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Black Sabbath - Heaven And Hell CD (album) cover


Black Sabbath


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4.07 | 661 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars The finest Black Sabbath album ever made. Yes, even with the history behind gems such as Paranoid, Masters of Reality, and Vol. IV, this is the one that I return to more often than any other.

Ozzy had run into the arms of the Arden clan, and eventual worldwide celebrity status, and was replaced by Ronnie James Dio, who had fallen out with Ritchie Blackmore. Dio brought his unique brand of sword & sorcery lyrics, added them to a bit of the "dark side", and, hey presto, we have a classic rock album on our hands. What this album did was rescue Sabbath from the pages of history, certainly after the cocaine fueled nonsense which had preceded this album, and gave them new impetus. Sadly, it wasn't to last very long.

In all of their illustrious career, I don't think that they came up with better tracks than Neon Knights, a rip roaring opener, Children Of The Sea, with its distinctly proggy acoustic opening & mid sections, and the title track itself, an anthem to heavy rock, and indispensable for any fan of the genre.

However, it is Die Young that is, to me, the crowning achievement of this album and, indeed, the band. Featuring some magnificent keyboards by Geoff Nicholls guesting, it is probably deliberately intended to parody Ozzy's madcap lifestyle at the time. The vocals by Dio are incredible, but it is Iommi who really steals the show with a roaring performance on guitar. I just love the opening dreamy solo, before he and the band go crashing into the main section. Just about the finest hard rock track ever made.

The four tracks I have raised above are most definitely the template for a whole host of what we now call prog metal. In those days, we just called it heavy rock, of course, and I'm not altogether sure just what the band would say to being included on a prog dedicated site.

The other four tracks are great slabs of heavy rock, but do suffer a little bit in comparison with the four absolute masterpieces here. I especially enjoy Lonely Is The Word, which features a delicate performance by Dio.

Nevertheless, this is an incredible album, and is, by any standards, an excellent addition to any rock collection.

Four stars, but 4.5 in reality.

lazland | 4/5 |


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