Black Sabbath '13' Listening Party: First Impressions

Mixed reviews of the new album are appearing after a top secret listening party was held in L.A. this week.

Ultimate Guitar

Black Sabbath held a top secret listening party in L.A. for their new album "13" for select members of the press this week, and reports with some early impressions are appearing online.

The event was top secret until after the event to prevent a mob of fans crushing to get in, and security was tight to prevent any unauthorised recording.

Black Sabbath were present to say hello, but it was Jack Osbourne who introduced the session and previewed some clips of his behind-the-scenes video documentary before playing eight songs from the album to 60 members of the press.

Here's some notes on the album gathered from early reports on the event:

  • Five of the eight songs previewed were over 7 minutes long.
  • There's some seriously heavy production and deep down tuning.
  • The tempos aren't locked to a tempo track so it has a live feel, but some found it too distracting in places.
  • Most of the album is very mid-tempo and there's a lot of swing to the grooves.
  • The most popular song appears to be "Age Of Reason"
  • It's not clear if the eight songs are the full album, or just a preview to prevent people secretly recording all of the final product.

    Some first impressions of the album have started to appear online. Here's a selection of the mixed reaction to "13": fan site:

    "It is a VERY good record, certainly belonging of a place in the Ozzy-era discography. It is not mind-expandingly original, nor would I want it to be. What it is, is VERY heavy Ozzy-era-sounding Sabbath."


    "The cliches start right away, and they're about as hackneyed as you would reasonably expect. Ozzy's first words are 'Is this the end of the beginning, or the beginning of the end?' This phrase is drawn out very slowly, word by word, over a dirge made of molasses, so you hear each syllable coming a mile away."

    Crave Online:

    "You'd think we'd have to retrain our minds, even our hearts, to remember why these legends were legendary in the first place. But no, this album sets out to kick the sh-t out of you, and even the most hardened, cynical message-board mercenaries are going to have to concede some solid ground this time around."

    Rush Forum:

    "My first thought was how interesting it was to hear that classic Black Sabbath sound through the lens of modern production. From the first 10 seconds of 'End of the Beginning,' any Sabbath fan will be like, 'unholy f--k ... they are BACK!' the album as a whole is exactly what any fan would want: they didn't reinvent the wheel, they are the wheel."

    High Wired Daze:

    "Ozzy sounds absolutely terrific on '13' singing like a man newly possessed while Tony Iommi rips it to shreds on guitar. Geezer Butler and Brad Wilk make up the perfect rhythm section, assaulting the senses with their ultra-dynamic low-end."

    Tracklist of songs played at the Black Sabbath "13" listening party (via Blabbermouth):

    01. "End Of The Beginning" (8:07) 02. "God Is Dead?" (8:54) 03. "Loner" (5:06) 04. "Zeitgeist" (4:28) 05. "Age Of Reason" (7:02) 06. "Live Forever" (4:49) 07. "Damaged Soul" (7:43) 08. "Dear Father" (7:06)

    Overall, a mixed reaction but generally positive. How do these first impressions affect your expectations of the album? Could it become a classic record? Share your views in the comments.

