Black Sabbath - Heaven And Hell
Warner Bros. Records
Heavy Metal
8 songs (39'47)
Release year: 1980
Black Sabbath, Warner Bros. Records
Reviewed by Mike

Exit Ozzy, enter Ronnie James Dio. For the “Ozzy-only” fans of Black Sabbath, this spells doom for the band. But, the end result is a album of heavy riff driven, no frills classic metal from the new incarnation of Black Sabbath. After being booted from the band after falling into a self destructive drug and alcohol habit, Ozzy Osbourne is replaced by none other than former Elf and Rainbow frontman, Ronnie James Dio. Luckily for Ozzy (and metal fans around the world), he would bounce back from his rut with the guidance of his current wife, Sharon to launch a steller solo career. But, more about the topic at hand…

The influences of RJD are very evident just by looking at the artwork. There is a quote on the inside of the booklet that reads, “The world is full of Kings and Queens. Who blind your eyes, then steal your dreams. It’s Heaven and Hell!” Or, how about this line from the chorus of Lady Evil, ”She’s a magical, mystical woman…” Magic, mysticism, dreams? Yes, the somewhat “stoner” vibe of the last decade is replaced by that of a more supernatural vibe. Also, the piano uses which dotted the band’s earlier catalogue are no more.

The opening track, Neon Knights is a familiar one, as it is often a cover tune candidate for other bands. The Iron Savior version is one that quickly comes to mind. Ten seconds into the album, you know that this thing is gonna smoke! Neon Knights gets things going on a fast pace and is one of those tracks that will stick with you long after you’re done listening. Children of the Sea begins with an acoustic intro followed by a slow paced, but intense riff similar in vein to that of the band’s classic cut, Sabbath Bloody Sabbath. The pace picks up with Lady Evil, which showcases some particularly impressive bass work from Geezer Butler. Tony is right there to compliment Geezer by throwing in some solos to spice things up. Next up is the title track, which in my opinion has an undoubted influence on metal even today. Clocking in at just under seven minutes, Heaven and Hell starts with a slow paced tempo, speeds up in the middle for a couple minutes of headbanging, then ends softly with an acoustic finish. I would find it hard to believe that this track did not at least have some influence on today’s more lengthy, epic style cuts. Wishing Well and Die Young are both mid to fast paced cuts with particularly cool solos in Wishing Well. Now that I think of it, I believe Wishing Well is another tune that has been covered – this time by Axel Rudi Pell. Walk Away is another mid paced hard rock style style cut which is a bit more upbeat than the rest of the disc in general. Closing out the disc, Lonely Is the Word is the track most reminiscent of the Ozzy years, musically that is. It is slower paced, with an eerie vibe to it, not to mention the acoustic guitar making a brief appearance in the middle of the track. Tony throws in a couple of masterful solos on this track. I especially dig the second one which encompasses at least the last minute of the song. Geoff Nicholls teams up with Tony on keys to close out the track and the album, adding to the mystical ambience going on here.

Heaven and Hell is an easily overlooked album from the “forgotten years” of the Black Sabbath catalogue. However, its influence on the genre is undeniable. Hopefully the “Ozzy-only” click of fans can cast their doubts aside for a moment and take this album for what it is – a damn good and very influential metal classic. My only possible complaint would be the short length. But, 20+ years ago, I guess 8-10 tracks was par for the course in the era of vinyl. But hell, today there is such a thing as a 40+ minute EP?! Anyway, this is surely an album that belongs in every metal collection.

Killing Songs :
Neon Knights, Lady evil, Heaven and Hell
Mike quoted CLASSIC
Other albums by Black Sabbath that we have reviewed:
Black Sabbath - 13 reviewed by Goat and quoted 85 / 100
Black Sabbath - Classic Albums - Paranoid (DVD) reviewed by Marty and quoted no quote
Black Sabbath - Headless Cross reviewed by Adam and quoted 81 / 100
Black Sabbath - Forbidden reviewed by Khelek and quoted 65 / 100
Black Sabbath - Mob Rules reviewed by Khelek and quoted CLASSIC
To see all 22 reviews click here
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