For my part, I have often adopted an opinion similar to that of Geezer Butler
: namely, that Black Sabbath
lost its essence after it became "Tony Iommi
and Company". The first sign of this was the departure of Ozzy Osbourne
from the band. I'm a die-hard Ozzy-fan, and used to be on the war-path against Dio
-sympathizers (aka. Ozzy-haters), until I found a solid, good and original reason for liking who my mother's boyfriend calls "The Little Elf That
Could." Then I decided that if I can be mature enough to like Metallica AND Megadeth
, Ozzy AND Dio
, then perhaps I should give Dio
h a second chance.
I prefer to refer to this album, as well as Mob Rules
, as Heaven and Hell
albums. The reasons being, if Heaven and Hell
is just Black Sabbath
, why release "The Devil You Know
" under a different name at all? Why
go through the whole nine yards of having a new name if its the same band basically? Another, more superficial, reason is that it is sad that Heaven and Hell
has two live albums and one studio album before Ronnie James Dio
passed away. Therefore, I include these three Sabbat
h albums in the Heaven and Hell
category to acknowledge that Heaven and Hell
is nothing new, but a band that has endured the test of and has more under their belt than one 21st century album with a singer in the latter years of his life (though no less amazing then than here).
once said that Heaven and Hell
is basically the same band as Black Sabbath
...is that true? I think not. Pop in an Ozzy-Sabbat
h album and we've got horror, devils, drugs, revolution and war. What do we have here, though?
"Neon Knights" is a fast, heavy assault reminiscent of that godfather of thrash metal "Symptom
of the Universe
" but in speed only. The lyrics are very epic, increased by Dio
's roaring yet equally capable voice. "Children
of the Sea" is no different, featuring a melodic guitar passage before breaking into a heavy/hard song. Geezer takes us away with his sweet-as-ever bass-slapping with "Lady Evil
" before that title-track of title tracks breaks into life. Though the riff reminds me terribly of the closing action from "War
Pigs", it is Geezer's dominant bass and the epic lyrics of this song that stand out, especially the line "The Ending is just a beginner." But don't get fooled by the slow "heavenly" start, the heavy "hellish" side of the song is about to explode if you stick around for the whole thing.
Okay, this is starting to sound like a track-by-track, I know. But I can't find anything wrong with this album. For all that sounds similar to older Sabbat
h - which can be excused by the fact that it is the majority of the same musicians who have the same playing style as before...generally - this album feels different. It is as thoroughly enjoyable as Holy Diver is, without that unwanted AC/DC feel to it (nothing against AC/DC, they're bass-ad and everything...maybe even bad-ass, but if I wanted to listen to them, I wouldn't put in a Dio
If I considered this a Black Sabbath
album, then I'd have to say, along with Paranoid
, it is the best album of theirs that I've listened to. As I have stated otherwise, what we have here is a kick-ass album from a group of kick-ass musicians: a strong way to usher in a new era of heavy metal (which it is, since this was about the time the New Wave of British Heavy Metal
was rising, which takes much influence from this band, as well as the later power metal genre. Priest's influence goes without saying, of course.)
Musically, it is a triumph. Tony and his two fingers are shredding and riffing at their best (as usual), Geezer may not have as many lyrics of doom as before, but what we see here is a more epic, medieval feel than the old horror material. Bill, of course, is playing his best. As for the wee veteran of Elf
's real singing on this album is amazing (though predictably tenor), and his growling emphasizes the power in this album. His "sing-to-chord" vocal approach is apparently considered better than "sing-to-riff", and I'll have to attempt to adopt that with my own music. There, see that? Even thirty years later, and after Ronnie James Dio
is dead and gone, Heaven and Hell
is still influencing bands to reach higher.
There should be no question to getting/listening to this album.