Thursday, January 5, 2012

Black Sabbath - Heaven And Hell (1980)

Heaven And Hell marks Black Sabbath (the band that invented heavy metal)'s debut in the '80s, with their new vocalist Ronnie James Dio filling the space that Ozzy Osbourne left when he went solo. It's a new Black Sabbath for a new decade, but apart from the voice, it's not all that different.

The music is still consistently good, though perhaps with less hard-hitting epic riffs and songs as in their earlier days (the title track being one obvious exception). Though it's possible that the songs are simply less memorable or catchy somehow, because if you listen to them, they are good.

I still maintain that Dio is one of my favorite metal vocalists - he's got a distinctive voice that seems well-suited to heavy music (even if that's coming from someone who prefers metal bands to employ singers rather than screamers) - but there's something about the Black Sabbath brand that's missing without Ozzy on vocals. Even so, this is good music, and I can't imagine a more competent and fitting replacement for Ozzy. If you're concerned about the quality of Heaven And Hell as a Black Sabbath album (released a decade after their debut and without their original singer), you need not fear, this album can sit proudly beside the best of the band's earlier releases.

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