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Black Sabbath, ’13’ (Vertigo/Universal)

Ozzy Osbourne and Geezer Butler of Black Sabbath / Theo Wargo/Getty
SPIN Rating: 6 of 10
Release Date: June 11, 2013
Label: Vertigo/Universal

A reading from the Book of Sabbath, Chapter 13:

[1] In the beginning was the Tone, and the Tone was with Sabbath, and the Tone was Sabbath.

[2] The same was in the beginning with Sabbath.

[3] All metal was made by Sabbath; and without Sabbath was not any metal made that was made.

[4] In Sabbath was metal; and the metal was the rock of men (and plenty of women).

[5] And the metal shineth in darkness; and the poseurs comprehended it not, nor the critics, at least initially.

[6] There was a man sent from Universal/Republic, whose name was Rick Rubin, and he produced Sabbath’s comeback album 13 with ProTools, which was not necessarily the best look ever.

[7] Rubin came for a witness, to bear witness of the Metal (see also: Slayer’s Reign in Blood), that all men through Metal might believe.

[8] He was not that great of a producer (maybe he should’ve stopped after Blood Sugar Sex Magik), but was sent to bear witness of that Metal.

[14] And the Tone was made flesh, and dwelt among us in the form of Ozzy Osbourne (he of the increasingly fragile frame), Tony Iommi (the guitarist in whom the Tone dwelt), and Geezer Butler (the bassist who wrote most of the words and rocked harder than most), and we beheld their glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Sab, full of grace and truth.

[15] Rubin bore witness of the band, and cried, saying, “This was they of whom I spake, minus legendary drummer Bill Ward, who is not here, and so instead we have Rage Against the Machine’s Brad Wilk, who is not nearly as weird. He that cometh after me is preferred before me: For they were before me, with the aforementioned exception of the dude from Rage Against the Machine.”

[36] And looking upon 13 as it played, we saith, “Behold opener ‘End of the Beginning’: 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.

[37] And the disciples heard Ozzy sing, “Rewind the future to the past,” and decided, “Okay, let’s just see how this plays out,” and they followed Ozzy.

[38] Then Ozzy turned, and saw them following, and saith unto them, “I don’t want to live forever, but I don’t want to die.” They said unto him, “We totally get it, that is a pretty common complaint, but when you say it, frail as you are, it makes us a little sad.”

[39] Ozzy saith unto them, on “Age of Reason,” “I always knew there would be trouble.” We nodded in agreement, and came and saw where he dwelt in the song, and abode with him that day amid the album’s sickest riff, even though the whole album is pretty slow.

[40] One of the two which heard Ozzy speak, and followed him, asked, “Was it completely necessary to make “God is Dead?” nine minutes long?”

[41] He first findeth his own brother, and saith unto him, “Seriously, these songs are really slow and long.”

[42] And he brought him to Ozzy. And when Ozzy beheld him, he said, “These riddles that live in my head / I don’t believe that God is dead… Nowhere to run / Nowhere to hide / Wondering if we will meet again on the other side… and still the voices in my head are telling me that God is dead,” and clearly these issues are weighing on the three principle guys, whose collective age is 192 years old — that’s a nine in the middle — and maybe especially Iommi, who will be maintenance-dealing with lymphoma for the rest of his life.

[43] The day following, Ozzy would go forth into the pop marketplace and findeth the metalheads, and saith unto them, “Hahahahaha,” at the beginning of “Zeitgeist,” which is a “Planet Caravan”-style acoustic thing, the sort that makes you go, “I guess they had to have one of those.”

[45] One hesher findeth another, and saith unto Ozzy, “We get that you didn’t want your legacy with the band to end with Never Say Die!, the last album you made with Sabbath, 35 years ago, which we understand as you were a bit of a mess then, but man, that’s a fantastic record, the sound of true, real-time fucked-uppedness.”

[46] (And Ozzy said unto him, “Can there any good thing come out of Never Say Die!?” The hesher saith unto him, “Check out ‘Johnny Blade’ and ‘Over to You.'”)

[47] Ozzy and the band saw their past coming to them, and saith of him, “Behold a legacy indeed, in which is no lack of heavy.”

[48] The hesher saith unto Sabbath, “Whence knowest thou me?” Sabbath answered and said unto him, “Before metal called thee, when thou wast in middle school and miserable, I saw thee.”

[49] The hesher answered and saith unto the band, “Thou art the Sabbath; thou art the Kings of Metal.”

[50] Sabbath answered and said unto him, “Because I said unto thee, ‘I saw thee in middle school,’ believest thou? Thou shalt not hear greater things than these on 13, though.”

[51] And Sabbath saith unto the Heshers, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, ‘Hereafter ye shall see that we wanted to end our careers on a more comfortable note, to see angels of the Tone ascending and descending upon Ozzy and the boys one final time, and that is okay. It is okay. But it is just okay.'”