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Revisiting Black Sabbath’s 13 before the band’s final tour

Remembering one of the most formative metal bands of all time


Black Sabbath
/ Courtesy of Shangri La Studios |

Black Sabbath's most recent album came following a 16-year breakup and hiatus. It was released in 2013 – two years after the band’s reformation in 2011. 

History often repeats itself: Black Sabbath’s album 13 is a prime example of how.

Still sporting a cross, the influential stars also proved that they could rock the crowd with what appears to be a revitalized spirit. Thanks to strategic reverberation effects, producer Rick Rubin salvaged the iconic doom, apocalyptic presence iconic to Black Sabbath.

With its farewell tour The End starting on January 20th in Omaha, Nebraska, listeners can expect to hear extended solos and familiar sounds from the metal band’s 19 studio albums.

The unpredictability of the group has fans guessing what will be played during its tour. On previous tours, the group has been known to perform up to the point of exhaustion.

The End marks the closing of a musical era.

The band’s most recent album is 13. Following a 16-year breakup and hiatus, 13 came as a surprise to fans. It was released in 2013 – two years after the band’s reformation in 2011 – and Rubin did not let us down. Ozzy Osbourne, Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler and Brad Wilk mesh together well.

The group, proliferating the idea of putting the individual above the group, referring specifically to government, made this album much more meaningful.

Whether it was acknowledging death’s inevitability or the degree of injustice that comes with sovereignty, its music proved it could be a source of hope for many.

Collectively, the band’s albums appear as one continuous story – parallel stories of revolts in response to politically charged actions.

On 13, one song in particular, “God is Dead?” attracts attention because it has a unique choose your path structure.

The lines, “The rain turns red, I don’t believe that God is dead,” raise Nietzsche-eaque questions about relying on religion as a source of meaning, effectively questioning religion as an institution.

Additionally, when listening to the song, hearing the cymbal taps and catchy bass playing is reminiscent of rain. All the layers to each song, political and auditory, make the album, and Black Sabbath, special.

Becoming a regular listener of Black Sabbath requires one to first sample its self-titled debut album, Black Sabbath – listeners will have a new appreciation for the band’s ability to simulate nature’s forces in its music playing.

This album also features a familiar storm, while managing to “keep up with times.”

Symbolic titles have always been a part of Sabbath’s long history. “Age of Reason” may be the most noteworthy on 13.

The overall theme is acknowledges the existence of a higher being while not necessarily believing in it.

“Mystifying silence, talking peace on Earth”: By using the word “talking,” combined with an extended solo midway, the band symbolizes the inconsistencies in historical religious texts that many people worship.

“Pariah” was not initially on the album, but was later released in a deluxe edition, along with “Naïveté in Black,” “Methademic” and “Peace of Mind.”

What is most interesting is the, “we are the machine” mentality in these songs, systematically describing history by repeating the, “just your Pariah” line.

Referring back to its tough times as a younger group, 13 truly was an impressive comeback.

Listen to the band’s 40 year history in its 19 studio albums – if nothing else, Black Sabbath will give listeners a sense of belonging in its own lives.

Its antagonistic music is a foundation for self-discovery.

Blake Gautreau is an arts contributing writer. Arts desk can be reached at arts@ubspectrum.com.


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