BLACK SABBATH play the Air Canada Centre on August 14. See listing. Rating: NNN
As the producer of Black Sabbath's first album since 1995 and first with original singer Ozzy Osbourne since 1978, Rick Rubin said his goal was to get the band back to jamming. He succeeded. 13 is built on titanic riffs that prove Tony Iommi at 65 is still terrifically inspired. They march forward at length, interwoven with Geezer Butler's robust bass lines, only to suddenly take a progressive or bluesy twist or feverish, righteous solo. See Damaged Soul, Age Of Reason, End Of The Beginning and God Is Dead?
Osbourne manages to keep up. His vocals are committed, his lyrics old-school apocalyptic and his tone believably worried. But Rage Against the Machine drummer Brad Wilk is devoid of reunion holdout Bill Ward's essential groove, and when listened to front to back (especially the deluxe edition), 13 gets tiresomely monolithic and ponderous. The production has no personality. Sabbath albums need space, haze and atmosphere. Instead, Rubin cranked the volume and compression.
Still, those riffs!
Top track: Damaged Soul