BLACK SABBATH — Heaven And Hell (review)

BLACK SABBATH — Heaven And Hell album cover Album · 1980 · Heavy Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
4.5/5 ·
Sean Trane
With Ozzy now out for good, the band had to think about its future with Wazrner Bros pushing the group for their tenth album. Torn between LA and England, the group eventually ended up in France in their tax-exiles (so the H&H album was partly recorded at Criteria studios in the UK and Studio Ferber in France), but personal problems also plagued Butler and prompted him to head back home to sort his problems (see later in the review).

Produced by Martin Birch (but not wearing the usual Birch Purple-sound), Black Sabbath's comeback album is one of the most impressive and influential albums of the 80's, as the group headed a Heavy Metal Revival, with Judas Priest (British Steel) and Motorhead's ascension to fame as well (Ace Of Spade), just in front of a wave of new groups that will be called NWOBHOB; Having secured RJ Dio on vocals (and bass), the group started rehearsing, with Geoff Nichols on bass (as well), because Geezer Butler was busy in his divorce case. Once the original bassist returned (therefore wiping out any legend that he didn't play on H&H), Geoff Nichols remained with the group but concentrated on whatever keyboards sounds were needed. Dio's new ideas mixed Iommi's writings created the new fresh approach ion the album, and the album's general ambiance is a huge part of its success.

Starting on the hit single Neon Knights (one of Sabbath's most up-tempoed tracks ever), the group charged heavily on the dramatics, developing to goosebump levels on the longer Children Of The Sea, the H&H title track and Lonely Is the Word tracks. With another two shorter tracks like the "anthem" Die Young and the abrupt Wishing Well, H&H is a stunning metal album, and strangely enough one of the last one (chronologically and historically-speaking) this writer will really consider highly. Butler's usual superb bass playing is still a very important feature, but Ward's drumming is a bit less mightier than in his early days. Superb closing track in Lonely Is The Word, as well.

While I wouldn't call H&H a progressive album per se, it certainly became the emblem of a new era for metal music, even if (IMHO) it's never been bettered by any metal group since.
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