I suppose we should be thankful the veterans in Heaven And Hell are still producing music at all right? Not with results as dire as this.
Written by: Dangerzone
ARTIST: Heaven And Hell
ALBUM: The Devil You Know
SERIAL: R2 518862
CD REISSUE: Discogs Reissue List
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: England, USA
LINEUP: Ronnie James Dio – vocals * Tony Iommi – vocals * Geezer Butler – bass * Vinny Appice – drums
TRACK LISTING: 01 Atom And Evil * 02 Fear * 03 Bible Black * 04 Double The Pain * 05 Rock And Roll Angel * 06 The Turn Of The Screw * 07 Eating The Cannibals * 08 Follow The Tears * 09 Neverwhere * 10 Breaking Into Heaven
For all intents and purposes the first Black Sabbath album since 1995’s ‘Forbidden’, Sabbath return with the famed Dio lineup under the amended moniker ‘Heaven And Hell’, a nod to their classic 1980 album which many have been wondering if they could equal with this new album.
This lineup was last heard on 1992’s average ‘Dehumanizer’ which paled in comparison to ‘Heaven And Hell’ or ‘Mob Rules’ and in 2009 one would suspect that would be unlikely to change given the ravages of time. Musically the band prove this notion incorrect, still possessing the chops, but in terms of originality and overall excitement this is a major failure. I suspect many observers will term this an instant metal classic. Sadly this is not the case.
In many ways Heaven And Hell recalls the more obscure Sabbath albums of the 80’s like ‘The Eternal Idol’ and ‘Headless Cross’, clear production with obligatory heavy riffs but missing the melody and darkness of the earlier efforts of the 70’s and early 80’s. Doing a track by track analysis is almost futile because 8 of the 10 tracks rely on the same plodding rhythms, excruciating riffs from Iommi and barely a trace of true melody or face melting intensity.
‘Atom And Evil’ opens much like the first Sabbath track from the debut in 1970 and is really not comparable to the likes of ‘Neon Knights’ or ‘Turn Up The Night’, which were faster and hungrier. ‘Bible Black’ sounds like an outtake from an 80’s Dio solo album, almost a rewrite of ‘Rainbow In The Dark’, only slower.
There’s only one true fast track, ‘Eating The Cannibals’, where Iommi turns out some great soloing, but honestly these guys could write stuff like this in their sleep if they were so inclined. The poorly titled ‘Rock and Roll Angel’ labours slowly, with a typical atmospheric Iommi refrain halfway in and is followed by the flat ‘Turn Of The Screw’.
‘Neverwhere’ is slightly faster but still dull melodically and this is the albums total downfall as a whole. ‘Follow The Tears’ simply goes nowhere, heavy but scarcely believable. After a while it all merges into one long track and is forgotten instantly.
I suppose we should be thankful the veterans in Heaven And Hell are still producing music at all right? Not with results as dire as this. Dio still has a voice, at the age of 70 or however old he is, but the inspiration is waning.
There isn’t any urgency here and it seems that Heaven And Hell was so intent on proving they could still play slow and doomy that they forgot to add different shades to the music like they once did. Nothing on first and repeated listenings stands out as essential and warrants further listening for me. Suddenly ‘Nostradamus’ has decent company.