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on July 13, 2003
I have had this for about a year, and I cannot stress this enough: Heaven and Hell by Black Sabbath is very possibly the best rock album EVER. I cannot put into words how great this album is. Ronnie James Dio's powerful voice was not so much a replacement for Ozzy Osbourne, it was more of a transformation. This "new" Sabbath sounds NOTHING like the old Sabbath. The musical and lyrical themes are magical, mystical kinds of stuff.
The album kicks off with, in my opinion, the best Sabbath song in their entire career. "Neon Knights" also happens to be my all-time favorite rock song. Right from the start, you know that something has changed about the band. They start off with a hard-rocking groove, and then all of a sudden... Dio's amazing voice takes the music into another dimension! In terms of songwriting, this is one of the best songs in either Sabbath's or Dio's catalog. The climax of the song, though, is Iommi's guitar solo. I could listen to this guitar solo on repeat for the rest of my life. Feel it!
The second song, "Children of the Sea," is slower, and heavier. The main crawling criff is one of the best on the album, and Dio's vocal part is very melodic and beautiful. This is one of the best songs on the album.
"Lady Evil" is an uptempo rocker that makes you want to move! "There's a place just south of Witches' Valley..." This is also a highlight of the album. It has one of the best guitar solos on the record, as well.
"Heaven and Hell," for many people, is the climax of the album (and for good reason!). From the opening hard-driving riff, you know this song is going to be something special. The guitar pummels away with the rhythm section for a little while, then pulls back, leaving only the drums and a mid-paced, galloping bass line. Enter Dio! He enters, singing his now classic line "Sing me a song, you're a singer..." After the verse, Dio sings "So it's on and on and on...", while the guitar comes crashing in, slamming out mighty power chords, and then turning into a sludgy, heavy riff. When the guitar pulls back again for the second verse, faint harmonized guitar leads can be heard echoing in the distance, giving harmony to the verse, where there was none before. After the chorus this time, the sludge riff keeps going, and Dio wails his final verse over it. One final chorus is extended for maximum build-up, and then a crashing finale! But wait...... it's not over. It is time for a monstrous, epic guitar solo! Starting quietly and slowly, Iommi creeps in, displaying his lesser-known talent for melodic beauty. Echo and delay effects make the solo very tripped-out and unbelievable! It ends on a fermata, and all is calm. Suddenly, Bill Ward starts a newer, faster beat, and all of a sudden the band comes crashing in, with power never before known!!! Dio screams and wails the song's final melody, with more intensity and inspiration than anyone could dream possible. He is soon joined by Iommi's lead guitar again, this time a fast maniacal solo that is technically impressive while still being melodically beautiful. This is the end to one of the best metal epics EVER. The song ends with a baroque-style acoustic guitar pattern that fades into the distance.
Then, suddenly, the first power chords of "Wishing Well" shake the silence! This is another great melodic track.
"Die Young" is one of the highlights of the album, with its furious, power-chord-driven riff, and infectious melody. This song contains some of Iommi's best guitar work on the album, even the little filler licks in between the vocal lines are incredible. Some of Iommi's most inspired work.
"Walk Away" is the only track on the album I would not recommend to everyone. It is kind of a pop attempt, and many Sabbath fans slander it for this reason. However, it is still a very good song, and should be appreciated for what it is.
The closer, "Lonely Is the Word," is obviously a personal song to Iommi. It is sloooow, and very bluesy. Tony Iommi himself says that it is one of his favorite guitar solos. This is a very sad song, but very calm also, and a great way to close the album.
What else can I say? If you are a fan of rock music, this is one of the best things you can possibly spend your money on. It has been my all-time favorite album ever since I got it, and it still is! It stands the test of time, and has redeeming value through many, many listens.
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on March 5, 2005
This is the greatest LP ever recorded. You don't have to believe me. Buy it and find out for yourself.

This is Black Sabbath's first album without Ozzy, and Dio's divine performance reveals all of the band's former front man's shortcomings. Dio has better tone, better range, and better lyrics, and is just much more powerful than anything the band released in the 70's, though most those albums stand on their own as heavy metal masterpieces.

Also improved are the guitar sound and the rhythm section. Iommi crunches out riffs that are more than heavy, more than fast, and more than perfect. Bill ward proves he can play straight 4/4 and do it incredibly well, and Geezer plays bass in a way that is unparalleled in rock.

Every song is great, the production is good, and the lyrics will suck you in. From the opening chords of "Neon Nights" to the last tear-jerking chorus and solo in "lonely is the word" Heaven and Hell will enthrall you. It is utter musical perfection and I have no doubt that it will never be equaled.

Heaven and Hell is proof that metal can be powerful, melodic, heavy, and meaningful all at the same time. It is not just for metal heads, but anyone who loves real music.

Again, utter musical perfection. The best album ever recorded.
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on September 13, 2006
Ok, maybe not perfection, but dang close! Sabbath absolutely made the perfect choice by picking up ex-Rainbow vocalist Ronnie James Dio to fill Ozzy's shoes. Personally I find Dio to be a MUCH better singer than the now over-blown Ozzy.

I actually got into the Dio-Sabbath era backwards because at first I got into Dio's solo efforts. After loving his solo albums Holy Diver, The Last in Line, and Sacred Heart, I decided to go back and check out his efforts with Sabbath. Of course I heard and liked Sabbath of old but for some reason I never gave the Dio era Sabbath a whirl. All I can say is WOW!

The album definitely has the traditional Sabbath sound thanks to the guitar talents of Tony Iommi, but it also isn't exactly like their past releases either. For this we can thank Dio as like the vocalists to follow him, he was the main lyrical writer. Because he is the main lyrical writer it comes to be no surprise that a lot of these songs seem like they come straight from a Dio solo album. We even get an epic fantasy song called Children of a Sea about a society that lives under the ocean.

The album opener Neon Knights is one of Sabbath's best songs. It's a faster number with a great sing along course. Another faster song is the most excellent Die Young which features a simple yet monstrous riff by Iommi. The epic doomier title track is another one of Sabbath's best songs.

Everything is just grand about this album. The song-writing is mature and well structured and the production is crisp thanks to producer Martin Birch (who later went on to produce Iron Maiden). The songs are all catchy and the guitarmanship is aw-inspiring. The album may not be as groundbreaking as their debut or Paranoid, but it very well might be better.

It's would have been interesting to see where the band would have gone if Dio stayed in the group. Some might either view it as a good or a bad thing that he left, but after hearing such a good album as Heaven and Hell, one can't help but wonder...
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on October 31, 2011
The verdict is in...and the 1996 UK Castle remaster wins!!!
I have done a Hi-Fi(and Lo-Fi MP3 player) comparison between the 2008 Rhino and the 1996 UK castle remaster....the Castle remaster wins!

Well, on the Rhino label release it sounds like engineers attempted to add punch and volume to the mid-bass 1.0 KHZ range and they succeeded...BUT at the same time muddied the treble clarity at around the 6.0 KHZ-10 KHZ range. Normally I like juiced-up remasters, but this one sounds forced and strained in the Mid-Bass. Imagine your speakers cranked at high volume with bass all the way up..now throw a pillow over the speaker... It's so bad that you'll have listener fatigue and become annoyed by the second song.
That's how the Rhino sounds to me.

The Castle remaster as compared to the original 1980 recording has been remastered with great balance and clarity. The bass drum and bass guitar have added "whump" without the muddiness of the Rhino version. Now keep in mind, the bass drum/tom recording style of the time (1980)was with alot of dampening, so don't expect it to sound too "Fat". It was intended to sound hard and tight.
The higher frequencies have been opened up with a wider soundstage. Dio's lyrics are much easier to understand and Tony's guitar blazes just right (especially on the guitar solos of the title track #4).

...and if that wasn't enough!...the liner notes have been expanded with LYRICS!! and a short history surrounding the recording of this groundbreaking Heavy Metal recording.

It took me two tries to get the 1996 Import I was looking for, so do yourself a favor and e-mail the seller beforehand to verify just what version they have. The seller I found mine at was nice enough to send photos of the CD case so there was no doubt which one he was sending. **Thanks Trader Jack's!**

To know what the CD case looks like, look up the Heaven and Hell title and open up the long list of "Formats". Select the 1996 import version and when the user photos come up under the main photo, you'll see a photo of what the back of the Castle remaster looks like (the front is the same). It is different than the 1980 version and instead has a live on-stage photo of the band and make sure at the bottom of the back of the case it says 1996 Gimcastle Ltd/Castle Communications.

Simply put,the Castle remaster of Mob Rules sounds just right and I give it my highest recommendation.

For those of you who are just discovering "Dio" style Black Sabbath...it's a MUST BUY TITLE!!!

****"I'll give you a star so you'll know just where you are."****
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on October 16, 2000
I'm writing this review of how this album felt when it was released in 1980 and what was going on at that time in the Sabbath world.
Many bands have inner turmoil which causes sub-par albums that fans don't expect or deserve. Case in point with Sabbath 'Technical Ecstasy' and 'Never Say Die' are probably the most forgetable albums in the old Sabbath catalog. Toni couldn't deal with Ozzy anymore and vice-versa. Geezer and Bill were having their own problems with alcohol and substances. It was a far cry from when Sabbath first started out, they just went downhill after 'Sabotage'.
When Ozzy left, every music magazine was announcing the end of Black Sabbath, history proved them wrong, but at the time no one could ever see Sabbath without Ozzy (or Ozzy without Sabbath for that matter). When Heaven and Hell came out I was wary, I had never heard of Ronnie James Dio, and when I found out he was an American, I just wasn't interested. Thankfully though I did get the album from a friend of mine and gave it a spin for the first time. From the opening notes of Neon Knights, I knew this album was not a mistake.
This album buried the mediocre efforts of the last couple years. 'Die Young' 'Lady Evil' and the seven minute opus title track blasted through my walls for weeks on end. I still couldn't see Dio singing the old stuff, but this album by itself was superb.
Now in the year 2000, I say this album stands up well. I love Sabbath, but have little regard for the on again off again Tony Martin era. Heaven and Hell is as great now as when I first spun it (yeah it was vinyl). MANY Sabbath fans still do not except anyone but Ozzy as the Sab's frontman, but I disagree. To me Dio seemed to fit in better with Sabbath than Ozzy did in some areas. Sabbath has the legendary persona of being evil and Dio comes off as a pretty mysterious and evil dude. Where Ozzy was the party man, Dio was the strange little wizard-like character who's voice has a much more diverse range than Ozzy's. They are both great singers, and they both had great albums with Sabbath, but I don't think Ronnie ever really got the fan support that Ozzy did. Perhaps he would have eventually if he had stayed longer and done more albums. After Heaven and Hell, he did Mob Rules, Live Evil, and ten years later came back for Dehumanizer. I doubt Ozzy could have pulled off Heaven and Hell better than Dio, probably because Dio wrote all the lyrics. However I couldn't see Dio fronting Sabbath Bloody Sabbath either. If you think Ozzy's the only singer for Sabbath, give this album a chance. I think you'll be as pleasantly surprised as I was 20 years ago.
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on April 20, 1999
I can only imagine how shocking it was for Sabbath fans to hear Dio's voice for the first time. Having become a Sabbath fan at the relatively late date of 1983, I thought this was a great record, and I still do.
The last reviewer wasn't entirely correct when he said Sabbath seems to intentionally abandon their old sound on this record. I think they were moving in this direction with their two previous albums, Technical Ecstasy and Never Say Die. Dio merely takes this musical direction to its fullest fruition. Ozzy's voice just isn't suited for this kind of music, and Dio's lyrics have more depth and eloquence than anything on the two records mentioned above.
Before I get flamed for that statement, let me just say that I love the original Sabbath as much as anyone. Having heard Dio sing the old songs, I must say Dio's voice isn't really suited for "War Pigs" or "Iron Man," either. Somehow, Dio's lyrics about knights and magic wouldn't have fit that bluesy style of music. Ozzy was perfect at that time, just as Dio is perfect for what Sabbath is trying to do here.
Heaven and Hell contains music with power, drama, and melody. I don't think Dio ever reached this level of excellence with his subsequent solo career, so if you like his solo music, you will LOVE this record. It's a classic.
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on September 29, 2005
What makes a good album is not just great melodies (which this album possess )But lyrics with depth. This Black Sabbath album is the best outside the Ozzy Osbourne era because of this reason. As a matter of fact the lyrics of this album is deeper and more thought provoking than all previous albums. Consider the lyrics in this song Children of the Sea "We sailed across the air before we learned to fly We thought that it could never end We'd glide above the ground before we learned to run, run
Now it seems our world has come undone" With Ronnie James Dio, the lyrics and melodies of Black Sabbath got to a better direction because of depth. It is no wonder that credible music critics say that this one of the best albums (if not the best) Black Sabbath has ever made. So for those who don't own this keep an open mind and buy this album its worth your time.
