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My introduction to metal... - 90%

ScreamBloodyDeath, December 6th, 2008

This album marks the beginning of my metal journey, what an unusual place to start! I was 12 years old and this album's artwork caught my eye in a record shop and I basically begged my parents to get it for me. I had no idea who Black Sabbath was, I didn’t know their previous history with Ozzy Osbourne. Believe it or not, there was a brief period of time when I was under the impression Dio was their original vocalist. After repeated listens and thoroughly enjoying what I heard, I eventually tracked down the rest of Black Sabbath’s work and my love for metal grew from there.

On my first listen, I was completely blown away by the power and majesty of Ronnie's voice over Iommi's sludgy riffs. The songwriting and performance was so good that I didn't even consider recording quality. Listening with much more experienced ears, I can agree with the complaints of muddy sound. Regardless of whether there was tampering on Dio or Iommi's part, this mix is somewhat lackluster. Usually on live albums the crowd noise is turned up and studio enhanced to give the impression of an extremely enthusiastic, sold-out crowd. On Live Evil the audience is so low in the mix they're inaudible even when Dio prompts them to sing along to Heaven and Hell.

Despite the questionable production; band itself turns in solid performances, Vinny Appice does an adequate job of filling in for the ailing Bill Ward. Many Ozzy die-hards have criticized Dio's vocal phrasing and performance of Ozzy Sabbath songs. I personally don't have any problem with Ronnie's interpretations of the classics as I hadn't heard the Ozzy fronted versions at the time. Even today I still consider this rendition of N.I.B. to be particularly strong.

Overall I still enjoy this album, it was an excellent starting point that turned me onto a style of music that I still follow today. I can see where people are coming from when they criticize the production values and I sympathize with those who can't get past the fact Ozzy isn't behind the mic. At the time of my initial purchase and listen; I wasn‘t as well versed in metal‘s history, I was just incredibly drawn to this powerful form of music. I guess you can only capture the unique magic of being a 12 year old kid who's never heard metal before once.