Following the 11/11/11 announcement of a Black Sabbath reunion, heavy metal fans across the globe anxiously awaited what would become 2013’s 13. This reunion was inevitable after Tony Iommi and Geezer Butler lost their beloved Heaven & Hell lead singer and dear friend, Ronnie James Dio, to stomach cancer in May of 2010. However, shortly after the announcement, Iommi was diagnosed with lymphoma and underwent chemotherapy. Being the heavy metal king, Iommi fought through it and helped provide worldwide Black Sabbath fans with 13.
With the excellence of Heaven & Hell’s The Devil You Know under their belts, it was highly unlikely that Iommi and Butler could top that with Ozzy Osbourne on vocals. Conversely, with the beauties of technology in action, the Prince of Darkness actually sounds pretty good in several parts of 13. The heavy metal founders clearly came together in the songwriting process this time around. While it may not top The Devil You Know, 13 comes pretty close.
The album’s first single, “God Is Dead?” revealed a peek into the new material, but did not offer the whole picture. It could arguably be considered one of the weakest tracks on the album.
Highlights include “End of the Beginning,” “Zeitgeist,” and “Dear Father,” among others. “End of the Beginning” kicks off the album with a sound almost too reminiscent of the title track off of Black Sabbath’s self-titled debut record. “Zeitgeist” then brings the listener back to “Planet Caravan” from 1970’s Paranoid. “Dear Father” is a dark, heavy doom song, clocking in at over seven minutes and closing out the standard edition of 13 with flying colors.
13 is extremely well-executed and I was thoroughly impressed with the finished product. Rage Against the Machine’s Brad Wilk was unbelievably great on handling the drum duties, since the Sabs and Bill Ward could not agree on financial terms, leading to Ward stepping out of the reunion.
For Boston area fans, Black Sabbath are scheduled to perform at the Comcast Center in Mansfield, MA on Monday, August 12th.