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Vangelis Heaven and Hell album cover
3.90 | 266 ratings | 30 reviews | 34% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 1975

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Heaven and Hell, Part One (17:00) :
- a) Bacchanale - 4:40
- b) Symphony to the Powers B (Movements 1 and 2) - 8:18
- c) Movement 3 - 4:03
2. So Long Ago, So Clear (4:58)
3. Heaven and Hell, Part Two (21:16)
- a) Intestinal Bat - 3:18
- b) Needles and Bones - 3:22
- c) 12 O'Clock - 8:48
- d) Aries - 2:05
- e) A Way - 3:45

Total Time 43:14

Line-up / Musicians

- Evangelos Papathanassiou / B÷sendorfer grand piano, keyboards (Moog, Fender Rhodes, synthesizers, ...), percussion, drums, arranger & producer

- Jon Anderson / lead vocals (2)
- Vana Veroutis / lead vocals (3-c)
- The English Chamber Choir / chorus vocals
- Guy Protheroe / choir conductor

Releases information

Artwork: Paul Wakefield (photo)

LP POLYDOR - 2393 131 (1975, Greece)
LP RCA - RS 1025 (1975, UK)
LP RCA - LPL1-5110 (1975, US)

CD RCA - ND71148 (1989, Europe)
CD BMG ‎- BVCP-7371-2 (1997, Japan) 24-bit remaster
CD Esoteric Recordings - ECLEC 2421 (2013, Europe) Remastered

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
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VANGELIS Heaven and Hell ratings distribution

(266 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of rock music(34%)
Excellent addition to any rock music collection(44%)
Good, but non-essential (17%)
Collectors/fans only (3%)
Poor. Only for completionists (2%)

VANGELIS Heaven and Hell reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by soundsweird
3 stars Unfortunately, the CD version of this album suffers from the same problem that made the LP a difficult listen: the individual tracks are not separated. And, since there's some really good stuff and some really bad stuff on this release, it's somewhat of a pain. However, the album is worth having, because it contains one of Vangelis' best tracks ever. It's the ancient-sounding piece with Vana Veroutis supplying a most beautiful female vocal, backed by The English Chamber Choir. If only Mr. Papathanassiou had put all of the quiet pieces ("Heaven") on one side, and all of the loud pieces ("Hell") on the other side......
Review by Chris S
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars I am thrilled to see Vangelis make this great site from a prog rock perspective. Vangelis is a modern day musical genius and he has proved time and time again through various works ( not always the more commercial ones either) that the musical heroes of yesteryear are still alive and well and continue with his music today.

1975- Heaven and Hell is a cunningly contrived assault of musical splendour. Angry, confused, demonic, celestial ( Thank you Jon Anderson!!) released at a time when progressive rock was at it's summit Vangelis managed to reinvent the theme of classical music and deliver a work of strength and purpose. Personally ' So Long Ago So Clear' and ' Heaven and Hell part 2' are the highlights. Listen to Jon Anderson singing post Relayer and before Olias of Sunhillow and you will understand why. Musically not quite a masterpiece but damn near close to perfection.4 and 1/2 stars.

Review by richardh
4 stars Not my favourite Vangelis album but this is still a very worthy effort.The musical themes are very strong and the use of choir and vocals is very effective.It is all a bit disjointed though and that may be a significant weakness.Essentially it is a series of peices with a thematic connection but little else.Overall not as satisfying as the best Vangelis works but interesting and relevant to prog rock all the same.
Review by Ivan_Melgar_M
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars One afternoon of 1981 a friend gave me a home recorded cassette of a Greek guy named Evangelios Odysseus Papathanassiou about whom I had never heard, this friend also told me an elaborate story that he was an old monk, who lived alone in a Greek mountain and played all the instruments.

Of course when I recognized Jon Anderson's voice I knew it was an urban legend, but after a first listen to the whole tape, was so impressed that started to have some doubts because nobody except a religious hermit could create such an elaborate and clear vision of Heaven and Hell.

Even the idea of Jon Anderson with his mystic delusions meeting this hermit crossed my mind, so I started to investigate, but on those dark days without Internet, the recollection of data took more time, but soon found the truth and asked my mother who was casually in USA to bring me all the albums by Vangelis (also found he used this artistic name).

But lets go back to our theme. The album is an outstanding mixture of religious and pagan influences that make easy for almost anybody to decipher his nationality or more properly his ethnicity because the Greek Orthodox pomp is present all along the album, his technique with all the instruments is simply amazing but obviously his strongest point are the keyboards in which he reaches the status of virtuoso.

The album is divided in two parts and various sections or movements, division that really has small importance because as in any conceptual album the essence is in the whole story, plus the fact that the division in two parts is only a consequence of the limitations of the vinyl format, because the album was designed to be listened from beginning to end.

It's futile to describe the album part by part because of it's complexity, but I'll do my best.

