Heaven And Hell - The Devil You Know
Heavy Metal
10 songs (54'44)
Release year: 2009
Reviewed by Marty
Major event
The Black Sabbath line-up of Ronnie James Dio, Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler and Vinny Appice got together a couple of years ago to record three new tracks for a compilation release entitled The Best Of Black Sabbath - The Dio Years. The compilation chronicled the three albums that they did together; Heaven And Hell and Mob Rules from the early 80's as well as tracks from Dehumanizer released in the 90's. Things went very smoothly and it was agreed to go out for a month or so to do a few shows to see if anyone was still interested in them. Well, apparently they were as a month turned into 9 months and the tour included a second leg featuring Judas Priest, Motorhead and Testament that was entitled the Masters Of Metal tour. Seeing that Tony and Geezer had just toured with Ozzy as Black Sabbath a couple of years earlier and that the door was still open for that to happen again, they decided to use Heaven And Hell as the name of their reunited project. Ideas has already been tossed around between the first tour and the Masters Of Metal tour and every indication pointed to the fact that there was enough material to do another studio album. Getting together last year after the touring had finished, Ronnie, Tony, Geezer and Vinny very quickly and rather smoothly put together The Devil You Know; the first album of all-new material since 1992's Dehumanizer.

Right from the crushing riffs of the album opener Atom And Evil, we are assured of a regular riff fest from Tony Iommi and company. Production wise, the band has never sounded this good nor this heavy. Very little along the line of production frills are used here and we are treated to a very "live" sounding recording. The main riff to Fear has the same big booming quality as the main riff in Falling Off The Edge Of The World from the Mob Rules album and the first single Bible Black features the classic ominous acoustic intro before Tony Iommi rips into another huge riff. With a similar arrangement to Children Of The Sea, this one's going to be a big concert highlight once they hit the road. Geezer Butler's bass provides the intro to Double The Pain before Tony Iommi comes in with another killer riff. This one has more of a Dio solo track quality especially with the vocal melodies yet is still relentless in its heaviness. Rock And Roll Angel once again has similarities to Dio's solo material yet is probably the weakest track on the album. Not quite a throw away track bit it's not one of their better efforts. The Turn Of The Screw gets a little more on track with its plodding heaviness with Follow The Tears getting even more plodding and heavy with detuned guitars and a more ominous tone than the tracks that predede it. Breaking Into Heaven brings the listener back to the slow pounding heaviness of tracks like Under The Sun from Sabbath's Volume 4 with the tracks Eating The Cannibals and Nevermore being the only speedy up tempo tracks.

As good as this album is, it's a little predictable and there are no real surprises here. We expected a great album and that's exactly what we get. The riffs are huge and very heavy with Geezer Butler's bass being very prominent in the mix. Like I stated earlier, this band has never sounded better. Dio's voice is as strong as ever even although he's lost a bit of his higher registers and strains in a few spots. This album sure could use more of the up tempo style of such greats as Neon Knights, Die Young, Mob Rules etc. and I don't really see any future classics brewing here however, Tony Iommi has once again taken the crown as the ultimate riff meister, coming up with some of his tastiest and heaviest riffs ever. The fact that for a group of guys who are mostly into their 60's can come up with something like this is testament to their talent and desire to still write very heavy music. Mixing a little of the Dehumanizer slow, plodding heaviness with some of the more melodic aspects of Dio's solo work and earlier albums like Heaven and Hell and Mob Rules, the recipe for some great sounding metal is followed almost to perfection here. A few more killer tracks and we would've had a masterpiece on our hands.

Killing Songs :
Fear, Bible Black, Double The Pain, Follow The Tears and Breaking Into Heaven
Marty quoted 85 / 100
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