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on February 7, 2000
The Dio fronted Sabbath is the best version of Black Sabbath in my book. Black Sabbath with Ozzy was all about doom and gloom, no imagination or life in the songs what so ever. Don't get me wrong, some of the Ozzy albums were classics such as Sabotage and Sabbath Bloody Sabbath, but when Dio joined in 1979 and 1 year later the band released its' masterwork, Heaven and Hell. This is the best Black Sabbath album period! Dio's lyrics are at his best, taking shape during his Rainbow years, Dio songwriting reached it's peak here. Tony Iommi's riffage is just as hard hitting on this to any other riff he's laid down. The rtythm section is tight too, and this being Bill Ward's last chance in the drummer's seat with Dio in the band. The album opens with the hard riff rockin' Neon Knights, and from there on the album is killer all the way to the end. All the songs are classic Sabbath songs as well as for Dio too. Heaven and Hell proved all the skeptics that there was life after Ozzy afterall.
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on March 2, 2000
Ozzy Osbourne, as integral to the old Sab sound as he was, could definitely not have even hoped to keep up with the speed on this record. It's wrong to say that Black Sabbath was left in the lurch circa 1979 by Osbourne's forced departure because there's absolutely no evidence of a strained or rushed sound in the new lineup.
Ronnie James Dio and the three surviving Sabs were a match made in, er.... Heaven (?). Dio's vocal delivery on 'Neon Knights', 'Die Young', 'Lonely is the Word', 'Children of the Sea' and the title track is staggering. This was the mark 2 refurbished Black Sabbath that far outshines any of their future lineups. 'Neon Knights' and 'Die Young' are extremely fast hard rockers and both will make your fingers hit the rewind/back track button on your portable player. 'Heaven and Hell', 'Children of the Sea' and 'Lonely is the Word' are very strong long pieces which sometimes veer into power ballad territory and each of these is a winner. Of the remaining three tracks: 'Lady Evil', 'Wishing Well' and 'Walk Away', only the latter two really constitute filler for the LP but even at that, they're far from being flat and boring. Bill Ward departed the band after the supporting tour for this album; the drug and alcohol abuses he was sustaining proved to be too much. On the next album, 'Mob Rules', Vinnie Appice would step into the fold but there's no drop in the standard of the playing on that LP. Of these 2 studio albums featuring Dio on vocals, 'Heaven and Hell' packs more punch and value melodically. There's a fresh, crisp taste of mythology and fantasy on 'Heaven and Hell' that the band hadn't really revealed since 'Master of Reality', almost a decade before. 'Heaven and Hell' is a superb mix of demon-talk and new-style speed metal that certainly helped Sabbath stay afloat in the floodwaters brought on by the New Wave of British Heavy Metal. Put it this way, 'Heaven and Hell' needs to be bought fifth in your Sabbath collection, right after 'Black Sabbath', 'Master of Reality', 'Volume Four' and 'Paranoid'. In fact, the overall feel to this release is quick to put many of Sab's earlier works to shame (my allegiance to Ozzy won't let me name names here). Face it - this is driving music; get it and rock hard to it.
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on December 28, 1999
Most Sabbath fans regard the Ozzy Osbourne period as the one with the defining lineup. In many respects this is true. Early Sabbath (with Ozzy) have been highly influential in shaping today's metal scene. And although their albums are mostly hit-and-miss affairs (Paranoid perhaps the exceptional exception), all of them contain at least a couple of all-time classic tracks.
So in 1979-1980, Ronnie James Dio comes to take over the vocal duties for Sabbath. Dio was already well established as a vocalist for Rainbow, so it seems a risky career move to take over and replace a legend in Ozzy.
I have to be honest, Heaven and Hell was the very first Sabbath album I owned, when it was released in 1980. So perhaps because of that reason it has remained my favorite. Only later did I complete my Sabbath collection. WHat strikes me the most is the huge effect that Dio had in shaping not only Sabbath's lyrics, but musical vision as well. The lyrics evoke fantastic images of distant places and strange figures, and the music echoes those feelings. In my opinion, Toni Iommi has never unleashed better solos before or since this album. Both _Heaven and Hell_ and _Lonely Is The Word_, which closed each side on the record, end in long, melodic solos that always bring goosebumps to me. Neon Knights has been covered by many modern metal bands, Lady Evil and Wishing Well are great crunching metal tracks. Children Of The Sea and Die Young are very atmospheric and evocative. And Walk Away, well, they probably could have done without.
Definitely not Ozzy-era Sabbath, but superb nonetheless.
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