Part one starts with Baccanale which has a calmed introduction of keyboards and chorus but changes in an instant to one of the most complex songs that I ever heard, sounds, keyboards, choirs, Orchestra attacking the listener as it was some sort of war between good and evil that starts, stops and then starts again for a couple of times, almost like a brainstorm of music, splendid way to start the album.

"Symphony to the Powers B" is the second movement and central section of the first side or or part, starts with a piano intro that soon is followed by choirs with some lyrics apparently in Latin, rhythmic and pompous, almost as a religious ceremony.

But then begins a kind of contra punt between the male and female chorus like another confrontation between angels and demonic forces all supported by magnificent piano and Orchestra. Clearly inspired in Carmina Burana by Karl Orff.

For several minutes the piano and Chorus keeps surrounding the listener with unusual strength that goes in crescendo until the end of this movement

Almost with no interruption starts "Movement 3" a melancholic section for piano, synths and choir that many people should remember clearly because it was used in the brilliant TV show by Carl Sagan called Cosmos, incredibly beautiful song hard to describe with words.

Part I ends with "So Long Ago, So Clear" that works as a relief after the instrumental aggressiveness of the first part, Jon Anderson's vocals never sounded so appropriate as in this song, totally sweet and relaxing, the only section with vocals.

Part II is even more mystic than the previous, starts with "Intestinal Bat" a collection of sounds, bells and harps that honestly still scares me very much, a mysterious and frightening intro that ends with a shocking and distorted violin.

After this bizarre introduction, is the turn for "Needles and Bones" a rhythmic but still mysterious section of clear Greek influence played with chords, keys and bells work as a preparation for the most shocking passage of the album.

Suddenly the music fades and "12 O'clock" starts with a semi Gregorian Choir enhanced by very low toned percussion, some ghostly sounds surround the listener with a tense calm, interrupted by sudden and short chaotic musical explosions that vanish as fast as they appeared allowing the mystical choir to start again, but this time as a preparation for Vera Varoutis and her immaculate voice that gives us an idea of how an angel must sound, almost brings tears to my eyes, her voice keeps gaining volume as the minutes pass until she joins a male chorus that covers her voice and progressively vanishes.

But when the listener thinks it's all calmed is the turn for "Aries" an explosive section with full orchestra (played all by Vangelis as in the whole album), splendid and powerful passage that morphs into a soft melodic section called "A Way" that closes the album in a soft and nice way in contrast with the strong start of the album.

I know that simple words can't describe this album, but I hope I was able to give a rough idea of it, but still we have a couple of problems.

The first one is how to catalogue Heaven & Hell? This is a question that after 22 years can't answer, sometimes symphonic, others atmospheric with a great touch of Greek music, but definitely 100% Progressive, a strange and beautiful experience never repeated by Vangelis.

Now I must decide how to rate it, well this is not really a problem, because it's so unique, well developed and rich in music and pomp that it's essential for any Progressive collection, five stars.

Review by Guillermo
4 stars I listened to this album for the first time twenty years ago (in mid 1985). At that time, I was playing the drums in a new band which my brother and me formed. It had 8 members! (two keyboard players, two female backing singers, one male lead singer, a bassist, one guitarist-my brother-, and me).The members of that band had several things in common: almost everybody liked Prog Rock. One of the keyboard players one day went to my parents`house (where we rehearsed) with at least 15 L.P.s, and he said to me that he wanted to lent them to me. One of these L.P. s was this "Heaven and Hell" album (the others were albums by Peter Gabriel, Robert Fripp, Banco, Faust, Return to Forever... a great collection!; I also lent him some L.P.s of my collection:Genesis, Kansas...). I knew something about Vangelis`music because I have listened to the "Short Stories" and "The Friends of M. Cairo" albums which he recorded with Jon Anderson, and also to the "Chariots of Fire" main title which was played a lot in the Radio in the 80s. I recorded this "Heaven and Hell" album in a cassette (I still have it!). This is a very good album, with a lot of "fantasy images" created by the music. That L.P. was divided in: Side One:"Heaven and Hell part 1" and "So Long Ago, So Clear", and Side Two: "Heaven and Hell part 2", without other listed parts in the cover or in the label. I prefer the Side One of the old L.P. I agree with previous reviewers about the influence of Carl Orff`s music ("Carmina Burana") in the "Bachanale" section. In "Movement 3" I can hear a musical theme similar to the "Chariots of Fire" main theme. Maybe Vangelis "recycled" it for the soundtrack of this film. "So Long Ago, So Clear" is great, with great "orchestrations" done by Vangelis with his keyboards, Jon Anderson`s lead and backing vocals and good lyrics too (it`s a love song,really) and a "celestial" female choir. Side Two is less "peaceful", with music which sometimes sounds like "souls in pain", and a male choir arranged like singing a Gregorian Chant. As I recorded this album in a cassette 3 days before a heavy earthquake happened in Mexico City in September 1985, this album is a bit related in memories to that sad event. Fortunately, my family and friends didn`t suffer losses, but unfortunately many people suffered losses (nobody really knows how many people died then). But, apart from those sad memories, this album is still one of those albums that I like a lot. P.S. for the Webmaster:I posted this review twice, because in the first review that I posted I wrote my e-mail address wrong! Please delete the first review that I posted! Thanks!
Review by Eetu Pellonpaa
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars I guess this is the most appreciated classic VANGELIS album, and I admit it's very good. I listened it as it has JON ANDERSSON appearing on it, and I was interested of all YES-related stuff I could find as a teen-ager. The movement performed with him is fine, but there are also other good parts in this record. If you like instrumental, electronic vintage music, try this classic!
Review by greenback
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This is one of the most progressive albums of Vangelis: it contains drums and tons of backing vocals of the choir + opera style; some keyboards provide a bass emulation. There are many intense floating moments, full of sustained choirs. There are also many catchy piano and percussions parts. The first epic track is often very symphonic & anthemic. It has some similitudes with the "Mask" album, if you do not compare the sound quality & technology involved. The second track has Jon Anderson on lead vocals: an intense & floating quintessential bit is reached when he stops singing: impressive! The other side has some dark and experimental parts, rather sounding like an horror movie soundtrack. Past the third minute, rhythm & melody take place with awakening railroad- crossing bells-like + an unidentified tribal acoustic instrument; then, come some very scary bits: crazy female voices with tribal percussions and odd keyboards: do not listen it alone in the dark! Then come excellent sustained choirs + an "Edith Piaf"-esque opera voice: sounding like Western Spaghetti movies soundtracks, it is VERY impressive!

