When I gave a negative review to “The End Of The Beginning,” the second single to be released from Black Sabbath’s 13, I did so based on a ridiculous edit of the song wedged into a pandering, cringe-inducing CSI segment. I was unaware, though, that I was listening to a truncated version of the track, and once made aware, I rescinded my review — to be revisited at a later date, when I could hear the whole thing. Now listening to the complete song in context, I gotta admit … it sounds a whole lot better than I’d been led to believe. I was impressed by lead single “God Is Dead?” too. I’m inclined to be ambivalent about 13, but the music itself is beating down my skepticism. I’m listening to this album for the first time right now — not analyzing it, just playing the thing and letting it sink in — and it sounds pretty freaking good.

You can listen, too, and you should — it’s streaming over at iTunes now. Go give it a spin and let me know what you think in the comments.

Comments (9)
  1. Metal Hammer gave it a great review so I was anticipating a real solid release but it’s just okay to me. Rubin produced 2 studio tracks for the “Reunion” album in ’98 and this pretty much sounds like those songs. It’s not a dud but don’t even try to put it next to the classic material. A more modern comparison would be the last Heaven & Hell album Tony & Geezer did. That album was much heavier and IMO, much better overall.

    • Yeah, I think that’s a pretty fair assessment. I have trouble not grading this on a curve, because there was real potential for this album to be a disastrous embarrassment (and I more or less expected as much). It’s obviously not that — at its worst it’s adequate: some great stuff from Iommi and Geezer; Ozzy sounds as good as he has on any overly processed post-Diary Ozzy solo album (a group which includes some decent albums); and Wilk is non-intrusive, if non-revelatory. But at its best, all those elements come together and just work for me. And the fact that it works at all makes me think, “Hey this is actually pretty good!” But it plainly can’t be compared to any classic Ozzy/Dio Sab albums, or classic Ozzy solo albums; it would be like comparing a particularly spry retired ballplayer on Old Timers Day to Reggie Jackson in his prime. IMO the ceiling for this was, “This is better than I thought it would be!” And it absolutely hits that ceiling for me.

  2. My opinion about the albums is that its stupid that I’d have to download iTunes just to listen to it.

  3. As a UK resident and longtime fan, I excitedly listened to them on Radio 1 late last night. I was treated to a few choice nuggets on the record. I loved Live Forever, despite its trite lyrics. All things considered, I cringed slightly at hearing Zeitgeist inching very close to almost a karaoke song and those posturing brad wilk performed bongos didn’t exactly put me to rest. But it eventually went on, as most of these tracks do, and had more variation and range.
    The other tracks have some gusto and dynamics which is at least what this album does right. But it’s still hard to hear Black Sabbath sound hyper processed and compressed with today’s pro tool age servicing them a new sonically polished and refined, almost ‘perfect’ sound. Rodger Bain gave them such a basic and primitive sound, that anything added on top of that, even with the best of intentions, detracts markedly. Rick Rubin at least had enough decency and respect for their legacy to thematically add elements of the classic first 4 sabbath records to this record ( the chimes and storm at the beginning and such, planet caravan stylings, epic song lengths) but at the end of the day, like I said, its difficult to hear Black Sabbath part deux in 2013. I almost wish they would have recorded this record on old analog. Pro tools, cut and paste edits and super processed guitars, bass and drums DO NOT belong on a Black Sabbath record. Song -writing wise, some great moments and some fairly alright moments.
    That’s just my opinion as a die hard fan. A casual listener might not gripe as much.

  4. to Nelson

    Dio was one of the greatest, my respect to him where ever he is, but the real BS sound was and will always be with Ozzy.
    And the new album is getting better all along.

    So after 30+ years its good to hear from the lads again. Sad that Bill and the rest coulnd’nt get along.

    I’ve heard worse

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