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13 offers many of the primal joys that helped immortalize Black Sabbath in the first place, while documenting the spark that still unites Osbourne, Iommi, and Butler, all three of whom sound about as vital here as anyone could’ve hoped.
The record’s greatest strength is how well it captures the apocalyptic trudge that Sabbath nailed from the very first downbeat of their 1970 debut. The doomy passages in the first two tracks, “End of the Beginning” and “God Is Dead?”, sound stupendously heavy. This isn’t just a result of 13‘s raw production values; it’s also that the band is clearly grasping for the same dire emotions (soul-deep malaise, reaper-fearing horror) that fueled their early work, emotions that from the mid-’80s on– as Iommi carried on under the Sabbath banner with a Wiki-nightmare’s worth of collaborators– have shared album space with less weighty, more pedestrian hard rock. As Iommi, Butler, and Wilk lurch through the titanic riff of “End of the Beginning”, with Ozzy sneering, “Reeeeeee-animation of the sequence,” it’s clear that a legacy is being reclaimed. — Pitchfork