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Black Sabbath, 13
(Universal Republic Records)

06/27/13
By Eric Saeger news@hippopress.com



6/27/2013 - The return of Ozzy to this 43-year-old roots-metal colossus isn’t any sort of logical evolution from their last studio collaboration, on 1978’s Never Say Die, more a toxic sludge of rehashed inventions of the band’s earliest records. Ozzy’s solo-era mad-clown theatrics are thankfully subdued, and Tony Iommi’s guitar solos are good if not sonically inventive, but that’s all the good news I’m packing for this thing. Echoes of ancient riffage appear, like the shuffle break from “Cornucopia” redrawn here for “Live Forever.” But the major weakness is the reluctance to speed things up — the last few proper albums from the band’s golden age started with speedier songs, where here it’s almost like an Ozzy-fronted St. Vitus with a few Pat Travers bar-blues riffs. There are whiffs of calculation, of course; with its “Welcome to the Machine” sound- and speed-alikeness, “Zeitgeist” emphasizes the band’s slow-school branding while simultaneously reducing its effectiveness, it ain’t your grandpa’s “Planet Caravan,” even though Iommi’s clean, drowsy solo wants it to be. Yuck. State-of-the-art digital recording didn’t help either. C+ Eric W. Saeger

 






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