Obviously inspired, ‘Heaven And Hell’ was perhaps one of Black Sabbath’s greatest works, if not the best.
Written by: Dangerzone
ARTIST: Black Sabbath
ALBUM: Heaven And Hell
SERIAL: 6302 017
CD REISSUE: Discogs Reissue List
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: England
LINEUP: Ronnie James Dio – vocals * Tony Iommi – guitar * Geezer Butler – bass * Bill Ward – drums
TRACK LISTING: 01 Neon Knights * 02 Children Of The Sea * 03 Lady Evil * 04 Heaven And Hell * 05 Wishing Well * 06 Die Young * 07 Walk Away * 08 Lonely Is The Word
WEBLINKS: Site Link
With this celebrated version of Black Sabbath reunited for the second time in 2009, albeit under the name Heaven And Hell, what better time to revisit the landmark recording itself that gave Sabbath a new life when they seemed all but a lost cause. With Ozzy Osbourne in tow, Sabbath were treading water, their last studio venture 1978’s ‘Never Say Die’ not the flop made out to be for decades, but hardly representative of their original style.
Live they were exhausted and no match for Van Halen on the supporting tour, and when Osbourne quit for the second time in several years, this time there was no coming back. His replacement Ronnie James Dio could hardly have been a finer choice, with his Rainbow experiences right behind him he was the right man at the right time. Obviously inspired, ‘Heaven And Hell’ was perhaps one of Black Sabbath’s greatest works, if not the best.
Losing Ozzy had given them new impetus and the music represented this, the trademark Black Sabbath doom metal upgraded to suit Dio’s talents in ways Ozzy could never reach vocally.
‘Neon Knights’ was a clear indication of Sabbath’s resurgence, with the riffing and speed as purposeful as anything from 1970-76, not quite as bottom ended as the Ozzy years, but Iommi providing the key with his unique riffs. ‘Children Of The Sea’ was allegedly written with Ozzy still in the fold and this is believable, vintage Sabbath doom, monstrously heavy.
The tone of ‘Lady Evil’ is similar to the more hard rock direction adopted back on 1976’s ‘Technical Ecstacy’, only more precise and in keeping with Dio’s Rainbow work also. The title track stands as one of the all time metal greats, a brutal epic which builds into a raging crescendo, and a clear indication of Dio’s solo career a few years down the road. This is the sound of Black Sabbath past and present however, and decades later has not dated it one notch.
‘Die Young’ is similar in build, eerie opening building into faster sections with atmospherics unmatched when the swirling keyboards mesh with Butler’s thudding bass and Iommi’s tortured soloing. Basically no track is wasted and the thrilling ending melody of ‘Lonely Is The Word’ amidst almost blues licks from Iommi caps off one of heavy metal’s landmark albums.
Shortly after the albums release Ward quit the band due to relentless touring and was replaced by Vinnie Appice. The album sold in mammoth proportions and revitalised Black Sabbath as a major draw. It’s hard to believe they were still bigger than Ozzy as a solo artist at one point, something which sadly would not last.
1981’s ‘Mob Rules’ was almost the equal of ‘Heaven And Hell’, and hopefully future recordings with Dio and Black Sabbath reveal something as legendary, 1992’s Dehumanizer’ a fine recording in its own right. Their place in history is sealed regardless, ‘Heaven And Hell’ forever in place as the definition of heavy metal.