Black Sabbath/Heaven And Hell

Heaven And Hell

This was the first album after singer Ozzy Osbourne was fired from the band and replaced with Ronnie James Dio. Geoff Nicholls of Quartz also joined the band as a possible replacement for Geezer Butler who had not been around through most of the writing sessions and was going through a divorce at the time.[2] When Butler decided to stay with the group, Nicholls switched to keyboards. Nicholls remained as Black Sabbath’s keyboard player for over twenty years, usually playing live shows from off-stage.

Former Elf and Rainbow bassist Craig Gruber also rehearsed with the band. Gruber’s involvement appears to be a point of debate. In a 1996 interview, Tony Iommi mentions that Gruber played with the band for “a bit”.[3] Gruber has stated that his time with the band was much more substantial and that he only left the group once Butler decided to return.[4]

Drummer Bill Ward completed this album, but drinking and other personal factors would eventually lead him to drop out of the subsequent tour. His mid-tour replacement Vinny Appice would become an official member. [Wikipedia]

Neon Knights—-I clearly remember how we Heavy Metal fans waited with bated breath to see what this whole new incarnation of Sabbath would sound like….the fans and the world as a whole were never disappointed by this new invention. the sabbath sound remained intact and was only assisted to a higher level by the vocal abilities of Ronnie. this remains a classic song…instrumental to the careers of many Metal superstars and a starting point for the vocal histrionics of Dio. Magnificent…still sounding fresh after all of these years!!!

Children Of The Sea—-Ronnie sings in a vocal timbre that is so familiar to any Heavy Metal fan of this era…this is so Dio in sound that it could have been on any of the solo records. The vocal is the thing that makes this song huge…the sabbath dirge is intact, but the soaring and emotional vocal is a thing of beauty and mastery. Ronnie was solid in his Medieval prophesies and started to really become his own persona on this record. Remarkable!!!!

Lady Evil—-With a much more updated Sabbath sound, the deep dirge of the band is missing, instead we are treated to the trademark sound that would later define the career of Dio when he broke away from the machine. This is remarkable…a deep and intense song that fit perfectly into the 80’s underbelly of Metal. This remains classic!!!

Heaven And Hell—-One of the few songs recorded during this time period that still stands the test of time and plays so well live that you swear it is 1980 something without a pause. This track combines the Sabbath dirge with the current sensibilities of Dio to create a timeless classic that will never grow old. This is wonderfully crafted, slightly evil Metal that Ozzy could have never pulled off…this is a different and unique Sabbath…we call the Heaven And Hell. Fantastic!!!

Wishing Well—-Again, this track always surprises me because of the lack of the deep sound that was so familiar to most of the sabbath releases up to this point. This is clear crisp and concise. the leads are fantastic…the days when songs actually allowed the guitar player to play guitar. The vocal is mystical and medieval as usual, but the most remarkable part of the song is the clear and concise musicianship. This is fantastic!!!

Die Young—-For a long time, this was my favorite Dio era single…until I heard ‘I’ years later. This is full of synth guitars that give the song a huge mechanical feel…until the intro is over. Then you are blessed by the heavy bass sound of Sabbath and the aggressive vocal of Ronnie. The recording sessions for this release must have been fantastic…I can only imagine the energy and the sense of new dirextion…this single is a true example of the days when this group really came together and incorporated two different sounds and created a machine in the process.

Walk Away—-With a much more ‘electric’ feel to the instrumentation, this is right in line with the Metal Timetable of the era. Dio adds a slight blues tinge to the vocal delivery which allows the song to obtain that dirty bar feel. this is fantastic…Dio has rarely sounded better…almost as if he is in his true musical element. This is a huge crowd song that played really well in big arenas when the band toured with this release. A delicious piece of history!!!

Lonely Is The Word—-Beginning with a huge electric feel, the guitars are almost overwhelming at the onset of this track. Dio once again leans on his blues upbringing when he delivers his lines….making you think back to the early Industrial age of England when the boys went to the pub and drowned themselves in English Blues…this is fantastic and still plays so well live…get well Ronnie…we need you.

****3/4 out of 5


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