Rating: 4.5 stars

Review by Australian
4 stars "Heaven and Hell" is a wonderful album. It really shuts up anyway who thinks that the electronic prog genre requires no skill in terms of instrumental ability and composition. This of course is entirely untrue and the genre is quite sophisticated musically, unlike most regular mainstream electronic music. "Heaven and Hell" also isn't as heavily focused on synthesizers as say Tangerine Dream and I'm happy to say that Vangelis gets to the point quite quickly, although there is some welcome repetition.

"Heaven and Hell" was very difficult to record and once it finally was finished it took and even longer period of time to over come the inherent technical problems facing it. But never the less the album is a huge success and remains one of the favorite albums. One of the major things that attracted me to this album was that Jon Anderson of Yes features on vocals towards the end of the first part of the album. In addition Vana Veroutis and English Chamber Choir also help enhance the album.

The albums begins with part one of "Heaven and Hell" of which the opening section is called "Bacchanale." It begins immediately with an odd sounding synthesizer which is soon joined by the choir. This theme progresses into one killer of an opening. Following this is "Symphony to the Powers B" which in itself progresses many times but is more of a down to earth section in terms of instrumentation than "Bacchanale." "Movement 3" is quite mellow and atmospheric and it works well to set the scene for the next section "So long Ago, So Clear" It features some very nice synthesizers and spacey themes. "So long Ago, So Clear" is my favorite part of the album. It opens with a very beautiful section bristling with synthesizers, soon Jon Anderson comes in on vocals and rest is just amazing.

Part two begins with "Intestinal Bat" which begins with a crash and the sound of bats emulated by percussives and synthesizers begin to sound. The next section entitled "Needles and Bones" features and very strong and almost overdone melody which is repeated many times. It is accented by string pitz and percussion which add variety to the passage. Next is "12 O'Clock" Which begins with a silence after the previous section. It then encompasses the sounds of percussion and various synthesizers until it reaches a peak, and winds down. It repeats this processes again on a smaller scale. After some more doodling the choir and Vana Veroutis come in singing one Gregorian chant-like melody towards start. Vana Veroutis then proceeds to have quite a long vocal solo backed by the choir. Nect up is "Areis" which is quite an intense instrumental passage featuring a couple of strong synthesizer melodies and percussion. Last of all comes "A Way" which ends the album in a very beautiful and spacey manner, great ending.

Review by Zitro
2 stars 2.4 stars

A mixed bag, having great, decent, and bad parts throughout the disc.

This is an ambitious album divided into two songs. The first song Heaven despite the energetic introduction, is generally ambient, mellow, and relaxing. The second one, which is called Hell is darker and a bit more avant-garde. the music is driven mostly by an orchestra and synthesizers. The synthesizers are not really what you would expect from Vangelis sometimes: it can sound aggressive and sadly dated.

Heaven starts promisingly with chorals clashing with pompous synthesizer motifs. After five minutes, the music turns looser, more classical-sounding, and in my opinion somewhat directionless and boring. After eight minutes of random classical noodling, the music finally has a bit of direction and has a melody similar to his later work Chariots of Fire. Pleasant and used in the popular Astronomy series Cosmos but nothing breathtaking. What's breathtaking is the last movement of the composition with synthesizer and orchestral arrangement backing the vocalist who is none other than Jon Anderson! Absolutely gorgeous stuff, if only the middle of the song was more substantial.

