Happy Halloween, you pagan bastards. Well dear friends, another Rocktober has come to an end. Stay tuned, as tomorrow GMYH will begin Nomovember, a 30-day tribute to Hideo Nomo. But not before we pay tribute to a fitting album for Halloween, Black Sabbath's 1980 masterpiece Heaven and Hell.
In 1980, the metal world was changing. Iron Maiden released its debut album. Judas Priest released British Steel. Black Sabbath and Ozzy Osbourne had parted ways, and both would release their first post-breakup albums. Ozzy released his classic solo debut, Blizzard of Ozz. Meanwhile, his former bandmates Tony Iommi, Bill Ward, and Geezer Butler hired Ronnie James Dio to fill Ozzy's shoes as the lead singer of Black Sabbath.
The resulting album, Heaven and Hell, rejuvenated and reinvented Black Sabbath, who had kind of fallen into a rut with their several previous albums. Dio brought both a powerful voice and great songwriting skills. The album is a metal classic. It has the energy that the band's last few albums with Ozzy lacked. Some of the songs (or at least early incarnations of them) were written before Ozzy left the band, but then reworked once Dio joined the band. Whatever they did worked, as Heaven and Hell was the band's highest-charting album in both the US and UK since 1975's Sabotage, and it has become the band's third-best selling album behind Paranoid and Master of Reality. During the tour supporting this album, original drummer Bill Ward quit the band due to alcoholism. He would rejoin the band several years later, but after Dio left. Thus, this was the only studio album to feature Dio, Iommi, Ward, and Butler.
1. "Neon Knights"
The album starts off with ferocity. "Neon Knights" is, in my opinion, the best Dio-era Black Sabbath song. It has a great riff and a driving beat, and of course, soaring vocals. The song was the last one written by the band for the album. It got up to #22 on the UK charts.
2. "Children of the Sea"
This was the first song written by the group after Dio joined. It starts out slow with guitar only and Dio singing, and then at the 40-second mark, Iommi comes in with a heavy riff and the drums and bass thunder along.
3. "Lady Evil"
"Lady Evil"? Isn't that an oxymoron? I kid. Anyway, this song is very solid. It discusses witches, has more of a groove than most metal songs, and Iommi has a great distorted, Wah pedal solo.
4. "Heaven and Hell"
The title track is a solid metal anthem about each person's ability to choose between good and evil. It starts off with a nice riff, then gets kind of quiet while Dio sings the first verse. After about 3 minutes, you think the song is winding down, but then around the 4:15 mark, the tempo picks up, Iommi tears into a nice little solo, and the song kicks into oblivion.
5. "Wishing Well"
There is no letdown on Side Two. "Wishing Well" is a great metal song. Dio sings with a little bit of anger in his voice, and Ward's drumming keeps the song driving along. As with many of the songs, Iommi has a sweet solo.
6. "Die Young"
This is my second favorite song on the album after "Neon Knights." It starts out with some eerie guitars that sound like they're crying, and then there's a wicked guitar solo. The lyrics kick in after about a minute, and it's a fast-paced, snarling song. Iommi blazes throughout the song.
7. "Walk Away"
"Walk Away" is slower than many of the other songs. It sounds a little more mainstream than the other songs on the album, which isn't meant to be an insult – just an observation.
8. "Lonely Is the Word"The album ends with a slow, dark, brooding song. Ward's drumming is noticeable here, as he crashes down on his drums with authority throughout the verses.