Something Else! sneak peek: Black Sabbath, “God is Dead?” from 13 (2013)

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Since Black Sabbath began working on a new album with original singer Ozzy Osbourne and producer Rick Rubin, fans have been waiting for a taste of what was coming. The snippets in the band’s studio videos were interesting, but now we get the first nine minute-long full course in “God is Dead?”

The song starts slowly with a very dark, brooding and clean guitar lick from Tony Iommi. Geezer Butler’s bass hums in the background until a big distorted Iommi riff blows the speakers out, adding some pounding drums from Brad Wilk. (Original drummer Bill Ward didn’t return for this record due to a contractual dispute).

“God is Dead?” then drops back to the original lick as we get our first taste of Ozzy’s voice. As might be expected from his recent solo work, the vocals do, at times, seem a little processed. Interestingly, though, Rubin has chosen to allow the age on Ozzy’s voice to show through here and there; it’s a weariness that works well for the song. The vocal line also features some nice melodic turns that mix up what could possibly have been a droning melody.

At about six and a half minutes in, the band shifts gears as Iommi rips out this swaggering, uptempo blues rock riff, immediately changing the dirge-like atmosphere to one of near jubilance. Butler, who in my opinion was always the heart and soul of Black Sabbath, gets an extended spot to showcase his chops and then the song returns to its main theme — although a bit more energetic — as it comes home.

“God is Dead?” can’t be confused with anything from the band’s first classic six albums. There is a little bit of the sheen of latter-day Ozzy records to it — particularly in his vocals — but it does get the spirit of things right. It certainly blows the two songs the band did for its Reunion album completely out of the water. It’s a good start to 13. Now, let’s hear what the rest of the songs sound like.

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Fred Phillips

Fred Phillips

Fred Phillips is a veteran entertainment writer with a love of hard rock and heavy metal. He has written music reviews, columns and feature stories for several newspapers, Web sites and a national wire service, while running a stand-alone site called Hall of the Mountain King in various places and incarnations since 1997. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelse reviews.com.
Fred Phillips

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