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Timeless document of pure metal - 86%

Felix 1666, April 6th, 2018
Written based on this version: 1992, CD, I.R.S. Records

The beginning of the nineties - we all know that this was not the best time for pure and honest metal. I was therefore surprised that a more or less outdated formation came to present the true spirit. Of course, I am speaking of Black Sabbath, the inventors of heavy metal. Indeed, Cronos, you did not invent each and every form of hard music. This is just one of your Luciferian fairytales. But little Satanists aside, what do you need for a good metal album? Well, one thing is for sure. Lock the door of the studio as soon as Ozzy appears on the horizon. Ronnie James Dio (R.I.P.) is responsible for the lead vocals and I have no doubt that many people like his powerful, expressive, melodic and poignant voice. On his solo albums, he sings a lot about rainbows and further nonsense, but here we have intelligent lyrics (about hypocritical TV preachers, for example) and capturing song titles like "Letters from Earth" or "Sins of the Father". Long story short, nobody misses the croaking owl called Ozzy. But let's make an experiment, everybody who is sad that Ozzy was not involved: clap your hands!

I hear nothing.

"Dehumanizer" suffers from an artwork that every demo combo would reject, but the songs have a heavy fundament, catchy riffs and strong choruses. It goes without saying that Dio's voice gives the tunes a very mighty and unique character, but there is also a very strong liaison between pure metal and atmospheric insertions. "After All (The Dead)", an absolute highlight, marks the prime example in this context, because its generic yet overwhelming guitar work creates a very scary mood and the lyrics match the composition excellently. A shiver runs down my spine when I am listening to lines like "What do you say to the dead / Is there a place where it's burning / It says in a book I once read / Yes there's a chance of returning". I don't believe in reincarnation and I hope that the world will never be confronted with my second me, but sometimes I wish that Dio would return. Or Paul Baloff. Or... too many to mention. But let's get back to the here and now. Tracks like "Sins of the Father" show the majestic approach of Black Sabbath very well. A pretty calm beginning leads to a heavyweight riff-monster which offers an almost bottomless depth. And there is a big difference whether a "normal" vocalist or Dio sings line like "how much longer are you gonna pay for yesterday - sins of the father".

"Too Late", the ballad of the full-length, does not remain behind the other tracks. Despite its pretty soft beginning, the song does not lack heaviness due to the crunchy riffs that form the second half. Now at the latest it is obvious that "Dehumanizer" is a jewel or maybe the jewel of Sabbath's catalogue. And therefore it is no surprise that the self-confident, stomping "I" and "Buried Alive" with its subliminally hysterical end finish the output in a very exciting manner. Both songs score with fantastic choruses that impress with their longevity and the dragging, flattening and droning guitar of "Buried Alive" leaves its mark as well. Dio and Iommi never forget to add a melodic touch, but it is clear for all to see (and to hear!) why this music is called heavy and not melodic metal. And this type of sometimes slow-paced, sometimes mid-paced metal is brilliantly performed. It's one of these albums where I am not able to find just one boring section. Not to mention a throwaway track. Each and every one is good or even excellent and they all paint pretty dark pictures, not at least because of the somehow pessimistic production. It is powerful, well-balanced and does not lack pressure, but it does not offer any rays of light and, just to avoid misunderstandings, that's a good thing.

Frankly speaking, I have never been a supporter of Black Sabbath. I respect them for their innovative force, but the hippie look of their early years made it hard for me to like them. Not to speak of Ozzy. Okay, he is the only owl that has a legendary status and, despite his odd style of singing, a certain charisma. Nevertheless, it is impossible for me to take a dude seriously that celebrates himself for having become his own caricature. Anyway, "Dehumanizer" is a robust and clearly structured album, coherently designed and with a lot of substance. On the one hand, it offers a kind of traditional "consensus metal", on the other hand it is full of exciting moments, sections and songs. So from my point of view, this timeless document of pure art has the power to inspire millions of metalheads. Maybe you are one of them.