The reunion of Ozzy Osbourne, Tony Iommi and Geezer Butler is an occasion worthy of a celebration. It is a shame that business issues kept Bill Ward from participating, thus denying fans a reunion of the full original line up. However, Rage Against the Machine’s Brad Wilk does an admirable job in impersonating the swing feel of Ward’s drumming.
Despite Ward’s absence, 13 sounds like Black Sabbath. Rick Rubin produces and guides the band well. There are some hints of modern production, but ultimately these songs could have come out in the 70s. 13 is dark, gloomy and heavy. It is the Ozzy-era band’s strongest work since Sabotage. Ozzy sounds best when he is with Sabbath and Sabbath is best with Ozzy (although Dio did an admirable job). On each track, Iommi still delivers in the riff department and his solos are definitely treats. Butler sounds solid too, adding his agile rumble to the tracks. Obvious highlights are “God Is Dead?” and “Loner”. In a way, they feel like updated cousins of “War Pigs” and “N.I.B.” respectably. “Age of Reason” has an excellent solo from Iommi and “Damaged Soul” has great breakdown with Ozzy blowing away on harmonica. In the end, if you can get over the exclusion of Bill Ward, then 13 becomes the Sabbath record for which you have been waiting.
Essential Tracks: “Loner”, “Damaged Soul” & “Age of Reason”.