’13’ is the nineteenth and final studio album by Black Sabbath. It was released on June 10, 2013. It is the only studio album released by the band since Forbidden (1995) and it was also the first studio album to feature original singer Ozzy Osbourne since 1978’s Never Say Die!
Black Sabbath’s original line-up first began work on a new studio album in 2001 with producer Rick Rubin. The album’s development was delayed over a ten-year period, as Ozzy resumed his solo career while the rest of the band members went on to pursue other projects, including GZR and Heaven & Hell. When Black Sabbath announced the end of their hiatus on 11 November 2011, the band announced that they would restart work again on that new album with Rubin. In addition to original members Ozzy Osbourne, Geezer Butler and guitarist Tony Iommi, they were joined in the recording sessions by drummer Brad Wilk of Rage Against the Machine and Audioslave, following original drummer Bill Ward’s decision to not participate in the reunion, due to the now infamous “contractual dispute”.
“God Is Dead?” was the first single released from the ’13’ album. Both the song title and figure on the single’s cover are a reference to Friedrich Nietzsche, a German philosopher who is famous for saying that “God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him. How shall we comfort ourselves, the murderers of all murderers?”. There has always been a lot of misconception over this track. The band was never claiming that God was dead but in fact pondering the question of his existence in light of current affairs or event’s taking place in the world today. Or at that time.
“Loner” was the third single from Black Sabbath’s album ’13’. Although the album version did not chart, a live version of the song was officially released as a single via Black Sabbath’s YouTube channel on 17 October 2013. It is also their last released single before their disbanding in 2017.
Discussing the album in an exclusive interview with NME.COM, Geezer Butler recalled: “Originally the record company wanted us to do 13 songs so that we’d have choices. We’d get to ten and we’d go ‘OK, that’s it, we’re not writing any more’. They’d say ‘No, we want 13′ so it was like … let’s call the album ’13’ just to piss them off… and then we ended up doing 16!” And that’s exactly what the band did! The original release of the final album contained only 8 tracks but however you can get the remaining tracks by picking up either the Deluxe Edition of the album, the Best Buy bonus disc version or on The End EP that was only available at dates on their final tour. The EP’s first four tracks are unreleased songs from the ’13’ sessions and the rest were recorded live on The End tour throughout 2013–2014. The artwork for the album was created by Zip Design in London. Zip commissioned a sculptor to create an 8-foot-tall #13″ from wicker, which was then set on fire in the Buckinghamshire countryside. The flames were said to be visible for miles and miles. The image was then shot by a professional photographer to create the final version of the cover.
’13’ reached No. 1 on the UK Albums Chart after its first week of sales. It is the band’s first album to top the UK chart since Paranoid (1970). The album also reached No. 1 on the US Billboard 200 charts, selling 155,000 copies in the first week. (Overall the album went to hit No. 1 in more than 50 countries!!!)