Heaven & Hell / Neon Knights [30 Years Of Heaven & Hell: Live In Europe]

Neon NightsNeon Nights: 30 Years of Heaven & Hell (‘Live in Europe’ for the U.S. market and ‘Live at Wacken’ for the European market) is an upcoming posthumous live album by Heaven & Hell. Recorded at the Wacken Open Air Festival in Germany on 30 July 2009, it was released in the U.S. on 16 November 2010 and in Japan on October 27, 2010 (Deluxe Website Version) and November 10, 2010 (retail version). It includes songs from all 3 of the official Dio-era Black Sabbath albums, as well as songs from The Devil You Know. The album will be released in both CD and DVD formats, and the DVD will also include interviews regarding the 30th anniversary of the release of Heaven and Hell and a tribute to Ronnie James Dio, in addition to the concert recording.

The Analysis:

Mob Rules—-One thing I will say about this right out of the gate…the sound of this recording is less than stellar…the muted sound is even more present than on most Sabbath recordings, and even the vocal seems a bit removed. Regardless, this is perhaps one of the last live recordings from this band it is amazing that Ronnie sounds as well as he does…if he was not feeling well, you would never know it from this. The crowd is damn electric, the band is tight as hell and the energy is palatable…very nice…just add a bit of treble!!!

Children Of The Sea—-This seems to have a bit more of a clear punch to the mix…Ronnie delivers a vocal that is much clearer and so full of vocal emotion. This is perhaps one of the best live renditions I have heard of this song!!! This is full of huge sweeping arm gestures and vocal ennunciations delivered as only Ronnie was able to do. This actually gave me goosebumps…stellar…fantastic and damn near perfect!!!

I—-My all time favorite track from the Dio-era Sabbath, this is nothing less than grand and sweeping. full of stellar vocals and huge emotions, Ronnie delivers his lines as if it were the very first time rather than the 100.000th. There is emotion, grandiosity and a clear definition of metal to the song…this is clear of sludge and delivered with a fairly clear 80’s era Metal sound…but it still trips my trigger every time I hear it….a piece of history!!!

Bible Black—-The only live rendition of this that I have heard, it is delivered with the same commitment as the stellar classic songs…the band fully embraces the new material as if it were and had been around forever. This is classic stuff that is new but still sounds remarkably familiar with a huge fresh modern twist…the sound of a band really coming together again…perhaps a bit too late!!!

Time Machine—-This is a remarkable track….full of the trademark bass sludge the band is famous for, but also delivered in a rather speedy manner that takes you aback a bit in this live setting. Ronnie sounds magnificent…his voice hitting those classic high peaks with little effort and the grand sweeping enunciation on full display. this is stellar…I love this song…the words are incredible and the energy is unforgettable….

Fear—-This is another of those new releases that continues to deliver trademark Sabbath sounds while also updating the sound and allowing for new fans all over the world. the tales that Ronnie is able to tell in just a few moments is incredible…the song is laden with trademark tales of darkness and mysticism…all the while showing off the band and the vocal in an optimum fashion. I love this band…I can’t believe that the entire damn thing is over…but what a hell of a history we have left…this is incredible….sounding even better live than the original recorded version!!!

Falling Off The Edge Of The World—-This is a much more classic DIO song than a sabbath sounding track…this is something that would have for perfectly on any of the DIO solo releases. The vocal is just stellar….and when the band really does finally let loose, the trademark bass sound is so familiar and comforting…you wonder what the rest of the band is going to do now with the rest of their lives…although everyone else seems to be retiring…yes? This is classic stuff…it is amazing to me how good Ronnie sounds…you know he must have not been feeling really great at this point in his life…such is the Rock N’ Roll Dedication…….

Follow The Tears—-With an incredible build-up, the Sabbath dirge is in full force on this song…I never get tired of hearing that deep bass delivery and the slow plodding death march that this band is so masterful at delivering. Ronnie seems as comfortable with this sound as he was with the much more metallic sound of the DIO solo band. This is fantastic and is a favorite track of mine as well…if only for the emotional quality of the song…this is incredible….Don’t drink from the cup of human kindness…….

Die Young—-delivering this classic song in a way that makes it sound fresh and exciting must be difficult for a band with this longevity, but the band manages to do just that with very little problem. the guitars literally soar and the energy is incredible…you can feel the excitement of the crowd and the electricity that the song manages to produce. The sound of the song is huge…as is the crowd and it must have been a pretty big rush to play this festival…even if the band was a little out-of-place with some of the bands that were on the bill…but it seems as if the crowd was right in the palms of their hands….this is just remarkable. Not to mention the incredible vocal from Ronnie…we miss you sooooo much!!!!

Heaven And Hell—-The bands trademark song and new moniker stretches out to an almost incredible 20 minutes in length!!! This is a stellar and landmark recording…allowing all members of the band to have a showcase and to also serve as a reminder of why we loved these guys together in the first place. This is just stellar…..there is a huge crowd response and participation…this is the centerpiece of the performance and still inspires goosebumps from me as I listen back to this as Ronnie speaks to the audience and the members of the crowd speaks right back to him in perfect unison. a perfect moment caught in time….jeez!!!!

Neon Knights—-Closing out the show with another classic track from the back catalog, this is another favorite song of mine that i never get tired of hearing. the speed of the song adds a nice variety…allowing the band to deliver a sound that is much different from the familiar dirge of many of the songs of the past. This is a fantastic live recording…a piece of history at this point and a nice reminder of the huge talent that we lost…as well as leaving a huge question mark in our minds as to what is next for the members of this band.

**** 1/2 out of 5


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