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Album Review: Black Sabbath – 13

 
By on Tuesday, 11th June 2013 at 12:00 pm
 

Black Sabbath 13 coverOver three decades in the reckoning, and to the delight of metal aficionados from New Mexico to Beijing, the eponymous genre defining metal band Black Sabbath are back with their original line-up of founding member Geezer Butler, Ozzy Osbourne and Tony Iommi. The result of this reunion and their exposure to producer extraordinaire Rick Rubin (Foo Fighters, Slayer) is ‘13’, their mammoth comeback to the mainstream and a call to arms to metallers worldwide.

With Ozzy back on vocals after the tragic death of Ronnie James Dio, Tony Iommi as the axe man, Geezer Butler providing the bass and Rage Against the Machine drummer Brad Wilk sitting in on drums, the sound on ‘13’ is suitably triumphant, with a sense of an impending apocalypse. The ominous commencement of the album ‘End of the Beginning’ is Sabbath at their doom filled best, with Ozzy’s trademark vocals cutting deep from the word go as he croons “Is this the end or the beginning/or the beginning of the end”. Rubin’s influence is apparent from square one, with the producer’s epic sounds resonating throughout the record, and epic seems to be what the aim was on this Sabbath record, with seven of the eleven songs on the record clocking in at over 5 minutes.

To enjoy this album though, you need to forget all pretence of any drama within the legendary metal band, and you certainly need to forget Ozzy’s ill-fated solo record and that dreadful duet with daughter Kelly. This record is about a shameless progression of what made the band a pillar of modern metal. Bring Me the Horizon have produced arguably the most progressive and defining metal record of the past 12 months, but in ‘13’, you have a re-emergence of old-school metal. ‘13’ is best epitomized by a line from the opening track, “rewind the future to the past”, and that is exactly what the band have done on ‘13’.

It’s not exactly back to basics, but Black Sabbath were never in any way basic, they were a progression of what was before them and now, they have set a marker to all bands in metal 2013. Sabbath are revered amongst bands and fans of the genre alike, and it would have been difficult for them to go wrong on this record, and that’s why it almost feels like a bit of a safe effort. Single ‘God is Dead’ is undeniably classic Sabbath, from the booming drums, to the trademark strumming of the Iron Man himself Iommi.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OhhOU5FUPBE[/youtube]

The record falls a bit flat with the staccato guitars that intersperse the mid-section of ‘13’. It feels a bit uncharacteristic of Sabbath, and also again feels very safe. But the album does show a lot of the character we have come to expect from a Sabbath record. It’s obvious why they are so well-regarded and are held in such esteem and their relevance is as poignant in 2013, as it was decades ago at the bands inception. ‘13’ delivers in that respect and seasoned fans will lap this record up; however, if this to be the start of Sabbath 2.0 then a more ambitious approach must be considered. For now though, having the original line-up back producing mammoth tunes like ‘Loner’ and ‘God is Dead’, is quite enough for this not so Iron Man.

7/10

‘13’, Black Sabbath’s long-awaited reunion album, is out now on Mercury.

 

16 Things You Learn at Download Festival

 
By on Wednesday, 20th June 2012 at 2:00 pm
 

Last weekend was the all-out metal mudfest known as Download Festival. A hundred thousand rock and rollers invaded the hallowed ground of Donington Park for 3 days of the best hard rock and metal bands in the world. TGTF was there in full waterproof regalia to throw horns and throw down with the masses, but what did we actually learn from this experience?

Mud sucks
On Wednesday it rained. On Thursday it rained even more. This meant come Friday afternoon when the gates for the arena were due to be open tens of thousands of cold and pissed off metallers were left queuing for hours because areas of the arena simply weren’t safe. This led to the cancellation of Rise to Remain and Cancer Bats from main stage.

Billy Talent are gents
In a true act of bromanship, Billy Talent helped out fellow Canadians Cancer Bats by letting them play ‘Hail Destroyer’ to a crowd who were still annoyed at the cancellation of the noisemongers. Luckily in the evening Cancer Bats were given a slot in one of the tents which apparently kicked major arse.

Machine Head rule the circle pits
Not only are Machine Head one of the best metal bands touring today, they managed to start a total of 29 circle pits at one point – which is a record for Download Festival.

The Prodigy are metal
Not in their sound, obviously, but the pits were still opening and the crowd going berserk for the almost 2-hour set. And what’s more metal than flares and smoke bombs going off in a mosh pit surrounded by 70,000 people?

