Black Sabbath’s first album in 25 years featuring original lead singer Ozzy Osbourne hit record stores (Ha! As if! Okay, the Web) on Monday, and the reviews for '13' have started popping up like thorny, black-bladed dandelions from hell
(This is heavy meal we’re talking about.)
Overwhelmingly positive, but falling short of effusive, the opinions on the long-awaited album can be summed up as follows: glad they did it, they can still do it, but sometimes, they do it a little too long.
Here is a sampling of metal sentiment.
Consequence of Sound: 3 ½ stars (out of 5)
Ozzy gives a strong performance despite an aging voice, Geezer Butler’s lyrics are as pessimistic as ever, and Iommi conjures the tones of old. Given all the distractions surrounding the record’s release, it’s shocking how well everything fits together. For a record 13 years in the making, 13 is worth the wait.
NY Daily News: 4 Stars (out of 5)
Throughout, Ozzy’s voice cuts through the thick riffs like a foghorn. Together, it offers a striking contrast to some other long-aborning comebacks. Unlike recent resurrections for Aerosmith and Van Halen, Sabbath has done their bloodthirsty legacy proud.
The Telegraph: 3 Stars (out of 5)
These tracks are big and impressive, exhibiting a surprising fluidity as they switch time signatures and develop new riffs, suddenly opening out into spacious pastoral psychedelia or compacting into intense grooves driven by the close interplay of Butler’s basslines and Iommi’s guitar weaves.
The Independent: 4 Stars (out of 5)
In a nice touch, the closer “Dear Father” brings not just the album but the band's career full-circle, by using the classic “Black Sabbath” chord-change as a motif, before fading away to thunder, rainfall and the tolling bell with which they ushered in the heavy-metal genre back in 1970.
Rolling Stone: 3 ½ stars (out of 5)
Above all, this reboot shows that the genre Sabbath helped birth remains timeless, insofar as the devil remains gainfully employed on Earth, and heavyweight rock shredding still kicks ass.
Montreal Gazette: 4 stars (out of 5)
How can Black Sabbath be relevant and effective and then some at a collective age of 192? A friend who also heard some of this credited the fact that “they know what they’re doing,” which is a deeper comment than it seems.