Posted by: Mark Nielsen | April 28, 2013

New Black Sabbath (The Devil Made Me Do It)

“The devil wants you. Does he own you?”- ridiculous church sign outside Goshen, IN.

My Answer: “No, the devil just rents my basement flat. I’d kick him out, but he brings so many  cool musicians and pretty girls right to my doorstep.”

Stay Away, Devil!

Stay Away, Devil! (aka “Ain’t the Church of MY Christ!”)

“When you think about the tragedy that’s happened throughout time, it just came in my head. You’d think by now that their God would have stopped people dying in the name of, so I just starting thinking that people must be thinking, ‘Where is God? God is dead’ and it just hit me.”

Ozzy also addressed the controversial song title by pointing out, “At the end of the thing, there’s still a bit of hope because there I sing that I don’t believe that God is dead. It’s just a question of when you see so many dreadful people killing each other with bombs, and blowing the tube trains up and the World Trade Center.”

–Black Sabbath article, quoting BBC interview, at Anti-Music.com .

Ozzy Osbourne

Ozzy Osbourne (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Black Sabbath has a new single out, entitled “God Is Dead?”

Why the question mark, mates? Is The Man making you do that? To hedge bets against sales losses, protests and/or CD-destroying events (records and books used to burn so much easier, didn’t they?).

Over at Spotify, I listened to the Sabbath single, released in advance of the forthcoming “13” album (Oooh. 13. Spooky. But is it really the 13th Sabbath album or are they bulls&*%ing us again?)

The Spotify graphics –maybe it’s the actual cover for the new album– feature a mushroom cloud, plus a goofy drawing of a 19th century man that I assume is Friederich Nietzsche (God I HATE spelling that man’s name… always forget what goes where…). Nietzsche coined the phrase “God is dead”, then later contracted venereal disease and offed himself, casting doubt on whether he had been right all along or just bitter, stubborn and possibly crazy. Hitler thanks you, Fred, for creating fertile soil for the nihilism, fascism and hatred that grew from seeds you planted.

As for the Sabbath song itself, it likely has little to do with Nietzsche, but the lyrics do feature a mild form of nihilism and/or despair. I give the song overall a B-minus rating, both musically and lyrically. Despite the addled brain that Ozzy has given himself thanks to various substances (or maybe he always was addled, I dunno), he and his band have always been good at lyrically or visually tweaking the culture. They seem to enjoy creating dialogue (or just arguments) about the role of music, the problem of evil, and/or various other fairly big questions. This single will fit into that spectrum nicely.

Musically, it’s good, but it’s no “Ironman”. Tommy Iommi is still a riffmeister extraordinaire on guitar (first album in 35 years to feature him, bassist Geezer Butler, AND Ozzy, the Unholy Trinity). Plus Ozzy’s voice has not slipped much. He’s definitely one of the top 20 rock vocalists ever… I’d put him between 10 and 15, though a 2008 Rolling Stone “experts” poll on singers left him off entirely. (To be fair, the same poll includes R&B, country, pop, etc… so only a few hard rock or metal singer/howlers made the list anyway… Plant, Axl Rose, Daltrey, maybe one other…)

On the other hand, the melody isn’t all that great. I just heard it, twice, and I can’t quite remember it, not even the chorus. Is it my aging brain, or is it these guys’ slipping talent for finding a “hook” in the metal mode? Cuz compared to Ozzy’s solo stuff from the Eighties… this single sounds like a long, brooding”deep cut” from a 1974 Sabbath album. Maybe to big Black Sabbath fans, that’s a good thing. But I have to cop to only being a casual fan at best. So don’t take my word for it… see for yourself.

On iTunes, streaming at the link below, or at a record store near you –oh, wait. I forgot. It isn’t 1974 anymore, skip the record store trip.

*  *  *

“After you die you will meet God” – Heb 9:27 — another bad billboard in Indiana, using scare tactics very similar to those that Black Sabbath has used repeatedly, in the ongoing debate about what G-D really cares about.

You will meet God, yes.
This means you too, Ozzy. And you can be sure He’s going to ask you about that question mark on the “God Is Dead?” single.
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