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Reaching For The Stars, We Blind The Sky! - 91%

CHAIRTHROWER, January 5th, 2020
Written based on this version: 1980, Cassette, Warner Bros. Records

Harking back in time and space, one fondly mind-wedgies themself by appraising its Dio-helmed Heaven And Hell masterpiece from 1980 - year of Dobermans, Oldsmobiles and Intellivision (think "Pitfall" or "Snafu", not "Burger Time"!) - as Black Sabbath's most soul-edifying record, more so, even, than past epoch mammoths Master of Reality or ascending Volume 4 and Sabbath, Bloody, Sabbath. Hence, according to manifold, at times bold or provocative, Metal-Archive musings, they also sense an underlying mythical sheen exclusive to its lot.

Just like Elvis' "Hounddog" or Bill Haley & His Comets' "Rock Around The Clock" - which beats Kuenring's "Rock Around the Christmas Tree" any day - and, most iconically, Jerry Lee Lewis' "Great Balls Of Fire" ripped our folks, as much as theirs, new ones, kick-ass, pioneering worthies such as the progressively numinous and enchanting "Children of the Sea" or auspicious lead choked humdinger of a timeless, knockabout, rustproof mien, "Die Young", moulded our culturistic sensibilities for a lifetime. That said, the latter is immensely replayable due, in part, to Ron's mellifluous crooning at the behest of a scintillating, ahead-of-its-time bridge which yields further celestial leads of a trilling and centrifugal - not fugacious! - nature. Geezer's bass actively caroms about with insouciant ease, like a clumsy Middle Age jouster's primitive untarnished weaponry. Leads, especially on "Neon Knights" and, of course, the latter half of "Heaven And Hell" shine as brilliantly - that is, with a similarly eerie and beatic iridescence - as any Kreutz Sungrazer!

I'd caught Black Sabbath live the last time they were in town, with both shows fronted by Tony Martin - he performed well enough, but, surely, was no Ozzy or Dio - yet the real deal occured the second go-around, whence the lights dimmed during said epochal title track at Montreal's Molson Center sometime during the Summer of 2002. As soon as he broke into that fanatically dexterous, hyper-motion power-lead, it was like both he and the audience conjoined together, rooted in spot as if in a trance, immobile-like and utterly daz(zl)ed...right "into it". (I could've sworn I saw a halo above Tony's shaggy pate!)

Any metal head worth their salt must duly (re)acquaint themselves with Black Sabb's "Le Paradis et l'Enfer". Surely, one day, decades into the future, potentially next century, its timeless mythos and lore will honor the hallowed museum stores accredited to an inimaginable long-descended generation of hardened, and no less wise, (cybernetic? cloned? biologically engineered?!) minstrels. For example, there's no reason why the catchily sardonic "Lady Evil" - my preferred track alongside "Neon Knights", "Die Young" and, of course, solo-extravagant top codpiece "Heaven And Hell" - shouldn't distantly prevail, well into the Age of Aquarius, whilst tickling our & their humours from here to infinity and beyond.

As such, dig Butler's gibbous, thwump-ing bass (line) to "Lady Evil" (precursor to 3 Inches of Blood's "Lady Deathwish", maybe?), buoyed by ever-rocksteady mid-tempo drumming - the likes of which set up/down (all around!) a killer Evel Knievel assimilating ramp, in time for its silly and wanton, albeit injuriously gripping, chorus. How often, now, have I begat wry, eyebrow cocked attention upon my twisted person by letting it slip out in public, most shamelessly?

Ha! It's no wonder, then, this here Dio, Iommi, Butler and Ward incarnation of Black Sabbath commands us, thusly, towards (an) everlasting night.

"There's a place just south of Witches' Valley
Where they say the wind won't blow
And they only speak in whispers of her name
There's a lady they say who feeds the darkness
It eats right from her hand
With a crying shout she'll search you out
And freeze you where you stand

Lady Evil, evil
She's a magical, mystical woman!
Lady Evil, evil in my mind
She's queen of the night!
All right!"

What You Find when you Search for Perfection - 100%

ballcrushingmetal, October 30th, 2019
Written based on this version: 1980, 12" vinyl, Vertigo

A couple of unsuccessful albums and weird changes in the band's formula gave rise to Osbourne's departure in such an unexpected fashion. For those reasons, the project seemed to remain headless, with no apparent direction and pointing directly to the abyss from a creative standpoint. Ronnie James Dio, on the other hand, left Rainbow after certain creative differences with Ritchie Blackmore. However, as a surprising move from destiny, Dio joined Black Sabbath as their new vocalist. As such, his arrival came along with a renewal in the Sab's formula but keeping essential components. Among others, the doomish paces and the trademark dark atmosphere.

The first sign of changes is visible through their legendary speed metal track "Neon Knights." The powerful and strong feeling transmitted by the song together with the well-known mighty vocals from Dio and his trademark dungeons & dragons songwriting style, made of it a very astonishing initial shot. Moreover, the soloing from Tommy Iommi is no less than impressive due to his ability to play soft guitar solos that fit the most energetic songs.

His guitar playing skills are more evident, nonetheless, in the title track, which is with no doubts, one of the most impressive tracks Black Sabbath has ever written, definitively, a total winner. This number incredibly starts with a very astonishing guitar riff, and it moves along at different tempos. Still, as it is the style of other previously created proggy masterpieces ("Stairway to Heaven" as an immediate example), the song grows incredibly during the ending part. It runs along with a quite memorable guitar solo.

Another impressive epic piece is the mid-paced "Children of the Sea," totally, a highlight of this album. Of course, everything here is as perfect as in the two songs mentioned above, especially, on how the song transitions from a melodic acoustic intro to heavier passages. Other highlights include the faster "Die Young" and the closing track "Lonely is the World," which features a beautiful guitar solo at the ending part. That said, Sabbath came back to the arena with a very competent release that marked the return of a band in a very unexpected fashion. To your surprise, there is no filling stuff to be found but a song set that will make you listen to it over and over. It is is an essential release if your favorite metal subgenre talks about dungeons and dragons.


I'm proud to announce that this is my 50th review in the site, and what a special album to write about!

Special thanks to the Encyclopaedia Metallum staff for all their continued support!

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A shining example that change can be positive - 90%

kluseba, October 23rd, 2017
Written based on this version: 2010, 2CD, Sanctuary Records (Deluxe edition, Digipak)

Changes and experiments aren't much welcomed in the music business nowadays and this especially applies to the metal genre. Traditionalists complained about the groove metal genre that appealed to younger audiences that weren't familiar with traditional metal subgenres in the nineties. In the beginning of the new millennium, more conservative metal fans wouldn't even accept alternative and nu metal as genuine metal subgenres and even created the pejorative term mallcore for it while it served as a gateway to other types of metal music for those who didn't know about it before. Nowadays, the same thing applies to metalcore and deathcore that appeal to younger audiences while older fans once again refuse to associate them with their favorite type of music. When a popular band goes through an important line-up change such as getting rid of a founding member or replacing the singer, the reactions are often negative as well.

Heaven and Hell is the most popular exception to the phenomenons described above. Black Sabbath changed its style and went away from both the slow-paced gloomy doom metal of the early years and the more psychedelic hard rock style of the late seventies. Heaven and Hell is a heavy metal album with a consistent mid-tempo pace and a mixture of more serious tracks like ''Lady Evil'', a few more uplifting tracks such as ''Neon Nights'' and some tunes with epic proportions like ''Heaven and Hell''. As if this change weren't enough, charismatic lead singer Ozzy Osbourne was replaced by Ronnie James Dio who has a completely different voice with a much higher range, a more melodic and high-pitched singing voice and a quite theatric and expressive manner to it. I'm quite sure these two important changes would be criticized by more conservative fans these days but back in the days when heavy metal was still in its early stages and constantly evolving, this record was hailed as a renaissance of a legendary heavy metal band after two lukewarm final efforts with Ozzy Osbourne. Heaven and Hell got the reception it deserved and probably even beyond that because the record felt particularly refreshing after the two previous unfocused efforts.

The reasons for the success of this record that made so much sense back then but might be surprising from a contemporary point of view can be explained by three precise factors. First of all, this release is Black Sabbath's most focused effort since at least Sabotage. Gone are vapid instrumental tracks, songs that needed to be sung by the drummer because the singer didn't like the lyrics and sudden genre changes within the same album. What we get here are eight heavy metal tracks that don't sound repetitive but manage to vary quite a bit within the boundaries of their subgenre. The opening up-tempo track is as well executed as the plodding title song with its unforgettable main riff. This album doesn't include any fillers or even slightly weak tunes. It's focused, heavy and passionate from start to finish.

This leads to the second factor. The band members seemed to enjoy themselves while recording this album. While the songs from the previous releases were at times lackluster and all over the place, the four musicians involved in this album all deliver outstanding jobs in their respective categories. The guitar play sounds variable, memorable and emotional. The main riff of the title song is one for the ages, the guitar solos sound inspired and always blend in and even the few acoustic guitar parts make sense in their respective song structures. The bass guitar is as audible, dominant and energizing as in the band's early years. It isn't just there to add some galloping background rhythms but is as essential to the sound of this release as the guitar play. The drumming is precise and to the point, harmonizing brilliantly with the bass guitar rhythms in particular. The performance isn't flashy or spectacular but always serves the atmosphere and songwriting of each specific tune which makes for a focused and grounded approach. The vocals are quite variable and always suit each song excellently. Sometimes the vocals are a little bit fast and high-pitched, in other songs they are soothing, slow and seducing and in some tunes we get an epic, gloomy and theatric approach as if you were listening to a shady campfire tale. Every musician involved in this album delivers an outstanding performance.