Hell begins with a mysterious and creepy ambient music with open arrangements. After three minutes, the movement Needles and Bones starts with no transition whatsoever. Tt sounds dated, repetitive, and awful in every possible way. After that atrocious section is done, the best movement of Hell begins and it is very sinister avant-garde music. The percussion and moogs sound evil, and the synthesizers sometimes sound like a moaning soul. sandwiching this macabre avant-garde is a soaring Gregorian chant melody. The 4th section appears out of nowhere and again sounds dated, unnecessary, and just plain bad. The song ends with peaceful ambient movement.

Since each movement in each song are not separated into individual tracks, you cannot skip these hideous sections in Hell nor the directionless 2nd movement of Heaven. This causes each spin to be a frustrating listen as the album is so inconsistent in terms of quality.

Review by Kazuhiro
4 stars As for the music that Vangelis at this time had created, the idea at which he had to aim exactly might have been opened. Of course, it is said that there was a fact that actually rehearses with them man who has received the request from Yes. However, he might have understood the situation, directionality, and all the parts in music.

All elements as his music character are blocked enough in this album of man who debuted from RCA. Making good use of of composition and technology of idea and tune perfectly polished. These parts are important when talking about the content of this album.

Fact to which recording is processed operating all almost musical instruments. And, when the album is created, the flow that appoints English Chamber Choir might be related as a certain point. Or, the song of Jon Anderson is one of the very important parts in the point to compose the album.

Melody and rhythm that reaches the peak from part of grand chorus in "Heaven And Hell Part 1" at once with which tension overflows. It is likely to draw it in to music to which he created the listener exactly. High development of artistry that transcended frame of music. Coming in succession of the hymn and musical instruments presents development to which the forecast doesn't adhere. The composition of the tune processed almost perfectly will call impression.

Song of grand Jon Anderson in "So Long Ago,So Clear". And, the arrangement of a perfect tune of Vangelis might be along the flow of the concept of this album. It is possible to listen to the keyboard and the synthesizer that plays various sounds still freshly.

The processing of the organ of "Heaven And Hell Part 2" and the arrangement of the rhythm might be also splendid. As for an electronic part, elements of musical instruments that the aspect is waited for and he operates are completely reflected. Whether the music that he Vangelis had to understand everything very and to do was sent enough is understood. The chorus part also has already created one space. He splendidly completed a grand theme as a work.

The music that Vangelis at this time had created gradually revolutionized the music character at the same time as becoming one art and always announcing a high-quality work. It might be a field where only he can exactly do his various works. And, Vangelis at this time might have reached a climax. It is a work always popular among the listener.

Review by Neu!mann
4 stars They don't make 'em like this anymore (thankfully, a cynic might say): textbook 1970s synth- rock from the Golden Age of analog Prog, composed and performed by one of the foremost keyboard wizards of the age. Never mind the casual thematic links to the afterlife suggested by the album title and artwork (in truth it could have been named anything else and worked just as well). Enjoy instead the music in all its grandiose, overblown, and altogether irresistible glory.

Keyboard-based epics were of course not uncommon in the middle 1970s. But here the expected classical trappings run deeper than usual. Besides employing a more or less typical pre-digital wall of towering electronics, Vangelis upped the symphonic ante by adding lots of orchestral percussion (playing all the drums himself, and competently too), plus a full choir, giving each of the two long suites a dramatic intensity worthy at times of Carl Orff (imagine the 'Carmina Burana', with synthesizers).

It's true the album may sound more than a little na´ve by 21st century standards of electronic music. But that distinctive Vangelis style was something new at the time, and fairly unique among his many competitors (more about that below). It gave the Greek keyboard maestro his earliest international success, thanks in part to a later association with the popular PBS TV series 'Cosmos', and also to the ballad 'So Long Ago, So Clear', his first collaboration with kindred spirit JON ANDERSON.

The song ends Part One of the album on a note of truly celestial beauty, in a manner apparently cut from the same romantic cloth as the Anderson melody 'Soon', from the current YES album 'Relayer'. It also provided a tantalizing hint to YES fans of what the band might have sounded like if Vangelis had accepted the invitation to replace RICK WAKEMAN.

A moot point, to be sure. But ardent Progheads can't resist playing the 'what-if' game of hindsight speculation, and with that in mind 'Heaven and Hell' makes a fascinating contrast to the contemporaneous efforts of the two primary YES keyboard players. The album is nowhere near as bizarre and uneven as 'The Story of i' (the first and best PATRICK MORAZ solo work, released the following year). And its neo-classical arrangements have aged a lot better than anything RICK WAKEMAN was then playing: compare the harsh ambient intro to 'Heaven and Hell, Part Two' with the godawful classical rock of 'Journey to the Center of the Earth' (1974), a strictly guilty pleasure to even the most forgiving fan.

