As it turns out, “13” is actually a lucky number for Black Sabbath.
The reunited hard-rock icons -- singer Ozzy Osbourne, guitarist Tony Iommi and bassist Geezer Butler -- have had plenty of ups, like 1970s "Paranoid" and 1975's "Sabotage," and downs, like 1995's "Forbidden," during their 40-plus years of dark, deafening music. But with their new album, “13,” the band that more or less invented heavy metal have finally claimed the No. 1 spot on Billboard's album chart, according to Nielsen SoundScan. This is also only the second time Sabbath have debuted in the top 10 during their famously loud career. Before "13," the closest the Iron Men had ever come to the top spot in the U.S. was No. 8, with 1971's "Master of Reality."
The new album dropped June 11 on Vertigo/Republic, and it sold nearly 155,000 copies in its first week, which was 100,000 more units than the No. 2 album, Daft Punk's "Random Access Memories." The new Sabbath album has also scaled the top of the U.K., Denmark, Germany, New Zealand and Switzerland charts, and climbed to top-five spots in Australia (4), Austria (2), Belgium (5), and Ireland (5).
Naturally, the doomsayers are quite smitten:
“The news is absolutely amazing -- we couldn't have imagined this would happen,” said guitarist Iommi in a press statement. “We have the greatest fans.”
“There have been so many amazing highlights in our long career,” Osbourne added. “To finally have our first #1 album in the U.S. is another incredible milestone for Black Sabbath. Thank you to all of our fans for their support and loyalty.”
Butler said, "I’m absolutely stunned. Thank you all world wide for being the best, and most patient, fans ever.”
“13” is the band's first studio album with Ozzy Osbourne since 1978's so-so "Never Say Die!" and the first Sabbath album in general since "Forbidden," a record so bad, and slammed so severely by critics, that Tony nixed the band's then-lineup and finally decided to reconcile with, yes, you guessed it, Ozzy. A famous reunion tour followed.
And now we come to “13,” which the mostly reunited Sabbath (drummer Bill Ward left the band) will soon tour. Kicking off on July 25 in Houston, the 20-city tour will also include gigs in Holmdel, N.J., Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Boston, Tinley Park (near Chicago), San Francisco, Seattle and Toronto, before wrapping up on Sept. 3. The Grammy-winning Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees will head to South America and Mexico this fall, and their concerts in the U.K. and throughout Europe will be held this winter.
For more than three decades, fans were hoping the original Sabbath would make a comeback in the studio. As it turns out, the Sabbath elders, joined by drummer Brad Wilk from Rage Against the Machine, sound surprisingly good on these eight thunderous numbers (five of them being more than eight minutes long).
New York Daily News music critic Jim Farber wrote this about “13”: "Sabbath has done their bloodthirsty legacy proud ... the guitarist [Iommi] sounds reborn ... he manages to spin solos here with more agility than he ever could have back then ... Some credit for the band’s focus should go to producer/acolyte Rick Rubin. He kept the sound hard and bitter...To make every moment count, the band revived the complex arrangements and shifting structures of their classic work ... Even the ballad has bite. “Zeitgeist” uses a bongo (!), an acoustic guitar and an arty jazz run at the end that still has a metallic heft. Throughout, Ozzy’s voice cuts through the thick riffs like a foghorn."
On Bostonglobe.com, Scott McLennan said the album “rekindles the tones and themes of the band's first few albums. Iommi and Butler construct brooding, monolithic riffs and Osbourne trains his funeral sing-talk vocals on epic struggles between good and evil, God and Satan, and sanity and madness…”13” ends strongly with the furious “Damaged Soul” and damning “Dear Father,” the former a grim resignation and latter an indictment of abusive priests and the churches that protected them (a “War Pigs” for the clergy).”
Meanwhile, on Pitchfork.com, Hank Shteamer noted that “13” is a "cohesive, engaging, and even fun...offer[s] many of the primal joys that helped immortalize Sabbath in the first place, while documenting the spark that still unites Osbourne, Iommi, and Butler, all three of whom sound about as vital here as anyone could've hoped...That chilling crawl, that low-slung death-blues groove that seemed to come out of nowhere back in 1970, persists here in all its ominous potency ... "
Black Sabbath’s 2013 U.S. tour dates are:
DATE CITY VENUE
Thu- Jul 25 Houston, TX Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion
Sat-Jul 27 Austin, TX Frank Erwin Center
Mon-Jul 29 Tampa, FL Live Nation Amphitheatre
Wed-Jul 31 W. Palm Beach, FL Cruzan Amphitheatre
Fri-Aug 02 Bristow, VA Jiffy Lube Live
Sun-Aug 04 Holmdel, NJ PNC Bank Arts Center
Tue-Aug 06 Detroit, MI DTE Energy Music Theatre
Thu-Aug 08 Uncasville, CT Mohegan Sun Arena
Sat-Aug 10 Philadelphia, PA Wells Fargo Center
Mon-Aug 12 Boston, MA Comcast Center
Wed-Aug 14 Toronto, ON Air Canada Centre
Fri Aug 16 Tinley Park, IL First Midwest Bank Amphitheatre
Sun-Aug 18 Indianapolis, IN Klipsch Music Center
Thu-Aug 22 Vancouver, BC Rogers Arena
Sat-Aug 24 Seattle, WA Gorge Amphitheatre
Mon-Aug 26 San Francisco, CA Shoreline Amphitheatre at Mountain View
Wed-Aug 28 Irvine, CA Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre
Fri-Aug 30 Phoenix, AZ US Airways Center
Sun-Sep 01 Las Vegas, NV MGM Grand Garden Arena
Tue-Sep 03 Los Angeles, CA Los Angeles Sports Arena
For more information on "13" and Black Sabbath's upcoming tour, check out these sites: