True to form and still crushing after all these years
Despite the overwhelming praise and success of the compilation effort The Dio Years (Which was released under the moniker of Black Sabbath) and the release of their live C.D./D.V.D. Radio City Music Hall Live! while on tour in support of the said compilation, Heaven & Hell had every intention of parting ways at the tail end of 2007.
But to everyone’s surprise, Heaven & Hell (Who comprise of ex-Elf/Rainbow vocalist Ronnie James Dio, guitarist Tony Iommi, bassist Geezer Butler and drummer Vinny Appice) decided that they still had something to offer, and to the delight of fans, announced that there was to be a new album from the band after all. Now, seventeen years after the release of Dehumanizer (Which again, featured the same line-up under the name Black Sabbath), Heaven & Hell return with The Devil You Know.
The opening track Atom & Evil gets the album off to a typically doom-like start, with Iommi’s riffing coming across as heavy and classic fashion. Dio’s ageless vocals add to the darkened atmospherics of Iommi’s powerful and crushing notes, with the combined elements providing the first classic on the album.
The mid-paced Fear is very reminiscent of the band’s Dehumanizer era material with Dio projecting some real theatrics into his vocal performance, while the single/promotional video clip Bible Black is destined to be a live favourite with the gentle acoustic/electric work from Iommi in the slow building start of the song not too dissimilar to those that feature in classics such as The Sign Of The Southern Cross and Children Of The Sea, and the huge and catchy chorus melodies provided by Dio.
The bass heavy Double The Pain, the straight forward drive of Neverwhere and the fast paced Eating The Cannibals help balance out the slower numbers such as Rock & Roll Angel (Which boasts a stunning emotive solo piece from Iommi), the more rock based The Turn Of The Screw, while the epic Follow The Tears (Which features some great keyboard work from co-producer/recorder Mike Exeter) and Breaking Into Heaven’ are crushing doom-like classics that could only come from the likes of Heaven & Hell. If I were to be honest, there’s nothing remotely groundbreaking on The Devil You Know that hasn’t already been heard before on 1980’s Heaven And Hell and 1981’s Mob Rules. But that being said, Heaven & Hell needn’t have to reinvent their sound and style just to stay relevant in today’s modern metal scene. With The Devil You Know, Heaven & Hell have delivered an album that remains true to the direction that made them legends in the first place. Regardless of the seventeen years between releases, Heaven & Hell’s comeback release is another classic, and one that quite literally lives up to its name. I only hope that should there be another release, the wait won’t be anywhere as long.
(Roadrunner Records/Warner Music Australia)