Album: THE DEVIL YOU KNOW
Artist: Heaven & Hell
Track Listing: 1) Atom and Evil 2) Fear 3) Bible Black 4) Double the Pain 5) Rock and Roll Angel 6) The Turn of the Screw 7) Eating the Cannibals 8) Follow the Tears 9) Neverwhere 10) Breaking Into Heaven
Following the release of their reunion live DVD/CD, Heaven & Hell release their highly anticipated debut album. Don’t be fooled by the name, this is Dio-era Black Sabbath, the line-up that gave us Mob Rules (1980), Live Evil (1982) and Dehumanizer (1992) with the switch of Appice to Ward for Heaven and Hell (1980). Those of you who heard the three new recordings on The Dio Years compilation will be pleased to hear that they were, in all their brilliance, just a taste of the almighty beast on the horizon. The Devil You Know blows all the current metal bands out of the water as the grandfathers of metal (with a combined age of 235) return to show everyone how it’s done.
If you’re expecting something along the lines of Heaven and Hell or Mob Rules then you’re in for a surprise. Imagine Dehumanizer but heavier and more brutal, that pretty much best describes what lies in store for you. The riffs are slow, heavy and bone crushing. Most of this album is best described as doom metal. So for some this may be a disappointment, for others it’s a welcomed return to form.
The mammoth doom anthem Atom and Evil is first up. A brief drum intro from Appice gets things going before the swirling current of Iommi’s riffs take over. Immediately Dio’s presence is made clear, he’s still got it and his vocals pack a mighty punch throughout. The track gets elevated as we’re welcomed by the first guitar solo, then it all falls back into the pre-chorus with various guitar parts churning away, adding to the madness.
The tempo is increased a notch with Fear, an eastern-sounding riff swirls round before switching to jabbing stabs and then returning to a doom sequence. Bible Black was the first single released and is one of the longest tracks here at six-and-a-half minutes. It opens with an acoustic section, similar to the kind of intros found previously on Children of the Sea and Anno Mundi (The Vision) where the track soon explodes into some chunky riffage. After a wild west-style soft opening, the song is the most energetic so far and captures the Sabbath days of old.
Double the Pain’s intro sees Butler step into the spotlight, executing the main riff through a synthed bass, this track is also fairly fast and the most upbeat one yet. Rock and Roll Angel provides the most interesting track musically, fusing energetic heavy metal with blues. During the track, everything is dropped to provide space for Iommi to play a heartfelt bluesy solo before bursting back into the main sequence, if you came here looking for solos then this is the best of the bunch.
The first half is definitely the stronger half, the album progressing through Turn of the Screw and Eating the Cannibals, decent tunes but not standouts by any means. Then we hit Follow the Tears and the record comes back to life. Here lie the darkest six minutes, a lengthy opening allowing Iommi to deliver his heaviest riffage in a long time (matching the likes of Into the Void and Zero the Hero). This is the track that truly reflects the evil of the artwork, this is Heaven & Hell.
The tempo is lifted once again with Neverwhere, proving itself another speedy number before Breaking into Heaven rounds off the album with the way it started, a fitting end to an excellent collection of songs.
The Devil You Know is the glorious return of Black Sabbath. It stands as one of their heaviest offerings and as one of their best, a definite improvement on Dehumanizer that takes on a sound of its own. The album art represents the music perfectly, horrifying and artistically masterful at the same time.
1) Follow the Tears
2) Rock and Roll Angel
3) Atom and Evil
Reviewed by: Daniel Aston, 11/01/2010