“13” Listening Party Review

Earlier today, a private record label listening party happened out in the LA area.  I wasn’t invited (Waaaaah! – haha), nor do I personally know anyone who attended.  However…  We live in an age of the Internet and instant information, so you KNOW things would get out.   An hour or so ago, I got sent this review of the listening party from someone I don’t know.  Really – don’t know them, never emailed them before tonight, and they hid their identity.  Still, I’ll take the news, because it’s GOOD STUFF.   You’re gonna LOVE this.

First off, the event was held privately – in fact, I didn’t even know it was happening until this afternoon (Wed Apr 10th).  When I got confirmation that it was happening, I was asked not to blow the cover on the thing until after it happened.  Probably the last thing they needed was a few thousand local Sabbath fans rushing the door to get in.  :)   Anyway, if you were going, you saw this at the entrance to what I’m told is the “Ricardo Montalban Theatre” in Los Angeles…

Khaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaan!

Black Sabbath 13 Listening Party

Once you got in, your electronics were confiscated.  Well, not “confiscated”, but held – they had security tight, they didn’t want the tunes leaking out.  Understandable enough.   But anyway, I wasn’t there.  This guy obviously was.  So enough of my prattle, check this out:

…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.

In brief:

  • There were about 60 of us. No electronics were permitted (e.g., cameras, cell phones, etc.) If you had them, they were checked at the door. People were wanded to ensure compliance.
  • Once seated we heard seemingly every other Ozzy-era song before they finally started.
  • Jack Osbourne — looking fit and clean/sober — came out and introduced the record, and showed the clips that we have now seen on YouTube which were, evidently, produced by his production company (nepotism at its finest, take that Geoff Tate). There was an additional clip that I’d not yet seen played at the end, so maybe 10 minutes in total.
  • Then they played the music. Eight tracks, five of which are 7+ minutes. I didn’t have a pen so I had to scratch some notes into the piece of paper with a key…a dubious method of note-taking, to be sure. Here are my recollections.
  • Overall, very heavy production, owing at least in part to what must have been downtuning to a low A or something to accommodate an aging Mr. Osbourne.
  • The tempos seems to sway a little bit. Some may prefer this as it’s more organic sounding. I was irritated somewhat by it in a couple of places, but it wasn’t to distraction.
  • Most of the time, Ozzy’s melodies were not simply mimicking the guitar line (think Iron Man, Electric Funeral, NIB, etc.). The sole exception to this was the final track.
  • Almost everything is mid-tempo. No short quick tracks ala Paranoid. No reaaaaally drawn out doomy stuff like the beginning of Into the Void. There’s a fair amount of “swing” (e.g., Hole in the Sky type stuff) in here to go along with relatively brisk (for Sabbath, meaning mid-tempo) riffage.

Specific Track Remarks:

  1. End of the Beginning (8:07). Too long a track for an opener but otherwise very good. Very heavy. Ozzy’s vocals don’t evoke dragons and knights and the soaring evil of Dio…rather, they have a melodic but, unsettling quality to then. Not operatic bombast, but understated, melodic eeriness. But it works. This is not the uninspired songwriting of those two songs from the Reunion album — this is real songwriting with some good riffs from Iommi. A very good song.
  2. God is Dead? (8:54). This song slays. Very cool riffing and a good melody line. The B section is evocative of the Holy in the Sky riff but it still works really well. This is an excellent song, worthy of standing with anything in the Ozzy catalog (thought it lacks the instant memorability of Iron Man or Paranoid).
  3. Loner (5:06). Sounds a LOT like a heavy, modern-production version of NIB (I even sang “Oh yeah” after the appropriate riff). Lyrically and mood-wise it mixes in some Johnny Blade. It’s a good song, but not as good as the previous ones.
  4. Zeitgeist (4:28).  Mellow, and somewhat evocative of Planet Caravan. It’s fine, but I anticipate skipping this on CD.
  5. Age of Reason (7:02). This song kills. My notes (again, scratched in there by keys) are unintelligible. But this one had people pretty fired up.
  6. Live Forever (4:49). Has a Children of the Grave / Hole in the Sky Feel once again. A good song, if not as ambitious as some of the others.
  7. Damaged Soul (7:43). Very heavy blues. Too bluesy for my tastes. Blues blues and more blues, and when you are done with the blues, it shoves another does of blues up your ass. This is overstated — it’s plenty heavy. It just is too (wait for it) bluesy for my tastes. Others enjoyed it more than me. Still, this is not a throwaway, just not one of my favorites.
  8. Dear Father (7:06). A great song to finish with, again quite heavy with a lot of energy. The B section is the one featured in the video with Rubin telling Ozzy to try again (“…the victims of the sins you devise.”) The main section is beefier than that part. There is a recurrent tritone riff that is very evocative of the first notes played in the song Black Sabbath. It’s so evocative that one wonders if it’s purposeful…and the riffs appears again at the very end of the song…and then the song ends…with rain…and church bells. Very cool. Very cool indeed.

