Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Black Sabbath - Heaven And Hell (1980)

So after some turbulent years, the original line-up of Black Sabbath was finally broken up. Ozzy Osbourne left the band and was replaced by the former Rainbow singer Ronnie James Dio. And to say that this change was much needed is an understatement. Alcohol and drugs almost destroyed the band and Ozzy could obviously continue in the shape he was in. So in came Dio, and together with the rest of the founding members of the band (plus keyboardist Geoff Nicholls), they created the album "Heaven And Hell", which is Black Sabbath's 9th album.

There is no doubt that Dio has one of the strongest and most iconic voices in metal, but it is also obvious that he more or less reignited the flame in Black Sabbath. Dio was much involved in the songwriting, including writing all of the lyrics in the album, and it shows. "Heaven And Hell" feels so much fresher than its closest predecessors and the slight influence from Rainbow gives Black Sabbath a new sound that fits them well.

There are a total of 8 songs on "Heaven And Hell", and they all have different strengths. The opening "Neon Knights" is a simple tune that sits firmly in your brain, while the title track is more progressive and builds up to this fantastic fast paced ending that gives you goose bumps all over the body. Then we also have the beautiful "Children of The Sea" (which is the first song Iommi and Dio wrote together), the groovy "Wishing Well" and the fast paced "Die Young" that all makes "Heaven And Hell" a great album.

But even if the craftsmanship is top notch in the record, I am just left here, longing for more. 1 or 2 more songs would not have hurt in any way. That is however a very small complaint on a otherwise marvelous album. It definitely feels like the band has found their passion again and the song writing is amazing. Even the "worst" song "Lady Evil" is an enjoyable piece.

Thanks to the arrival of Ronnie James Dio, Black Sabbath has gained a second wind in their career. "Heaven And Hell" feels fresh, powerful and original. It may not be a typical Black Sabbath album, but the influences and ideas that Dio brought has lifted the band's spirit, and it shows everywhere, from the musicality to the performance. So after a couple of albums from hell, it feels good that Black Sabbath is back to heaven with their self and their music.

Songs worthy of recognition: Heaven And Hell, Neon Knights, Children of The Sea, Die Young

Rating: 9,5/10 Wishing Wells

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