Record Company: Rhino/Warner Bros.
Release Date: April 28, 2009
Producer: Ronnie James Dio, Tony Iommi & Geezer Butler
Web Site: http://www.heavenandhelllive.com/
Ronnie James Dio ~ Vocals
Tony Iommi ~ Guitar
Geezer Butler ~ Bass
Vinny Appice ~ Drums
1.) Atom And Evil [5:13] (Dio/Iommi/Butler): Whoa! That is one evil-sounding riff! This one is dark, even by Sabbath standards. The drums pound you while the riff drills into your skull mercilessly, filling the room with hellfire and brimstone. I like that in a funeral dirge. Rating: 7/10
2.) Fear [4:46] (Dio/Iommi/Butler): Although somewhat faster-paced, this song also has a very sinister edge to it. Dio unleashes some effect-treated howls to add to the dramatic choruses. This song has some bite to it... and reminds me of the Tony Martin years. Heavy-duty stuff. Rating: 8/10
3.) Bible Black [6:27] (Dio/Iommi/Butler): This is the first song I got a chance to listen to a few weeks before the release. The acoustic intro is quite nicely done, particularly with the electric fills over the top to add tension. Dio's vocals then come to center-stage... and it is immediately apparent that he still has that incredible vocal range intact. Amazing. As the song builds into the hard-driving chorus, I was immediately reminded of the classic Sabbath albums with Dio. This one would have fit right in on "Heaven And Hell." There isn't any higher praise I could possibly give than that. Rating: 12/10
4.) Double The Pain [5:23] (Dio/Iommi/Butler): The booming bass intro leads you to believe that this is going to be another mid-tempo hammering... and the riff only serves to confirm that. However, when Dio's vocals kick in, the riff really picks up and takes off. This song moves a lot faster than the other songs up to this point, and sounds a bit more like a Dio song to me. Of course, there's not a damn thing wrong with that in my book. Rating: 8/10
5.) Rock And Roll Angel [6:02] (Dio/Iommi/Butler): Another slow starter that picks up steam in a hurry, this mid-tempo rocker has a pretty good groove to it, but loses much of its momentum during the choruses and bridge. On the upside, it has some particularly tasty guitar work by Iommi, especially on the solo and outro. Rating: 6/10
6.) The Turn Of The Screw [5:00] (Dio/Iommi/Butler): Now this one has some groove. Killer bass work and a driving beat carry this song along nicely as Ronnie J. delivers the goods. Iommi delivers another sweet solo, putting this one near the top of the heap for me so far. Rating: 9/10
7.) Eating The Cannibals [3:34] (Dio/Iommi/Butler): This track has more of a straight-ahead rock vibe. The fast pace makes the song easy to get into, even if the whole 'Eating the Cannibals' thing is a bit cheesy. After 40 years of delivering the goods, I'll give 'em a pass on that. Rating: 7/10
8.) Follow The Tears [6:09] (Dio/Iommi/Butler): A very gothic-sounding intro builds into thunderous riff and pounding rhythm on this tune. It has a very slow pace at times, but I found that it has that anthemic vibe that quickly grows on you. I really like the way the bridge jumps out at you on here.
9.) Neverwhere [4:32] (Dio/Iommi/Butler): This track stands in stark contrast to the last. It moves a lot faster and really has a fist-pumping riff, guaranteed to get the old blood flowing. The guitar attacks you constantly, and the solo cuts through the mix like a knife. This one will make an awesome tune in their live set, without a doubt. Rating: 9/10
10.) Breaking Into Heaven [6:53] (Dio/Iommi/Butler): This one has a heavy-hitting riff, similar to Shadow Of The Wind. Like many of the songs on here, it is very slow-paced, but packs a major-league wallop. It's amazing how much each instrument stands out, though, with each adding to the overall sound. I think this one is powerful stuff. Rating: 9/10
Heaven & Hell has scheduled a world tour in support of "The Devil You Know" beginning on May 5th, 2009 in Bogota, Colombia.
The album cover art was created by artist Per Haagensen in a painting entitled (appropriately enough) "Satan."
The band had trouble deciding between the top two choices for the cover art, so the other potential cover (pictured below) has been set aside as an alternate cover available exclusively at Wal-Mart. Shit! Now I gotta go buy this one all over again.
In a recent interview, Geezer Butler has said that the numbers 25 and 41, which are prominently displayed on both covers, are a reference to Matthew 25:41, in which God casts the angels that have fallen from grace into Hell. "Then shall He say also unto them on the left hand, 'Depart from Me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.' " (King James version quoted)
The Last Word:
After all these years, I don't know how these guys do it. When I heard that Dio was getting back together with Sabbath for a tour, I figured they'd record a live DVD for old times sake (and a little wallet lining in the process ) and go on their separate ways. And when I heard that they were releasing a 'greatest hits' release with a couple of new tunes, I thought that my suspicions were confirmed beyond a shadow of a doubt.
Boy, was I surprised when I heard that they were going to follow up their successful Metal Masters Tour with a disc full of new material. And now that I've heard it a few times, I'm even more surprised to see them trying to break some new ground with a lot of these songs. It would have been easy for them to retread their classic material here for a quick cash-out. However, as they did with "Dehumanizer" nearly 20 years (Wow! ) before, they chose to take some of the songs in different directions, stretching their boundaries in the process. I think they did another admirable job of that here.
Obviously, a band with this kind of pedigree doesn't need any more praise from me. Suffice to say that all four of these guys delivered the goods and then some. They also had a pretty difficult production and mixing job, in my opinion. With songs this heavy, it would be easy to end up with a muddy-sounding mess. While I did have to brighten my EQ settings a bit (which isn't unusual for heavier recordings), they did an excellent job of getting the bass and drums to stand out in the mix, which I would imagine would be quite a challenge when the riffs are so bass-heavy.
The main criticism I'd have with this disc is that a few of the songs tend to run a little long, which tend to make them sound a bit repetitive at times, particularly since it also seems to occur mostly on the slower tracks. That said, I liked the fact that they really went with an evil vibe, but took some of the songs in different directions to provide a different feel at times. It really kept the album from getting monotonous. The album also seems to pick up at the end, and I thought the last few songs were among the best on the disc, so be sure to spin the whole thing, even if the first few songs don't grab you right away.
As I mentioned in "Trivial Tidbits," today just happens to be the day the band embarks on their world tour.
Here's to hoping that they manage to set the world on fire one more time.
A legendary line-up of a legendary band delivers the goods yet again. No real surprise... but it's always nice when a band lives up to our high expectations when so many fall short of the mark.
This is a solid release that will grab you metalheads with just a few listens... but it's definitely not for the faint of heart. You have been warned.
Oh... and be sure to wear your catcher's mask and chest protector.
Need I say it? RockHard approved.
The Bottom Line (AKA - The Six-Pack Scale):