Following endless speculation and undeniable skepticism, Black Sabbath have released “God is Dead” from new album 13, which comes out June 11. And it’s not a three-minute radio single. The track is an eight-minutes-fifty-one-second long epic that starts with an ominous undistorted guitar arpeggio and delicate drumming before bursting into a thunderclaps of power chords and tumbling drums.
With the first big bang out of the way, the song dips back down again and Ozzy Osbourne slowly starts to sing: “Lost in the darkness/ I fade from the light/ Faith of my father, my brother, my Maker and Savior/ Help me make it through the night.”
About two minutes in, guitarist Tony Iommi takes control with a trenchant, descending minor-key riff, accompanied by bassist Geezer Butler’s resounding counter-melodies. The rest of the lyrics, which seems to be echoing through the mind of a conflicted serial killer, echoes the sentiment of Sabbath’s “After Forever” from the band’s third album 1971’s Masters of Reality.
Just after six minutes in, Black Sabbath pick up the tempo from a sludgy lumber into chugging stomp before Iommi lets fly with a tasteful, string-bending blues solo. For anyone who had doubts whether Black Sabbath would be lost without original drummer Bill Ward or if too many years have gone by for the band to record quality material with Ozzy, “God is Dead” suggests that 13 could be every bit as relevant and heavy as vintage Sabbath.
The band recorded the eight-track album in Los Angeles with legendary producer Rick Rubin, and it marks Osbourne's first studio release with the band since 1978’s Never Say Die!. After that album came out, Ozzy was fired for being unpredictable and out of control and the late Ronnie James Dio took his place for two studio albums. Although Osbourne worked on a few songs with Sabbath in 1998, they were never released. The band subsequently played several tours and released the live album Reunion. But in 2006, Iommi and Butler reformed with Dio under the name Heaven and Hell.
After Dio died of stomach cancer, they made tentative steps towards reforming with Osbourne. At first they planned to include original drummer Bill Ward, but allegedly the financial arrangements weren’t mutually agreeable so they hired Rage Against the Machine drummer Brad Wilk to play on 13.
Black Sabbath will launch a world tour tomorrow in Auckland, New Zealand, which includes four North American dates – August 4 in Holmdel, New Jersey, August 14 in Toronto, Ontario, August 24 in Quincy, Washington and September 3 in Los Angeles. The tour ends December 22 in Birmingham, England.
The tracklist for 13:
"End of the Beginning"
"God is Dead?"
"Age Of Reason"
Bonus deluxe edition tracks:
"Peace of Mind"