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Pretty similar to its predecessor, “Mob Rules” is the second album released during Black Sabbath's 'Dio era'. As I've already said, all the tunes are pretty similar to the ones that were released on “Heaven and Hell”, but they are a tad weaker, in my opinion; the album is a bit on the inconsistent side, unfortunately.
Everything that made “Heaven and Hell” what it was is here too: the powerful guitar work, the catchy riffs, the inspired vocals, the audible bass and the solid drumming. The songs are generally midpaced but they can contain, at times, pretty fast parts (see the opener, “Turn Up the Night”). Dio is in perfect shape, his screams being awesome and his melodic singing too (check out “The Sign of the Southern Cross”). Worth mentioning is also the inclusion of Vinnie Appice into the band, after the departure of Bill Ward: his performance here isn't that technical nor complex, but still tasteful. As for the bass, it is actually much more audible on “Mob Rules” than on “Heaven and Hell”, which is obviously a good thing.
As for the guitar work, it is the most important thing about this record (together with Dio's vocals, of course): Tony Iommi is, and will always be, the leader of the band and his riffs on this piece are all pretty damn good. His solos aren't that present throughout the record, “Heaven and Hell” contained much more songs with longer solo sections, but hey, that's a minor issue, all in all.
Returning to “The Sign of the Southern Cross”, it is the natural sucessor of “Heaven and Hell” as the long, epic song of the album, and while it is very catchy and solid, the latter is better. It begins very calmly, with some acoustic lines, accompanied by Dio's melodic vocal approach, the song then getting heavier after the mighty, crushing main riff kicks in. A great song, all in all, but it can't be compared to the greatness of “H&H”.
Looking to the other songs, there are two immediate stand-outs: “Turn Up the Night” and the title track, since they both are two of the faster songs Black Sabbath ever penned. They kind of remind of power metal at times, which is pretty surprising, since this band is generally labeled as one of the fathers of the doom metal movement. While “Turn Up the Night” may be faster, it still doesn't beat the opener of “Heaven and Hell” though, the fantastic “Neon Knights”. As for the title track, it simply is an awesome song, great main riff and vocals; the chorus is also extremely well written and catchy as hell. One of my favourite Black Sabbath tunes sung by Dio.
Other highlights include the more midpaced “Country Girl”, with that amazing chorus (like “Heaven and Hell”, the majority of the choruses of this record absolutely kick ass), and “Voodoo” (again, great chorus). “Over and Over” is the closer and can be labeled as the 'ballad' of the album; despite it isn't a masterpiece, it is certainly better than the calm closer of “H&H, “Lonely is the Word”. “Slipping Away” is unfortunately weaker and very forgettable, the same thing going for “Falling Off the Edge of the World”. There's also an interlude present, before the title track, a pretty worthless one I've got to say. It is also overlong, which kind of reminds me of the infamous “FX”...
So, concluding, another good Sabbath album, this one a bit weaker than its predecessors but still a pleasant listening. Recommended to all those who liked “Heaven and Hell”; it's basically the same thing, even though the songs are, unfortunately, a tad weaker.
Best Moments of the CD:
-the chorus of “Country Girl”.
-the beginning of the title track.