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Black Sabbath: The Dio Years

It's about damn time that someone gave some recognition to the Black Sabbath years when Ronnie James Dio was at the vocal helm. I mean, Heaven and Hell practically revitalized the career of these metal godfathers in the early 80's, and The Mob Rules, Live Evil, and Dehumanizer are all as solid as you get when you talk about classic Sabbath albums. When Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler, Bill Ward, and Dio spoke with Rhino Records about putting this compilation together, they also decided to record a few new songs and do a major tour. At that point, out goes Bill Ward, in comes Vinny Appice, who actually played drums for the band on the Mob Rules and Dehumanizer albums and tour, and the stage was set. The fact that the boys have gone out on tour under the moniker of Heaven and Hell so as not to confuse the fans (that's a story for another day) is really irrelevant to this collection-this is a compliation of some of the best songs from the Dio era, and it's a good one. In addition, there are three new tracks recently recorded by the band, showing that they still have what it takes after all these years.

The only beef you can really have on what's NOT on here would be "Sign of the Southern Cross", easily one of the best cuts from Mob Rules, and a real glaring omission. Otherwise, this is all prime Dio era Sabbath, and the best from the studio albums. Heaven and Hell is represented by the classic title cut, "Neon Knights", "Lady Evil" (which I would have left off in favor of "Cross"), the juggernaut "Die Young", the somber "Lonely is the Word", and a live version of "Children of the Sea", taken off the Live Evil album. From Mob Rules you get the upbeat "Turn Up the Night", the crunchy "Voodoo", "Falling Off the Edge of the World", and the superhuman title track. The Dehumanizer album is not as well represented, and deservedly so as it's not nearly as strong as the other two releases, but we have here the heavy "I", as well as the solid "TV Crimes" and "After All (The Dead)". Thankfully, they left off "Time Machine" which was also featured on the Waynes World soundtrack and the album's single. Ironically enough it was the worst song on what was otherwise a very strong return to form in 1992.

The three new pieces are very good, the first being "The Devil Cried", a mid-paced thumper that shows the guys still have plenty of fire left in them. Featuring a snarling vocal from Ronnie and plenty of thunder from the rhythm section, Tony also shows how he will forever be the ultimate riff master of metal. On the lumbering "Shadow of the Wind", the band proceeds to "out doom" most of today's doom bands, complete with slow, grinding, evil riffs and plodding rhythms. I'd love to hear more of this epic, doomy style from these guys. The final piece is the speedy "Ear In The Wall", a throwback to the early 80's material featuring a more NWOBHM fast pace tempo. All three new numbers show that Dio sounds right at home singing with the boys again as if they had never even gone their separate ways.

The booklet that comes with this set gives a very detailed and informative essay on the history of this era of Black Sabbath. Ultimately, even if you already own all the previous albums with Dio, you'll need to get this for the three new tracks and the great booklet. Then plunk down the $$$ for a ticket to see the Heaven and Hell show on tour-you won't regret it.

Track Listing
1. Neon Knights
2. Lady Evil
3. Heaven and Hell
4. Die Young
5. Lonely Is The Word
6. The Mob Rules
7. Turn Up The Night
8. Voodoo
9. Falling Off The Edge Of The World
10. After All (The Dead)
11. TV Crimes
12. I
13. Children Of The Sea (Live)
14. The Devil Cried
15. Shadow of the Wind
16. Ear In The Wall

Added: April 9th 2007
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: Black Sabbath Website
Hits: 2267
Language: english

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Black Sabbath: The Dio Years
Posted by Ken Pierce, SoT Staff Writer on 2007-04-09 18:20:50
My Score:

The saying is that all good things come to an end and such would be the case for Ozzy Osbourne and his mates in the legendary Black Sabbath. After defining a generation and founding a genre they would each go in separate directions. Ozzy would begin a prolific solo career while Sabbath would carry on once a suitable performer had been found. A replacement was found in former Rainbow/Elf singer Ronnie James Dio whose voice was like the shriek of a banshee compared to that of Osbourne, and while the fans cried "blasphemy" or "this will never work" - it very simply would. They would record Heaven And Hell and Mob Rules and follow them up with the concert recording Live Evil. Bill Ward would move on after "H&H" to find Vinny Appice in the drummers chair from then on. Dio would eventually move on to front his own band and years later return to help the guys once again with the recording of Dehumanizer. This long overdue collection of Black Sabbath's years with Dio celebrates some of the classic music they made together and as you listen you will be reminded of how Sabbath became a new and threatening presence to the non-believers of the Heavy Metal cause. Songs like the epic "Heaven And Hell" and "Children Of The Sea" became favorites while the follow up "Mob Rules" and "Turn Up The Night" showed the group as very in touch with the current Metal vibe. Leaders yes, but still capable of adapting to an ever-shifting musical scene. Sabbath was different with Dio and this allowed the classics to remain as such until years later when some of this lineup's songs would achieve similar status. A long time coming, but most certainly deserving of such acclaim.

The collection is a must have for any Sabbath/Dio fan but you will immediately be aware of the omission of "The Sign Of The Southern Cross" one of "The Mob Rules"' signature tracks. My guess was this was done to allow for the three new tunes the band penned in late 2006 to safely make it to the release. Despite that there are plenty of songs to enjoy from those three studio recordings and even a sample from the live release. Regarding the recent songs well I have to say that the new tracks are excellent as well and live up to any hype without sounding derivative or stale. "The Devil Cried" trudges along like old Sabbath would while "Ear In The Wall" is a bit more upbeat and faster paced. If you buy this for the new tracks alone or for the songs you remembered please accept that this is a consistent listen from track one through sixteen. Full historic details are presented for your reading pleasure and it is my hope that it leads to more recording and perhaps a full remastered catalog of all the individual releases from "The Dio Years". Raise those horns acolytes.

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