The third and most important element is that the four individual efforts lead to something even bigger as the different band members are truly collaborating and working towards a specific goal. This is why Heaven and Hell has both a clear guiding line in form of its heavy metal vibe and a quite creative and diverse approach where each song tries out something slightly different to complement one another. Each song convinces individually but the sum is even greater than its different parts. Back when the record was released, Heaven and Hell was one of the very best heavy metal album so far and showed what can be achieved in this genre from dreamy power ballads over intellectual epics to vivid up-tempo rockers. Heaven and Hell showed the full potential of heavy metal music and it became an example, influence and inspiration for many other groups. One could even say that Heaven and Hell was the starting point of heavy metal's most glorious decade. The legacy of this release is truly remarkable.

In conclusion, Heaven and Hell convinces with focused songwriting, passionate individual efforts and truly collaborative teamwork. Despite the individual quality of each of the eight songs, the sum is greater than its parts as this album as a whole showed the true potential of the heavy metal genre back then, was the starting point of heavy metal's most glorious decade and has achieved a remarkable legacy that hasn't lost its impressive charm. Even nearly four decades after its initial release, Heaven and Hell is a brilliant example that change can be an enriching and positive thing. I'm a massive fan of Ozzy Osbourne and Black Sabbath's early years and I will always prefer Ozzy Osbourne's gloomy uniqueness over Ronnie James Dio's more theatric approach but I have to admit that Heaven and Hell is a very good album that has stood the test of time. In days where the metal community seems to divided between more conservative minds and more experimental fans, this genre could need another Heaven and Hell that unites both sides because of its excellent quality.

Mostly Heaven - 87%

gasmask_colostomy, September 14th, 2017

There's an old saying about music (I'm actually just making it up now, so don't go searching for the quote). It goes like this: if you don't like Black Sabbath, you haven't listened to enough of their albums. That's because Black Sabbath were so many different things over a period of 45 years, morphing from proto-metal upstarts into prog rock riffmeisters to a prominent place in the burgeoning NWOBHM to a secret epic metal phase which is probably my favourite from the (mostly) Birmingham four-piece. There's another saying as well (same source, by the way), which is that if you've listened to all of Black Sabbath's albums and still don't like them, then you don't like Tony Iommi and therefore you don't like guitar music. All of which would imply that you've come to the wrong website or I've just become more famous than I ever imagined and you're reading this somewhere else.

So let's assume that you're here because you like heavy metal, since that's the most likely explanation. You know Dio, right? He sings on this album. He sings very well. You know Tony Iommi, right? He's on the album too and he's also very good. Perhaps you've heard of Geezer Butler and Bill Ward? The other two men who invented heavy metal: they play on Heaven and Hell as well. They are great, especially Butler.

That little paragraph tells you what everyone already knows about this version of Black Sabbath, but it doesn't say anything about what makes this both special and different from other albums by the band. The first thing that distinguishes this from the early incarnation of the group (conveniently forgetting about Technical Ecstasy and Never Say Die!) is the pace of the songs. While TrooperEd may be having a laugh about this really being a Rainbow album, there's enough of the energetic style of Dio's last venture with that band, Long Live Rock 'n' Roll, to prove more than just an incidental connection between the singer and Richie Blackmore's project. The manner in which the title track takes off in its second half harks back to Blackmore's riffing on that album's 'Kill the King', while the more rocking 'Wishing Well' moves in the same circles as 'The Shed (Subtle)' or 'Long Live Rock 'n' Roll'. On the other hand, there's a different kind of influence on the likes of 'Neon Knights' and 'Die Young', sounding closer to the more primal Iron Maidens and Saxons that were cropping up by 1980 as they bound forward on the kind of riff that made 'Sanctuary' a breath of fresh air in the UK. The quality of those songs, though, is actually that much higher than Iron Maiden or Wheels of Steel, the fluidity of the solos and masterful bubbling bass work refining the punky rawness of early NWOBHM into a finished product, while Dio is clearly the most accomplished vocalist of the three groups (bearing in mind Paulo Di'Anno still fronted Maiden at this point).

Naturally, Heaven and Hell isn't all about pace, taking things down a notch for 'Children of the Sea' and the obligatory mournful closer in 'Lonely Is the Word'. The use of acoustic guitars and fluctuations in song movement give an extra dimension to those songs, ensuring that the emotion seeps in by way of the defeated mid-section leads and hopeful ending of 'Lonely Is the Word' and the soothing calm of the former song. Even at these moments, in addition to the steadier rockers 'Walk Away', 'Lady Evil', and 'Wishing Well', the music remains busy, Butler, Ward, and Iommi continuing to supply diversions from their respective instruments, the guitarist drenching several songs in leads and the rhythm players rarely settling to remain out of the spotlight. For anyone expecting doom metal, Heaven and Hell is pretty barren of the stuff, which may explain why the subsequent formation of the band named Heaven and Hell (who released The Devil You Know in 2009 with Vinny Appice taking the place of Bill Ward) did not experience total success with a generally darker sound. Here, only a short bridge in 'Walk Away' and the epic opening of the title track could be called doomy, meaning that the general mood is much lighter and more wistful than any of Sabbath's earlier or later material.

The only thing that remains for me to comment on is the quality of the 40 minutes of music. Quite honestly, the style doesn't suit me throughout Heaven and Hell, since the more rocking songs can feel a little throwaway at times, even if 'Lady Evil' is an absolute stomping stormer of a rocker and the other two have some good moments, especially with the leads. I'm more a fan of the fast paced material, plus the songwriting on the title track is impossible to fault, though I can't actively complain about any of the band's decisions in playing, even if it would have been nice to make the style a bit more Sabbath specific. In any case, this is an iconic release with four musicians at the top of their game (whatever people may say about Ward, he does a good job to my ears) and has some of Black Sabbath's best songs, along with a few that are high in quality but slightly exchangeable. You'll be wanting to listen to this one, that's for sure.

Rebirth of Sabbath - 99%

Iron Wizard, July 11th, 2017

While I disagree with this statement, many Sabbath fans posit that the band experienced a steady decline throughout the 70s. Drugs became more integral to the band; strongly permeating into the music, and they became more experimental, leaving behind the closed minded individuals obsessed only with the doom of their early days. After Never Say Die! was released in 1978, Ozzy was thrown out of the band due to tensions between him and the other members. A year later, the band bounced back, entering the studio with Ronnie James Dio from Rainbow, and they experienced a rebirth, a career turnaround, albeit one that made perfect sense in their chronology of albums, with 1980's majestic Heaven and Hell.

Musically, the band continued to modernize their sound. This is obviously with the first notes of the opener "Neon Knights". The track, considered a Sabbath classic, is a fast, almost speed metal song with very anthemic passages. Dio's style of vocal delivery is very different, and it practically circumscribed the band's sound. Ozzy followed the guitar lines with his voice for the most part, as heard on early numbers like "Iron Man". Dio, on the other hand, tends to do more extravagant things with his voice, and writes his own vocal melodies over the instrumental stuff. This makes the band seem bigger, more polyphonic, and probably more typical of the era, trading in a very small amount of their character. Dio writes the lyrics here, and unlike Geezer, who wrote most of the Ozzy era lyrics, his words deal more with fantasy as a metaphor for philosophical stuff than darkness, death, and doom. Again, slightly alters the personality of the band, but this is still typical Sabbath at the same time.

Musically and technically, this is quite different from what Black Sabbath had been doing prior. There is less experimentation, meaning less psychedelic stuff, autoharps etc. and more contemporary metal structuring. This, this album is less innovative than something like Sabbath Bloody Sabbath or Sabotage. Mostly, this is a very guitar driven album wuth s one great riffs, some very in line by the NWOBHM movement of the time. This is heard the most in the punkish "Die Young", arguably the epitome of Heaven and Hell. That said, Tony Iommi does an excellent job of allowing his own style to bleed into a different style of riffing. He has stepped into another dimension with his lead work. He shreds a lot here, something I had no idea he was capable of doing until I heard his later stuff. He employs a lot less of the pentatonic blues stuff in favor of more technical work. It sounds great and really fits the style of this album.

Some of these tracks have acquired a bad name amongst metalheads, because they express more of what Dio was doing prior to his joining Black Sabbath than what 'the Sab' had been doing. These songs include the fucking awesome "Lady Evil", "Wishing Well", the overly upbeat "Walk Away", and the bluesy closer "Lonely is the World". Some of these tracks, "Wishing Well" especially, resonate more with the "cutesy' nature of Elf than they do with Sabbath's evil style. "Walk Away" is the downfall of this album, and honestly, I do not like it at all. Nothing against Billy Squier, but this sounds like him, completely out of place with its overly brisk, laid back sound. Conversely, there are also some great songs adored by most fans here, especially "Die Young". This song is the essence of the power of mid-period Black Sabbath, with its excellent synth work, and heroic, epic speed metal sound. This one is very indicative of what Dio brought to the band. Other great moments include both the powerful chorus riff and beautiful acoustic Medieval outro of the seven minute title track and the creepy lyrics of "Lady Evil".

I think that Heaven and Hell is a huge, pre-emptive "fuck you" to the "No Black Sabbath past Ozzy" crowd, and it proves how adaptive the band were in incorporating a new, very different vocalist into their lineup. This is a great album, an essential.

This new Rainbow album fucking rules! - 78%

TrooperEd, June 12th, 2017
Written based on this version: 1987, CD, Warner Bros. Records

There have been plenty of purists who thought Black Sabbath should have changed their name to something else after Ozzy was fired. Considering this was the same band that got horrendously fucked over by management and record companies to the point where they wrote a couple of songs about it, there's no way in hell they were going to tempt fate anymore than absolutely necessary, and I seriously doubt any musician critics would have had the balls to do the same under the indignant fat of Warner Bros & Don Arden.

With that being said, this is not a Black Sabbath album. I've heard some people call this a Dio album except the concept of Dio was never a thing until after the man left Black Sabbath, even though this does contain alot of his ideas and trademarks. So really this is a Rainbow album, featuring Tony Iommi on guitars, Bill Ward on drums etc. etc. Granted you could argue that Never Say Die and even Technical Ecstasy didn't sound like Black Sabbath either, but they were also the sound of a band choking on fumes.

That said is it a bad album? Fuck no! But it's not exactly perfect either. Most of my complaints have to do with side 2 is uneven as hell and having some bad songs that these Ozzy haters would take Sabbath or Ozzy solo to the gallows for featuring. The worst of which is a turd called Walk Away. Never mind the fact that the riff sounds like it was rejected by Sammy Hagar for being too stupid, this contains the lyric "Lord, she's handsome." People give Ronnie shit for his lyrics, and this is one of those times where its warranted. Women are never "handsome," Ronnie. "She" should never ever be used as a pronoun for that word, there's also no real evidence about this song being about a transsexual either, so that's a double fail. The other offending song is Wishing Well, which sounds like it was leftover from the Never Say Die sessions. You'd think Tony would have learned the lesson of scrapping everything from that abortion. And this is a song that opens the second side of the album! I always skip from Heaven & Hell to Die Young, and I think that song works much better as a side opener anyway with its moody atmosphere. I'd be a little more lenient if Die Young and Lonely Is The Word were right next to each other, rather than having to involve periodic use of the skip button.

One other weakness of this album is Bill Ward. There is plenty of evidence showing Bill was not happy with Ozzy's departure, to the point where he's claimed he doesn't even remember recording the album. Judging from his extremely sparse playing I wouldn't be surprised to hear he didn't record it at all. The only remotely interesting things he does here is a double time snare drum charge that kicks off the climax of the title track, along with a 32-note hi-hate shuffle in the middle in the middle of Die Young. Compounding that with the drug debilitation and alcoholism he was suffering, the truth is Bill was falling short of the lofty standard he set in the 70s. There's a reason why they brought in Vinnie Appice for the reunion rather than try and work things out.

With all that being said, when Heaven & Hell is on, it is fucking ON! Some of the best songs of Sabbath and especially Dio's career were recorded on here. Most of them are the ones we all know about; Children of the Sea, Neon Knights and the mile-wide menhir that is the title track. Side A is about as perfect of a side as one can get. Even Lady Evil, if Rainbow fans loved songs like Starstruck and LA Connection I don't see what they can't love this one. While I do think Ronnie is a bit overrated as to how much he widened the bands sonic scope (if he had this great range why couldn't he sing Sabbath Bloody Sabbath, Symptom of the Universe or Megalomania on the Heaven & Hell or Mob Rules tours?), his songwriting meshed with Tony Iommi's like peanut butter and chocolate. This is exactly where Long Live Rock & Roll should have picked up (I didn't mean the Rainbow comparisons as negatives you know) and hell if someone were to slip some of the songs here into a Rainbow playlist I wouldn't hold it against them at all.

If you love heavy metal, there's no reason you shouldn't own this. I just don't quite agree with everyone when they say this is Dio's finest and most essential work with Black Sabbath. Incidentally, Dio would go on to make an album with Sabbath that actually sounded like the doom crunch from the 70s that we all craved. But that's another review for another day.....

Recommended Tracks:
Children of the Sea
Lonely Is The Word
Heaven & Hell

One Of The Very Best Black Sabbath Albums - 100%

stainedclass2112, January 27th, 2016
Written based on this version: 1980, 12" vinyl, Warner Bros. Records

Black Sabbath does not need an introduction at all. They are Black effing Sabbath, that's all I have to say. One thing I do have to say is that way too many people overlook the Dio years of this band (the Tony Martin years too). This album is arguably their best release, it is a huge step up from their late 70's material, it boasts the greatest metal vocalist of all time at the helm, and Tony Iommi is at his creative peak here. While Geezer was absent from the majority of the songwriting process, which could spell doom as he was the band's primary lyricist, the lyrics and songwriting is absolutely top notch here due to Dio's awesome musical approach. Dio was exactly the musician and vocalist that Black Sabbath needed. Heaven and Hell is proof of that.

There are eight songs on this record and all of them, while possessing a similar sound, are all structurally and musically unique. Some of the songs are pretty fast and straightforward, like "Neon Knights", "Wishing Well", and "Die Young", which while being fast, still have lots of elements that make them fresh and interesting. A good example of this would be "Die Young" (which was the song that made me a Sabbath fan) with its soft, piano-backed chorus that works wonderfully and surprisingly well. "Neon Knights" is a heavy metal classic with its heavy pounding awesomeness and a wicked chorus. Some of the other tracks are more involved and longer, like "Children of the Sea" and the title track. These two songs are definitely the best on the album, and the title track is in my opinion Black Sabbath's best song ("I", "Into the Void" and "Megalomania" come pretty darn close too). "Children of the Sea" was apparently written in a few minutes the very first time Tony and Ronnie got together to jam, and holy fudge they hit a stroke of genius. The acoustic passage is beautiful in this one, and the main riff is crushingly heavy. I love the ending of this one, the riff is so freakin' epic along with Dio growling, "Look out! The sky is falling down! Look out!!" It's so badass, this track is definitely one of the stand out tracks, and it really showcases what the album has to offer. There are some more catchy ones as well, such as "Lady Evil" and "Walk Away". "Lady Evil" is badass and really catchy, although some Sabbath fans dog on this track. The last song on the album, "Lonely is the Word", is heavy as hell but really slow and poignant. It is a pretty strange tune, but it is really enjoyable, especially the solo sections. The album is so diverse and so masterfully done, it really is spectacular.

The musicianship is really, really awesome here. Black Sabbath is known for a heavy, plodding, and sometimes sludgy sound, but here everything is fresh and cleanly executed. Of course, there is nothing wrong with the 70's Sabbath, as most of it ruled. It's just that this is like a breath of fresh air musically. First of all, instead of C# everything, the album's tuning is in E flat so there is an immediate change in the overall sound. Tony takes the cake here in my opinion, his playing is magnificent on every song. Some of these riffs are his best, and these solos are by FAR his best. The solo's from "Neon Knights", "Die Young" and the from the title track are some of the greatest in the entire Black Sabbath catalogue. Holy crap the title track has such amazing lead work, it is art at its finest and he shines so much on all of the lead sections. The part right before it picks up is just fantastic. The vocal work is just unbelievable, if Dio is not the greatest metal of vocalist of all time I seriously would like to know who is. Only Rob Halford comes close to Dio's legendary pipes. His lyrics and songwriting ability is fantastic as well, and Heaven and Hell is one of his best works. Geezer's playing (while some of it wasn't exactly written by him) is fantastic as usual here. Geezer is one of the greatest of all time, his style is unique and dynamic, and his fills and licks are superb. The bass playing on "Wishing Well" and "Die Young" are some great examples of Geezer's great playing. Bill Ward's drumming is fantastic as well, he makes for one hell of a rhythm section when combined with Geezer. Heaven and Hell is probably the greatest showcase of what this band of capable of, and it is also proof that Ozzy is the least important member. Dio mops the floor with Ozzy when it comes to sonwriting, and don't even get me started on their singing ability. While I love Ozzy, it shows that what really makes up this band are the 3 musicians behind him, and with Ozzy being replaced by Ronnie James Freaking Dio, Black Sabbath shines as the true masters of heavy metal that they are.

Heaven and Hell is an absolute classic of the heavy metal world, and it is one of the most well done and consistent albums by this band. Heaven and Hell is another one of those albums that I deem worthy of the sparkly 100%, and it is easy to see why. Black Sabbath was doomed after two weak records in a row and losing their frontman. They stuck it out and snagged the almighty Ronnie James Dio and put out their strongest release yet, reviving the entire band's legacy. This record is a must have for all heavy metal fans, I recommend this strongly to all who have not yet heard it. It completely changed my outlook of Black Sabbath and heavy metal in general, and to all you fellow bass players out there, you are gunna dig this. This album is one of heavy metal's very best, I seriously think it's nuts that a lot of Sabbath fans hate this. They are missing out on a great album, don't be like them and give this a try.

"They say that life's a carousel
Spinning fast, you've got to ride it well
The world is full of Kings and Queens
Who blind your eyes and steal your dreams
It's Heaven and Hell, oh well
And they'll tell you black is really white
The moon is just the sun at night
And when you walk in golden halls
You get to keep the gold that falls
It's Heaven and Hell!!"

Ride The Black Rainbow. - 84%

Metal_Jaw, March 26th, 2013

Black Sabbath is and always shall be one of those truly legendary bands, not just in metal, but in music all together. It's hard to believe that at one point in time they were about to fall off the map completely. After the late 70's misfires of "Technical Ecstasy" and "Never Say Die", the group went into hibernation for a couple years, ultimately culminating in the removal of the one and only Ozzy Osbourne from the ranks. But in 1980, a little man from over the rainbow took the ozzman's place, and the result is one of the most talked about "rejuvenation" albums in heavy metal's history. Me personally I don't think it's that fantastic, but we do have a pretty good album here.

The two top dogs on "Heaven And Hell", as with on pretty much any Sabbath record, are Geezer Butler on bass and riff god Tony Iommi taking on guitars as always. Geezer's bass is fuzzy and prominent, making for a nice balance/counter-balance to Iommi's rhythm riffage. Some of Iommi's finest leads are found on this particular album, while the separate riffage, while strong, are not as great on here as many of his numerous earlier efforts on the Sabbath classics. Bill Ward's usually spiffy and energetic drumming sounds on here rather mundane and pentatonic. The man was beginning to suffer from alcoholism at this time, and since this is what was most likely affecting his work, I guess I can cut him some slack, even though I personally hold little sympathy towards alcoholics. But the big name here, the big change to Black Sabbath's sound, is the only and only late great Ronnie James Dio at the mic. Dio's replacement of Ozzy is one of the great examples of a band's new singer being massively superior; Dio's booming mid range, sweeping howls and emotional clean vocals wipe out memories of Ozzy's tuneless, whiny squawking with little difficulty.

Iommi and Dio worked side by side during the creation of "Heaven And Hell"; with Dio's vastly different vocal style they didn't even bother to hide that fact, and instead began composing work more suited to the new vocalist's style. The final result is cleaner, less doomy and drugged out heavy meal more comparable to the power metal movement later in the decade. My main gripe with this album though is that even though this is Sabbath, and not only that but Sabbath without useless interludes and PCP musical progressions, there isn't as much as one would hope for in the way of big, memorable riffs. I mean there is, but there should be more. Plus I always thought a lot of the songs on here just went on and on or when they didn't they still weren't very interesting. Plus, not nearly enough faster material either.

At least things start off with a bang. Opener "Neon Knights", ironically the last song composed for the album, is pure starter fuel metal. Dio's righteous vocals, Iommi's charging rhythms and the boisterous bass of Butler make this a killer starter. The more balladic "Children of the Sea" follows, a slowish, melancholic rocker with nice, fuzzy guitars and a series of great riffs, particularly the moody acoustic moments. The rather bland and forgettable "Lady Evil" gives way the the titanic title track; a bit overrated ( I think the following album's "Sign of the Southern Cross" is far superior), but it's still pretty damn good anyway I guess with the crawling mood and unforgettable main riff (one of Iommi's finest). "Wishing Well" is also kinda forgettable but gets a pass from me for being a but catchy. The aggressive "Die Young" with its ballady middle part is pretty worthwhile but doesn't stick to long after the initial listen. I find the following song, the rocking "Walk Away" with many a catchy guitar lines, to be superior. "Lonely Is The Word" closes the album on a solid enough note.

Overall, I think "Heaven And Hell" is a little overrated. Many of the songs don't stick as well as one would hope, and there really should be more attitude and riffage than what we got here. But the work and still effortless energy of Iommi and Butler are still to behold, as is the raging and always dependable vocal work of Mr. Dio. Incredible for the musicianship, decent on the actual music. Worth a few listens but keep your expectations in check.

Black Sabbath resurrected. - 80%

ConorFynes, June 4th, 2012

Black Sabbath have made some of the best heavy metal albums I've ever heard. Both "Paranoid" and "Sabotage" have claimed their rightful thrones as masterpieces, and even the relative 'lesser' of Sabbath's early works were still excellent. Alas, the band hit a brick wall, the brick in this analogy representing a ton of drugs and petty argument. By "Never Say Die!", Black Sabbath ironically felt dead, not in an atmospheric or morose way, but in that it was clear that music was no longer their number one priority. With this, Ozzy Osbourne left to pursue a successful solo career, and a Mr. Ronnie James Dio came into play. Then best known for his work in Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow, Dio's operatic style was a sharp contrast to Ozzy's more nasal, down-to-earth voice. This shift also made for a big risk on the band's part, but it was one that they needed to take. "Heaven And Hell" is now seen as the return to grace for Black Sabbath, although it bears little resemblance to the classic Sabbath sound.

Disregarding the fact that I'm visiting this album a good three decades after it was released, I would not have believed that Sabbath would have sorted out their shit and gone back to recording passionate music after "Never Say Die!". In a way, the 'classic' sound of Black Sabbath seems to have died with "Sabotage", but then again, Sabbath were never a band to stay in the same place for long. Although Ronnie's solo work would not be out for a couple of years yet, "Heaven And Hell" tends to sound more like a Dio creature than the signature sound of Iommi and company. Although I may have preferred to hear a doomier incarnation of Sabbath here, Dio's contributions are impressive and work in the favour of a band that sounds young again.

Although "Heaven And Hell" would be the most refined and polished Black Sabbath had yet sounded, it has a deeper grounding in heavy metal than most of their previous work. Iommi's riffs are a little less massive than they had been in the past, and as Sabbath albums go, the sound is pretty homogeneous. Although it was commonplace to hear ballads, experimental interludes, and metal screechers all within a single Sabbath record, the songwriting and tone lean towards a theatrical, upbeat energy, with the occasional call for mellowed rock instrumentation. Though this makes "Heaven And Hell" more difficult to distinguish on a song-by-song basis than albums from the band's golden era, this is arguably the most consistent the band had ever sounded. Highlights include "Children of the Sea" and the immortal title track, but one thing is for sure; "Heaven And Hell" is the return of passion for a band that had lost their way.

Sabbath return to relevance. - 80%

Warthur, November 11th, 2011

After a run of five classic studio albums, one patchy but still quite good piece (Sabotage) and a couple of albums best forgotten, the Ozzy-fronted incarnation of Black Sabbath finally disintegrated for good. Luckily, Iommi, Ward and Butler had been having a good time jamming with Dio of late, and took him on as their new vocalist - a crucial moment for the careers of both Dio and the band as a whole.

Wisely, Sabbath do not try to mimic the sound of the Ozzy-era albums, instead taking the opportunity of their new lead singer to update and rejuvenate their sound and show those NWOBHM whippersnappers how it's done. The result is a confident and capable album which might not be as starkly original and groundbreaking as their first releases, but still represents a striking return to form after a fallow patch in the band's fortunes and a refreshingly new sound for the group.

Particularly striking is the way Iommi is able to weave guitar solos in his own classic style into fast-paced tunes like Neon Knights, which in their pounding rhythms and Dio's dramatic delivery rank compare favourably to the sort of material produced by Iron Maiden or Judas Priest at around the same time. Meanwhile, Dio proves he's capable of handling slower, doomier material like the title track, Lonely Is the Word, or Children of the Sea. These slower tracks take on a more operatic tone than the sledgehammer-heavy dirges of early Sabbath, but this is only appropriate for Dio's vocal style - which is on top form this time around.

On the whole, this album is probably more closely aligned to Dio's early solo style than the classic early 1970s Black Sabbath sound, so if you're fond of the former but aren't so keen on the latter, don't be put off from giving it a try, while if you love the early Ozzy sound don't expect more of the same with a different vocalist here. Of course, if you love both early Sabbath and solo Dio, you'll probably end up giving this album heavy rotation anyway.

Wizards of the Waiting Room - 69%

marktheviktor, March 24th, 2010

I have been familiar with this album for many years but there was a time when I used to sit around having casual conversations with guys around my age and when the topic of Black Sabbath came up. Their faces were met with delight and enthusiasm. I remember asking several different mates on three different occasions if they liked the band when they had Ronnie Dio and the reaction was uniformly identical: a slow but decisive sway of the head from side to side before the end of my question. It was amazing. Was I the only one who had taken interest in this part of the band's career? Was John "Ozzy" Osborne really the be all end all of Black Sabbath? Where I have lived, it seems these Dio early Sabbath years has enjoyed a renaissance in the last dozen years. They are now older and old rules in the heavy metal world. In my opinion the songs on Heaven in Hell always had that "old days", growing up in the seventies and early eighties charm to me and I want to explain how. That being said, while I think this is a very good start of a new era, it has its shortcomings when compared to many of the band's other albums up to 1983. I think those dismissive smirks from my youth might have been thinking of Heaven and Hell when they thought of Dio fronted Sabbath. Find out why..

That this album was a major house cleaning is old, old news. Anyone can tell just by listening to it. I'm just going to flat out acknowledge what everyone else it seems is afraid to say in so many words: This album is "Rainbath". Please, that's not a pejorative description in this instance. Yes, it implies the same thing as the whole "Van Hagar" idiom when Sammy joined Eddie V's band but in this case it would not be negative like that one(to most). It's just the most direct way of getting across the fact that you can tell by the direction and harmonies that Dio was co-captaining this ship fresh off from his stint with Rainbow. And a more important difference, it only applies here to this album and this one only. It's a merger of Black Sabbath's sound and Rainbow's. That's all. I think this release was the made with the best of ambitions and optimism by all involved. And considering it was made in a relatively short period of time with some hectic personnel issues before hitting the recording studio says alot about the professionalism heard on the tracklist.

As I sit here, I'm looking at that list right now. Eight songs. All very neat and tidy; each hovering in and around a consistent runtime. It's a compact design although its length is normal for the day. Nothing too top heavy or unrefined which is something that couldn't be said about Sabotage and Technical Ecstasy. A conscious choice was made to not allow that here. The choice of producer was probably brought in at Dio's recommendation. Martin Birch's handling of this album is the reason why it sounds so shiny. Like with Whitesnake, Blue Öyster Cult and here with Black Sabbath, his studio mentoring is very hands on where on Iron Maiden's albums his role as producer was more on the George Martin custodianship side of things as well as engineering.

Tony and Ronnie worked closely to make Neon Knights work as best an opener as possible. It might not have been the first song written but it was tailored and tweaked specifically to be the starter. This track is a self referential inauguration to announce this new stage of Black Sabbath; the fresh brightness of a neon light for the eighties. Were they being self prophetic with the lyric 'hold on good things never last'(acrimonious breakup two years later) and 'nothing's in the past it always seems to come again' (Dehumanizer and recent reunion under H&H)?

This would be the first release where Tony Iommi adopted a more modernistic change to heavy blues riffing from before that brought a mystical quality to accompany Dio's operatic style of singing. Gone are the straight doom riffs where everything else was written around those. In the previous lineup Tony would have to take charge of everything to get an album written but when Dio joined room had to be made to acommodate his creative experience with textured melodies. It's the reason why Heaven and Hell is not an all encompassing doom laden Sabbath album like before.

That also meant there is more separation. Since it's less of a spoke and wheel system, the bass has to assert itself more on it's own. No longer can Geezer's bass follow the riffs once the richer sense of placement for solos and Dio's operatic foundation are factored in. As a result, I think Geezer did a great job on here. I'm near certain the elevation to more complexities for an independent bass was at the encouragement of Birch as I noticed it was a style of playing later renowned of Steve Harris from Killers onwards.

