sabbath's best work. The best records are never contrived and are usually born out of the artist feeling free to experiment and come up with new ideas. Trying to re-capture past glories is not only an impossible feat, it is also incredibly disingenuous.

Ah well. Next...
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on 10 June 2013
Well I have to say it has been a long wait and finally I have now heard the entire album. Vivaldi was often accused of not writing 500 concertos but one concerto 500 times, and here I get the feeling that I am listening to the opening track re written 13 times. Bill Ward is not present and that can be felt throughout, the drum playing here is robotic and really not the swing / jazz that we all enjoyed during the bands heyday. The production is glossy, the guitar and mix in general not creating any dynamic contrast in the album, no way is this vintage Black Sabbath. The guitar effects are off the rack not those dirty uncontrolled sounds that created the fuzz of of previous years. Ozzy can still sing sure but the voice has dropped a few octaves and he is obviously using a vocalization machine to hit the notes. The first time I ever heard Iron Man I could never forget it, the same was for Into the Void, Laguna Sunrise, The Wizard, Sweet Leaf to name but a few. On playing this album I have to admit I have already forgotten the lot and really will not be coming back to be reminded. If you want to hear Black Sabbath go back to the past it was all there and can never be bettered. This album has been created by a group gentleman who are now in the position of Rock Royalty, its easy when you are in that position...
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on 11 June 2013
From the opening doom-laden chords of "End of The Beginning" you know what you're getting, this a return to the sound that die-hard followers and music fans have been hoping for, for years.

1. Tony Iommi plays fantastic super-heavy power chord riffs, dazzling blues leads, and a bit of sensitive modal jazz acoustic guitar.
Yes, this album will delight guitarists and guitar fans with it's truly world class playing.

2. Ozzy's great lyrics (co-written with Geezer I presume), Beatley-melodies and endearing cry-baby/whiney teenager vocals. He plays a bit of harmonica too!
Given his huge commercial profile over the last 30 or so years, I thought Osbourne would be the weak link, unable to recall his art. Not at all! The lyrics are generally excellent, and even when they're not they still fit the songs perfectly!

The familiar themes of being outcast, despair at the state of the world, momentary visions of absolute bliss, and the determination to follow one's own path are revisited here again. This (along with the musical mastery) is what really connected Black Sabbath to the mass market back in the early 70s. The themes are as relevant today as they were then. Enough said!

3. Geezer Butler's growling, titanic bass playing underpins Tony's guitar and the drums...

4. The drums.
Ah yes, no Bill Ward, a chink in the armour surely? No! Brad Wilk (from Rage Against The Machine) acquits him self superbly here, and the band sound like they have rehearsed well together, and not recruited a drummer at the last minute to play over a click-track. No appreciable deviation of the classic Sabbath sound here!

5. Production by someone who absolutely knows, loves and is completely capable of reproducing the band's legendary sound.
Rick Rubin is really the fifth member of this current line-up. The attention to detail in recording and mixing (even recalling the boxy, 'dead' 15ips drum sound at times(!!) and the performances he has extracted from the band are outstanding. Kudos to Rick for 'resurrecting' Sabbath!!

The album does not sound dated or irrelevant, but timeless. There are no concessions to hip-hop, nu-metal, AOR, MOR, or pop production values, and has not been auto-tuned to any noticeable degree that I can detect.

Note that this a review of the vinyl edition, which ends at "Dear Father".

It is housed in a glossy gatefold sleeve with lyrics on the card inner sleeves. The Vertigo 'swirl' label is of each of the four sides.
The records are 180gm pressing (which believe it or not, has relatively little effect on sound quality) and they sound great. I presume this is mainly because of the short running time on each side (2 tracks each) meaning they have been cut LOUD. Unlike digital, louder in analogue generally sounds awesome! Sonically, it's sounds just right - not too warm or muddy, or so clean that important details wash over you, and not 'canned' or 'sterile' either.
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on 10 June 2013
I must admit I am astounded that this album ever saw the light of day. Between Tony's illness (keep well mate) & Ozzy going back to his junkie bum ways (thank the Lord you sobered up beforevyou killed yourself), its a bloody miracle that anything ever materialised. (Let's not mention Bill Ward and the Great Rock & Roll payment swindle!!!!)

This album harkens back to the Sabotage and Sabbath Bloody Sabbath halcyon days. It does my old black soul good to hear that doom laden sound from Mr Iommi's Gibson SG guitar. That drop tuning sounds just right.

To echo my fellow reviewers comments, this is welcome return by a truly legendary Band.

The songs seem to benefit from the production duties delivered by Mr Rick Rubin. His abilities with such artists as Metallica, ZZ Top, Slayer etc is plainly evident in these tracks. Ozzy has never sounded more mournful and full of malice. I guess you can teach an old dog new tricks!

Please invest in a copy.

A must for all followers of the originators of Doom Metal. Now where is my big iron cross necklace and kaftan.

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on 1 July 2013
I got this (for father's day) 2 weeks ago and can't stop listening to it. Some amazing songs, The Loner and Age of Reason are current favourites and the Rick Rubin production adds significantly.

For sure Ozzy's voice has needed some assistance but the grinding sound of Geezer's bass and Iommi's guitar solos, hark back to the earlier time of Sabbath and for those negative reviewers carping on about how it sounds like the old stuff - well that's the point. This is almost certainly the final album and the circle is completed - if you don't "get" "End of the Beginning" then listen to the final bars of the album replete with rainstorm and tolling bell saying "this is where we came in". See how many early songs it reminds you of (Dirty Women and Planet Caravan are obvious but there is a Superczar and Killing yourself to live and others).

It's an album for the fans, not to the po-faced critics complaining that there is nothing "new" about the songs - what did you want? a guest appearance by Cheryl Cole?

There's a reason why this shot straight to No 1 and this is a stunning "final bow" from the progenitors of seventies rock.
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