Heaven & Hell, 'The Devil You Know'

May 18, 2009
  • Email|
  • Print|
  • Reprints|
  • |
Text size +


ESSENTIAL "Bible Black"

Proving itself to be more than a reunion cash-in, Heaven & Hell - the re-brand for Black Sabbath with Ronnie James Dio on vocals - has a batch of new material that is every bit as menacingly delightful as 2007's concert tour that revived the lineup after 15 years. "The Devil You Know" is a labyrinth of macabre, escapist fantasy, with Dio serving as the guide. His trademark vocal bravado intact, Dio ably goes off without a lick of shame about deadly angels, Satanic daughters, and books of evil secrets; coming from another singer, this stuff could easily sound absurd. Since first teaming in 1979, Dio, guitarist Tony Iommi, bassist Geezer Butler, and (slightly later) drummer Vinny Appice have conjured a rich catalog of allegorical dread distinctly different from the more temporal horrors addressed in Ozzy Osbourne-fronted Black Sabbath. It does not matter whether Ronnie or Ozzy is at the mike, since Iommi is the band's real wizard. The guitarist (with assistance from Butler's deceptively spry fretwork) deploys a barrage of skull-rattling riffs here. And whenever the atmosphere gets too thick, Iommi simply lets loose a concise lead part that asserts his role as the true power behind the throne of darkness. (Out now) -- SCOTT MCLENNAN

Heaven & Hell perform at the Bank of America Pavilion on Aug. 28.