I will be honest: I had no intention whatsoever to write about this disc. Black Sabbath, the real deal, the band that released the first five legendary albums, is a faith so strong for me that I had their logo tattooed on my body. Before "13" came out, I had intentionally and carefully avoided all previews, afraid that I would have ended up with a big letdown. All the talk and gossip, the health issues and the news we all have read or heard about, threatened to shatter my expectations; in the end, though, I've resolved to buy "13" anyway. While unwrapping the new album by the real Black Sabbath (well, Ward is not there, but you know what I mean), the band that had entered a studio together for the last time thirty-five years ago — I had not even been born yet, Spain was still under a dictatorship and Carter was President of the United States — my feelings moved and almost overwhelmed me… because of this intense feeling, I was increasingly scared of pressing the "play" button.
I finally decided to get started with the first listen (accompanied by my sweetheart, ready to take me to the hospital in case I couldn't take it), with "End Of The Beginning", I got hit by Tony Iommi's well-known dark and apocalyptic riffage, which was soon overlaid by Ozzy's — albeit tired — peculiar and magnetic voice. The stormy and funereal light, that has always characterized Black Sabbath sound in my mind, started taking shape; the immeasurable "God Is Dead?", filled with the delightfully ominous flavor I love so much — the one through which Black Sabbath revolutionized the world of music forever over forty years ago — truly made my heart thump: this is Black Sabbath as I know it, the Black Sabbath I was hoping for. At this point, given the massive duration of the above two tracks, about fifteen minutes have already elapsed and the great "Loner" — featuring the rough pattern many Stoner bands have been looking for in years — strikes me and introduces the meditative and dreamy "Zeitgeist". This episode might be easily considered as an act two for the famous and now forty-three years old "Planet Caravan": there is the same prog-ish effecting and (almost) the same atmosphere, although I personally view this track as a slightly weak mesh in "13" weave, since the classic's fortunate magic is not fully recreated.
However, it's not over yet and the granitic "Age Of Reason" hits me with its gloom like a running train, arguably the best track of the album together with the aforementioned "God Is Dead?". Top-notch inspiration, conveyed through the obsessive and enthralling riffing by Iommi, Ozzy's amazing performance and the relentless and metallic pulse coming from Butler's bass. The guitar magnetically catches our attention in "Live Forever" — where Ozzy sings his doubt, not wanting to live forever but at the same time not looking for death — and "Damaged Soul", in which the mournful atmosphere of their debut powerfully comes back to memory, highlighting once again their fascination for that form of obscure and electric Blues which secured them a spot in history. The end draws near, and the malignant and sinister pace of "Dear Father" — perhaps the darkest expression in this album — carrying me back through decades, to early 1970, when the world got distressed by that infamous thunderclap. The same thunder that signals the end of "13" like an epitaph, as if closing the circle around a legendary career, a nostalgic seal that got my eyes wet and left me at a loss for words. I am so grateful for everything these aged youngsters offered me, for the indelible memories they've engraved on my Soul.
Still, I can feel some regret because, despite Brad Wilk's great performance, with the more creative Bill Ward on drums, "13" might have been even more appealing than what it is, although it proved to be worthwhile. Additionally, a slightly rawer production would have perhaps polished the metaphorical laurel to put on this album's head. However, I am not going to complain about these aspects. I know that many people will despise or attack the evident self-quotation (for which Black Sabbath should be "forgiven", them being the ones who invented this sound in the first place), others will praise the album and there is someone who will just remain unmoved. I don't know if we will have other chances to listen to Black Sabbath's new albums, but I know I will keep enjoying "13", I will listen to it together with their other works, feeling them pounding in my heart, with all the love I have felt and will always feel for the unmatched and unmatchable Black Sabbath, the real ones.
History does not repeat itself, it just goes on, history does not show mercy for anyone, but Legend remains carved in the Eternal!