The big problem with it - the new Black Sabbath album, the first with Ozzy in 35 years - is that it's slow, grindingly slow, and therefore dull. As it tries its best to be filled with creep and lurk and murkiness it just ends up sounding slow and old, created by people who are old and slow.
"Is this the end of the beginning or the beginning of the end?" asks Ozzy in the album's opening line and producer Rick Rubin was paid to intentionally blur those lines; the band's end (surely they are now very close to approaching it) made-over to sound so much like the band's start.
So why should you care?
Well, I argue that you shouldn't - there's really no need to hear 13, the new Black Sabbath album, beyond the curiosity of ticking it off the list; perhaps applauding them for not dying during the recording and so far on the tour, though it could be suggested that the band is burying its legacy alive.
It's the same principle as that old maxim of it being best to keep mouth shut and be thought a fool than to open wide and prove it. Here with a well-oiled croak Black Sabbath risks letting everyone know that three old fools have put their leathers on, saddled up on their shiny new hogs and headed out on the highway hoping to hit memory lane.
I'm curious to know what you think of it. What you think of the album - if you've heard it already - and/or are you planning to buy/hear it?
Though it's not by any stretch completely embarrassing I just can't imagine wanting to play this when it's still a bigger, better rush to listen to Paranoid or that dark and evil and beautiful and brilliant debut, self-titled album. Sabbath pretty much created - then slightly refined - their blueprint with those two albums. Yes, there were key tracks on the three albums that followed but really all the black-magic tricks were used up on albums one and two. And those albums still sound great. More than just being a blueprint for the Sabbath sound, they have influenced a couple of generations of metal, anything sludgy, thick and grimy, chiselled from doom - anything in that vein comes from Black Sabbath. Mudhoney and Melvins and Soundgarden and so much of grunge (including the earliest offerings from Nirvana) came about with Black Sabbath tutelage.
I expected more too from Brad Wilk, drummer for Audioslave and Rage Against the Machine but because the band has decided to stay set on permanent slow-stun there's little he can do but plod along. The jazzy interplay of Bill Ward was always one of my favourite things to listen out for on the great Sabbath records and Wilk should have been capable of this. But the three original members have musical pacemakers telling them to plod along and play it safe, you imagine them with a slightly panicked look if the pace were to lift, if a spark were to be lit mid-song. They'd be lost trying anything new.
I told you all that I had no interest in seeing Black Sabbath live and I'm sure I didn't miss a thing. So many people gushed about the show but it looked awful from the clips I saw; great set-list, sure, but no need to hear this version of the band try to be that version. Still, good on them for playing the hits. That's all they can do at this late stage. They should never have bothered making a new album - especially one that so desperately wishes it was one of the old ones.
Oh I love Black Sabbath - I really do. The band's music - or a small, significant snapshot of it at least - has been pretty important in my life.
But I've never understood the cult of Ozzy. He seemed to essentially fluke success outside of Sabbath, almost unjustified, almost completely undeserved. His ultimate buffoonery applauded and rewarded. And so now here he is once again on record with/as Black Sabbath. I'm baffled to think that anyone cares.
What are your thoughts on the album? On my review? On the band (even) bothering in 2013?
You can also check out Off the Tracks for The Vinyl Countdown, reviews and other posts.