Heaven & Hell – The Devil You Know (2009, Rhino)
- Atom And Evil
- Bible Black
- Double The Pain
- Rock And Roll Angel
- The Turn Of The Screw
- Eating The Cannibals
- Follow The Tears
- Breaking Into Heaven
Ronnie James Dio – Vocals
Tony Iommi – Guitars
Geezer Butler – Bass
Vinny Appice – Drums
Produced by: Ronnie James Dio, Tony Iommi & Geezer Butler
Total Time = 54:05
Black Sabbath is the band that started it all…..they created Heavy Metal. I’ve been a long time fan of all incarnations of Sabbath whether it be with Ozzy, Dio, Ian Gillan, Glenn Hughes or Tony Martin on the mic. My favorite era by far is with Ronnie James Dio. Take a listen to the dual masterpieces HEAVEN & HELL (1980) and MOB RULES (1981) or the severely underrated reunion record DEHUMANIZER (1992) and you will hear classic track after classic track of monumental riffs and soaring vocals of early ’80s Heavy Metal. I was lucky to witness the the DEHUMANIZER lineup in concert in Boston way back in 1992 and that cemented my worship of the Dio-era Sabbath. Through all the reunions with Ozzy and the Ozzfest performances I saw of the original Sabbath, I still liked the Dio-era better. That’s not to say that the Ozzy-era is bad, it’s just as timeless, I just prefer the better singer. So with Ozzy holding the Black Sabbath name in check, I was glad to see Dio, Iommi, Geezer Butler and Vinny Appice reunite their classic lineup of Sabbath even if they use the different name of Heaven & Hell.
The three new songs from THE DIO YEARS (2007) best of record were excellent and they translated well in concert…..I saw them twice! So when the guys announced in 2008 that they were writing new material for a brand new Heaven & Hell album, I couldn’t have been happier! THE DEVIL YOU KNOW has been one of the most anticipated albums of the last year because the band is legendary and the players among the best of their craft. Who wouldn’t want to hear a new Black Sabbath Heaven & Hell album?
If I could describe THE DEVIL YOU KNOW in one word it would be “doom”. Tony Iommi has laid down the best Doom Metal riffs in the history of Heavy Metal and he continues on the new record not only with his heavy handed riffs but with his amazing solos. Ronnie James Dio is in top form vocally (as usual) and sounds better in his mid-60s than many of the Metal vocalists half his age…..his performance alone shows just how timeless he is and proves that he is still one of the best Metal singers on the planet. Geezer and Vinny lay down a solid backbone that throbs and pounds the music into your eardrums. This is one heavy album! More mid-tempo Doom rather than an all out Metal assault, I hear a lot of DEHUMANIZER and the slower parts of MOB RULES thoughout THE DEVIL YOU KNOW. The first two songs (‘Atom And Evil’ & ’Fear’) are slow and sludgy but powerful, they have that mid-tempo heaviness and that epic sound but the best is saved for ‘Bible Black’. If you had to find this album’s ‘Children Of The Sea’ or ‘The Sign Of The Southern Cross’, then ‘Bible Black’ that song. The song builds on every note Iommi plucks from his guitar and Dio puts in the performance of the album. Listen to that main riff and you will be coming back for more!
‘Double The Pain’ picks the pace up a bit more and sounds a bit more straight forward than the epics that start the album…..the song reminds me of the DEHUMANIZER album. ‘Rock And Roll Angel’ slows down again and seems out of place with it’s title and lyrics, the music is fine but it sounds like a solo Dio throwaway. Maybe with a better title and better lyrics this would be a better song? The guitar work, especially at the solo break, is superb so I can’t really give it a bad grade…..good music always trumps bad lyrics! Geezer’s bass is the main thrust of ‘The Turn Of The Screw’, another mid-tempo Doom classic that displays all of the band’s strengths.
Six songs in and we only have one uptempo song with ‘Double The Pain’. The best thing about the Dio era albums was that for every ‘Heaven & Hell’ you had a ‘Neon Knights’. For every ‘The Sign Of The Southern Cross’ you had a ‘Turn Up The Night’. What’s missing for me so far is the fast songs that speed by fluidly and display a whole other side of the Sabbath, I mean Heaven & Hell, power. Thankfully all the prayers are answered with ‘Eating The Cannibals’, the song that is the ‘Neon Knights’ of THE DEVIL YOU KNOW. Dio displays his uptempo registers proving he can do the epics and the fast stuff easily in his mid-60s and the Iommi/Butler/Appice machine just wails. Younger bands should take a listen and learn a lesson, this is classic heavy metal at it’s best! More mid-tempo doom awaits with ‘Follow The Tears’, a song that sounds like it came from the DEHUMANIZER sessions, and the final track ‘Breaking Into Heaven’ but I find I really enjoy the faster ‘Neverwhere’ more.
Fans of Black Sabbath/Heaven & Hell should definitely pick this up because it’s a classic album by a great group of top musicians. The band is firing on all cylinders with some of the best performances they have ever created together. After 30 years as a riff giant, Tony Iommi stills sets the standard for Heavy Metal guitarists and Ronnie James Dio displays the same versatile vocal range he’s had throughout his career with Rainbow, Sabbath, and his own band. I’ve read some criticism in some reviews that the album is too slow, too plodding, I’ve read the word “dinosaur” in a few. THE DEVIL YOU KNOW is mostly slow to mid-tempo Doom laden epics but they are powerful and anything but boring (maybe ‘Rock And Roll Angel’ lyrically) and the three faster songs are very good with ‘Eating The Cannibals’ standing out the most. I say go out and pick this up, the band picks up where they left off in 1992 and the three song teaser from 2007. One of the best albums of the year for me!
‘Bible Black’, ‘Eating The Cannibals’, ‘Neverwhere’, ‘Atom And Evil’, ‘Fear’