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You Can't Get Blood From a Stone - 91%

Twisted_Psychology, February 8th, 2010

I was barely out of my training pants when it happened, but I'm pretty sure there was a great level of disappointment when the Dio-led lineup of Black Sabbath went their separate ways after the release of 1992's "Dehumanizer." Fortunately Dio was able to bring original drummer Vinny Appice back into the fold, recruit Dokken bassist Jeff Pilson and WWIII guitarist Tracy G, and went with a completely new sound with this 1994 effort.

While "Dream Evil" and "Lock Up the Wolves" embraced a darker direction compared to previous albums, this album really drowns itself in nihilism and appropriately picks up where "Dehumanzier" left off. Most of the songs are executed in a fusion of doom and groove metal, the riffs tend to go at a plodding pace, and the vocals continue in the angry style seen on "Dehumanizer." Of course, there is some variation seen in the tocken ballad "Give Her the Gun" and the upbeat "Here's To You," which would sound pretty awesome in a concert setting.

The lyrics are also some of the most pessimistic that the man has ever written and mostly deal with themes related to alienation, dysfunctional relationships, and disillusionment. But as "Dehumanizer" featured a sole light of optimism in the form of the individualistic "I," this album's biggest flicker may occur in the seemingly fan friendly "Here's To You." The title track may also deal with the theme of individuality but it is overshadowed by the perceived nihilism of assimilation.

But as evidenced by the frequent references to it, I feel that this album's most obvious flaw is the similarity between it and "Dehumanizer." It does have its own unique voice but several songs do resemble those of the past. The balladry of "Give Her the Gun" often reminds me of "Too Late" and many of the typical tracks on here remind me of "I" at times. It's still a pretty damn good album and worth checking out for fans of Dio, Black Sabbath, and any other kinds of doom metal out there.

Pros:
1) A nice change of direction
2) Strong songwriting
3) Solid riffs and angry vocals

Cons:
1) May be too plodding for some
2) Eerily similar to "Dehumanzier"
3) Not as accessible as other efforts

My Current Favorites:
"Jesus, Mary, and the Holy Ghost," "Strange Highways," "One Foot in the Grave," "Give Her the Gun," and "Here's To You"