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I've Heard This Before. But Sounds Great! - 89%

Ritchie Black Iommi, May 26th, 2012

The finest Black Sabbath is Dio's Sabbath. Yes, we all know that (regardless of what AOR wants us to think). We got the mythical Heaven and Hell, then the speedy and doomy Mob Rules, and finally, Dehumanizer, a stoner-doom metal approach and one of the finest albums ever by BS.

After three majestic pieces of heavy metal by the darklords themselves of the genre, BS entered in a sort of right-wrong working. Flirting with Ozzy was unfruitful, he likes the american popularity, he enjoys playing himself as a lostminded clown, and he forgot, back in 1972, how to do good music, so, the best for Iommi and team was to do something different... Yet... Usual. Here is when Ronnie James and Vinnie are summoned for the last time and they deliver the goods.

Dehumanizer is doom. Oh yes it is. And this follow-up has the same feeling. Nevermind how much Iommi explains that this was a parallel project, we get more of the same. The major criticise to Black Sabbath (or Heaven and Hell, it's the same) is that there are no new ideas here. We get what we know we will get and that's it. Since "Sabbath Bloody Sabbath", Iommi keeps on bringing the same riffing style, almost the same tune for the most of his compositions. An hybrid between his classical sound and Dio-era Sabbath. In "The Devil you Know" we listen a dirtier and more raw version of, say, "Mob Rules" and there we are. No more, no less.

Notwithstanding, despite the laxness of new ideas, the musicianship and talent of the performers here is unquestionable. Iommi, Dio, Appice and Butler are metal gods in their own term and they need no introduction. And we get amazed by Tony with a couple of outclassing-newcomers solos in here, specially in "Eating the Cannibals" and "Follow the Tears". The Guitar Devil proves once more that he can do more than deadly riffing. He is a virtuoso, as well. Maybe not as good as Ritchie Blackmore or Andy LaRocque, but not far away from them. Another extra point is for Geezer Butler. He is, probably, an average metal-bass player. But when it's about following the lead by the guitar and filling the emptyness, he breaks it. In "Bible Black" and "Turn of the Screw" we can taste a little bit of this.

And yes, yes, yes. Dio. Of course, I'll talk about him. But we can't forget Vinny. He is a little bit under-appreciated in my opinion, but he is a solid drummer. He fills the spaces and remembers us constantly what's about drumming in heavy metal. He actually beat the irons. In "Fear", "Eating the Cannibals" and "Breaking into Heaven" he get his best.

We all know this was the last recording by Dio. He died around one year later. Despite this, he gives us one of the finest performances in his career, only matchable with "Mob Rules" and a little inferior to the legendary "Rainbow Rising", his first metal band (have you heard about a band named Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow, where Dio started his metal career? If you didn't, you are probably just a poseur). In "Bible Black", "Rock and Roll Angel" and "Breaking into Heaven", one of the legends of metal singing blast it all away. The lyrics are made specially for his style. Dark and gloomy. Being this said, the swan song by RJD is majestic, brilliant, mature and pure. (We will never forget you, Dio...)

What we can't find in originality and inventive, we get it here in the shape of talent, metalness and some bits of virtuosity. To be in heaven and in hell in the same time is not difficult with these guys. We know them, they are the devil and they can't fail.