People Who Are Addicted To Music
With producer Rick Rubin helming, 13 (*** out of four) revives Black Sabbath’s classic molten-metal style, along with three-quarters of its classic lineup. The elements of the group’s early ’70s albums are all in place: colossal guitar riffs that threaten to collapse under their own weight, bass and drums that plumb a cavernous sonic underworld and, of course, Ozzy Osbourne’s keening yelp.
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The songs, five of which top seven minutes, lumber along at a deliberately dire pace, occasionally breaking into a bluesy swing (Damaged Soul) or stretches of menacing improvisation (Zietgeist). The lyrics offer rudimentary philosophical rhetoric and moralist musing, particularly the faux shock-rock meditation of single God Is Dead? The album’s closing song, Dear Father, is also one of its most powerful, an accusation against an abusive clergyman sung from the perspective of his victim.
The 35 years that passed between albums featuring the Osbourne/ Tony Iommi/ Geezer Butler lineup probably makes 13 seem more portentous than it actually is, but it’s still a near-perfect re-creation of the sound that formed the foundation of modern metal.