However, I cannot say that Bill Ward adapts very successfully on the album. His drumming is only adequate here but somehow sterile and perfunctory on half the songs especially on Neon Knights. His transitional rolls on the title track were catchy but on the slow beats at the beginning of the song they seemed lackadaisical and unenergetic.

Lady Evil and Wishing Well are filler songs. The latter I've sort of grown to accept because it is rather catchy. Since Ronnie does bring alot of the Rainbow sound, this is one if those songs that sound like it. And as for Lady Evil, it's easily the most filler. The bass is the only standout part but you won't be calling for this song at any Sabbath concert. Very forgettable. Since the album is relatively compact, it's disappointing that there are two filler tracks like that.

Die Young isn't the most popular song in the band's catalog but I think it's an underrated little gem. It's more or less what power/speed metal would sound like a couple years later. It has a break of a mini-ballad in the middle of it that was very nice to hear. I've heard Rob Halford, Ian Gillan and Glenn Hughes sing their rendition of it and all of them sounded bad at it. This is Dio's song and everyone else should not try it. Walk Away is an almost straight rocker that sounds even more Rainbow-ish than the two filler songs(especially with the backing chorus) but Geezer's bass brings that old Sabbath sense to the upbeat track. Don't walk away from it. It should be good enough to grow on you after awhile.

I meant what I said about Heaven and Hell not being top heavy. Lonely is the Word is great way to end the album. It's a testament to how well produced the record is. If the song had not ended up as the one to come out of the bullpen to close the game out, the album wouldn't be as good. That super eclectic riff that opens it is a beautiful thing of heavy metal! Overall, the song is a melancholic doom-y ballad. I love the soft, jazzy solo that Tony plays at the two minute mark because it has a quaint atmosphere of loneliness from the grave. Its sounds identical (but more downtrodden and abridged) to Mick Abrahams' solo on the 1968 Jethro Tull song Cat's Squirrel. With this closing track, I guess it's the right time to mention the keyboard work done on Heaven and Hell. Only were keys used sporadically on previous albums. While they're only a little more present than before, it's noticeable enough when you go up and down through the playlist. They decorate the production nicely and enhance the luster of a brand new sound going into 1980.

Alot of people have made up their minds when it comes to how they view this album. I'm glad it's gotten more appreciation so many years since after it was released. It's not their best,no. It's worthy but hardly addictive next to other Black Sabbath albums.There was a time when a heavy metal diehard had to be a closeted fan of this recording. Are there still many of those who have yet to make the decision? You know what decision...Get off that carousel and ride the well.

When Dio Saved Sabbath - 97%

DawnoftheShred, April 10th, 2009

With their albums becoming increasingly weaker with each successive attempts and their last tour featuring a supporting act called Van Halen that blew them out of the water, Black Sabbath was a metal dinosaur on the verge of extinction. And when they were forced to kick out frontman Ozzy Osbourne, well that appeared to be pretty much it. But then one of those unprecedented, magic moments occurred and ex-Rainbow vocalist Ronnie James Dio (whose career needed a bit of saving itself) was recruited as Ozzy’s replacement. The result was an absolute about-face in the band’s sound and popularity and one of the best metal albums ever released by Dio, Sabbath, or most anyone else for that matter.

I can’t say for sure if the remaining Sabbath members came up with the sound on Heaven and Hell all on their own, if Dio had a direct hand in writing the music, or if it was simply a natural evolution with Dio’s strong melodic vocals as catalyst, but one thing is unquestionably apparent: the sound was brand new for Black Sabbath and essentially updated the band for the new decade. While the later Ozzy-era Sabbath records leaned heavily upon progressive rock territory (without ever actually stumbling into it), Heaven and Hell is both a steadfast return to heavy metal and an almost complete departure from their doomy past.

Some have described the sound as NWOBHM, and while I lean more towards the proto-power metal explanation, there are plenty of moments here to support the former. The quicker tracks (“Neon Knights,” “Die Young”) are closely relatable to the early works of Iron Maiden (listen to Geezer Butler’s bass on the latter). The addition of Dio’s melodicism and experience working with Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow add a certain ‘catchy’ element to the band’s sound, something that was not entirely lacking on the Ozzy stuff, but was far less explicit. This is a good thing, as plainer numbers like “Lady Evil” and “Wishing Well” shine on like diamonds anyway, thanks to Dio’s excellent voice. Tony’s riffwork is just as efficient as ever, but it is his leadwork that really profits from this new melodic edge. Geezer is Geezer, so there are no worries about the bass guitar presence being anything except magnificent. Similarly, Bill Ward is Bill Ward, though his playing is not as heavy or as frantic as on early albums. Indeed, with the frequent keyboard accompaniments, Heaven and Hell is not as heavy as the early Sabbath records, but it flourishes nonetheless because of the flawless musicianship you’d expect from Sabbath, the powerful vocals and intriguing fantasy lyrics you’d come to expect from Dio, and the excellent songwriting that, prior to this record’s release, I don’t think anyone was quite expecting from the unlikely pairing.

Much of the record consists of the straightforward, catchy metal anthems like “Walk Away” (which actually borders on hard rock) with the occasional speedier number. However 3/4 of this band was present for the recording of immense, atmospheric heavy metal like that which is found on Master of Reality and Black Sabbath Volume 4, so it is to be expected that they will achieve sublimity when playing at slower tempos. Nowhere is this more comprehensible than on the title track and writing a review for this album without dedicating a reasonable portion of words to the praise of that masterpiece would be criminally negligent. Can perfect be an understatement? From the immense opening riff (the second coming of “Snowblind”), through the bass-driven atmospheric verses, to that awesome post-chorus vocal thing, to the heavenly guitar solo, to the hellish, climactic speed section, to that somber classical acoustic bit that, while it officially ends the track, far from concludes the purposefully ambiguous tale Dio spins before it, “Heaven and Hell” is one of metal’s timeless anthems. The power of Dio’s voice is well suited to a track like this, while sort-of member Geoff Nichols provides the perfect keyboard compliment. Ideas developed here would resurface on the group’s next effort to similar (but not quite equal) effect, as well as on Dio’s own solo material with cheaper “Heaven and Hell” knock-offs like “The Last in Line.”

However the title track is not the only track with an emphasis on atmosphere. “Children of the Sea” is also pretty impressive, based off a nice clean riff and featuring one of Dio’s more emotional performances. The chorus reminds me of “Imagine,” but the track is not weakened because of it. Other notable departures include the bluesy “Lonely is the Word,” particularly the outro bit of it, and the interlude part of “Die Young” (once again, thanks to Geoff Nichols for his undercredited role as keyboardist on this and many other Sabbath albums).

If you don’t own this record already, you’re missing out on one of the best classic heavy metal experiences there is. It is so well-crafted and accessible that even if you’re a diehard Ozzy-era fan, you’ll have no hang-ups with the new vocals and different sound delivered by this lineup. And yet, it’s deep enough that you’ll find your artistic elitist happily listening to the album right next to your weekend headbanger. Enough said.

Rejoice, children of the sea! - 100%

nibblemark, March 10th, 2009

There seems to be an inevitable occurrence in music regarding truly great bands – before they break up they start to make crap, and after they break up they continue to make crap. Well, that’s what happened to Sabbath during the last few years of the original lineup. Here were four tired, bored, spoiled asses producing what asses produce. Crap. With the exception of a few great songs here and there, the incredible, powerful and magical band that had struck fear and wonder across the land just five years earlier was completely gone. So Ozzy left and the remaining trio recruited a new singer. Here is where it gets interesting.

Against all expectations, both Ozzy and Black Sabbath, after going their separate ways, managed to rejuvenate their music and make some of the most memorable, classic recordings of all time, each in their own unique way, capturing the essence of heavy metal. Such is the case with Sabbath and their singer Ronnie James Dio, who produced an opus for the ages, “Heaven and Hell”.

Like the first four classic Sabbath albums with Ozzy, this is not just a record. It’s a friend.

The first track, the universally acknowledged metal classic “Neon Knights”, showed the band at its finest: tight, fast, powerful, energetic and bonding beautifully with their new singer. Old Sabbath fans were introduced to a new sound. And it was good. I wholeheartedly agree with an earlier review by ChildOfTheSea who describes this record as NWOBHM. It is not old school Sabbath. It is metal for (what was then) a new decade, a new era. And although metal very rapidly evolved into heavier, faster and more aggressive sounds, the root of all evil can be found here.

The band sounds amazing! All of them. Bill Ward never sounded better, no bullshit, tight and bright and strong. Geezer Butler was brilliant, a great musician, probably the most underrated bass player in all of metal. Listen to those elegant lines in “Wishing Well”. Absolutely beautiful. As for Tony Iommi, he is the undisputed riffmeister. Personally I have always been critical of his soloing, which I found rather amateurish, but here he matured a great deal, and his playing never sounded better. As for Dio? Well, yes old Sabbath rules and Ozzy rules, that charismatic lovable lunatic went on to bigger and better things himself. But after all is said and done and all the heads have been counted, Ronnie James Dio is arguably the best heavy metal vocalist of all time.

There is nothing bad on this album. The songwriting is mature and refined, while managing to retain the aesthetic appeal and the essence of what we love as heavy metal. Many new bands could, and should, go to school with this disc. My favourite track is “Children of the Sea”. I could listen to this song over and over until I puke, and while I puke I would turn up the volume so I could still listen without missing anything.

If you’re from the older generation of fans you love this. If you’re among the younger metal fans, make an effort to understand and appreciate this record. Once you do, you will be forever grateful.