When heard in retrospect after more than thirty years, 'Heaven and Hell' is clearly a product of its era. But unlike a lot of once-fashionable but now dated synth-Prog artifacts it doesn't require a pair of nostalgic rose-colored headphones to make it listenable today.

Review by ZowieZiggy
3 stars This is an important album in the discography of the Greek composer.

For the very first time, Jon Anderson is featured on one of his album and it is only the start of a very long partnership of both personalities. Some synthesizers are also featured.

Two parts divided into several shorter pieces are on the menu. There are some pre "Chariots Of Fire" sounds during the second phase from "Part I" and the closing Anderson vocals are quite well achieved (but this is no big news, is it?). Sometimes this section sounds a bit like ELP (piano) and the choir adds some bombastic angle to the whole.

The second part shows some close relationship with Oldfield ("Ommadawn") and is my favourite from the two. The peaceful vocalizing section from Vana Veroutis during "12 O'Clock" reminds me of "Once Upon A Time In The West" (which is not pejorative in my mouth). Quite relaxing and pure beauty.

The "ELP" style is back again with "Aries": bombastic and pedant. But you know the story?The closing and spacey "A Way" is also enjoyable and as a whole I would rate this album with three stars. A strong second part and an average first one.

Review by Rune2000
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Vangelis has pretty much become a quality brand in terms of great electronic/New Age music. Still it wasn't until his work as a soundtrack composer in the '80s that he would become the household name that he is today.

Heaven And Hell is one of the early albums where Vangelis showed signs of a mature composer. Roughly split into two 20 minute tracks, this might make people assume that an album from 1975 with this arrangement would be progressive and they would be right! Even though Vangelis was moving away from the progressive rock escapades of his past and towards classic music, there were still quite a few glimpses of his early days spread out all throughout the album. Plus we also get to hear his first collaboration with Jon Anderson, on So Long Ago, So Clear, which in itself says something about the album's progressive merits.

The album moves into many different styles and moods that may not make it the consistent effort that an album of this magnitude would make one assume, but the individual sub-sections do keep the quality up. Even though there are a few sections that don't always work for me, like the rather long 12 O'Clock on side two, I would still give that side an advantage due to its general progression. Side one might be the more recognizable since it features the famous Movement 3 that has functioned as theme music for the television documentary series Cosmos, but the breaks between the different sections makes it difficult for me to see it as one whole.

In conclusion, it's safe to say that Heaven And Hell remains an excellent album that should be experienced by all fans of New Age music, especially since the record has aged fairly well over the years.

**** star songs: Heaven And Hell, Part One (22:05) Heaven And Hell, Part Two (21:21)

Review by octopus-4
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR RIO/Avant/Zeuhl,Neo & Post/Math Teams
5 stars There are two albums of Vangelis that I consider masterpieces and this is one of the two. It's also the first Vangelis album that I have purchased. The English Chamber Choir which plays an important role on Side B is the same which played on Wakeman's Journey to the Center of the Earth and is a singular coincidence that I have purhased the two albums the same day....

However, the side A is opened by a chaotic "sub-track" its title is Bacchanale. This word is the name of an "Ellenistic (from Greece) ritual in use in the ancient Roman empire. An orgiastic ritual in honour of Bacchus, god of wine. The Roman equivalent of "sex and drugs and rock and roll". I think the compulsive percussions and the brass keyboard describe it very well.

On the second part of the suite, regardless the title, we have the first appearence of the English Chamber Choir. I don't know what they sing. It's probably a sequence of meaninless words as Pink Floyd did on Atom Heart Mother. Those words sounds latin anyway.The piano interlude is short but very good, then the initial organ is back and the choir restarts. There is a progression. The music is sometimes "triumphal", very symphonic. I have the vinyl copy so I can't say when the "Movement 3 starts or ends, It's possible that the impressive piano solo is still part of this subtrack. There's no solution of continuity but it's likely that the soft and melodic fender piano on which a female voice and later the male choir and "violins", and finally brasses perform a crescendo and a fadeout.

It ends on "So Long Ago So Clear". It's the first appearance of Jon Anderson an a Vangelis album. His heavenly falsetto voice is very appropriate here. A great melodic song of which Jon wrote the lyrics.

Now let's go to Hell for a while. The opening of side B "Intestinal Bat" is very dark. Few piano notes over random noises in the background, sometimes emerging. Compulsive percussions in the background come and go. There's plenty of tension. What happens after is not so bad as one could expect. The second subtrack of side B is based on a bass scale of C. In PA terminology: good but non essential.

What is really the core of Side B comes after. A male choir brings us back to the obscurity of hell. It looks more similar to the Greek concept of "ade". The choir is overwhelmed by noises and percussions. It's like the bacchanale of the opening, but it's in the Hell this time. The percussions are parossistic and the distorted sounds are grotesque. When the chaos ends the male choir restarts while a deadly bell resounds in the back. the female part of the choir joins on the same melody then Vana Veroutis performs her great soprano work.

