Premier Guitar features affiliate links to help support our content. We may earn a commission on any affiliated purchases.

Album Review: Black Sabbath - "13"

Ozzy & Co.'s latest relies heavily on the sounds of their past, with flickers of hope for the future.

Black Sabbath
13
Vertigo/Republic Records

Black Sabbath’s 13—the first studio album in 35 years with vocalist Ozzy Osbourne, guitarist Tony Iommi and bassist Geezer Butler—finds the band revisiting its classic, heavy blues-based and bigger-than-life riffing. With producer Rick Rubin at the helm, Sabbath has delivered a fantastic comeback album that pulls no punches. The opening tracks “End of the Beginning” and “God is Dead?” feature over 16 minutes of demonic riffs that harken back to the band’s self-titled 1970 debut, and they lure the listener in with dark progressions before unleashing fierce jams. Ex-RATM Brad Wilk’s deep-in-the-pocket drumming sounds carefully practiced and works well within the songs, but doesn’t exactly capture Bill Ward’s incredible swing.

After an epically long and heaving introduction, the album kicks up the tempo and showcases the band’s interlocking tightness. “Zeitgeist”—complete with bongos, gentle acoustic guitar, and Osbourne’s ghostly modulated vocals—is easily the softest song in the batch, but also contains some of the strongest musical moments. Iommi’s reverb-drenched solo is among his most uplifting and expressive, consisting of a stylistic blend of Clapton and Reinhardt. Meanwhile, Butler’s masterful bass lines deftly guide the song with melodic aplomb. It’s a moment that proves what diehard fans have known for years: These musicians are not only masters of the almighty riff, but they truly understand the immense power that can result from contrasting the hard and soft.

Sabbath’s signature wall of sound returns with a vengeance during the second half, and in the end, 13’s biggest downfall is that perhaps it relies too heavily on the past, rather than pushing into unexplored songwriting territory. Regardless, 13 shows why Black Sabbath continues to be relevant in the worlds of rock and metal.

Must-hear tracks: “Zeitgeist”

George Benson’s Dreams Do Come True: When George Benson Meets Robert Farnonwas recorded in 1989. The collaboration came about after Quincy Jones told the guitarist that Farnon was “the greatest arranger in all the world.”

Photo by Matt Furman

The jazz-guitar master and pop superstar opens up the archive to release 1989’s Dreams Do Come True: When George Benson Meets Robert Farnon, and he promises more fresh collab tracks are on the way.

“Like everything in life, there’s always more to be discovered,”George Benson writes in the liner notes to his new archival release, Dreams Do Come True: When George Benson Meets Robert Farnon. He’s talking about meeting Farnon—the arranger, conductor, and composer with credits alongside Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, and Vera Lynn, among many others, plus a host of soundtracks—after Quincy Jones told the guitarist he was “the greatest arranger in all the world.”

Read MoreShow less
Rivolta Guitars' Sferata | PG Plays
Rivolta Guitars' Sferata | PG Plays

PG contributor Tom Butwin dives into the Rivolta Sferata, part of the exciting new Forma series. Designed by Dennis Fano and crafted in Korea, the Sferata stands out with its lightweight simaruba wood construction and set-neck design for incredible playability.

Read MoreShow less

The "Sandblasted" SE Series features a swamp ash top with a unique sandblasted finish in five color options.

Read MoreShow less

We’re unpacking Reid’s playing—from his early days in the NYC jazz underground through his work with Living Colour and into supergroup superstardom—and his longstanding gear-acquisition-syndrome.

Read MoreShow less