Tag Archives: Black Sabbath

Opinion: Does age matter?

There comes a certain point in life where retirement is inevitable.  Most civilians have to wait until their 60’s before they can even think about retiring from work.  Conversely, most major sport athletes are not expected to continue working past their 30’s or 40’s.  If only some well-established musicians decided to retire from music, fans would not have to turn away due to “washed-up” artists.

Of course, there are exceptions as with any other theory ever logically constructed. For instance, Paul McCartney will be 72 years young this June.  While he may be far past his “prime,” he continues to properly perform to his celebrity level standards, not to mention he put out a solid set of new material in the form of New in 2013.  With that said, his type of music does not require much movement to maintain an enjoyable concert atmosphere.  Sir Paul has also perfected his brand of stage presence without exerting too much energy on stage.  Considering his age, that is a key skill to possess.  No fan wants to see their favorite music idol drop dead on stage from a heart attack.

Continuing with that last point, it is only a matter of time before Ozzy Osbourne and the rest of the Sabbath gents permanently retire, willingly or not.  Ozzy aimlessly bounces around on stage, missing vocal notes and keys in almost every line while performing live.  The Prince of Darkness is not what he used to be, considering how much toxicity he has ingested over the years.  As for the others, Tony Iommi is currently fighting cancer. Geezer Butler seems to be healthy, at least in comparison to his band mates.  In terms of age, all three are in their 60’s and not getting any younger.  It is actually surprising how excellent 13 turned out.  That would be a phenomenal departure release once they complete this grueling world tour.

To clarify, I love Black Sabbath, but they are not honoring their legacy if they keep going until fate takes them.

Another example is The Rolling Stones.  Although they have not been in the limelight recently, that Super Bowl performance several years ago should never have happened. Old Mick Jagger prancing around in tights is a disturbing image burned into millions of viewers’ eyes for eternity.

While “washed-up” musicians may be ruining their respective legacies by continuing until they physically cannot, we should respect their wishes, as fans.  They won’t be around forever and if they don’t keep doing what they love, how will they keep busy? What would keep them wanting to live if not their lifelong passion?


MusicTalker’s Best Albums of 2013

1. Killswitch Engage – Disarm The Descent

The studio return of original vocalist Jesse Leach proved to be a successful endeavor and an exceptional release, pleasing many long-time and new fans alike.
2. Black Sabbath – 13

Heavy metal pioneers, Black Sabbath, reunited in late 2011, showing the world that they still have the power after all these years through this phenomenal release and a world tour.
3. Alter Bridge – Fortress

As a band comprised of all of the members of Creed except for singer Scott Stapp, Alter Bridge continue to portray their superior sound, much different from the former group.  With lead vocalist Myles Kennedy in the limelight, Alter Bridge are virtually unstoppable, as confirmed by Fortress.
4. Eminem – Marshall Mathers LP2

The sequel to 2000’s Marshall Mathers LP, 2013’s Marshall Mathers LP2 affirms that angry Eminem is indeed the best Eminem.  With the necessary controversial insults and the use of a variety of rapping styles, this new effort is arguably his best yet.  From the Beastie Boys-esque “Berzerk” to the lightning speed spitting on “Rap God” to the voice-altering style on “Love Game,” Eminem surprises the listener with the vast versatility he possesses.
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[REVIEW]: Kill Devil Hill – “Revolution Rise”

For a band that includes talent from Pantera, Down, Dio-era Black Sabbath, and Dio, Kill Devil Hill do not seem to receive as much recognition as other related “supergroups.” This is slightly disconcerting as this particular group has efficiently melded together the varying musical styles of the members’ previous endeavors. This is exhibited in Kill Devil Hill’s latest release, Revolution Rise.

While the band’s self-titled debut had some great tracks on it, Revolution Rise blows its predecessor out of the water.  It sounds like a glorious hybrid between Down and Heaven & Hell with a large sense of originality, leading to a deeply textured delivery.  Lead vocalist Dewey Bragg (Pissing Razors) often reverts the listener’s ears to an auditory memory of young Philip Anselmo.  However, Bragg showcases his unique vocal capabilities and wide range in the ballad, “Long Way From Home,” which tastefully breaks up the heavy rockin’ of the majority of Revolution Rise.

Overall, this new release is comprised of good, heavy rhythms, occasional guitar shredding, and catchy choruses. With the speed and precision on the kit, it can be easily forgotten that drummer Vinny Appice (Black Sabbath, Heaven & Hell, Dio) is not in his 20’s anymore.  The same goes for bassist Rex Brown (Pantera, ex-Down).  With that said, both musical veterans continue the legacies they have constructed over their respective careers in Kill Devil Hill.