A different Sabbath - 84%

Nhorf, June 27th, 2008

After releasing some rather weak records and losing Ozzy Osbourne, Black Sabbath surprised everyone, releasing the very good“Heaven and Hell”, an album featuring the amazing Ronnie James Dio on vocals. The first thing you got to know about this album is that it isn't a traditional Black Sabbath album. If you are expecting “Heaven and Hell” to be a skull-crushing, heavy and doomy record, better search for other things. “Heaven and Hell” is different than “Paranoid” and different than, say, “Master of Reality”.

First of all, while the guitar riffs are still heavy, they are played faster, giving to the album a more true heavy metal sound. Check out riffs like the main one on “Neon Knights” or “Lady Evil” and you will understand it. The drumming is simple, even giving to this album a strange AC/DC flavour, since Bill Ward seriously overuses the “kick-snare-kick-snare” beat. The bass is audible and provides an extra groove to the majority of the songs.

About the vocals... Dio is the main responsible for the drastic change of the band's sound, first of all because he is a singer that can do almost everything with his voice (Ozzy isn't, you know), delivering some beautiful vocals on “Children of Sea” and, most of all, on the beginning of “Die Young” and sounding pretty aggressive on songs like “Neon Knights”. He also wrote the majority of the lyrics, so they are also extremely different from the traditional Sabbath ones (the ones dealing with evil, Satan, etc). This time, they mainly deal with fantasy, even giving to this album a strange proto-power metal sound, since the bands of that genre generally write all their lyrics about fantasy and such.

The opener “Neon Knights” represents the new sound of Sabbath perfectly, being a relatively fast song, filled with an unforgettable chorus and some simple yet effective, straight-forward drumming. In fact, this isn't the only song that carries a catchy chorus; the catchiness is, indeed, one of the main characteristics of “Heaven and Hell”, which is a very varied record too. Even though the majority of the songs is straight forward, there are two “ballads”/calmer songs here to be found: “Children of the Sea” and “Lonely is the Word”.

Anyways, highlights? The afore mentioned “Neon Knights” is a clear winner, of course. “Children of the Sea”, a song that resulted from the first jam Black Sabbath ever made with Ronnie Dio, is another great song, the “green” lyrics fantastically interpreted by an inspired Dio. Got to love that ending too (“look out!!”). “Die Young” is the best track of the album though, that keyboard beginning (even reminiscent of Pink Floyd's “Shine on you Crazy Diamond”) accompanied by the fantastic Dio... Awesome! Then the song explodes and Iommi unleashes one of his crushing riffs, ahhh, perfect! “Lady Evil” is another song that I like, especially because of the goofy lyrics, apparently Lady Evil is a “magical woman, the queen of the night, who can freeze where you stand!”. Hell yeah, cheesy power metal lyrics + Black Sabbath = win!

However, one of the mysteries of metal, at least for me, is how the title track is so praised out there. It surely is a classic, a kick-ass song, but it isn't the “magnificient, amazing, awesome, beautiful, masterpiece of a tune” that many people say it is. A strong song, nevertheless.
The only songs that harm the whole listening experience are the last two, at least they sound a bit uninspired for me. Without them, I would give this album some more points, but meh, I'll have to remove some because of them. I like the long guitar solo of “Lonely is the Word” though.

So, a catchy and heavy album by the metal godfathers. That's right, Dio really brought a fresh sound to this band, it's a shame that he had to left the band after “Mob Rules” (a pretty good record too). The good thing is that he is right now reunited with Black Sabbath and they are planning to release an album this year (at least that's what Dio said).

Best moments of the CD:
-the last part of “Heaven and Hell”.
-the beginning of “Die Young”.

The album that got me into heavy metal - 99%

Danowar666, April 8th, 2008

Back when i was at the tender young age of 14, still immersed in the world of 70's hard rock like Queen and Aerosmith, I decided to listen this band i had heard of called Black Sabbath. I was intrigued. Being a member of the newer, more technology-driven generation, I searched for this band on itunes, and I decided to listen to this album called Heaven and Hell. (Being the inexperienced kid I was, i thought that was still Ozzy on how far i've come.) The title track basically tore my head off. I listened to this song obsessively. After hearing this, I said to myself, "hey, this heavy metal stuff is pretty cool, i'm going to listen to more of it." And here I am today.

Naturally enough, I went on to buy the whole album. The opener, Neon Knights, is easily my favorite track after the title track. It has such a driving riff, catchy choruses, and lyrics you just couldn't forget (I had no clue what Dio was singing about but i could care less--come to think of it, I'm still not totally sure; I just know i love it).

Children of the Sea gives you a bit of a rest after the opener. This band can set a mood, let me tell you. Then, of course, the full song kicks in; if you don't love it, you don't love heavy metal.

Lady Evil has more of a straight up blues/rock feel to it, but it's still a great track. Not my particular favorite but still excellent.

Then it happens; "Sing me a song, you're a singer, do me a wrong, you're a bringer of evil." The opening riff just hits you right in the mouth. It's a classic, genre-defining riff. Then, as with Children of the Sea, it goes into a quiter setting, perfectly accented by Dio's amazing performance and Iommi's passionate, emotion-filled solos (great use of delay, by the way), which the song follows for about four minutes (give or take), until Vinnie and Geezer push it into overdrive. Tony keeps it going, then, "They say that life's a carousel, spinning fast you've got to ride it well. The world is full of kings and queens, who blind your eyes and steal your dreams it's Heaven and Hell." Words simply cannot describe the excellence of this portion of the song. It is perfect. Iommi delivers one of the most impressive solos I have ever heard, and just when you think it's done, a dueling acoustic line ends the song perfectly. Classic.

Then, in true heavy metal fashion, the band says, "ok, we have them calm, now ATTACK!!" And just like that, you are immeresed in the driving riff of Wishing Well. This is a very catchy song with a memorable riff (like many of Iommi's riffs). Again, Dio is fantastic, the acoustic guitar in the background adds quite a bit of depth (in my opinion), and again, Iommi makes great use of delay in his solo.

Die Young is another mood-setter. It starts off slowly with a revolving, flange-y sound effect with dueling guitar harmonies to set you up for another driving riff. This song is just another reason why this album is a genre-defining classic. After a few moments of intensity, the song goes into a slower, acoustic/clean part with more flange and delay, with Dio's voice raising hairs on the back of your neck. A few fills by the band, and it's into an Iommi solo. Bloody excellent.

Walk Away also has a 70's rock-ish feel to it. It's probably the most upbeat of the songs. Perhaps not the most memorable track, but still a great one.

Lonely is the Word is a slower one, another great mood-setter. Some great soloing by Iommit and a powerful performance by Dio. A fantastic closer to an excellent album.

Move Over Ozzy...Sabbath Is Here - 99%

Luvers666, February 11th, 2008

I first discovered Sabbath in 1983 with the Born Again album, strange for someone who listened to metal as far back as 1975. Immediately I got into the band and the first album I ever purchased by them after BA was this one, in 1984, before ever hearing an Ozzy era song/album.

I validate that this is a great way to be introduced to the band, they're loud, hard, heavy, fast, demonic and crushing, all the elements that give heavy metal it's identity, and who better than to start the 1980's decade than a rejuvenated Sabbath. After 1975's masterpiece, and only Ozzy era Sabbath album to deserve a perfect rating, the band pondered through two good but confusing albums, before Ozzy left/got fired. Instead of running into the night Sabbath got veteran vocalist Ronnie James Dio, who in his own right, had just got done rewriting the face of metal two years earlier while in Rainbow. So it comes as no surprise that a vocalist of Ronnie's caliber teaming up with Sabbath. a splendid album was in store.

Neon Knights, the albums lead off track, surpasses all expectations and reveals right off the bat, this is not the same Sabbath. This is not the same band of middle aged men with a vocalist who's vocals were becoming more and more embarrassing with every passing album. No this was a band of middle aged men playing half their age and a vocalist who's vocals soared higher than his height and slapped in the face all those critics who had written the band off as dead. This was Sabbath refusing to break to the pressures of the business, instead grabbing it by the balls and laughing as the critics groaned in agony at the sheer bliss for which the album offers.

Neon Knights could have been the one and only track here and it would still deserve a rating higher than at least five-thousand other metal bands. Just listen to how Dio sings, "Bloodied angels, fast descending. Moving on a never-bending light". That entire section, beginning at 1:28 and ending with a demonic NEON KNIGHTS at 1:48, is beyond description, and gives the album fifty points simply by itself. Throw in the kick ass solo and an appropriate time length, no overkill here, and you got simply one of the bands all time best tracks.

Children Of The Sea is a bit slower, beginning acoustically and with Dio singing softly about mysticism. The song becomes heavy but never truly gets fast, instead remaining melodic and even returning the opening sequence a few times, it's amazing how many different styles Dio uses to perfection here. So while not as fast as the opener, it shows Sabbath did not lose it's versatility with Ozzy's departure, instead broadening all those otherwise untouched ideas.

Lady Evil is a good song with a good bass-driving rhythm, but due to it's placing, that being before the title track, it pales in comparison. The title track begins with the thunderous tone of the opener with a speed similar to the sophomore track, before leading into a grueling bass line. Right off the bat you know an epic has started and you have no choice but listen to Dio's voice, it works so well in tandem that it's authoritative. A ton of riffs and sharp guitar licks are thrown in with some ethereal keyboards for good measure, forcing the song deeper into your psyche. The previous uncharted territory begins two minutes in when a slow gradual build-up sends the song into the next phase, never getting old, instead being pleasurable to the ear every second. The tempo increases as does the dark swelling atmosphere, never taking away from Dio's haunting reverberated voice. After this awesome verse everything quiets down and you know what is coming, God himself to make sure you remember who invented all of this. The first two notes drag on with a purpose few songs can describe, waving and interweaving through the stratosphere you are cast in by the never ending bass line. Blissful licks all played with extreme amount of taste and phrasing sends the song into the next section, drums begin the build up before Tony returns with another solo. Then out of nowhere the final phase kicks in with more kick ass lyrics delivered by a passionate voice Ozzy could never touch.

