Black Sabbath

13 (Universal Republic)

Phases & Stages

Black Sabbath

13 (Universal Republic)

"God is dead," proclaims Ozzy Osbourne in the eponymous, debut single from 13, the first Black Sabbath studio album in 35 years to feature the singer alongside original demons Tony Iommi (guitar) and Terry "Geezer" Butler (bass). Nietzschean proclamation or ham-fisted provocation? As with all things Sabbath, it's difficult to say. The balance between sinister conviction and cheap thrills remains the UK quartet's most ingenious trick when they pull it off successfully. Osbourne sings better than he has in years, but also holds back, his signature howl kept in check. The music roils and rumbles, allowing the group's folk roots to peek through, but it only sometimes rages or roars. Iommi remains the riff master of doom, and if Butler's lyrics on "Live Forever," "Pariah" (on the deluxe edition), and "Damaged Soul" struggle to sound inspired, the guitarist's barrel-chested slash 'n' grunge erases any trepidation. When all fires burn bright, as on crunchy anthem "End of the Beginning," blazing stormer "Methademic" (another bonus-only cut), and the pretty ballad "Zeitgeist," that old black magic casts its wicked spell once again. Hailed as the band's final LP, the best of 13 raises hope that it's a cauldron, not a coffin. (Black Sabbath holds service at the Erwin Center, Saturday, July 27.)

***

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
More Black Sabbath
Rock & Roll DVDs
Dio, and Black Sabbath
Live... Gathered in Their Masses, Finding the Sacred Heart: Live in Philly 1986 (Record Review)

Michael Toland, Dec. 13, 2013

Metallurgy: Black Sabbath
Metallurgy: Black Sabbath (Live Shot)
Even 40 years on, the heavy metal pioneers still draw blood

Michael Toland, Aug. 2, 2013

More Music Reviews
Texas Platters
Sabbath Crow
Carrion Highway Weird Sun (Record Review)

Michael Toland, Aug. 16, 2019

Texas Platters
USA/Mexico
Matamoros (Record Review)

Rick Weaver, Aug. 16, 2019

More by Michael Toland
New Austin Music Worth Your Bandwidth This Week
New Austin Music Worth Your Bandwidth This Week
What we’re listening to

Oct. 23, 2020

New Austin Music Worth Your Bandwidth This Week
New Austin Music Worth Your Bandwidth This Week
What we’re listening to

Oct. 16, 2020

KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Black Sabbath

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

New recipes and food news delivered Mondays

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle