Ozzy Osbourne has done every drug known to man.
Tony Iommi has cancer AND doesn’t even have a whole hand.
Geezer Butler’s liver may be in worse shape than Keith Richard’s.
By all rights, these guys should all be dead.
And yet “13” (The first studio album with Ozzy on lead vocals since 1978) is a near perfect resurrection of the sound and the darkness of one of the most influential bands of all time.
A quick history lesson here: It’s 1970. A year prior “Led Zeppelin” had knocked the world on it’s ass with “Led Zeppelin I”. But now a year later, the sonic boom of Plant & Page has faded a bit and Simon & Garfunkel, the Carpenters and the Jackson 5 rule the radio and the record store.
But February 13th of 1970 (yes a Friday), 4 young men from Birmingham England release their first album frightening listeners with it’s sound and lyrical imagery.
Whereas Zeppelin had just skimmed the surface of heaviness, Sabbath’s sound was so punishing for it’s day it had parents everywhere in a panic that all their worst fears about rock & roll had finally come to fruition.
It’s one of my favorite albums of all time because it’s so raw and because unlike much today’s music it’s not contrived in any way. The band didn’t sit down and say “oooh! Let’s make scary music” but rather these guys recorded what was really inside them. That honest approach is what gives “Black Sabbath” more power than any modern production technique can emulate.
But I’ll be damned if Rick Rubin hasn’t helped them pull it off.
From the opening notes of “13” it’s clear that the plastic shine & over production of the 80’s and 90’s has been stripped away and though lyrically there’s some silliness to be ignored, not since Paranoid has the band sounded this good and this true to it’s roots.
Ozzy’s voice cuts through the smoldering guitar & bass work with that brilliant eerie quality every goth-singer in the world can only attempt to copy. Tony and Geezer don’t try to be anything they are not- they stick to simple and somewhat brutal riffs that can only be described as “Sabbath”.
In my heart, I want to say I miss Bill Ward who did not perform on the album due to “contractual” problems- but his presence is not actually missed.
Rick Rubin has had as many misses as hits, but this is one of his real successes. In much the same way that his work with Johnny Cash restored the man in black, Rubin restores Sabbath in the way some one might restore a classic car- stripping it down to it’s frame and slowly adding back the parts that make it truly awesome to behold.
Song length will keep “13” off the radio, so you need this in your iPod today. It’s worth every cent.
I could have really written this review with 5 words: Black Sabbath is cool again.
(*I would like to note that at no point have I referred to Sabbath as the Godfathers or Grandfathers of Heavy Metal. It’s too easy.)
Hot Fire Of Truth: Buy this and make your kids listen to it. They’ve probably been deprived of real metal.
If You Only Download One Track: The opening track “End Of The Beginning” will make the hair on your arm stand up.
You’ll Like This If: If you like metal but think everything Metallica has done post “Justice” has sucked, you will probably really dig this record.
Read all my reviews at www.shockinglytruthfulmusic.wordpress.com and follow me on twitter @maynardradio