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Heaven and Hell, Pt. 2 - 86%

westknife, August 14th, 2004

Highlights (songs for Kazaa before buying the album):
Voodoo
The Mob Rules
Falling Off the Edge of the World

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Apart from the cover (which is decidedly more gruesome than ever before), Mob Rules is Heaven and Hell Pt. 2 in many ways. The basic sound of the band has not changed a bit since the previous album, although the production has been kicked up a notch, with a more muscular, driving sound.

“Turn Up the Night” opens with a nice groove that unabashedly mimics the opener of the last album, “Neon Knights”. The song is still excellent though, with precise riffing, an interesting melody, and an overall heavy sound. Tony Iommi has some very nice guitar fills in between Dio’s verses, making good use of the wah pedal. Overall, I really enjoy this song, but because it so obviously stagnates (instead of innovating), I’ll give it an 8/10.

“Voodoo” is one of my favorite songs on here, opening with a sick-ass riff, and not letting up until the end of the song. The lyrics and vocal delivery are near perfect, and that riff after the first verse is downright nasty. Geezer’s bass fills are great as usual, but they really stand out in this song. The guitar solo is very inventive, especially compared to most of Iommi’s other playing from this time period. Also, the extreme use of delay and reverb on everything (especially Dio’s voice) gives the song a dreamy atmosphere. “Bring me your children, they’ll burn!” This song contains the true spirit of metal, and I give it 10/10 without hesitation.

“The Sign of the Southern Cross” has an intro that is a straight knockoff of “Children of the Sea”, and with the epic length and slow tempo of the song, they were definitely going for another “Heaven and Hell”. However, with these points aside, the song is powerful in its own right. Appice’s drumming style actually fits the style of the song better than Ward’s would – but I’d still rather have Ward back on this album! Dio’s voice in this song is at its strongest, he just takes you by the neck and forces you into submission. The synthesizers are a nice touch, I think. The long, rather pointless “trippy” section in the middle is the worst part of the song, along with the unexciting guitar solo. “Gather all around the young ones, they will make us strong…” It’s a good thing Ronnie comes back in to carry the song home. 8/10

“E5150” is kind of stupid and pointless, although I admit it works as a concert opener. Since it’s not really a song, and it isn’t too long (that rhymes), I won’t count it in the rating. It’s a hell of a lot better than “FX”, that’s all I can say.

“The Mob Rules” is definitely worthy of its position as the title track. It does everything a fast rocker should do, and has a great anthemic hook. It’s the kind of song that really makes you want to headbang, which is exactly what metal should do! Containing one of the album’s better guitar solos, and with a bold lumbering drum beat, this song easily scores a 10/10 in my book.

“Country Girl” is certainly an odd title for a metal song, but it’s a hell of a song. Apparently Geezer Butler hated this song, which I don’t quite understand. The riff doesn’t leave him much room for improvisation, but it rocks hard, so fuck ‘im! This is one of those overlooked album tracks that didn’t get a lot of concert time, but I think it’s still a great song. When the lead guitar comes in after the slow part, it’s orgasmic. Seriously, I just splooged on my computer screen. 9/10

“Slipping Away” sounds like a Led Zeppelin B-side (something from Coda, maybe). That’s not entirely a bad thing; it definitely gives the album some variance, breaking away from the usual sound of the record. The instrumental part in the middle is sheer brilliance, and it’s only flaw is that it’s waaaay too short! The guitar/bass solo should go on for at least twice as long. Overall, the song has a great sound to it, and gets a welcome 9/10.

“Falling Off the Edge of the World” is one of those classic songs that is hidden away at the end of the album, kind of like “Die Young” from Heaven and Hell. After a rather weird intro, the song quickly picks up into a song of epic proportions. It’s actually not that long, but it feels epic nonetheless. When that first doom metal chord comes in, the song sounds like it’s on the brink of greatness, and then when that wild fast riff starts, it achieves greatness. I consider this the best song on the album, and the only one that truly matches the glory of Heaven and Hell. 10/10

“Over and Over” is the album’s weak point. It’s not bad, just not that interesting. Again, it is an obvious rip of a Heaven and Hell song: this time it’s “Lonely Is the Word”. It is supposed to be a slow blues song, but the performance isn’t nearly loose enough to work. The band’s tight playing works well on most other numbers, but not here. Vinnie Appice especially sounds like he has a stick up his ass. Why didn’t Bill Ward stick around for this album? I don’t really know, but he should have. Iommi’s obligatory solo doesn’t emotionally wrench you like “Lonely”’s did, and overall the song is pretty average. 5/10

If you don’t have Heaven and Hell, then by all means pick that one up first: this is definitely a not-as-good version of that album. It still has its merits though, and any devoted fan of Sabbath and/or Dio will eat this up (myself included!). Mob Rules is good to listen to once in a while, if you want to hear something like H&H but you need something a little different.