In all, four terrific songs (tracks 1, 2, 5 and 8). Three good songs (3, 6, 7 if you like blues). One song that non-stoners will skip. And non-stoned stoners, probably.   On balance, this is a very, very strong record.

At the end, Jack came back out and thanked everybody, and then (this was a surprise) Ozzy, Tony and Geezer came out to say hello briefly. Tony looked well. Ozzy mumbled something well below the already low standard for coherence that has been established for him — I could only make out the word “album.” In fairness, people were applauding so it would have been hard to discern what he said in any case.

So, you’ll be very happy. I think you will find it to be an enjoyable reprise of the original Sabbath sound you liked.  You’ll hear what Iommi’s old riffs sound like played with modern production.  I think everybody will probably find something to like about it.

From Joe Again:

Now that is something to get excited about.  I won’t lie – I’m a bit jealous that I didn’t get to hear it, and these random people (well, random to me – haha) got to hear it.   A few remarks of my own based on what I’ve read…

  • This is the most detailed set of remarks I’ve seen.  The others are short comments, this by far is the best written thing I’ve seen about the party.  One short one was nothing more than “SABBATH!!!  THEY’RE FUCKING BACK!!!”   But they’re all positive.  I’ve not seen any truly negative review or remark coming out of this event.  Oh, people don’t like this track or that bit, but that’s down to personal taste.  Not negative at all.
  • One constant – they all seem to love the track “Age of Reason”.  My guess is it comes out of the block as a really instant killer track.
  • There are only eight songs played, and in interviews, the band has said they’ve recorded as many as 16.  While I have *NO PROOF* of what is happening – I’m just guessing here…  I bet you the various packages have different numbers of tracks on them.  Like standard vs deluxe.   Plus there’s always the dreaded possibilities of Japanese CD exclusive tracks or iTunes pre-orders.   Again – I HAVE NO FACTS HERE – pure guesswork on my part, because things like this have happened before.  Remember, the last two Ozzy solo albums did the same thing (iTunes pre-order exclusive tracks).   If anyone gets any hard facts on this, please let me know.
  • Other track names I’ve seen elsewhere but were not in any report I saw from today’s event are: “Epic”, “Methademic”, and “Cry All Night”.   Whether they’re other tracks from the “up to 16″ we’ve heard about, or are renamed tracks remains to be seen.
  • I’m liking the longer track times.  Was hoping it would be like that, and not a bunch of songs ranging from 3:30 to 4:15.  w00t!  :)

That’s all I have for now, but it’s a pretty darned substantial update.  Thanks to the dude who sent this in – if I knew who you were, I’d thank you – but then again, you might want to not betray someone’s trust – I get that.  Either way, thanks for sending me this.

UPDATE: Last night after I posted this, Mike Exeter, one of the album’s engineers, had this to say in response to the review:

Just to correct the original reviewer. The guitars were tuned to E flat for the entire record – and Ozzy sang extremely well in that key. Age Of Reason is a very cool song with a blistering ending that only Sabbath could pull off.

13

13 Listening Party Invite

Comments

  1. Soooo excited for this album!

  2. Daz Mondeo says:

    Really looking forward to this album, but wtf is “low A tuning” – someones talking shite there…

    • TomOzzy123 says:

      If it was low A tuning, the strings would flopping all over the neck? You couldn’t keep the guitar in tune. I hear Tony used E flat and C# tunings on 13 to be used live throughout the live set.

    • Chad Hallman says:

      Yea I couldn’t see drop A tuning. I know Zakk Wylde used drop B on some record or songs he did. I think Tony though used C# and Eb. Though.

    • gonna be the best modern day comeback ever. and finally after 20 years,Ozzy and Sabbath are finally back,and with the greatest producer ever,Rick Rubin.Love the fact that Brad Wilk(RATM) is pounding the skins.

  3. thanks joe for that news and the person who sent it to you. very detailed and a great review. I like the fact aswell that the tracks are a good decent length no short radio tunes. sounds like a heavy piece of work and glad to hear ozzy won’t be struggling to keep his singing pitched up. can’t wait now and the fact they have 16 songs looks good for the future.

    all the best
    Kevin o H

  4. mrdamage says:

    I’ve waited 35 long years for this day,ordered the super deluxe package,and know full well this release is going to slaughter anything being released this year.

