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They wouldn’t shell out for Bill Ward. That’s one obscenity. He’s the drummer for Sabbath, dunderheads, pull out the purse. Only excuse I can think of is Tony Iommi thought maybe he was down for the eternal count and wanted to get back with Ozzy before punching the cancer clock.

Apart from that one obscenity, though…whew. You’d never guess it had been however many years. Crucial, because the essential Sabbath precepts don’t ever change (unto the sun burning out anyway), it’s only a question of their devotion to those precepts. They must tackle alienation, doubt, the fear generated by fear and doubt; they must percolate all of these concepts into dread. Plodding dread.

So Iommi sounds off as riff-thick and pulled-note-pulsing as ever before, Ozzy sounds great since he gets to rest between takes, the fake Bill Ward plods so you frankly can’t tell the difference…and Geezer Butler, the quiet one, is back in and back on lyrics. Back on classic Sabbath lyrics. “Loner” with his head down, shuffling his feet (“Communication’s an impossibility”) could be any Sabbath fan or any prospective Sabbath fan. It took Ozzy, though, to bite off the last two syllables of “He don’t look happy” to sound too much like “hippie.” Viva teamwork!

  • Artist: Black Sabbath
  • Album: 13
  • Label: Universal Republic
  • Songs: (1) End of the Beginning (2) God Is Dead? (3) Loner (4) Zeitgeist (5) Age of Reason (6) Live Forever (7) Damaged Soul (8) Dear Father
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