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Black Sabbath - Heaven And Hell CD (album) cover


Black Sabbath


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4.07 | 660 ratings

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3 stars The band says that Ozzy was too much into drugs and they kicked him out, but Ozzy says that he was sick of the experimental direction the band was taking after "Technical Ecstasy" and "Never Say Die" and wanted out of the band. Whatever the reason, it was Sharon Arden that introduced guitarist Tommy Iommi to Ronnie James Dio (previously the lead singer for the bands Elf and Rainbow). Sharon Arden would later become Sharon Osbourne....interesting how things work out. The move to put in Dio turned out to be a wise decision for both Dio and Black Sabbath. This revitalized Black Sabbath's sound and introduced the band to new fans, the type of fans that love the 80s style metal that Black Sabbath started to emulate instead of following their old doom metal sounding formula which also had more prog elements than the new sound did. It is also interesting that with Ozzy leaving that the "experimental period" also ended with the band making more accessible heavy metal than before.

So, this album was a huge success. People liked Dio's vocals because he was right in line with what was happening in the hair metal scene that was evolving. Dio's method of singing was much different from Osbourne's. Iommi said that Dio opened up new possibilities because he sang against the guitar hooks where Osbourne insisted on singing along with them. What I find interesting yet disheartening is that the days of the multi-movement songs that was prominent in Sabbath's music was also gone. This lost a lot of the dynamics that were previously a huge characteristic of Black Sabbath music up through the "Sabatoge" album. To reflect this, the songs on "Heaven and Hell" are a lot more commercial than before.

This is not to say that "Heaven and Hell" is a bad album though. For Dio, this was probably his least commercial album that he was involved with, but it was also Black Sabbath's most commercial album to this point. While with Rainbow, Dio would dabble a little with prog elements, but for the most part, his overall sound was the same. So Dio brought commercialism to Black Sabbath, and the band brought popularity to Dio's name. For this album, the change in the vocals is welcome and it is a good mix of heaviness and commercialism that did rise above a lot of the hair band sound that was out or coming out at the time. "Neon Knights" and "Heaven and Hell" are staples of Black Sabbath and both excellent tracks, and some of the secondary songs are even great rockers, but they are not progressive at all, and unfortunately to me, become less interesting faster. Still, it's a worthy album and a great on for the Black Sabbath discography. Besides the obvious highlights, "Lady Evil", "Wishing Well", and "Die Young" are all better than most of the heavy metal being made at the time and "Lonely is the Word" is actually my favorite highlight of the album, so yes this is a Black Sabbath album that deserves to be in your collection.

The next album "Mob Rules" also featured Dio as vocalist, but also fell to being more commercial than ever, and suffered for it. In the meantime however, this album is not quite up to the standard of the best Ozzy era albums, but it is still great enough to get 4 stars. The part that bothers me is that it really isn't a prog album, so for the purposes of this site, it must get 3 stars.

TCat | 3/5 |


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