13 - Black Sabbath
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Metascore
72

Generally favorable reviews - based on 32 Critics What's this?

User Score
8.2

Universal acclaim- based on 67 Ratings

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  • Band members: Ozzy Osbourne, Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler
  • Summary: The first release since 1978's Never Say Die! with Ozzy Osbourne was produced by Rick Rubin and includes former Rage Against the Machine drummer Brad Wilk taking over for Bill Ward.
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 22 out of 32
  2. Negative: 0 out of 32
  1. Jun 20, 2013
    100
    In its eight track, Ozzy, Tony, and bassist Geezer Butler have managed to once again capture that special essence which makes them so magical. And it's bloody fantastic. [1 Jun 2013, p.52]
  2. 80
    In expressing all of these [themes] without tumbling into absurdity, it helps to have a klaxon whine like Ozzy's delivering them, while Tony Iommi cranks out those trademark slow, molten-lead riffs that trundle through 13 like tank tracks.
  3. Jun 27, 2013
    80
    Rubin’s experiment has paid off handsomely, even though at times you’ll find yourself comparing the new songs to any number of familiar signature tunes from Sabbath’s catalogue.
  4. Jun 6, 2013
    70
    Of course, Black Sabbath can't fully turn the clock back to the beginning--but they can still do a pretty good job of sounding like the beginning of the end. [Jul 2013, p.70]
  5. 67
    The result is surprisingly adventurous, considering the monochrome palette of Osbourne's latter-day solo work.... Still, Rubin makes too much here feel dry and disappointingly small.
  6. Jun 13, 2013
    60
    It is a bit Sabbath-by-numbers, but given the weight of history (it's their first studio album together in 35 years), you can see why they would kind of back into the thing.
  7. Jun 14, 2013
    40
    13 certainly isn’t the all-blunts-blazing return Sabbath pledged, and with songwriting that imitates rather than evokes the past, all the goodwill in the world doesn’t change the fact that Sabbath has failed to deliver on its promise.

See all 32 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 15 out of 17
  2. Negative: 0 out of 17
  1. Jun 11, 2013
    10
    I have prayed to God for almost a decade I am 20 that Ozzy would reunite with Sabbath and create one last masterpiece album. Thank you God and Black Sabbath for now my dream has come true. The album closes with a similar rain that started of the first album, my life is now complete :)
    This will be the last Sabbath album to be created with the real front-man Sir Osbourne, so I hope fans do not ignore it and actually go and purchase it to show that love for real rock music still exists.
    My last point is that Bill Ward not being on the album is a shame but not a reason to not love the album, if he did not want to accept the terms presented to him then he should be looked down on not the rest of the band, and Wilks plays very well on 13 so no complaints only praise from me. The album deserves a 9 but I give it a ten to balance out the 1's many angry pro bill ward fan-boys will put under the rating, please do not do that for it is very unfair and childish... may the true metal gods live forever in our souls!
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  2. Jun 23, 2013
    10
    This album is a grower. If you never cared for 1970-75 era Sabbath, then move along. But if you did... well, this is what we've all been waiting for. The urgency and heaviness from the best moments of original Sabbath yup. Multi-part songs with minimal repetition and endless new riffs yup. New, spare, clear production yup. The compression of sound is something to get used to, just as the muddiness or "dry" sounds of Master of Reality and Vol. 4 respectively were unique to those records. Ozzy stays in his lower register to good effect. The lyrics, brilliantly, remain on the line between profound and hilarious, just as they always did. Tony and Geezer just rock on this album. The best any of these guys have managed since Sabotage this is now a ninth classic, to add to the first six with Ozzy and the first two with Dio. Expand
  3. Oct 5, 2013
    9
    13 is one hell of an ambitious undertaking for the godfathers of heavy metal, Black Sabbath. Three of the bands 4 founding members (Tony Iommi, Ozzy Osbourne, and Geezer Butler) reunited to record the bands first album since 1978. Founding drummer Bill Ward was replaced by former Rage Against the Machine drummer, Brad Wilk, for the recording of 13. The album is amazingly heavy considering the three original members now range between 64 and 65 years old. None of them have lost a step when it comes to laying down an album of unmistakeably Sabbath material. Iommi is truly at his best throughout the album, laying down solo after scorching solo over quintessentially Sabbath riffs. Butler's bass is as menacing and evil as ever; and Ozzy comes through with a powerful and impressive vocal performance. There are moments that collectively harken back to all of Black Sabbath's previous albums, while 13 as a whole has a somewhat updated sound, both production-wise with Rick Ruben's masterful skills, and in the songs themselves. There are still plenty of classic lyrics filled with battles of good and evil only from a bit more reflective perspective of age and wisdom. Overall, I wholeheartedly assert that 13 ranks among the best of Black Sabbath's albums and I can only imagine that both God and Satan would agree. Expand
  4. Sep 26, 2013
    8
    I first thought of comparing Black Sabbath 13 to Aliens vs. Predators, because on some level both are highly derivative of earlier releases. The above mentioned film lifted every scene from earlier Alien films to create a horrendous mess. At first I worried that this had happened to the Sabs new album too. I mean, the opening track I first mistook for a remake of "Black Sabbath" from the first LP and later I heard a song that I could almost swear was a reworking of NIB. But the more I listened, the more I understood. I mean, we don´t want Sabbath creating disco or reggaeton songs. And the songs on 13 could be slipped into Paranoid, Master of Reality, or Black Sabbath Volume 1 without anyone noticing that they were written 42-43 years later. So the Sabs did what they do best: create slightly schlocky but ultimately lovable songs. So I give the album a positive review and wish them the best, especially Tony Iommi, who I understand is battling lymphoma. Never say die! Expand
  5. Sep 2, 2014
    8
    The godfathers of metal are back and "13" is truly a great album with the Black Sabbath feel but also with a new twist which makes it very interesting to say the least. While it's not '70s Sabbath, this album proves that they still rock and they can make really good music. Expand
  6. Aug 26, 2013
    7
    Even though it sucks that Bill Ward couldn't stay in the band, the addition of Brad Wilk was a nice touch. His more straightforward & in-your-face drumming style combined with Rick Rubin's clear but crunchy production really help this album feel like a 21st century update of Sabbath's classic style rather than just a rehashing. But that's not to say that the original members themselves didn't also do a really good job. One thing that really impressed while I was listening to this is the fact that even after 40+ years, Tony Iommi is still the master of the metal riff. All across this album the guitar work is just as heavy, memorable & atmospheric as it needs to be, if not more so, which immediately becomes apparent in the first notes of opening track “End of the Beginning”. I'd like to imagine that the long time between Sabbath albums for him was just spend writing riff after riff, and when the sessions for 13 started his brain was just overflowing with great ones. And Ozzy's vocal performance here is for the most part as good as it was on the first few albums. There's a flat note here & there but he still does a good job at getting that gloomy mood across without being melodramatic about it. Same goes for Geezer Butler's lyrics. A great example is “God Is Dead?”, which is from the perspective of a religious man questioning if people exploiting religion for personal gain & killing people in the name of it basically means God isn't there anymore, poignantly ending with “I don't believe that God is dead”. And there's a few other notable messages too, like anti-drug PSA “Methademic”, which is effectively if not a little preachy.

