In today’s review I’ll give you the opportunity to take a closer look at the Black Sabbath 13 Deluxe Box Edition, which I had pre-ordered a few months ago. Also, I’ll share with you my thoughts on the new Black Sabbath release – admitting that this part is going to be highly subjective.
So, why don’t we start with some general feedback on the album, now that I had a chance to listen to it for a few days. But before we do that, I will say this: if you expect this record to sound the exact same like the first few Sabbath albums, you likely set yourself up for disappointment. You’ve got to be realistic and acknowledge that 30-40 years have passed since; equipment, technology as well as the band members have changed. Therefore, it’s only logical that ‘13’ sounds different. But in way that’s true for all Black Sabbath albums, because compared to each other, they all sound very different – at least to me.
Okay, like so many other fans, I was tremendously disappointed when Bill Ward announced that he is not going to join his old mates on this record. I can understand that to some of us die-hard fans this was deal breaker and when I’m honest, I too felt that I will likely not buy ‘13’ because ultimately to me there is only one Black Sabbath and that’s Tony, Geezer, Ozzy and Bill. However, on the other hand, I wanted to support the band, because I liked the mission they set out to accomplish under producer Rick Rubin’s guidance: make an album that has the same vibe like the first records. Combine raw blues elements with a jazzy swing, and put everything on a foundation made of riffs that will change the landscape of rock music. Without a doubt, a challenging but intriguing premise – ultimately, though, it was enough for me to push my concerns regarding Bill’s absence aside and decide to purchase the ‘13’ Deluxe Box Edition.
Here is a video review so you get to see everything that comes with your purchase:
I am totally biased when it comes to Tony Iommi. He is and always will be my favorite hard-rock guitarist. I know, most fans these days call it ‘metal’, I personally disagree but that’s just semantics. The bottom line is that Tony does things that nobody else can do. His sound and style is so unique, the man seems to have an infinite arsenal of guitar riffs in his head. The power chord vibratos to make things sound fuller and richer, the interludes, fills and leads – if you’re a guitarist, you know what I’m talking about. All of that you’ll find plenty of on ‘13’. But in my opinion, the big accomplishment here is the mere fact that Tony actually went on to record this album in the first place. As a husband of a wife who was diagnosed with breast cancer and as a guy who lost his left kidney to cancer, I have a pretty good idea that he must have been through – emotionally and physically. Nobody could have blamed him to just drop, postpone or even cancel the whole production of Black Sabbath’s new album. But he did the exact opposite. He pushed through, committed himself and he delivered once more – big time!
However, ‘13’ is obviously a band effort in its truest sense. Just like Tony, Geezer’s, Ozzy’s and Brad Wilk’s presence is so strong and impactful all throughout the album. Ozzy is Ozzy, I think he would do anything to satisfy us fans. And because of Geezer and his contributions on the first Sabbath records, my appreciation for what it means to play bass really well has grown exponentially.
That leaves us with Brad Wilk. I can only imagine how nerve-wrecking it must have been when they told him he’s in the band. All of a sudden you’re the drummer in Black Sabbath! And as much as I would have loved to have Bill behind the kit, Brad rose to the occasion and did an outstanding job on ‘13’. That’s just the fact of the matter.
What are the contents of the Black Sabbath ‘13’ Deluxe Box Edition?
Alright, let’s look inside the box. First of all, you will get the Double CD (deluxe version). Disc number one contains all off the regular new tracks. On the second one, you will get three bonus tracks (‘Methademic’, ‘Peace of Mind’ and ‘Pariah’). Secondly, there is the Vinyl version of ‘13’, a double album featuring all the new tracks. Additionally, you’ll get a DVD called ‘Making 13’ which is actually pretty neat. The band members and Rick Rubin walk you through the process of making this album from its conceptual premise to its actual release. Lastly, the box comes with 13 selected photos taken in the recording studio. Some images have the lyrics to the songs printed on the backside and one shot has Tony’s, Ozzy’s and Geezer’s autograph. Weird that Brad didn’t get to sign it, oh well. Oh, and there is some sort of art-work poster featuring Friedrich Nietzsche.
For those of you who are still on the fence of whether or not you should buy Black Sabbath 13, let me tell you this: don’t base your opinion solely on “God is dead?”, the track which was pre-released. I know I’m going to get a lot of flak for my next statement, but this tune is in my opinion not the strongest one on ‘13’. I can see why the band and/or the management chose to put that one out first. It’s provocative and combined with the video, I can see how that one was picked for commercial reasons. Musically, as far as I am concerned, it it’s not at par with for instance ‘Age of Reason’, ‘Live forever’ and ‘Damaged Soul’. Anyway, what I’m trying to say here is this: ‘13’ exceeded my expectations. The new Black Sabbath album is a winner. Be open-minded, who knows, maybe in 20-30 years from now we will think of it the same way we do about the band’s debut album, ‘Paranoid’, ‘Sabbath Bloody Sabbath’, ‘Sabotage’, ‘Master of Reality’..well, you name it. I’m happy for myself, I’m happy for Black Sabbath.
And as far as I am concerned, I agree with Ozzy: God is not dead! Therefore, God bless Sabbath and all of you.