“Is this the end of the beginning, or the beginning of the end?” Ozzy Osbourne groans on “End of Beginning,” the opening track of Black Sabbath’s nineteenth studio album, 13.
All useless lyrical questions aside, though, it’s 2013, people. Ozzy is 64. It’s been over four decades since Black Sabbath formed in Birmingham, three of which were spent without Ozzy as a frontman… In other words, Black Sabbath, by all logical means, should not be releasing new material.
Yet somehow, it’s working…
Even before the official drop date, 13 was greeted by the proud nods of respected outlets. Critics commended the foursome’s obvious efforts to revert to their old, unified ways of recording, and overall were just pretty damn impressed at how much the release didn’t suck.
“13 is an album of Mr. Osbourne singing in his thin, droning voice over distorted and comfortably dire minor-key riffs, with brief turns into doom-ballad acoustic guitars, as on Sabbath’s canonical first four records.” – The New York Times
“That 13 isn't an out-of-touch embarrassment is a surprise. That it's cohesive, engaging, and even fun is a near-shock.” – Pitchfork
“At its least appealing, as on ‘God Is Dead?,’ 13 sounds like a band struggling to locate their old sense of menace.” – The Guardian
“How much sense can Black Sabbath possibly make in 2013? Precisely the amount they did in 1978.” – NME
The LP, which arrives at a hefty 7.0 on Stereotude’s scale, features three of the original members—along with Ozzy come guitarist Tony Iommi and bassist Geezer Butler—and, for one reason or another, the addition of Rage Against the Machine drummer Brad Wilk over Bill Ward. Producer Rick Rubin was also added to the mix.
You can find 13 on CD or vinyl at a record store near you—it’ll be the one whose packaging is smoking, so it’s easy to find.
Stereotude uses a standardized equation for calculating ratings in order to present an accurate depiction of each release’s overall critical response. Reviews are gathered and averaged from reputable, reliable and righteous sources that we depend on, including outlets covering specific genres. Our goal is to create a consistent, fair scale on which all new music can be judged.