  • 86 comments sorted by best / new / date

      "They didn't reinvent the wheel, they are the wheel." Hell yeah.
      Truer words have never been spoken! I mean come on, they're Black freaking Sabbath, they have absolutely nothing left to prove to anybody anymore. Really looking forward to this album!! Hail the mighty Sabbath!!
      I can understand the complaint that it sounds cliche, but a lot of metal cliches are Sabbath's fault in the first place so I kind of see it as a positive.
      Just bought tickets to see them in Manchester so hoping the new record is good. Sounds positive if the above is anything to go by (apart from the odd cheesy lyric). Can't wait.
      I was going to but i can't afford them. They are about the same price as a day ticket to a festival, if not more. (61 from what i remember)
      Holy shite, 5/8 songs are over 7 minutes long. There's probably some seeeerious riffing in there.
      Blacken Light
      Wouldn't "Mixed Reviews" consist of both good and bad? All I read was basically positive comments....The length of the songs tell me that they are back to their roots \m/
      They pretty much described the Paranoid/Masters of Reality albums with the early reports bullet points, so hopefully its a proper Sabbath return. I'm still looking forward to it.
      This is going to be great. Though I'm wondering who the hell was that guy from antiquiet that went. Hackneyed? Clichs? It's Sabbath!!! They have a particular sound, that doesn't make it clich it makes it f--king awesome. Whoever that guy is can't appreciate real music like everyone else in the room obviously could. Ah well Heavy Metal has always had bad criticism from the year it started with this same band. And you know what. They were always wrong.
      One of our writers was there as well. Check out what he had to say over at HeavyBlog.
      My ears are ready. I bought a helmet in case my brains try to explode. New stereos. God, i am ready for this.
      ...they didn't reinvent the wheel, they are the wheel.
      A very profound statement indeed. So excited to get a copy of this album!
      Awwww yea, 7 minute songs!!! There is gonna be so much creamy Iommi goodness
      I haven't been this excited for an album in a long time. God I want this to release right now.
      UG! You Keep dangling the Sabbath carrot in my face with all these articles! I Cannot Wait For This Album And Tour.!
      (In reference to album title) Megadeth did it... Megadeth did it... Megadeth did it (South Park reference in case it wasn't obvious)
      I love the comment by Rush Forum - "They didn't reinvent the wheel, they are the wheel". To me, that just sums it up. Looking forward to hearing it myself...
      Few complaints I see are just saying it's not too groundbreaking or original. I expected this though. They've made their big strides in music already. What gets me excited is the production. Kinda bores me when old bands try to make the same sounds in the modern era, but here it seems Sabbath truly tried to make a Sabbath album in 2013.
      What you're saying kinda scares me. I don't care for the overly compressed/artificial sound, which seems to be the norm today. I only hope they took advantage of today's modern production as minimal as possible and kept the pure raw sound that made the old Sabbath so awesome.
      This comment isn't addressed to you, but i want to make a point. Seeing as production has already been pointed out, before rubin bashers come here: While the album has been produced by Rubin, and Rubin's productions recently have been a little over-compressed (Death magnetic being the worst case of it) THIS DOES NOT MEAN THAT THIS ALBUM WILL BE LIKE THAT. Rick Rubin doesn't touch the mixer or give much direction to the mixing. His job is to tell the artists when they have done something good and something bad. If you're going to be a retard who thinks that everything Rubin does is over compressed, go listen to Reign In Blood.
      Agreed. Greg Fidelman (who mixed Death Magnetic) produced World Painted Blood (Slayer), same thin/overly compressed sound. I don't think Rubin is solely to blame.
      Or the AC/DC albums he produced, they were possibly some of their best (production wise)
      i dont think so. the best ac dc albums were done by mutt lange a much more talented producer and an actual musician and songwriter
      Well I'm not talking about production methods of compressed sound. I mean in general, since their biggest releases, effects have gotten bigger, metal has expended to huge amounts, and equipment has also changed. I wasn't just referring to the recording/mixing aspect. Also, you can still have a "raw" sound but at the same time taking advantage of what's new to really advance that raw sound.
      I'm quite scared that this album will sound more like Ozzy than Sabbath.
      I don't think you need to, Iommi writes very differently than any of Ozzy's guitarists throughout the years. As well Geezer's lyrics have a different style.
      I really hope Geezer writes most of the lyrics. Not that Ozzy's a bad writer or anything
      when has ozzy ever written lyrics bob daisley wrote all his lyrics from blizzard til no more tears. the man can barely speak coherently. i really hope people arent stupid enough to believe he ever wrote any lyrics in sabbath or solo. hes a fraud and takes credit for shit he didnt do.
      Takes credit????? did you read his book or hear any interviews???? Shut the **** up dummy.
      maybe you should read the songwriting credits and the interview and court transcripts between the osbournes and daisley. jackass
      I really question why I got down-voted for a concern I have. I mean, look what Sharon has done to the band already. Bands always complain about how scary she is as a band manager.
      Um, Sharon is Ozzy's manager and his only! She is not the bands manager, therefore had nothinr to do with the Bill Ward situation.
      Because everyone's making that claim and it's kinda unfounded. Yeah Bill's not arou9nd, but no one really knows the exact details behind that, even if Sharon is known to be a sharky bitch, you can't JUST assume that. Listen to the last record with Iommi and Geezer, The Devil you Know. I don't think Ozzy's oblivious to what people have thought of his solo stuff the past 20 years, so I'm sure him and Sharon know that if they want to make money on this, they need to keep their creative dicks to themselves, for the most part. The fact is, Iommi and geezer still know what their doing.
      i got downvoted too sharon and ozzy would never lie to artists or songwriters to make money or take credit for lyrics he never wrote. like when he claimed he wrote suicide solution about bon scott. bob daisley wrote all the lyrics
      Dear Satan, please let some journalist have recorded this in some way or another. I know that the one who's waiting for something good, never waits too long... But hell, it's Sabbath man, SABBATH! I'm really looking forward to this stuff.
      I'm not a Sabbath fan at all (though I like the first two albums), but I look forward to hearing this!
      I'm so excited!!!! God I can't wait till this is out. I'll be the first one in line at Best Buy to buy this album. PS--The people who didn't like the album are most likely hipsters.
      I got tickets for manchester and i aint heard new stuff yet but il bet my bollocks it will be good.
      Tony Medeiros
      It's phenomenal to have lived through the first albums as a teenager,and all the changes in between. Now it comes full circle.How can you NOT be excited. I haven't been this cranked up since going to the 1997 Grand Funk Reunion. Life is VERY good. By the way, Tony's book, Iron Man, is worth reading. If you saw him on Biography Channel,the book is written in a style that you feel you're having a conversation with Tony !
      Can't wait to hear what Brad Wilk brings to the table on this album! Pretty excited to hear this stuff! =D
      Getting pretty excited for the release of this album! Hope their north american tour includes some Canadian dates.
      "Geezer Butler and Brad Wilk make up the perfect rhythym section", *cough*, hyperbole, *cough*
      "...The event was top secret until after the event to prevent a mob of fans crushing to get in..." Right, because Black Sabbath is still relevant enough to get that kind of public reaction.
      why are most songs over 7 minutes? is this a a prog album? O_o
      War Pigs? Hell, most of Black Sabbath's songs clock over 5 or 6 minutes; Black Sabbath, N.I.B, Iron Man, Hand of Doom, Symptom of the Universe, so on so forth.
      The Masters of Heavy Metal will deliver the fallen one upon us. Plagued angels will rot the infect souls as satan pens his eyes on our flesh the way he has spawned the truth many times before.
      If it aint got Bill Ward it aint Sabbath!
      Mob Rules (1981) Seventh Star (1986) The Eternal Idol (1987) Headless Cross (1989) TYR (1990) Dehumanizer (1992) Cross Purposes (1994) Forbidden (1995) These are all of the previous Black Sabbath albums without Ward.