  5. Richard T says:

    Yeah. I have tickets for the Sheffield gig. Going to be a blast. But wtf is this happening in the States for. Come home guys and treat the UK audience to an early listen. We made you great and you made the world great so come and give us some fuss!!!!!!

  6. SharkByte says:

    Not so fast mrdamage, I can appreciate the enthusiasm but some fantastic albums have been released this year, most recently “Earth Rocker” from Clutch. That album is fast, heavy and loud from start to finish and honestly one of the most solid Rock albums released not only this year but in the past few
    years. That being said, I do share your excitement and will be a first day buyer!

  7. tschwalbach says:

    I think I speak for all readers here….

    You rock! Thanks for your work it’s always a pleasure to see how you bring your impressions into words…

    keep on doing it…

    \m/

  8. SabbathFanAaron says:

    Thanks for the news Joe honestly I was expecting anything new till the may update.One thing that bothers me is the bluesy song thats mentioned.I know a fan of blues,none of the older sabbath albums had anything on them that bluesy this was Earth before the became Sabbath.Anyways cant wait I hope its a great album and something thats worth spending the $ on.

  9. screamingdoug says:

    two words…HELL YEAH!

  10. Got my tickets for Glasgow, got my super deluxe pre-ordered, I just hope my misgivings at hearing the new song snippet on YouTube are unfounded. Sabbath have been my favourite band for something like 35 years and this is a close as we’ll get to real Sabbath now I think.
    Thinking positive.

    The tuning thing. I tune to low B on 11 gauge strings (don’t want to link to any of it without Joe’s ok), yeah it’s loose, but not much more than 9s tuned to E. Billy Gibbons tuned to A on some of ZZ Top’s Rythmeen album.
    It’s all possible, you just have to adapt your playing. And sometimes your trussrod.

  11. How many songs d’ya think they’ll play on tour?
    Really am excited about this album now – eight minute song first – that is heavy!

  12. Simone Luca says:

    That was a great review and I can’t wait for the new album to come out. I already pre-ordered the vinyl.

  13. Aww I was hoping for some C#, that’s my favorite sounding tuning due to Sabbath.

  14. F**kin’ Hell ,, how can anyone read this and not be all fired up!!! This is killing me this waiting period,, but who knows, could possibly be the last waiting period for a Sabbath album like this, ( i truly hope not). So far everything ive heard sounds like it really is back to the old sabbath sound :) , 8 tracks.. the first a heavy opener, a really rockin’ second. The third their softer toned down a bit ( planet caravan, changes). Then straight back into the heavier stuff. The difference would be is instead of only 8 tracks and two or so being instrumentals,, they sound to be all full length , full piece tracks from what i understand. No disappointments from what im reading and hearing ( the snippet i find very Hole in the Skyish) . I can only hope that the other 8 tracks eventually make their way out in some form or another,, hell, save ‘em up for a follow up album or something. But keep in mind, it is the internet age so if they do get released elsewhere, they are bound to pop up on the internet or somewhere at some point.

  15. “13” = 1 missing / 3 remain

  16. And why not the US?
    Probably the largest market in the world.
    And Ozzy does live here guys.

    After the 2005 Camden concert I finally forgave Ozzy for royally fing up the final original lineup tour (for God’s sake – they were outdone by Van Halen)..

    Anyway this is going to be SO cool.

    Hope they keep it together.

    I will miss Bill though (never heard any other drummer who could play ahead of the beat).

  17. well i’ve been blasting sabotage in my car this week , my favourite sabbath album, just, and it left me thinking fuck i’m looking forward to hearing the new one and hope it gets real heavy like this

  18. Darragh says:

    im heartened to hear they kept the track listing to 8 songs in keeping with the first 5 classics. Van Halen released a brilliant comeback last yr that was only tempered by the inclusion of 2 or 3 weaker tracks. Good decison to keep it lean i think. Really looking forward to this by the sounds of the reviews.

  19. Ralph Bocchino says:

    Funny when see some negative comments about the songs sounding like other songs or passing judgement after the first listen. Back in the day, I hated Volume 4, Sabbath Bloody Sabbath and Sabotage when I first here those albums. Back in 1975 when I saw them live and heard Megolomania for the first time, I thought the song was horrible. Needless to say, years later (I’m 55 years old) I’ve not stopped listening to them! And also keep in mind that the critics hated them. My guitar teacher once told me back in 1973 that Tony Iommi’s style of guitar playing will never stand the test of time!!!

  20. really boring, not bad but I’ll just wait for the new Trouble.

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