Black Sabbath – Heaven and Hell

Black Sabbath – Heaven and Hell

 Studio Album, released in 1980

Songs / Tracks Listing

  1. 1. Neon Knights (3:49)
    2. Children of the Sea (5:30)
    3. Lady Evil (4:22)
    4. Heaven & Hell (6:56)
    5. Wishing Well (4:02)
    6. Die Young (4:41)
    7. Walk Away (4:21)
    8. Lonely is the Word (5:49)Total Time 39:30

With Ozzy Osbourne gone and the last couple of albums before this one not exactly ‘doing it’, Black Sabbath really had to regroup on this effort. Recruiting the legendary Ronnie James Dio was a great start. This album was a far cry from anything Sabbath had previously released and it was an album that would become a benchmark for the new ‘Dio’ years.

The replacement of Ozzy Osbourne wasn’t the only line-up problem at that time. Drummer Bill Ward had recently lost both his parents and was fighting an increasingly dangerous battle with alcoholism. So much so that he has been quoted as saying that he has “no memory” about recording the album. Bassist Geezer Butler also had issues, he was going through a divorce and his role in the band was in question. Dio actually doubled as bassist and vocalist when he first joined the band. Former Elf and Rainbow bassist Craig Gruber recorded bass parts for the album, but on his return to the band, Butler recorded his own bass parts, without listening to Gruber’s bass tracks.

The writing style had changed too, while Sabbath’s sound had become defined in its heaviness with the riffs filling the air, now the music is more evened out. The riffs are still there. but there is an added dimension with Dio’s voice that was never there before. This is evident right the start with the opening track, ‘Neon Knights’ is hard thumping rock at its best. ‘Children of the Sea’ is a more traditional Sabbath song. ‘Lady Evil is all Dio, with its “magical, mystical” lyrics . We are then entertained by the title track. ‘Heaven and Hell’ This is a glorious seven minutes of crashing guitars, vocals and all around instrumentation wrapped up oh so tightly. Starting out very dark with a slow chanting beat, this one then explodes into a full blast shift in time and tone making for a very, very satisfying song.

Side two has more of a Rainbow feel to it with the rocking ‘Wishing Well’ very upbeat with some great drumming. ‘Die Young’  was released as a single, narrowly missing out on the top forty be reaching forty one in the UK charts. ‘Walk Away’, considered to be the poorest track on the album, is a mid tempo rocker that wouldn’t be amiss on a Dio studio album. ‘Lonely is the Word’  finishes the album in style. Again Dio’s voice is outstanding and we are treated to some very amazing guitar work from Iommi.

Peter Devine September 2016