Focus tracks on Revolution Rise include “Crown Of Thorns,” “Why,” and “Long Way From Home.”


MusicTalker’s rating: 4.5/5

Cover Song of the Month: June 2013

On their latest album, Unnatural Selection, Havok managed to slip a great cover of Black Sabbath’s “Children of the Grave” in with the new thrash material.  It was an intelligent decision to include such excellence.

While lead vocalist David Sanchez’s clean-ish singing may take regular Havok listeners slightly aback, it works with the song.  After all, Ozzy Osbourne did not scream in the original version, so why ruin a classic with out-of-place, guttural shouts?  It is impressive and gratifying that Havok put forth that manner of respect for the songwriters.

As for the instrumentation, the band offers its complimentary thrash metal influences while remaining within the boundaries of the song’s sound.  This version also has an extra raw and gritty feel that makes it that much better on the ears, ironically.

Havok out-did themselves on this cover.  They nailed every aspect of the original song and forged their own spin on it.  The best aspects of this version were arguably Sanchez’s singing and the guitar solo.

Performing covers of legendary bands’ songs is always a risky matter.  Havok were exceptionally ballsy by incorporating these new elements and attacking a Black Sabbath classic, but they seemed to succeed with ease.  These guys are sticking around, especially if they continue to pull strings like this.

[REVIEW] The Past Collides with the Present on Black Sabbath’s “13”

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.

Artist of the Week [5/17/13]: Orchid

Formed in 2007 in San Francisco, hard rockers Orchid have been referred to being “more Sabbath than Sabbath themselves.”  Yes, Orchid take a lot of the musical tricks forged by the heavy metal forefathers, Black Sabbath.  However, they also draw heavy influences from Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd.  Furthermore, that statement is almost blasphemous as all of these retro bands would not be around if not for Sabbath.  Perhaps, it may be somewhat forgivable if the term “modern-day” was included in referring to the band in question.  That should be expected, though, seeing how the Sabs are all in their 60’s while Orchid are still young and fresh.

Anyway, this article is supposed to be about Orchid, not Black Sabbath.  While guitarist Mark Thomas Baker may play riffs heavily inspired by the great Tony Iommi, he does it with flying colors.  Keith Nickel and Carter Kennedy sound like Geezer Butler and Bill Ward, respectively. Theo Mindell sounds like a grittier, young Ozzy Osbourne with a much wider vocal range and with more vocal melodies incorporated into each song.

While they may currently sit in the shadows of the retro-Sabbath band category, it will not be for much longer.  With the recent release of their second full-length album, The Mouths Of Madness, Orchid are sure to continue their march toward the frontlines of the doom metal scene.  The band has yet to disappoint anyone, new and long-time listeners alike, with a release.

Fans of Black Sabbath, Saint Vitus, Electric Wizard, etc. need to check Orchid out.  Five focus tracks are “Wizard Of War,” “Mouths of Madness,” “He Who Walks Alone,” “Heretic,” and “Into The Sun.”  Honestly, though, every single one of their songs is worth checking out if you like this kind of music.

For more information on Orchid, check out their Facebook page.

It’s Been Three Years: Remembering Ronnie James Dio

A god amongst men, Ronnie James Dio righteously graced the heavy metal world for many years before losing his fight with stomach cancer on May 16, 2010.

Born Ronald James Padavona, Dio was not like many other heavy metal legends.  He legitimately worked from the absolute bottom to the top of the metal brotherhood. Between his early doo-wop group days and earning his well-deserved legendary status, Dio fronted several hard rock groups.  The group that first put him on the map was Elf.  Ritchie Blackmore of Deep Purple then recruited him as the lead singer for Blackmore’s new project, Rainbow.

With Rainbow, Dio forged his unbeatable and indestructible, heavenly vocals on such classics as “Kill The King,” “Man On The Silver Mountain,” and “Stargazer,” among others.  Rainbow was ultimately his break-through gig, evidenced by Black Sabbath picking him up when Ozzy went solo.

Having appeared on only three Sabbath records, it is especially impressive that there has since been a constant debate of which vocalist was better, Dio or Ozzy.  Of course, both versions of Black Sabbath were as different as white and wheat bread.  Dio-era Sabbath was arguably darker and heavier while Ozzy ultimately participated in creating the original and perhaps “true” Sabbath sound.  Furthermore, Dio had a wider vocal range and continued to sound great up until he passed away.

Now that he had the exposure and experience to do so, Dio subsequently left Black Sabbath to form his solo band, Dio.  Dio’s Holy Diver still stands as one of the greatest heavy metal records ever.  Many newer bands have covered several songs off that album.  For instance, Killswitch Engage have recorded and performed studio and live versions of the title track.  Old school thrashers Destruction covered “Stand Up And Shout” for their 2011 release, Day Of Reckoning.

