Ah, Black Sabbath, how we’ve missed you. I know, it’s not officially “Black Sabbath”, but we all know it really is. God love Ozzy, but Dio has always been the man for this band vocally. And now Messer’s Dio, Iommi, Butler & Appice have come to show all schools, old and new, how Metal is made.
With more tenacity and believability than bands half their age, Black S-…ok, ok…Heaven & Hell has returned to crush all in its path…and crush it does. This 4-headed monster devours all comers with razor wire teeth and steel jaws. The Devil You Know, front to back, beginning to end, wall to wall, is an absolute testament to what Metal can do in this day and age. 29 years after this incarnation’s debut, they’ve lost nothing. Dio’s vocals in particular are stunning. A man in the back half of his 60s should not sound this menacing…this intent on ripping out your soul. But I’m so glad he does. Iommi’s riffing is simply mammoth. Butler’s bass lines & fills are at their peak. Appice is Appice, in this instance…steady and solid, complimenting the riffs and carrying everything along well.
“Bible Black”, the first single unleashed upon the public, is simply fantastic. The tempo stomp is patented Iommi grandeur. Listening to this album, one can hear its influence on modern Doom Metal with its dark, ominous presence and unrelenting, slow to mid-tempo dirge. Songs like the aforementioned “Bible Black”, plus “Follow The Tears”, “Atom & Evil” and “Breaking Into Heaven” are straight up Doom-saturated behemoth’s…slow, angry and downright beastly. Blend in the head-banging riffs of “Eating The Cannibals”, “Neverwhere”, “Double The Pain” and “Fear” and what we have is a damn-near perfect Heavy Metal album. It is heavy & beautiful, plodding & soaring, Heaven & Hell!! If I could point to anything close to a weak moment, it’d be parts of “Rock And Roll Angel”, but even that has its moments.
Ronnie Dio, as far as I’m concerned, can abandon his own band and stay here for the remainder of his career which, I’m hoping, carries him and the rest of the band into their 80s as long as the music is this good. I may not even buy another album this year…well, scratch that…I will, but they won’t be as good as this one. Easily one of the best Metal releases of 2009.