Much to the chagrin of Ozzy, the rest of the Osbournes have spent the last ten years making more appearances on E! News than his own name has managed to grace the Billboard charts. Perhaps this is the real source of his vocal venom on Black Sabbath’s appropriately titled “13,” the closest fans have come to hearing the original Sabbath lineup in decades. The sole missing component, drummer Bill Ward, has been replaced by Brad Wilk of Audioslave/Rage Against The Machine fame, who does an admirable job keeping afloat the deep grooves and ruthless riffs of guitarist Tony Iommi and bassist Geezer Butler. The pair intertwine amicably, as though they hadn’t spent the last four decades in and out of each other’s favor, and since Butler is also the principal lyricist on this record, Ozzy’s curdling croon is in perfect harmony with the group. Unfazed by years of substance abuse, up-and-down fame, and the disintegration of the record business, this, ladies and gentleman, is heavy metal. With Osbourne, Iommi and Butler about a year from retirement age, Sabbath has managed to resurrect the glory of their youth without the unpleasant air of a money grab to suffocate the songs. Resurrection seems to be on their minds, as a majority of the music engages in a severe struggle with religious idolatry, none more powerfully than the Nietzschean conflict tune, “God is Dead?” Butler’s lyrics give greater faith the slight edge in the contest, as only a lifetime of turmoil can attest to the tribulations required to make that assessment. The accompanying tour for “13” promises to be a victory lap of sorts for the embattled crew, and given the group’s track record, it’s unlikely the current lineup will last. Do yourself a favor and keep the Sabbath holy. (Kenneth Preski)
August 16 at First Midwest Bank Amphitheatre, 19100 South Ridgeland, Tinley Park, (708)614-1616. 7:30pm. $25 to $156.