A Game of Thrones is cool
As is the same every year, you can text in messages to the big screen for everyone to see. One of the most popular this year was “Winter is coming”, which (for those who don’t know) is the motto of the Stark family in A Game Of Thrones.

Skyrim is cool
Another favourite for the big screen was ‘I used to [insert random task here], until I took an arrow to the knee’. A parody of one of the stock lines used in conversation in Skyrim.

People still love 300
It’s a chant that’s been following festivals around for years. Someone shouts “Spartans! What is your profession?” and everyone in a 10 metre radius responds with “Aaaooh! Aaaooh! Aaaooh!” Clever, right?

People love wrestling
WWE, not actual Olympic-style wrestling. Chants of “Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes!…” were rife throughout camp sites and the arena in relation of WWE Superstar Daniel Bryan. Similarly the odd chants of “Let’s go Cena!” and “Cena sucks!” could be heard.

Saxon still rule
This is just a fact. It doesn’t matter how old they are or how long it’s been since they had any notable success, Saxon have been tearing it up for years and still drew a massive crowd at midday. Middle-aged men with long hair dressed in denim and leather is what Download is all about.

Everyone loves boobs
Another trait synonymous with Download is the ‘boobcam’. Whenever a girl climbs onto someone’s shoulders the crowd camera will pan to them and more often than not the girl will bear her breasts to the cheering of all men present. During Steel Panther the boob-o-meter was off the scale. Constant unveiling of chests throughout the entire 50-minute set until all the teenage boys were left dazed and confused. A lot of bands were formed that night because kids want to grow up to be Steel Panther.

Bands love balls
A tactic that both Metallica and Black Label Society adopted was to drop balls on the crowd emblazoned with the band name. Not the most metal thing over the weekend, but it did look cool.

Backwards is the new forwards
Metallica played their legendary Black Album in it’s entirety to close the Saturday of Download. But decided to play it backwards instead of the correct order, meaning fairweather fans had to endure the whole record before finally getting to ‘Enter Sandman’.

It’s not just metal fans
During the rock karaoke on Wednesday night there was a version of a Florence and the Machine song. Then that night a group of acoustic guitar-loving guys were singing Kings Of Leon. Not cool.

MegaDave is bigger than post-hardcore
One of the most exciting reunions in the past year has been the return of post-hardcore pioneers Refused. Unfortunately, despite the buzz around the reunion and their legions of fans, the clash with Megadeth meant they didn’t receive the crowd they deserved. Catch them on tour!

Some things never change
Along with the aforementioned ‘Spartans!’ chant, it’s ‘Buttscratcher!’ that is still the festival favourite. Heard shouted at random over the entire weekend, as well as being texted to the big screen, it’s outlasted previous spontaneous exclamations such as ‘Timmy!’ and ‘Loud noises!’ Hopefully there’ll be something new next year.

Black Sabbath are the best metal band ever
That’s all you need to know. They destroyed Donington on the final day to what could have been the biggest crowd of the weekend. Ozzy, Tony and Geezer still have it. A very metal and very emotional performance.

 

Preview: Download Festival 2012

 
By on Thursday, 1st March 2012 at 9:30 am
 

Now in its tenth year, Download Festival graces the hallowed soil of Donington Park for a three day extravaganza of the best in alternative music. From Friday the 8th to Sunday the 10th June 2012, more than 100 bands will play over three stages to thousands of metalheads, punks and rockers.

Headlining the Main Stage this summer are the dance-rock pioneers the Prodigy (pictured above), the thrash titans Metallica (performing The Black Album in its entirety), and the originators of heavy metal Black Sabbath. Download is the only show that Black Sabbath will be playing this year since it was revealed that guitarist Tony Iommi was diagnosed with early stage lymphoma.

Supporting these living legends across the Main Stage are drum and bass enthusiasts Chase and Status, stadium rockers Biffy Clyro and grunge maestros Soundgarden. But it’s not just the headliners and support to come for, some of the biggest and hottest names in alternative music are heading to Donington for this amazing showcase. The likes of Machine Head, Tenacious D, Megadeth, Slash, NOFX, Billy Talent, Steel Panther, Lamb Of God, Killswitch Engage, Black Label Society and more!

Weekend tickets with camping are priced at £200 for 5 nights, £190 for 3 nights and just £165 without camping. Day tickets and RIP packages can also be purchased from the official Web site. TGTF will be there this year so come and throw the horns with us as ‘War Pigs’ rings out on Sunday night to 80,000 screaming metallers. Bring it on.

 
 
 

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