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IT'S GREAT: YEATS RATES SABBATH'S COMEBACK

Black Sabbath 13 (Vertigo)

Yo, Leaving Cert dudes, listen up. Guest reviewer this week is our old favourite, poet William Butler Yeats. The album is the first by the English heavy-metal pioneers since 1978 (jeez!). Take it away WB.

Hhmmmnn... "Grant me an old man's frenzy. Myself must I remake..." (An Acre of Grass). Seems a fitting way to start considering these chaps have had all manner of life experience since they were last locked in a studio together for the duration of a lengthy eight-track collection.

GULPING

Certainly, it's apocalyptic. In a good way. I'm sure the barns in the mid-west would be thronged by revellers, swigging cheap rot-gut and gulping quaaludes, should the Sabs get back on the road. Given that Geezer Butler, master of the stuttering mega-riff, is undergoing treatment for cancer, that seems unlikely. Got it covered, homies.

"And what rough beast, its hour come round at last, Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?" (The Second Coming).

"God is dead," bleats the Oz-meister on the rifferama choon God Is Dead? Note the cunning question mark. Ozzy is enduring an existential crisis.

"The voices in my head tell me God is dead," he screams.

And surely producer Rick Rubin, who specialises in aiding the aged recapture their youthful glory, does a superb job. The Sabs lumber though this welcome comeback as if dragging themselves through a sludge of anti-anxiety pills.

"The night can sweat with terror as before/We pieced our thoughts into philosophy.." (Nineteen Hundred and Nineteen).

DILEMMA

They avoid slipping into total Pink Floyd territory on Zeitgeist. OK, it's a bit Planet Caravan (from Paranoid). But impressively, unlike many urban music cats, they display excellent spelling skills. Age of Reason fares better musically. All seven grinding minutes of it.

Brad Wilk (RATM) does a sterling job deputising for veteran tub-thumper Bill Ward as the band air a common dilemma: "I don't want to live forever, but I don't want to die."

If this marks the end, then it's a commendable exit strategy. "Horseman pass by ... " HHHHI


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