Black Sabbath 13
First New Recording by Original members in Over 30 years
L. Paul Mann
A group of 60 excited music reporters and special guests were invited to a secret listening party for the first Black Sabbath album in almost 35 years. The mysterious event took place behind closed doors at the Montalban theater in Hollywood. Guests were ushered in to the lobby of the offbeat venue, where everyone was searched for photography and recording devices. Even cell phones were confiscated to help keep wraps on the project. Patrons were treated to an open bar while the first classic albums of the band were played over the sound system. From the opening of the first album, with the iconic ringing bell amidst a thunderstorm, anticipation hung like humidity in the air. As the doors opened to the theater, three large screens revealed the artwork of the new album cover. Reality TV star Jack Osbourne(son of Ozzy) made the welcoming comments and introduced a short documentary on the making of the album. The documentary featured legendary producer Rick Rubin and the three original members of the band. Lead singer Ozzy Osbourne, guitarist Tony Iommi, and bassist Geezer Butler all appeared in the film. It was perhaps, no surprise that original drummer Bill Ward did not participate in the project. Suffering from poor health in recent years, he had to pull out of most of the planned reunion concerts last year. What was surprising to learn was that it was actually contractual obligations that kept him from the recording project. It was now guitarist Tony Iommi who was having life threatening health issues. The recording process was moved to Iommi's home studio in Birmingham England so he could continue his (successful) chemotherapy treatments. Rubin suggested bringing American rock veteran Brad Wilk of “Rage Against The Machine” to the project. Rubin had recently worked with Wilk on Dave Grohl's masterful movie and concert project “Sound City”.
The short Sabbath documentary actually had many of the elements of the “Sound City” film, that made that feature such an extraordinary piece of work. Like in “Sound City” Rubin loomed large in his efforts and ability to get the most out of the masterful pioneers of metal in their long awaited endeavor. Wilk proved the perfect replacement on drums. Offering up the classic booming Sabbath sound, with an element of his own distinctive “Rage” rhythm brought into the mix. After the short film, the light went down and the album was played in it's entirety to the hushed crowd in almost a church like atmosphere. Appropriate applause exploded after each track before patrons returned to a hushed reverent listing mode. The three original members of the band made an appearance to a standing ovation after the the album was played.
Black Sabbath 13 is a classic Sabbath album in every sense of the word. The recording features eight songs that come in at just under, sixty minutes, just like a record from the golden age of rock. The album features a blues drenched metal sound that is the closest sounding recording to the bands first album, that the group has ever produced. Harkening back to the American black blues sounds of the fifties and sixties that influenced all of the top English rock bands of their generation, there is even a bit of harmonica on one track. But make no mistake this is a heavy metal album in every sense of the word. Rubin crystallizes every note on the tracks, wringing the most from each performance. Iommi's blistering guitar solo's lead the way for Butlers thundering bass and Wards intense drumming to follow. While the sound is rooted in the classic Sabbath tradition, newer metal elements of bands like Metallica and Avenge Sevenfold can be heard influencing the mix. Ozzy sings in his trademark lamenting wail, spewing apocalyptic drenched lyrics, focusing on the battle between good and evil, but always with a hint of the possibility of redemption.
End of The Beginning
An appropriate opening track both lyrically and musically, the song features exploding guitar solos, abrupt changes in tempo, and Ozzie's haunting an prophetic lyrics “Is this the end? Or the beginning? Or The beginning of The End?”
God Is Dead
This nearly nine minute song which has already been leaked online could well become the hit song of the album. A classic prodding Sabbath song, Ozzie offers up the burning question relentlessly throughout, not a statement but a question in classic Sabbath structure.
Short brilliant song reminiscent of NIB on the first album with similar abrupt ending
Slow moody acoustic number reminiscent of “Changes” on Black Sabbath Volume IV. As blues influenced a song as the band has ever recorded, with a lost in space lyrical them.
Age of Reason
The band really blazes on this track with drummer Wilk in lockstep with Butlers iconic bass riffs and amazing solo work by Iommi on guitar. This song should translate incredibly well to live arena rock.
Live forever is a classic Sabbath metal ballad with Ozzie's lyrics focusing on the ultimate questions associated with mortality.
Wilk leads the way into new Metal ground for the band on this high energy state of the art rocker.
Similar to the track before this final track on the album leads the band into new musical ground with intense mixing techniques. The lyrics reference an abusive father. The track ends most fittingly with the same ringing bell in a thunderstorm that began Black Sabbaths first album.
Black Sabbath 13 is set to be released on June 11th, 2013
The band has also announced a short North American tour. So Far there are only four dates.
August 4 Holmdel, New Jersey
August 14th Toronto, Ontario
August 24th The Gorge, Washington
September 3rd Los Angels Sports Arena
For more information: http://www.blacksabbath.com/