In 2007, Dio reunited with Black Sabbath under the name, Heaven & Hell, due to legal precautions.  They released the phenomenal The Devil You Know in 2009 and extensively toured until Dio was diagnosed with stomach cancer.  The band was actually planning to record a second album under the new name.  That piece of information is still upsetting.  However, it is more upsetting that Dio had to die at all.  Most metalheads would probably be okay with him living forever, even if that meant he was a vampire.

It is crazy that it has been three years.  Rest in peace, Ronnie.  Keep belting out those harmonies up in the clouds.

[SONG REVIEW] Black Sabbath – “God Is Dead?”

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.

In the Hot Seat: Denial Machine

The MusicTalker Twitter account recently gained a handful of followers, many of whom were bands.  One of these particular bands was Chicago, Illinois’ Denial Machine.  Shortly after returning their favor of following me on Twitter, the band posted a new song on Soundcloud. “Devil In My Veins” instantly caught my ear and I subsequently wrote a song review to chronicle my bright first impressions of Denial Machine.

Following my review, Denial Machine’s founder/guitarist/mastermind Mark Anderson agreed to answer some questions regarding the band’s formation, personal music preferences, and other topics of interest.  My conversation with Mark may be found below.

Additionally, I have heard the new material and recommend giving it a good, hard listen when it is released.  It is heavy yet very melodic, especially in terms of the vocals.  If you have heard their earlier music, the new songs have a very different approach and sound, as Mark expresses during the interview.

Mark Anderson; courtesy of Denial Machine Facebook page

What brought Denial Machine together as a band?

I started writing back in September of 2007 for a new project. I didn’t know who was going to be in it or what it would be called. I would write and record to my 8-track recorder with a drum machine. The majority of our first album and EP were written this way. After going through some growing pains line up wise, the initial line up for Denial Machine was solidified and officially began in February of 2009.

How prominent of a role do you believe your influences play in your music?

Not really sure. What inspires and influences me are often not what others say they hear in our music. With our brand new music we’ve taken a big leap of faith by trying something brand new and different from what anyone else is doing. I believe to make a true mark in music you have to stand out as something that is unique and something people can instantly identify as you!

What was the first concert you ever attended?

If I remember correctly it would have been Stryper, Loudness and TNT in Wisconsin in 1987 or 1988

Have you toured with any well-established acts? If so, whom?

We’ve done some one off shows with bands like Soil, Dirge Within, Otep and God Forbid. Tours are very expensive and being a band who does this on our own, at this point we are weekend warriors! Continue reading

Artist of the Week: 2/14/13

For the inaugural piece of this weekly segment, doom/stoner metal band Royal Thunder has been chosen as MusicTalker’s first “Artist of the Week.” They have put out two noteworthy releases via Relapse Records: 2011’s self-titled debut EP and 2012’s full-length debut, CVI.

Vocals reminiscent of Janis Joplin in an even rougher and more forceful fashion, yet cleaner and perhaps more melodic, are combined with the rhythm and groove inspired by bands such as Saint Vitus and Pentagram in the music of Royal Thunder.  Down-tuned guitars with a bit of distortion, as popularized by heavy metal pioneers Black Sabbath, are very prominent with the rhythm section constantly fluctuating between up-tempo grooves and slower, gloomier parts.

As lead singer Mlny Parsonz said at the beginning of an acoustic video for Royal Thunder’s song “Black Water Vision,” which is posted on the band’s Facebook page, “It’s definitely got a very moody thing going on, a dark thing…It’s just rock to me.”

Between the Royal Thunder EP and CVI, five key Royal Thunder tracks to actively listen to are “Parsonz’ Curse,” “Mouth of Fire,” “Whispering World,” “No Good,” and “Shake and Shift.”  The first three of the aforementioned songs are all cow-tipping, cradle-flipping, Satan-summoning hard rockers from top to bottom.  “No Good” is less gloomy and more of a fast and heavy classic rock-sounding song.  “Shake and Shift” is a nine-minute epic that starts slow and gradually gets heavier and catchier.  It tends to be a “make it or break it” system with lengthy songs and Royal Thunder undoubtedly “made it” with “Shake and Shift.”

Royal Thunder are currently touring as main support to Enslaved on a North American club trek.  Other support acts for the trek include Pallbearer and Ancient VVisdom.

If you are a musician and you think that you and/or your band are worthy of a spotlight article as MusicTalker’s “Artist of the Week,” contact Tim at themusictalker@gmail.com with your bio and some links to your material.

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