The final is a sort of anthem. On the vinyl edition it's called "Heavy-Aries-Heaven" I don't know if "A Way" is an addition on the CD or it's just Vangelis who decided to give different names to the various parts of the suite. After the rhyitmic part a quite long keyboard coda disappears slowly.

It's a highly evocative album. You can keep the headphone on, close your eyes and enter into this music. After this album I became a fan and I'be been so lucky to purchase Albedo 0.39 immediately after it.

Masterpiece is the right word.

Review by Mellotron Storm
2 stars I'm surprised at how highly rated this album is but Vangelis does have his fans.This was released in 1975 and comes off sounding like a bad Mike Oldfield album. He followed his pattern with the two side long suites and we even get sleigh bells at one point.The problem is that to my ears this sounds awful much of the time. Especially the sounds of the synths and the sound of those vocal melodies on track one and that's just the start. I found his previous album "Earth" to have a lot of excellent tracks and passages and for me it's a much better album that this one.

"Heaven And Hell Part One" kicks in around a minute but as I mentioned i'm not a fan of those vocal expressions at all.The tempo will continue to shift. A change after 4 1/2 minutes as we get lots of keyboards and those vocal melodies that will come and go. Sleigh bells before 11 1/2 minutes. A calm 13 minutes in and it turns out to be quite beautiful. It stops 17 minutes in as a new soundscape takes over and Jon Anderson starts to sing in this pastoral section to end the first suite. "Heaven And Hell Part Two" opens with atmosphere and sparse sounds that come and go. It kicks in before 3 1/2 minutes with intricate sounds. It stops before 7 minutes and then changes to a haunting section which ends around 10 minutes.Then we get some haunting vocal melodies with church bells. A new sound before 15 1/2 minutes that sounds like a marching band playing (not good). A calm before 18 minutes and it stays pastoral o the end.

A big disappointment overall and defintely for fans only.

Review by Warthur
1 stars Though presented as an album-long suite (a cynic might suggest as an attempt to cash in on Mike Oldfield's success), the different segments of Heaven and Hell really demand to be indexed as individual tracks, because it really isn't a cohesive and continuous suite so much as a selection of songs arranged to mimic one.

I guess it's an important album in Vangelis' career - not least because it contains his first collaboration with Jon Anderson in the form of So Long Ago, So Clear. But it's let down by the fact that so many of the synths come across sounding just plain dated to modern ears, and by the sloppy songwriting - the sleigh bell section on the first side is a fairly transparent rip-off of Michael Oldfield's use of them in his albums, and the bits where Vangelis tries to kick it Keith Emerson style just sound monotonous and repetitive. Furthermore, the operatic vocals are completely tastelessly applied.

Frankly, it's not to my taste, and I suspect there'll be many listeners out there who listen to it and, like me, end up baffled as to what all the fuss is about. This slapdash composition is a real blot on Vangelis' discography, and the brazen attempts (whether they were chosen by Vangelis or imposed on him by the record company) to rip off Mike Oldfield's style are particularly galling. One star.

Review by Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars So long ago, so good

Released in 1975, "Heaven and Hell" finds Vangelis experimenting with a number of new (to him) styles and influences. Along with the more frontal nature of the electronics, we have operatic chorales and classical influences a-plenty. In retrospect, perhaps of more significance is the collaboration for the first time with Jon Anderson, the pair going on to find considerable success together as Jon and Vangelis. This though is very much a solo project, with Vangelis providing all the instrumentation and percussion himself. Anderson's contribution is restricted to vocals on one section.

The album is nominally divided into two sections, but in reality this merely reflects the limitations at the time of the LP medium, each section running to an LP side. Later releases sub-split the piece into smaller chunks, but it is an already well worn debate as to whether the album should be considered a complete piece, or a collection of individual tracks.

Musically, we enjoy a fine diversity of soft piano, mass choir, fanfare synths, organ, and many other sounds. Vangelis never dwells too long on a single theme, or resorts to repetition. Clearly, at this time he is bursting with ideas, and seeks to cram as many as possible into the 40 odd minute constraints of the period. We hear suggestions of the film themes such as "Chariots of fire" which will come along soon after, the synth arrangements here still being reasonably pioneering for the time. The section which features Jon Anderson ("So Long Ago, So Clear") is best compared with softer Yes pieces such as "Soon" from "Gates of Delirium" or the acoustic part of "The ancient". I would assume the lyrics are Anderson's.

Those coming to the album now and content to settle for a flippant, one listen review will undoubtedly fail to grasp either the significance of the album in a historical prog context, or indeed to absorb the complexity and great beauty of a finely composed and performed album from almost 40 years ago. Those however who are willing to let the album mature with them, will be rewarded by a set which is melodic, exciting and intriguing.

Review by thellama73
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Vangelis is a Greek composer and multi-instrumentalist most famous for his score for the film Chariots of Fire. As surprising as it may seem, he actually has a long and productive career with many studio albums to his name. This is one of his most well known and celebrated, a collection of two side-long suites based on the concept of - you guessed it - Heaven and Hell.

