Album Review: Black Sabbath, ’13’

bill bodkin is an iron man …

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I hate the phrase, “it is what it is.”

It’s such a depressingly lame cop out to any argument or potentially tough situation. It’s an ‘end all, be all’ statement that has no heart to it. It’s just an answer when you have nothing creative to say.

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However, I’ll make an exception to my hate.

Black Sabbath’s new record 13 … it is what it is.

This is isn’t a cop out or some sort of journalistic gimmick to get around actually taking a definitive stance on the record. No sir, not at all.

You’re getting exactly what you’re expecting from this record. It’s those heavy, churning riffs. It’s some dazzling guitar work from Tony Iommi. It’s Ozzy sounding like Ozzy (well sorta). There’s no new ground traversed here. You’re getting exactly what you think you’re getting by even thinking about a new Black Sabbath record.

Basically, it is what it is.

Yet there’s a catch — and it’s Ozzy. He’s still a dynamic personality, but his voice just isn’t there. I think we’ve all accepted that he’s never going to hit those crazy vocals he did with Sabbath back in the ’70s but on 13 there’s absolutely no passion or insanity, the hallmarks of latter day Ozzy’s vocals. Even on his most recent solo work Ozzy’s shredded the vocal chords a bit, he’s shown some fire, some tenacity, some bat shit craziness. You know, vintage Ozzy. On 13, it’s just a whole lot of ‘meh.’ It’s not terrible, but man if he’d had shown some emotion on his vocals, it would’ve greatly improved the quality of this record.

13 is a solid listen. It’s not a terrible record by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s a completely forgettable album. One spin and you’ll put it back on the shelf never to be heard from again. This is a real shame because it’s not like a new Sabbath record gets dropped every year or every other years. It’s a rare occasion to see this band release new music. Sadly, such a landmark event has been marred by such a mediocre effort.

Bill Bodkin is the gray bearded owner, editor-in-chief and co-founder of Pop Break. Most importantly, he is lucky husband, and proud father to a beautiful daughter named Sophie. He can be seen regularly on the site reviewing The Walking Dead, Doctor Who, and is the host of the site’s podcast, The BreakCast.┬áHe is a graduate of Rutgers University with a degree in Journalism & English. Follow him on Twitter: @BodkinWrites