"God Is Dead?" (8:54)
Producer: Rick Rubin
Writers: Ozzy Osbourne, Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler
Publishing: Blizzard Music Limited (ASCAP), Valallen Music (ASCAP) and Aston Music (ASCAP) c2013
Friedrich Nietzsche declared that God is dead -- but Black Sabbath isn't so sure. That's the tact, at least, on "God is Dead?," the first release from the group's forthcoming "13" album, which reunites Ozzy Osbourne, Tony Iommi and Geezer Butler (Rage Against the Machine's Brad Wilk is sitting in for absent-by-choice drummer Bill Ward). The titular question mark makes all the difference to the nine-minute epic, a prototypical Sabbath doom anthem propelled by Iommi's descending guitar chords, Butler's leaden bass lines and Osbourne's sneering yet plaintive vocals -- as well as a brief tempo shift into an upbeat gallop about two-thirds of the way through the song. It's a trip through philosophical hell, and it's hard to imagine a more characteristic Sabbath lyric than "Blood on my conscience/and murder in mind/out of the tomb I rise from my tomb into impending doom." Osbourne winds up by concluding that "I don't believe that God is dead," and if you don't find that all too reassuring, consider -- do you really want Black Sabbath to make you feel better? Naaaaah...