    Unfortunately though, 13 falls a bit short in some areas. The main one is that despite some great diversions (like the “Planet Caravan”-recalling acoustic track “Zeitgeist”) and the longer tracks going through various sections, there's an issue of sameness from track to track. And I think the area to blame for this is in the vocal melodies. For about half the songs here, they're structured so identically & in such a generic way in the verses that it takes away from each track's individual appeal & personality. Speaking of vocals, it's a nitpick I know but there's moments occasionally (particularly in “Loner”) where Ozzy throws out various typical rock song words like “Yeah!” and “C'mon!”, which can cause a disconnect from the lyrics. I dunno, maybe it's just me. There's also a very similar slow to mid-tempo feel throughout the album, and even though each track is fine on its own, I feel it would've helped to put in more fast & upbeat songs like bonus tracks “Methademic” & “Naïveté in Black” instead of less interesting ones like “Damaged Soul” or “Dear Father” to break up the potential monotony & make the album listen as a whole more interesting.

    That being said though, one track listing decision I absolutely love that they made is making 13 only 8 tracks (on the standard edition). I feel like one issue a lot of “classic” bands have making new albums is that they're used to just putting 8 or 9 great tracks on albums in the past, so when given the option with CD's & iTunes to expand the length, they splurge with 12-16 tracks that contain those good songs, but with a lot of boring filler tacked on. But here Black Sabbath knew that they needed to stick to the old format, which I greatly appreciate. Overall 13 isn't perfect, but it's a solid & respectable effort from a great band whose return is long overdue.

    Top 5 tracks: God Is Dead?, End of the Beginning, Age of Reason, Methademic, Zeitgeist
    Score: 78/100
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  7. Sep 7, 2013
    4
    Infinitely less appealing than The Devil You Know, this latest Black Sabbath album is well-crafted but, in the end, nothing other than a monument to boredom. The songs are completely devoid of intensity or energy, and Ozzy sounds unconvincing. Some good instrumental parts are just not enough. Expand

See all 17 User Reviews