Because Wishing Well follows the title track, it suffers the same thing Lady Evil does. In fact some could argue that the entire second half falters because of this, especially since the two weakest songs, in the form of Wishing Well and Walk Away, are located here. But that thinking would be false as while the aforementioned songs do take up the second side, so does another superb track and the best song on the entire album, Die Young and Lonely Is The Word respectively.

Die Young is a mixture of the first two tracks, Neon Knights tone and heaviness with Children Of The Sea's grace, melodic and progressive elements. A ton of fine synthetic are thrown throughout, each with a purpose, that purpose is to give the song an extra dimension of emotion. Dio's vocals continue to be in top notch form, just listen to the second time he sings, "Gather the wind, though the wind wont help you fly at all" for proof of this.

Now we come to the closer of such an extraordinary album, the bluesy reflective piece otherwise known as Lonely Is The Word. There is so many styles of music here, with a touch of waltz and country & western in the percussive patterns, though you don't notice. Your too captivated by Tony's crushing yet soothing guitar, Dio's evasive yet strangely relate able lyrics, Bill and Geezer's off-balance rhythm. If you do not feel your heart bleed, your eyes water and your deepest, darkest and saddest emotions come to the surface when Tony begins his first solo just shy of the two minute mark, then you never will. Close your eyes, let him and the deep atmosphere consume your spirit and comfort your most depressing moments, Tony certainly was when he did this. Another verse comes in at the three and a half minute mark and while still evasive, they seem to make so much sense, with Tony's breath-taking fills and Bill's heavy drumming completing the purpose. The next two minutes Tony plays in such a dramatic fashion you could accuse him of just showing off, but you'd be a snot nosed newbie to metal. Each and every note played means something, another attack on emotions, crushing defeat, financial burden, lonely night. Every possible demon comes to the surface here and he just destroys them all, leading you to a much happier place, at least for almost six minutes of the songs duration.

It's no surprise that the band who, in 1970, laid the blueprint for all metal to follow, and forged ahead throughout the entire decade. Would come down and write another chapter not only in their own history book but Metal's in general. I should not have to recommend this album to you, for you certainly must have it, if not you do not deserve the title of a 'Metal Fan'

A great piece of NWOBHM! - 90%

ChildOfTheSea, July 12th, 2007

I am emotionally attached to this album; it’s the first Black Sabbath album I ever purchased in the early ‘80s. Earlier I had only listened to a few tapes with some “greatest hits” of Ozzy’s era and I was familiarized enough with the early Sabbath sound.

In my humble opinion there are actually two heavy metal genres: the slow one and the fast one. The slow (today labeled as doom metal) has been pioneered by Sabbath, whilst the fast one has been popularized by Judas Priest. The artistic and commercial success of the latter inspired the great NWOBHM in the late ‘70s – early ‘80s. Although Black Sabbath have given us unforgettable pieces of the “fast” genre (remember “Paranoid”, “Children of the Grave” etc.), they are generally admired for their heavy, pondering, doomy works (“Black Sabbath”, “Iron Man”, “Hand of Doom” and others). But with Dio as their frontman, whatever remained from their early doominess is gone! “Heaven and Hell” is fast, melodic, elaborated and - occasionally – even poppy (“Wishing Well” and “Walk Away”)! In other words - it’s NWOBHM!

Nonetheless “Heaven & Hell” is not merely Sabbath’s attempt to succeed in the genre they invented; it is a great album itself. Iommi performs magnificently – the guitar work is probably the best he ever produced. The guitar intro to the “Children of the Sea” is recognized by listeners with no particular interests in Metal. In fact it’s their most recognizable song, coming second only to Paranoid. Yet, the album is rightly credited to Ronnie James Dio. Not only is he a singer (technically speaking, by far superior to Ozzy and arguably the best male Heavy Metal voice), but also an unusually talented songwriter. His literature interests are of course different than Geezer’s, therefore the lyrical themes of Heaven & Hell are equally different that Sabbath’s early works. The “Children of the Sea” is a superb poetic metaphor (obviously my favorite song), but the album is not beyond criticism: “Lady Evil” is apparently the opposite of Rainbow’s “Lady of the Lake”; “Neon Knights” is also supposed to be a metaphor, but it is practically meaningless. And talking about “Heaven & Hell” (the track), what the hell is the “dancer”? Apparently a random word to make a rime with the “answer”? Pity, for otherwise the track justifies its reputation and popularity.

Let me conclude this short article with a few words about Sabbath’s cover art. The “Heaven and Hell” cover art has been created by some Lynn Curlee; the painting was not originally purposed to be a cover, yet it fits perfectly and it continues a Sabbath tradition. There are various dreadful Sabbath covers (“Sabbath Bloody Sabbath”, “Black Sabbath”, “Mob Rules” and “Born Again”), but this one is humorous, without lightening the seriousness of the content. Black Sabbath are also well reputed for the names and covers of their live albums – but let me come to this subject when reviewing “Live Evil”!

I am glad that this album also appeals to my teenager son. I let him pick from the store today’s trends, i.e. weird Scandinavian bands with similar names, covers, lyrics and sounds. But take a piece of advice from a veteran: if you really want to enjoy and understand the genre, buy Black Sabbath (up to and including “Born Again”), Judas Priest and Iron Maiden (their first four albums). Very little has been added since then (I recognize the originality and inspiration of thrash metal, though it’s not my preference).

Recovery from the Abyss. - 100%

hells_unicorn, September 5th, 2006

After about 4 years of meandering about musically, odd experimentation resulting in dead ends, and a rather lackluster pair of albums in "Technical Ecstacy" and "Never Say Die", Sabbath emerged with a new singer and the recaptured spirit that originally made them great. The new singer, Ronnie Dio (who has since become a household name with his own solo band) delivers the performance of his life on this fine gem.

Many of today's Traditional, Power and Progressive Metal acts site "Heaven and Hell" as a pivotal influence in their work. Axel Rudi Pell is probably the most blatant of this albums enthusiasts, as underscored by his equally long hommage "Disciples of Hell" off of his 2004 album Kings and Queens. Furthere back in the mix, Iron Maiden's 1988 album "Seventh Son of a Seventh Son" also can not escape sounding similar to this album on many tracks. In addition, Queensryche's 1984 release "Warning" has several similar elements, particularly on the closing track "Road to Madness". Other more recent Power Metal bands sounding similar to this release at times include Gamma Ray, Iron Savior, Gaia Epicus, and Iron Fire. Meanwhile, Progressive and Symphonic acts such as Symphony X and Rhapsody take more influence from the lyrics.

The sheer amount of variety in the songs is reminiscent of Dio's work with Rainbow before he signed on with Sabbath, in addition to some spooky lyrics that fit well with the original theme of the band. Such fantasy driven songs as "Neon Knights", "Wishing Well", and the poetic "Heaven and Hell represent the new injection of Rainbow's rather progressive rock/metal. Meanwhile, slower tunes such as "Lady Evil", "Lonely is the Word", and "Walk Away" are a bit more bluesy and reminiscent of classic Ozzy era Sabbath (though with very different vocals).

The production of this album, especially considering the year, is quite stellar. The guitars in particular have the right amount of crunch to them to stand out from the more traditional rock acts of the time such as AC/DC and Deep Purple. The bass is highly present and always active, something that has always been the exception and not the rule with older metal acts such as Judas Priest and Riot. The drums are probably the least raunchy sounding of the bunch, though Bill Ward does make a decent racket on "Heaven and Hell" and "Children of the Sea". But the true strength of this album are the vocal tracks, which are perfectly clean, and blend together perfectly during the harmony sections.

Tony Iommi's soloing on this album is nothing short of amazing. He delivers a killer thrill ride with the solo to "Die Young". His long-winded improvisation on "Lonely is the Word" rivals the insanity heard on such extended Jam sessions as Free Bird and some of Jimi Hendrix's live material. There are strong elements of story telling found in his solo work on "Children of the Sea", "Heaven and Hell", and "Wishing Well". And the leads he provides on "Lady Evil" take me back to the glory days of such tracks as "Fairies Wear Boots".

In conclusion, there are no weak links on this album, there are no avenues that are left unexplored. This album functions not only as an early pioneer effort that injected more power into the NWOBHM, but as a manifesto by which today's current Metal faithful continue to wage their war for the greatness of the genre. I can't recommend this album more strongly, if you haven't heard it, get yourself to your local CD store or onto and get yourself a copy quick.

Heaven indeed! - 98%

westknife, August 11th, 2004

First of all, this album has one of the coolest covers ever. In fact, it is SO cool that Van Halen decided to rip off the idea for their 1984 album. Boo! But seriously, I have a T-shirt of this cover (home-made, of course!) and I think it rocks. Almost as much as the music.

“Neon Knights” – Aaaah, I’m so glad Sabbath is alive again in 1980. This song is enough to prove that the band was back in action. It starts with a nice fast rocking riff, almost similar to “Back Street Kids,” but without the crappy overproduction. And then, as soon as Ronnie James Dio’s voice hits your speakers, you know this match was meant to be. Dio is undoubtedly one of metal’s greatest vocalists. This does not necessarily mean a recipe for success (see Born Again *shudder*), but here it works perfectly. This song has everything a metalhead could want: abstract, thought-provoking lyrics, atmospheric riffs, and a fast hard beat. Also, the lead in this song is amazing; it really is one of Iommi’s best guitar solos ever. This was my favorite Sabbath song for awhile, and it’s still one of my favorites.

“Children of the Sea” – Containing one of the most beautiful intros in all of metal, this song unexpectedly bursts into a brutal sludge fest. It is based mostly on Dio’s melody, instead of the usual dependence on Iommi’s riffs. Of course, the riffs are prominent as usual (especially the opener), and the strengths of both mix together magically. The guitar solo starts out very nicely, with some chorused vocals to back it up, but then ends kind of awkwardly. Iommi seems to want to play as many notes as possible, and since he’s not the fastest guitar player in the world, this makes for a strange sounding solo. But otherwise, this is one of Sabbath’s, and Dio’s, best songs. “It’s never never never coming back, look out!”

