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Just too slow - 73%

Face_your_fear_79, March 17th, 2018

Black Sabbath hasn't release a new studio album in many, many years. After the Ozzy reunion, then the Dio reunion and the subsequent tours, fans have been anxious for some new material for years. Finally in 2009 the masters of heavy metal returned to give the masses another compact disc release. A couple years before this record, the band released a collection titled Black Sabbath - The Dio Years in which they recorded three new songs. Those three songs are excellent however The Devil You Know does not always measure up to these three previous tracks. This album features the thick layers of heavy sound built around Tony Iommi's crunchy guitar sound, Geezer's thick bass, Vinny Appice's steady drumming and, of course, the unmistakable vocals of Ronnie James Dio. However a lot of the songs here end up being too slow.

I was expecting this album to start with something heavy and up-tempo, not unlike Neon Knights or Turn Up the Night. Fear kicks up the tempo slightly, but nothing on this album hits the speed or intensity of the aforementioned tracks. Instead, the album starts off with Atom & Evil a slow, doomy, goth-dirge complete with Dio's theatrical, mythological lyrics. This song is nothing special. The first single from the album Bible Black has a an undeniable hook and is easily as good as anything the band has recorded before. The song also sports a great solo in the middle. Double the Pain is a standout cut with a great riff, a very dark feel and a nice bridge. Dio's vocals sound fantastic throughout. The man has lost something over time but not much. The Turn Of The Screw features some very off putting lyrics and guitar parts from both guitarists. I do not like it at all. Follow the Tears however is perhaps my favorite song on this disc. The song could have easily been part of the first two Black Sabbath/Dio records. The opening moments with Iommi's menacingly heavy guitar tone is spellbinding. The song is slow and melodic, but heavy as a freight train packed full of razor blades and bombs. The solo is trademark Iommi both menacing and awesome all at once.

As usual, the imagery and lyrics paint a rather gloomy picture. Dio's lyrics rarely paint a picture that is easily understood. Instead he rhymes and weaves the lyrics into a sort of dark poetry, that sounds spooky but in reality doesn't have much meaning. Buzz words like devil, evil, death, dark, black, and of course, rock and roll have been a part of Dio's arsenal since his days in Rainbow. His goth-tinged poetry hasn't changed much over they years and is no different here. Of course, there is the purposely offensive cover art depicting some demonic creature holding a nail riddled crucifix that is sure to cause an uproar in religious circles. Frankly, the cover art reminds me of Celtic Frost's, HR Geiger illustrated cover To Mega Therion. Wal-Mart has an alternate cover that may appeal to some fans whom are squeimish when it comes to this form of expression.

But overall much of the song craft on this record is simply just too slow to be enjoyed more then a few listens with Follow The Tears, Double the Pain and Bible Black being the standout tracks that will not get old even after many listens. Just keep in mind that ultimately this record is just not fast paced enough to be enjoyed as a whole and should as a result be approached with caution more then anything else.