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There are some groups of people who when they get together, are bound to deliver quality. Be it the coordination among themselves coupled with their talents, you can see a spark, a striking superior quality compared to that of their peers. OK the group may have differences, ego problems, may even split, but be what may, they are an integral part of each other, and when they are together, they are bound to shake the world. The group of Tony Iommi, Ronnie James Dio and Geezer Butler is one such iconic group. Though having just a couple of albums together prior to this one, there can be no denying the fire these guys brought with them. So Tony Iommi, with limited success with Tony Martin (No offense against Martin, he is a terrific vocalist), decided to go for a reunion. Totally abandoning the power metal direction Iommi had taken since Dio's arrival, the band takes a dark, heavy and punishing road which can be dated back to the days when Tony Iommi single-handedly revolutionized the art of heavy riffing.
Technically the band is in awesome form. Tony Iommi proves just why he is the God of heavy riffs. The riffs are slow, heavy and crushing and majestically interwoven into each other. It feels as if you have been hit by a dozen of jackhammers on your head. The vocals are truly spectacular; an insane combination of spite, rage and fear mixed together in a glorious manner. If ever there was a doubt about Dio singing aggressively, it is put to rest here. He snarls, shrieks, roars and croons effectively adding a bleak and unpleasant colour to the music, a stark contrast from his Children Of The Sea days. Geezer is in great form himself with his grim bass lines providing for a perfect backdrop in the bleak scenario. The production is raw and punishing, with the rhythm guitar having a crisp and crunchy sound to it. The rest of the elements aren't ignored, and the vocals, drums and bass are balanced perfectly in.
The album comprises of ten spectacular tracks rooted down in pure doom metal. The consistency of the album is quite high; high so much so that this might be their most consistent album ever. A dark, sludgy and many a times an angry atmosphere decorates this album throughout its duration. The songs are catchy enough to be appreciated at the first listen and the choruses are creative and powerful. The lyrics are simple, yet powerful and go well along with the general bleak atmosphere of the record. The songwriting is simple and straight-forward, yet displaying a matured sense of musicianship which can only be achieved by veterans. Mostly the songs are constructed around a single or at most two riffs but are arranged cleverly enough to ensure that the song remains powerful throughout it's duration. The song length is perfectly balanced and is utilized well for most of the time. Low points in the album are few and between. Just somewhere between Time Machine, Sins Of The Father and Too Late, the album loses its steam which it has picked up. But fortunately the lows are not too low and are far few and between to be ignored.
This album deserves a worthy mention among the very best of Black Sabbath with such gems as Sabotage, Master Of Reality, Heaven And Hell, Tyr. Bottom-line, this album is a must listen for every fan of heavy metal. It is a shame that this album came out during the dark ages and failed to receive the attention it deserves.