Initially, I was disappointed that this new Black Sabbath album, the first in something like 20 years to feature Geezer Butler (bass), Tony Iommi (guitar) and Ozzy Osbourne (vocals), didn’t have any catchy songs like “Iron Man” and “Paranoid.” I felt like, didn’t they want to hook people? I’ve been frustrated with Iron Maiden for years now because they primarily do long, epic songs, rarely doing anything remotely catchy anymore. I want another “Wasted Years” or “Can I Play With Madness,” but they refuse to give it to me. I felt like Black Sabbath were refusing to give me what I wanted, too, which especially sucked considering how long I — and, chances are, if you’re reading this, you — waited for this unholy reunion. That said, I continued to listen to 13 every so often. And it really grew on me. Now I actually think it’s right up their with Sabbath’s classic albums with Ozzy. At the very least, it’s better than Never Say Die.
For starters, 13 truly sounds evil. From the piercing guitars, to the deep, often clunky, bass, to the Ozzman’s vocals, this music truly sounds like a soundtrack to hell. It doesn’t sound like a bunch of guys pretending to be evil, as one would have expected after seeing Ozzy on that terrible show The Osbournes. It actually sounds legitimately evil. And, these are truly epic songs. Once you’ve heard them a few times, you stop struggling with the fact that they’re so proggy. As you learn to expect the impending hooks and creepy vocals, these songs actually do manage to grab you like shorter, infectious songs. I still wouldn’t go so far as to call them catchy, but they definitely get their hooks in you. Opening track “End of the Beginning” is like a mix of sludge metal, doom metal, blues, prog and old school Sabbath. So it’s easy to see how they’ve influenced so many bands when you hear this. From Pentagram to The Sword, so many of today’s best bands are Sabbath devotees. This album just might make you one, too.