This is a difficult album to review, because musically, it's all over the place. I'll be frank, there are a lot of cringe-worthy moments here. The use of the synthesizer was still relatively unrefined in 1975, but Vangelis dives in with gusto, producing sounds that now seem very badly dated. The first half of side one is bombastic and unpleasant, with annoyingly abrasive synths and hackneyed vocals by ominous sounding Greek choirs. This is supposed to be Heaven?

Side two, Hell, is, in general, much less prone to these sorts of problems and has plenty of lovely moments with tolling bells and a lovely female vocal melody, although the tasteful creepiness is still occasionally interrupted by obnoxiously dated sound effects, including an incredibly annoying siren-like synthesizer that won't shut up.

So why am I giving this album three whole stars when it seems to have so little going for it? Because Vangelis makes up for all of it, all of the tacky synths, the lack of restraint, the bombast, the hokey choirs, and the general vagueness of his concept in the second half of side one. He makes up for it, and then some.

About ten minutes in to the Heaven half, all the choirs and keyboard riffs drop out and a sense of cosmic peace washes over the listener. This section may be familiar to some as the theme from the Carl Sagan TV series, Cosmos. The music here is absolutely perfect, capturing the vastness and beauty of space, and then just when you think it can't get any better, it does.

The last section of the Heaven side is a song called "So Long Ago, So Clear" sung by Jon Anderson of the band Yes. It's utterly gorgeous, with Anderson in fine voice and the melody one of exquisite grace and tenderness. This section along with the previous one comprise roughly a quarter of the album, yet they are so good that they force to (almost) overlook the record's other flaws. Honestly, that ten minutes is worth the price of admission.

Maybe other listeners are less bothered by the synth parts (or less taken with Jon Anderson) than I am, but for me Heaven and Hell is a bewildering listen, a product of its time that leaves me feeling both moved and vaguely annoyed.

Review by TCat
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
5 stars If you don't count soundtracks, "Heaven and Hell" is Vangelis' 2nd solo album after his breakup of the progressive band "Aphrodite's Child". Vangelis held on, at least to some extent, to his progressive roots from that band for the previous album "Earth", but for this album, released in 1975, he moves to a more classical approach with his use of synthesizers and keyboards. The album is considered one of his most important albums, and it is one where he performs everything except for the vocals that appear on the album.

Even though most labels list only two tracks, part 1 and part 2, these parts are actually divided up into separate sub- tracks, so it works more like a suite than a long-form composition. The album also features the first collaboration with Jon Anderson, which would eventually morph into a few albums by Jon & Vangelis. Some of the tracks are more of an avant-garde, experimental style (representing Hell) and more melodic and tranquil style (representing Heaven). However, instead of separating them out as taking up an album side each, the styles are mixed resulting in a nice feel of variety.

Side 1 of the album contains all of part 1 of the suite, beginning with "Bacchanale". Sounding like a dark and complex fanfare, the basic motif is a three-note riff with wide and varying intervals. After playing through a sequence of riffs on synth, the 2nd time through, it is played again joined by the vocal chorus, then it develops off of this in a frantic exchange between the vocals and synth, then repeating that pattern. It's quite a rousing beginning and promises an exciting album. The next subsections combine 3 movements of what is called "Symphony to the Powers B", the 3 movements make up over 13 minutes of this side. It has quite a cinematic feel with synths, piano and vocals, almost sounding like the famous composition by Orff, somewhat dark, yet also exalting. Some might recognize the theme of the 3rd movement as it was used as the theme to the PBS series "Cosmos" and was released as a single in 1981. It's a very impressive and symphonic track (meaning all three movements), one of Vagelis' best ever. This amazing work is followed by the debut of Vangelis & Jon Anderson performing together with the section titled "So Long Ago, So Clear". The song was written when Vangelis sat down and played the melody and Jon immediately wrote the words. Hymn- like and stately, it signaled the beginning of what would result in 3 albums of the duo working together.

The 2nd side is made up of 5 subsections of the 2nd part of the suite. Starting with a spooky and minimal track "Intestinal Bat" which definitely conjures up some eerie sentiments with its strange effects and noises, it shows the experimental side of Vangelis. "Needles & Bones" is more percussive and sounds like a dance of bones, interesting and even a bit of sinister playfulness. "12 o'Clock" is supposedly divided up into 2 parts totaling over 8 minutes. Subdued vocals and percussion sound as if it's coming from afar, but the percussion and synth effects wash out the choir vocals with a tense and dark mood. Suddenly, it's not so playful anymore. Treated vocal noises along with synth effects swirl around as heavy percussion continues and sudden jolts of synthesized chords signify some unpleasant surprises. Then some bells and wordless choir vocals take the place of the noises. Another guest vocalist (Vana Verouti) takes the lead from the choir with continued passionate wordless vocals and the synths follow along with chimes playing lightly behind it all. "Aries" has a lively march beat with another fanfare style melody with synths. The last section "A Way" cools things down quite quickly with a lovely, lullaby-like melody, pensive and more ambient.

