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Black Sabbath is a death metal group from the 1970s with a vocalist named Ozzy Osbourne and Tony Iommi on guitar. They were very big heavy metal pioneers.

Ozzy Osbourne and Geezer Butler after being away from the group for some time have returned to the group to make Black Sabbath’s newest studio album called 13. Their original drummer named Bill Ward was replaced, though. 13 by Black Sabbath was made available for streaming on Itunes, June 3 of 2013.

Black Sabbath was working on a studio album in 2001, but Ozzy Osbourne was called away from it because he was making a solo album called Down To Earth. They stopped working on the Black Sabbath album when Ozzy Osbourne left. Black Sabbath had difficulty working on the album together because they were all working on their own separate projects.

Black Sabbath performed at Ozzfest a couple of times during the early 2000s. Black Sabbath was also inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Ozzy Osbourne had his own reality TV show about his life at home, which led the company that Black Sabbath worked for to capitalize on the renewed popularity with Black Sabbath by releasing a couple of live albums of Black Sabbath’s concerts.

Dio, who was the second lead vocalist for Black Sabbath after Ozzy Osbourne and made four studio albums with Black Sabbath but was not nearly as good as Ozzy Osbourne with Black Sabbath in my opinion, died of stomach cancer in 2010. Black Sabbath reunited with Ozzy Osbourne in 2011. While making the new album in spring of 2012, Bill Ward, who was the drummer for Black Sabbath, left the group because he did not get the signable contract that he had wanted.

Black Sabbath originally made fifteen songs for the new album. Black Sabbath said that the year 2013 would be a good hint as to the title of the new album. They also replaced the drummer of Black Sabbath with the drummer from Rage Against the Machine, a much lower quality heavy metal group in my opinion. Geezer Butler said that they would change the album title of 13 to something else, but that never actually happened.

For the album cover picture Black Sabbath had a giant number thirteen made out of wood that was set on fire and took a picture of the burning effigy. Black Sabbath plans to have their first tour in eight years this fall. God Is Dead made it onto the radio as a single last April. The End of the Beginning was played on CSI with a cameo appearance from Black Sabbath.

13 was received well by music critics. 13 has been criticized for being compressed too much, which has led supposedly to audible distortion. Since distortion I thought was usually an aspect of heavy metal anyway, though, I don’t know what the problem is with this. The producer of the album was criticized for making other wise good music sound bad.

Now for a song analysis.

End of the Beginning starts off with some heavily distorted guitar. It winds down and then goes to Ozzy Osbourne’s devilish vocals. Ozzy Osbourne has sounded better on vocals than he has in years. The guitar is slowed down while Ozzy sings his lyrics so that Ozzy does not have to scream to be heard over the guitar like he has done with some of his other recent albums such as the abominable album from his solo career with good ol’ Gus G. on guitar called Scream. Ozzy stops singing and the guitar picks up again with a groovy, cool, funky sound. Ozzy starts signing again more energetically. It’s a good first song to start off the album. So far I have not noticed poor sound quality either. Tony Iommi has a screeching, entertaining guitar solo and kind of sounds like certain other death metal guitarists who have worked with Ozzy Osbourne before… and are still alive.

The next song starts off with an ominous, low key tone. It then picks up and launches into a more rocking, heavy metal sound. Ozzy sings about being lost in the darkness. It is a very murky, dreamlike song. God Is Dead has the typical death metal lyrics such as rising from the grave and wondering whether God is dead.

Loner starts out with some heavy guitar. It is about a lone wolf “with no place to go.” Unlike the last two songs, which were both eight minutes long, this song is shorter, more to the point and I would argue the most entertaining song yet on the album. It is said that brevity is wit. After listening to the first three songs on this album, with the third song as a definite stand out above the other two, I would have to agree. This is a really entertaining rocker of a song.

Zeitgeist starts out with some creepy laughter from Ozzy Osbourne. It then starts to sound like Planet Caravan with spacy lyrics about cosmic events, a bongo drum being lightly played and some light guitar. It is obvious that Zeigeist is the space rock song of the album. I like Planet Caravan on Paranoid and I also like the interesting sound of this song, which is fortunately also shorter than the first two songs.

With Age of Reason we get back to some long songs again with this one at seven minutes. The guitar is blaring and Ozzy sings with his usual ghoulish vocals. This song sounds pretty cool, but it could have been cut down with the time. The rhythm section is very heavy for this song. Mass destruction is mentioned and some frenetic guitar is played by Tony Iommi. It reaches a point four minutes into the song that is really energetic.

Live Forever starts off with heavy guitar. It’s the last short song on this album with the last two songs on this album being much longer. The guitar and vocals are energetic and engaging. The guitar switches between heavy and fast. Ozzy sings about living inside a lie, which makes this song sound disillusioned. He also sings about having no escape, which gives this song a trapped feeling between life and death because he does  not want to live forever or die. Ozzy and Black Sabbath seem to be coming to terms with their age.

Damaged Soul starts with some murmuring. The guitar whirs like a bee. Heavy, slow chords are played by the guitar again, which is Tony Iommi’s signature sound on guitar. There are some breaks without any vocals. Ozzy sings about doomsday approaching which is appropriate considering last year was 2012, the supposed year of the apocalypse, something Ozzy would love to sing about.

Dear Father is the last song on the album, another long song at seven minutes and another song that is appropriate for the times considering this Sunday is Father’s Day. This song is another heavy rocker like most of the songs on this album, but it is not really unique and blends in with most of other songs on the album. For what it is, a generic, lengthy death metal song, it is pretty good because there is too much classic, high quality talent working on this song at the top of their abilities, too, I’m sure, for it not to be a good song. The guitar towards the end of this song is very energetic and roars like a hellhound.

I did not notice poor production values for these songs like some critics had complained about. My biggest issues with this album are that five out of the eight songs on this album were way too long from seven to eight minutes each and were not able to maintain my interest during the whole song despite each of them having a promising start. Despite how entertaining a death metal album this was most of the songs are only generic genre feeders and sound the same. There were some rocking songs and parts of songs, and Zeitgeist I think was the most unique and memorable song on the album as yet another slow and relaxing space rock song similar to the absolute classic song from the Paranoid album called Space Caravan.

Also, while it does not affect the music too much, I do think that the album cover with a big, flaming number thirteen on it looks damn cool. Most of Black Sabbath’s album covers are pretty cool looking, though. Aside from the awful picture of a devil baby on the cover for one of their weaker albums, that is something that Black Sabbath has always seemed to do really well with their marketing. I would rate this album a decent three out of five stars, but I would give the album cover artwork a great four out of five stars or maybe even higher.

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