One Track Mind: Black Sabbath, “The End of the Beginning” from 13 (2013)

A day after fans heard the first single from Black Sabbath’s upcoming 13 project, the band debuted a second song, “The End of the Beginning,” live in New Zealand.

“The End of the Beginning” has a very familiar sound to it. After a slab riff from Tony Iommi to open, the song quiets down to a piece that will remind fans a whole lot of that classic tritone of the eponymous “Black Sabbath,” the song that truly ushered in heavy metal. Ozzy warbles over the riff until, also like that classic, the song breaks into a galloping uptempo headbanger.

The videos of the performance that have emerged are kind of rough, as live videos usually are, so it’s tough to get the full picture of the song, but what I can hear sounds pretty damned good. Iommi gets a little shred on later in the song, and though I’m on the side of Bill Ward, I have to admit that Brad Wilk’s drums are hammering. There’s a dark interlude toward the end that’s reminiscent of some of Ozzy’s early solo work, that leads to a bluesier bit of jamming from Iommi to bring the song to a close.

Ozzy’s vocals sound really good on this, a raw live video. Better, in fact, than he’s sounded live in years. There are a few cracks here and there, and his age shows at times, but perhaps he wasn’t blowing smoke when he said recently that he could sing every song on 13 live with no issues.

I actually like this one better than “God is Dead?” The reunion is 2-for-2.

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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@somethingelsereviews.com.
  • Nathan Hale

    Would people stop using his age as a reason for why he sounds bad? Drugs and self-abuse are why Ozzy sounds bad, not age. Dio was older than Ozzy is now, yet he never had his voice go bad.

  • Fred Phillips

    I’m not sure that’s exactly what I said. Certainly there are myriad reasons why Ozzy sounds the way he does and that Dio sounded the way he did in his later years. You have to take care of your instrument to keep it. My reference to age in this case, as in the piece on “God is Dead?” a few days ago, is more about a certain sound in the voice than problems with it. In fact, I think he sounds pretty good on this song. Definitely better than I’ve heard him sound live in a long time.

    Age shows on every singer eventually, even the mighty Dio. His voice in his 60s was still exceptional, but not what it was in his 30s. The Holy Diver Live album he put out six or seven years ago, in fact, was pretty rough.

    You do make a good point. Ozzy’s vocals would no doubt be much better without the years of self-abuse. But my intent here was not to use his age to excuse a bad performance.