Honoring the time Ronnie Dio spent with the band, Black Sabbath's hits "Neon Knights," "Lady Evil," and "Die Young" are featured on this compilation spanning 1980-2006. David Ling contributes liner notes and live versions of "Children of the Sea" and "Country Girl" are showcased.
The idea of Black Sabbath without Ozzy Osbourne was a form of metal sacrilege in 1980, at least until people heard Ronnie James Dio belt out "Oh no, here it comes again..." to open the reformed band's Heaven and Hell
. Dio's low-growl had a yowl, squaring frightfully with Tony Iommi's more reined-in crunch. And Sabbath was reborn, playing faster than they had with Ozzy and drawing crowds. Five tracks from Heaven
make it to this set, where four from successor, Mob Rules
, show up. The winners from each: "Neon Nights" and "Turn Up the Night," both quick, hefty wailers, steamrolling on sheer riffing tonnage. Dehumanizer
rekindled the Sabbath/Dio marriage in 1992, showing speed metal's intervening influence--and the band holds up well, racing atop Vinnie Appice's iron-armed drums and Iommi's relentless, intentionally range-limited riffs. Then there are the three new tracks, all benefiting from 2006's richer low-end production and metal's return to a slower grind--where Iommi is more thrilling doling out sludge, as on "Shadow of the Wind," where chords sound slo-mo and blessedly narrow in range. Yes, "Ear on the Wall" closes the set in a hurried, fast- (not speed-) metal vibe, but at best the band is deliberately mid-tempo, making a raucous noise you're happy for after all these years. --Andrew Bartlett