“Lady Evil” – This song makes good use of an excellent mid-paced groove, and incorporates some guitar fills from Iommi that are so badass, it’s not even funny. The chorus is very strong, and very sing-a-long-able. The lyrics are some of Dio’s very best; about, well, you guessed it! An evil lady. And then the solo! In my favorite Iommi solo ever, he uses the wah pedal like it’s never been used before! This song is obviously influenced by Judas Priest (it has that “bad ass” sound to it), but not too heavily that it sounds like a clone. This is entirely Black Sabbath, and yet another highlight of a strong album.

“Heaven and Hell” – For many, this is the high point of the album, and it certainly is an amazing song. This is an epic in the best way possible; it is loud, heavy, and LONG. Riding a galloping bass riff for much of the beginning, Dio’s voice is in top form here. The contrast between the subdued verses, and the guitar-driven choruses is wonderful. The section with Dio’s chorused vocals is incredible; this is truly what heavy metal is all about. Every single element of this song is amazing! Every riff, every note is perfect. The song also contains possibly one of the greatest, most monumental guitar solos in history, with some awesome use of delay effects. I’m talking about both parts, the slow part, and then the later fast part. The fast part at the end is the ultimate climax, with Bill Ward’s furious drumming, Geezer’s bluesy bass fills, and of course Iommi’s ethereal guitar playing and Dio’s tremendous voice. Ending on a delicate classical guitar piece, this song is the only reason I need for saying that Dio was right for Black Sabbath.

“Wishing Well” – Another great melodic rocker, Geezer Butler stands out particularly in the beginning with his manic bass playing. This song also has magnificent use of acoustic guitar, overlayed onto the distorted electrics. “Dream onn….” Another creative guitar solo, and overall superb playing from this great band.

“Die Young” – This song sounds a little cheesy at the beginning, but as soon as that first guitar riff comes crashing in, they fully redeem themselves! This is probably the most overlooked song in Sabbath’s entire catalog. Such power is held within the notes of this song! The “Oooh!” in the beginning (you know what I’m talking about) sounds so fucking sweet, and the leads are otherworldly. The “military” riff in the middle is insanely good, and leads back perfectly into the song’s refrain. Oh, the magic! If I could listen to only one mix CD for the rest of my life, this song damn well better be on it.

“Walk Away” – Ok, they had to do it. An attempt at a pop single. Somehow though, it doesn’t sound cheesy or forced, like previous attempts (“Changes,” “Am I Going Insane?”). The song still rocks relatively hard, and has quite a strong melody and structure. The lyrics are a little below the rest of the album’s standards, but overall this is a very good song. Luckily, the style of the song isn’t too much of a departure from the rest of the album.

“Lonely Is the Word” – Allegedly one of Tony Iommi’s personal favorite songs, it’s easy to see why. He had an admitted affection for the blues, and this is bluesy as hell. Also, there is a quite extended solo section that sounds accomplished. The whole song sounds like such a dirge, depressing and heavy the whole way through. This song has an emotive quality that earlier Ozzy Sabbath didn’t have. Instead of sounding creepy or dark, it sounds human in a way never before expressed by Iommi. While it isn’t a highlight of the album, it still is an excellent song, and a great way to close the album. And what could possibly compare to the first batch of songs on this album anyway?

This is one of my very favorite Black Sabbath albums. Here, in their new refreshed state, they achieve a glory that they hadn’t seen since their Paranoid days. The instrumentation is pulled back a little from the previous few releases, making for a much more guitar-driven record, much like the Black Sabbath of the past. There still is some acoustic guitar, and even synths, but they are restrained. This is a hard, heavy metal album that states clearly what the genre is all about. Not liking this record is like not liking food. It just doesn’t make sense. If you don’t own this already, buy it! Really, it’s one of the best things that ever happened to my CD collection.

A rejuvenated Sabbath - 90%

OlympicSharpshooter, August 2nd, 2004

...and here is where Sabbath pulls off the greatest trick in their grim metal existence, (seemingly) effortlessly switching singers without skipping a beat, in fact vastly improving themselves when all is said and done and dragging themselves from the mire of Technical Ecstasy (essentially the overblown logical conclusion to the train of thought proposed by Sabbath Bloody Sabbath and Sabotage) and Never Say Die (uninspired wastrel of a record) to a new metal plateau once more at the forefront of the genre.

This is a totally new Sabbath, nimble and forceful to a degree that belies their years, this looming maturity and new-found zest for life leaving virtually everything else released in the year 1980 in the dust, smoking the NWOBHM, steamrolling the new simplified Priest, really only AC/DC's landmark "Back in Black" and Ozzy's "Blizzard of Ozz" (honourable mention: the first Maiden) matching it's longevity and quality.

It's also a Sabbath tired of experimentation, more concerned with making a shiny, rock-solid album that will bring them back to prominence and succeeding unreservedly.

Heaven and Hell hits the back of the net at least five times on this one, and though one song could be called a stumble ("Walk Away") it's engulfed in the sheer brilliance of the rest. "Die Young", "Lonely is the Word", "Children of the Sea", "Neon Knights", and high upon high title track "Heaven and Hell" are in that rarified class of pure musical genius, all five easily finding their way into the top one or two hundred rock songs ever released in my book.

This album is great for many reasons, all of which are centered on the band. Tony Iommi is writing light-years away from Sabbath and ahead in time, pre-power metal derived more from Purple and Rainbow than anything else and also with a real epic feeling that Sabbath had never had, even on their considerable epics like "The Writ" and "War Pigs", a feel of cinematic scope that was the realm of basically Priest, Rainbow, and a burgeoning Maiden alone and screaming in the night (okay, Purple, Heep, and particularly Zeppelin did contribute quite a bit to this field as well) that this is the way metal SHOULD feel. Ward is tight as a drum (ironically) despite his horribly wasted state, more of a standard time-keeping player than the progressive drumming monster last seen on Sabotage. Bill Ward is as dynamic as ever sporadically, like Ward more inside the box (probably something to do with Ronnie's writing) but just amazing within the confines of a normal band. Last but not least, the short little feller filling in for the Ozz is a breath of fresh air, Dio being an obviously more talented singer and a writer and a half, his usual magic making this band more Rainbow than Sabbath, more modern than retro, more brilliant than ever.

This album would be worth it for the title track alone, probably my favourite song ever, out of all styles and all times. There's no use talking about the thespian grandeur of it all, the incredible slow-build and the level of BAM!-connection that is instantaneous and unshakeable. In short, it's the crowning classic of both the Sabbath catalogue and the rock genre entirely, that's how much I fucking love the song.

"Lonely is the Word" is the most insistently metallic track on the album, otherworldly soloing powerful vocals, and most pertinently a raw scraping guitar tone that cuts the ear and wrings the neck. "Die Young" is emotional and unconventional speed metal, the soulful (!) vocals of RJD in the slow break and the passion of Iommi's playing lifting this soaring and piercing speedster into the pantheon and above the whole wallowing power metal genre struggling to reach this high and be this damn good. "Neon Knights" is like a cleaned up "Symptom of the Universe" or "Kill the King" (Rainbow) part 2, hyper and clean with some amazing soloing from Tony and catchier-than-thou melodies up the wazoo.

Okay enough, I don't want to repeat the obvious. If you want more (and why wouldn't you...), e-mail me or something and I'll talk your ear off about this or any other album I've reviewed and a good many I've yet to. Suffice to say, Heaven and Hell is the last Sabbath classic (there are a few more good ones to go though) and maybe just shy of being the best damn thing they or anyone else ever recorded. Just buy the damned thing, it's essential Dio, Dio at his best, and also Dio in the middle of quite possibly the greatest hot-streak in metal history.

Pretty damn impressive - 84%

UltraBoris, August 26th, 2002

This is where Black Sabbath really gets their shit together, after wandering aimlessly through the desert for five years. Before that, there was the godly Sabotage, and before that five LPs that are historically unquestionable, but at times full of noise. Sabotage seemed like a real start, but then there were the two after it, which drank heavily from the jar of What the Fuck. Starting here, they'd release a series of albums that varied in style somewhat, but all were consistently very good.

Enter Ronnie James Dio, and we get a collection of songs that are at worst average, and at best immensely spectacular. We start with "Neon Knights" - with Dio on vocals, the band sounds much more power-metal. This is possibly the best album that Dio has done vocals on - very powerful, and the riffs are quite marvellous, thus I prefer it to his solo career, which also started out pretty well. Total speed metal, and Iommi also throws in a very cool solo. Then, the ballad "Children of the Sea". The best song on here - though the first time I heard it is still the best: with Rob Halford on vocals from 11/15/92 - I strongly encourage you to track down that version, it is quite amazing.

"Lady Evil" is a bit more pedestrian, and then we get to the title track, which comes in a very close second for best song nominations. The guitar solo, especially the first few seconds, is completely out of this world. "Wishing Well" is kinda ordinary but not at all bad, with some nice guitar work again (Iommi's best solos are definitely on this album), and then we get to "Die Young" - the fastest song on here (well, except the "someone stopped the flame" section, which is slow and has keyboards, but still works brilliantly). Dio's vocals are in top form - just runs rings around Ozzy, enough said. Then, "Walk Away" is decent, and "Lonely is the Word" is actually quite nice - it is long, but not overlong. The last 2 minutes or so are all soloing - maybe it borrows from Stairway to Heaven (I read that somewhere, I haven't heard the two songs in close enough proximity to notice), maybe it does not... in any case, as I said, the best lead work Iommi has ever done, combined with some awesome riffs and Dio's killer vocals, make this an indispensable Sabbath album.