After starting off relatively slowly, the brand new single from the reunited heavy metal founders, Black Sabbath, becomes a classic-sounding Sabbath tune about six-and-a-half minutes in. The last two minutes or so of this nearly nine minute long song are the most worthwhile.
It is not surprising that “God Is Dead?” sounds nothing like anything off of Heaven & Hell’s The Devil You Know. After all, Dio-era Black Sabbath was an entirely different breed than that of the Ozzy era. Still, this new Sabbath song is great in its own right. It may have taken a few listens to fully appreciate, but it is exciting to hear the metal gods back at it.
One important thing to note is that fans should not approach this song with the expectation of hearing old school Black Sabbath. Keep in mind that it has been 35 years since their last studio album together, 1978’s Never Say Die! Therefore, the musicians themselves are 35 years older. With the exception of studio session drummer Brad Wilk, they are all in their 60’s now. With that said, approach this new song with an open mind and realize that they all sound very aged, especially Ozzy Osbourne.
Another warning is that Rick Rubin produced the new album. For those unaware, Rubin produced Metallica’s Death Magnetic, which was openly criticized for having awful sound quality. In terms of this particular collaboration between Rubin and Black Sabbath, “God Is Dead?” mildly shows the producer’s devotion to muddy sound quality. However, it is nowhere near the muddiness portrayed in Death Magnetic. The sound quality of the remainder of Sabbath’s reunion album has yet to be heard.
Otherwise, this new Sabbath song is definitely worth a listen. Its dark, gloomy tone reverts back to the song that started it all: “Black Sabbath.” The heavy riffs are comparable to “War Pigs.” Once the music speeds up later in the song, a “Paranoid” influence can be heard. If this one song can portray such nostalgic elements, perhaps 13 will be a great comeback for the almighty Black Sabbath. While the lyrics may not be the strongest word combinations, they still contain the dark themes for which Geezer Butler is known.
With Geezer’s dark lyrics, Tony Iommi’s heavy riffs, and Ozzy’s shaky yet satisfying vocals, Black Sabbath seems to be back. Let’s hope Iommi continues to fight his cancer enough to pass away at an adequately old age. Lastly, the band is set to tour throughout the rest of 2013, beginning with a handful of New Zealand and Australia dates which kick off tomorrow, April 20 in Auckland, New Zealand. On May 12, they will perform at Ozzfest Japan in Tokyo. August will see them in North America before they head to Europe in late November.
Black Sabbath’s reunion album, 13, will be released [in North America] via Vertigo/Republic on June 11, 2013.