There is a lot of emotion and dynamic in this album and the two sides are portrayed quite well. It's easy to see why this album was so appealing to those that were wishing to explore electronic music of that time as it is one of the most powerful and dynamic albums of its type. It's melodic and experimental, the best of both worlds. Even though Vangelis takes a more classical approach in his style on this album, it is still quite appealing and, for the most part, accessible, yet it is interesting and mesmerizing too. It is without question one of his most important albums and should be heard by all lovers of the electronic style.

Latest members reviews

4 stars Heaven And Hell, Part 1 starts... finally begins; a majestic intro that you immediately recognize, then swirling and screaming choruses of madness, that's it, you are in the world of VANGELIS; it shines everywhere, the layers of synths have a blast; this subtitle is called 'Bacchanale' yes we unders ... (read more)

Report this review (#2928659) | Posted by alainPP | Sunday, May 28, 2023 | Review Permanlink

4 stars This is one of the earlier works of Vangelis before he became a superstar. It is an interesting album on many fronts. It shows us a progression of Vangelis from his work with Aphrodites Child to his staple work. It has a palette of sounds, making it very varied. We hear some glimpses of where h ... (read more)

Report this review (#2756321) | Posted by WJA-K | Wednesday, May 25, 2022 | Review Permanlink

4 stars This is one of Vangelis' masterworks and one of my absolute favourites. It has some beautiful sections and comprises of two parts. "Heaven And Hell Part I" is the most stunning half of the work and truly grabs you with a lofty, exciting mood. It kicks off with the wild, exciting "Bacchanale" whic ... (read more)

Report this review (#402556) | Posted by Frankie Flowers | Thursday, February 17, 2011 | Review Permanlink

5 stars The first Vangelis music I ever heard was from this album in the most unlikely of locations - at a rock concert between bands. The year was 1980, I think, and I went to see Kansas on the Audio-Visions tour. Alvin Lee opened the show, and burned the stage with his fiery guitar. Afterwards, a ... (read more)

Report this review (#287452) | Posted by Progosopher | Sunday, June 20, 2010 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Best two bucks I ever spent? Probably. Modern popular music has all but abandoned the synthesizer and it seems the only exposure most people get is only the pale cast offs of 1980s pop music. Over the last few years I like to think my musical knowledge has increased and my tastes matured. Recen ... (read more)

Report this review (#265144) | Posted by R-A-N-M-A | Wednesday, February 10, 2010 | Review Permanlink

5 stars This is one of my all time favourite Vangelis albums. I picked this up from a second hand vinyl market stall back in my early teens and it was one of the very first records I bought. To me, everything about this record is special, from the packaging, to the music within. It represents Vangelis a ... (read more)

Report this review (#158025) | Posted by UnearthlyChild | Tuesday, January 8, 2008 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Evanghelos Odyssey Papathanassiou is an electronic composer, by which I mean he is a composer of synthesised music from keyboards, samplers and other circuitry-based instruments, and not a kind of android. Beginning his solo career with loose, lengthy jazz-influenced pieces, 1975 saw the shift to ... (read more)

Report this review (#82512) | Posted by Frankingsteins | Monday, July 3, 2006 | Review Permanlink

5 stars I was surprised to see Vangelis here, despite his outstanding work 666. And more surprised this album has been rated this high. I myself believe it's a masterpiece, but it certainly doesn't have some features that a mainstream prog album has (like guitar), but it has Jon Anderson anyway :) ... (read more)

Report this review (#39325) | Posted by Bilek | Wednesday, July 13, 2005 | Review Permanlink

4 stars I listened to this album for the first time twenty years ago (in mid 1985). At that time, I was playing the drums in a new band which my brother and me formed. It had 8 members! (two keyboard players, two female backing singers, one male lead singer, a bassist, one guitarist-my brother-, and m ... (read more)

Report this review (#34764) | Posted by | Tuesday, May 17, 2005 | Review Permanlink

5 stars A masterpiece in every aspect. Beautifully arranged. Contains acoustic as well as heavy electronics. It's actually one long suite, and it can bring tears to your eyes, love to heart and anger to your chest. Buy it, and experience a true moment of love and intense music from one of the greatest ... (read more)

Report this review (#34759) | Posted by TBWART | Saturday, April 23, 2005 | Review Permanlink

5 stars I'm glad this artist has been added to this archive. This album perfectly shows his progressive side. VANGELIS plays all the vintage keyboards, piano, drums and percussion. The sound is also enriched with the English Chamber Choir and lead vocals by JON ANDERSON and Vana Veroutis. Don't expect to ... (read more)

Report this review (#34758) | Posted by terramystic | Friday, April 22, 2005 | Review Permanlink

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