At last, after thirty-five years, a new album by the proper Black Sabbath
. Well, most of it at least. Oh fuck it, it's 21st Century Black Sabbath
! A new generation of metal-fans get to experience first-hand the return of Black Sabbath
and it happened in my life-time! Being a major Black Sabbath
fan, I was so excited for the release that I went ahead and pre-ordered the album.
I was not disappointed. Black Sabbath
return with their own special brand of heavy doom metal that at once hearkens back to the old days while at the same time bringing something new into the hallowed archives of Black Sabbath
. I have picked out four of the songs (half the album's track listing) to examine for this review: I don't have to talk about "God
?" as you've already seen what I think of that track.
The album opens up with a crushing riff in F that smashes your face in like a demon out of Hell
of the Beginning" has that classic Black Sabbath
feel of a slow, doomy start, then a fast-paced swing and plenty of nice riffs and Tony is shredding like its the 70s all over again. The End
ing passage has some rather interesting high notes from Ozzy, a la John Lennon (then again, Ozzy wanted to be the "fifth Beatle" even back in the day, so I guess that's good). It might just stand astride "Black Sabbath
", "War Pigs
", "Sabbath Bloody Sabbath
" and "Neon Knights" as an amazing album opener.
Three tracks in and "Loner" feels like something from the Heaven and Hell
era. Possibly the coolest part is after the bridge, where Ozzy sings about self-afflicted solitude, then the time changes. Not very big a deal for Sabbat
h, as they've been doing that since the 70s, but the change is so sudden, it's like something out of a Rush
song. Definitely one of the strongest tracks of the album.
Soul", the penultimate track, is rather strange for a Black Sabbath
song. It has a signature Iommi
riff, no doubts there, and some reverb effects on Ozzy's vocals that remind one of "Behind the Wall of Sleep
", and, get this, it is the first time since 1970's "The Wizard
" that Ozzy has taken his harmonica out of mothballs and shown off his skills (surprising for someone in his 60s and considering all that he's done to himself). It's also a very chill song, but not the soft "ballad-y" song which has become a staple in Sabbat
h albums since the beginning (that honor belongs to "Zeitgeist
", the lyrical tragic sequel to "Planet Caravan").
The final track, "Dear Father", attacks the Catholic Church and its child-molesting monks. The riffs feel like "Follow the Tears" from The Devil You Know
, but there's plenty of tritone growls to go around. There's even a part in the mid-section where Ozzy delivers some rather solid shouts which sound like growls in his old voice: hair-raising, considering how crushing the rest of the album (and this song) has been. Of course, the song finally ends with a clap of thunder, the pouring rain and a bell ominously tolling, beckoning the listener to return to the beginning and begin The Story
of Black Sabbath
all over again.
Overall conclusion is that the album kicks ass and proves that Black Sabbath
still lives. Geezer owns the bass and, of course, Tony Iommi
's titanic riffs give the biggest middle finger to lymphoma ever given in the metal scene. Oddly enough, Ozzy's melodies are actually singable and manageable in their live shows, though sometimes, due to this album being in e-flat, a la The Devil You Know
, his vocals sound a bit like those from Down
. Nevertheless, age definitely shows in his voice, but, after all the shit he's done to himself, let's just be happy he's alive and able to sing at all (and that his singing isn't as bad as Lou Reed's). Of course, Brad Wilk
Against the Machine
does a damn good job drumming, but it is still too bad that Bill Ward
couldn't be part of the Reunion
. Oh well, here's hoping that if they do release another album, he will return for that.