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After a string of mediocre albums with Tony Martin, Sabbath regroup with former vocalist Ronnie James Dio. Dio, of course had a succesful solo career but like Sabbath, he had kind of lost his touch over time. I guess both Sabbath and Dio really needed something to get them back on track, and boy this was the album to do it.
The production is absolutely perfect, Sabbath hasn't sounded this heavy since Volume 4. Dio is back on the top of his game, putting his powerful voice to good use. Geezer is absolutely amazing as usual, there's good reason why this guy is one of the best bassists ever. Appice is solid, his drum sound is pretty bad ass on here. But it's Tony Iommi who really makes a come back, you would think after 20,000 albums Iommi would have ran out of riffs long ago. But this shit is so fresh and heavy you can't help but bow down and give the man his due. His lead work has improved alot too, playing some of his fastest and at the same time most melodic solos to date.
"Computer God" starts the album off quite nicely, a really heavy, vocal driven song. Awesome pre-chorus harmonics, nice breakdown about half way through blazing back in at even faster speed for an awesome solo. "After All(The Dead)" is a slower song with some menacing layered vocals from Dio, after a while it picks up and turns into a nice plodding head banger. Not the best Sabbath song in the world, but not bad either. "TV Crimes" is a fast paced rocker, borderline speed metal. A nice contrast to the slower songs before it, great song, this is what heavy metal is all about.
"Letters From Earth" sounds like something that could have been released on Sabbath Bloody Sabbath or Vol. 4. A dark and brutally heavy song, nothing new or special but effective none the less. "Master of Insanity" comes up next, that riff that kicks in at about 40 seconds...Oh yeah, that's got Iommi wrote all over it. An insanely catchy chorus, man that thing will get stuck in your head for days. Awesome song. "Time Machine" is probably the most well known song from the album, it's more up-beat and VERY catchy. That intro riff sounds like something Manowar would write. A definite highlight. "Sins of the Father" is an awesome mid paced epic, Dio sounds exceptionally great at the beginning. Listen to that breakdown at about 2:20....Total fucking ownage, man that riff gets me every time "They call it mystery, but any fool can see..." one of the greatest moments in heavy metal history, right up there with "The world is full of kings and queens, who'll blind your eyes and steal your dreams..."
"Too Late" is really cool song, another epic. Starting off with just an accoustic guitar and Dio's voice, building up to extreme heaviness and ending in the same manner it started. "I" seems to be a favorite off the album, and there's no doubt as to why. A fast paced head banger, kick ass riffs and some more menacing vocals, an absolute crusher of a song. Some classic Dio lyrics also. "Buried Alive" ends the album in good fashion, fast and heavy. Probably the best solo on the album.
All in all this is a great "come back album" for Sabbath. It's not really anything new or innovative, and it's not the best album in the world. It's just some really kick ass heavy metal, simple as that.