The sound is bad, and the image is worse. But we’ve gotten a glimpse into a third track from Black Sabbath’s forthcoming Ozzy Osbourne reunion record with “Methademic,” a track that seems sadly appropriate considering Ozzy’s latest back slide — and yet somehow ultimately dissatisfying.
The iffy video quality of this performance, recorded live at Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne on April 29, 2013, necessarily can’t offer much of a sense of Geezer Butler’s interplay with new studio drummer Brad Wilks. The same, however, can’t be said for this furious torrent of riffs emanating from the cancer-stricken Tony Iommi, who has never sounded more present, more completely hell-bent on dismantling his instrument for the betterment of a song.
Still, as Osbourne talk/sings his way through a parable about a dead-eyed addict, I thought — and for the first time since portions of 13 began trickling out — that this song would have been better served with successor Ronnie James Dio at the mic. This ripped-from-the-headlines moment falls flat because Osbourne doesn’t now have, and really never had, the ability to elevate at the end — something “Methademic,” which is otherwise a dark splash of aggressive storytelling, so desperately needs.
Instead, Ozzy ends this thing caterwauling like the law’s red wail.
I’ll stipulate that this is only the earliest live version of “Methademic,” and that it’s only a bonus track on the June 2013 release of 13, and that it’s not a particularly well-recorded version. But imagine, if you will, how the song might have concluded with Dio’s searing, soul-damning howl instead. Fucking cancer.