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Heaven and Hell – The Devil You Know: Review

It goes on, and on, and on… It’s Heaven and Hell! This is no new band; it is the legendary Black Sabbath/Dio combo! However, The Devil You Know is the first album released under this name (I think the name of this album plays on that fact).  The album release date is set as April 28, 2009, but I (as well as many others) managed to get an early listen. And although it’s been awhile since the boys have been in the studio together, I can assure you that they’re back and bringin’ the heavy!

heaven-and-hell

The Devil You Know

The Music (rating: B+)

  1. Atom & Evil
  2. Fear
  3. Bible Black
  4. Double the Pain
  5. Rock & Roll Angel
  6. The Turn of the Screw
  7. Eating the Cannibals
  8. Follow the Tears
  9. Neverwhere
  10. Breaking Into Heaven

First Single: Bible Black

It’s admirable that a band in their sixties (with the exception of drummer Vinny Appice) can still come up with refreshing, hard-hitting material. This is a great album and a definite recommendation. It won’t quite measure up to the Black Sabbath albums Heaven and Hell or The Mob Rules (in my opinion), but by no means will it disappoint. However, if you’re expecting an old-school Sabbath-style album, you’re in for a surprise. The band has developed a heavier sound and an overall slower tempo. This change may not sound good in words, but it sure as hell sounds great in song. In comparison to other Sabbath albums, I wouldn’t call it a “classic,” but I’d still say it’s “pretty damn good.”

The first few songs in the album introduces the new direction which the band is taking their music. However, I found that the song quality increased as the album progressed, so have patience when listening through. The song tempo in this collection ranges from slow (“Atom & Evil” and “Breaking Into Heaven”) to mid-fast paced (“Eating the Cannibals” and “Neverwhere”). There are also a few slow, mellow acoustic breaks throughout this album, so it’s not just an hour head-banging metal (whether that’s good or bad). In this sense, the album is quite diverse.

Though most of the songs are in 4/4 time and primarily based around the heavy-sounding E minor-blues scale, they absolutely do not blend together. As mentioned earlier, the different tempos are enough to distinguish the songs. But along with this, the music goes beyond the structure of scales (as good metal should) so the notes used are also differentiable between the songs, despite being based around a similar scale. And furthermore, the key changes are distinct from song to song. Not only would this emphasize the individuality of each song, it would also add to the overall musical value of the songs. So basically, to the casual listener of music, these songs may appear somewhat similar. But to an intent listener (or a hardcore Sabbath fan), every song in this album is unique in its own way.

Based on what I’ve said, every song in this album is very good as well as distinct. However, I found that there were no songs that were able to match the likes of  “Iron Man” or “Heaven and Hell” or other songs of that caliber. No song in this album was able to truly grip me the way the classics have. Still, I’d say this is a borderline purchase-worthy album (but then again, I don’t buy many albums). I could see myself listening to this album, from front to back, once every few months. And though that may prompt some to buy this album, it doesn’t quite cut it for me. In conclusion: great songs, great album, great band.

The Band (Optional)

This is just for a more detailed breakdown of the album.

Ronnie James Dio

Ronnie James Dio

Ronnie James Dio is in his mid-sixties and is still singing at his best. You know the devil horns hand gesture? Dio made that cool. This vocalist is not known so much for his range (though it is quite decent), but rather for his power. And despite being as old as he is, he still has one of the most powerful voices in the music scene today.

In this album, he gives a great vocal performance, though not as epic as the albums Heaven and Hell or Holy Diver. The power and control is still there, just his phrasing is keeping it from being as stellar as some of his previous work. Still, props to Dio for being as good as he is.

Tonny Iommi

Tony Iommi

After all these years, the metal guitar legend, Tony Iommi, can still play incredibly. Did you know that Iommi is missing a couple fingers? Funny how he is still one of the best metal guitarists of all time. True, he is not as technically proficient as some other guitarists. But his greatness comes from his phrasing and natural feel for music, and (more importantly) his influence in the metal scene.

Every guitar riff in this album, both electric and acoustic, is great. With respect to guitar solos, he shows that he can do the classic metal shredding as well as the melodic, bluesy solos. An excellent guitar performance on this album.

Geezer Butler

Geezer Butler

Geezer Butler set the standard for bass guitarists in the metal scene. Though the bassist is usually pushed to the background in the music industry, Butler is able to make himself noticeable. He is arguably one of the best bassline creators of all time and one of the most (if not the most) influential metal bassists (Plus he has a really cool name :P).

In this album, he still shows his instrumental expertise. He holds a steady bassline groove when required and puts out some killer bass licks when warranted. Check out the song “Double the Pain” for some stellar bass.

Vinnie Appice

Vinnie Appice

Vinnie Appice has performed for Dio as well as Black Sabbath. I haven’t listened to much of his work so I can’t say too much about him.

On The Devil You Know, I think Vinnie Appice was rather standard. He is very capable of keeping beat, which is the basic purpose of a drummer. However, I found both his beats and fills to be simple and stale. If the original Sabbath drummer, Bill Ward, had performed on this album, it could have been a whole new something… but these are just thoughts. Sorry, Vinnie! No hard feelings!

All in all, this album represents a group of talented musicians coming together and making something awesome. Could it have been better? Let’s just be happy it is as great as it is.

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  1. April 14, 2009 at 8:28 pm

    So they named the band the same as one of their old albums?
    Album art is a 4/10, not as good as the queensryche one

  2. CJ
    April 14, 2009 at 10:41 pm

    yes they did, lead singer Dio really likes that heaven/hell theme

    in fact here’s the logo for Dio as a solo artist

    Dio means god, and apparently if u look at it upside-down it says Devil, though really obscure…

    I dun think the album art is too bad, cuz the album refers to Heaven and Hell as “The Devil you Know” – Black Sabbath… therefore they have a picture of the devil ahha

    but yeah it’s not great, just relevant. i also think the queensryche one is alot better.

  3. Max
    April 16, 2009 at 12:12 am

    Great band, great album, I didn’t expect another “heaven and hell” or “Mob Rules” or not even something similar to any of Dio’s solo work.

    One thing I was surprised is the intensity and tightness of the work done on this album

  1. April 30, 2009 at 5:50 pm
  2. August 25, 2009 at 10:19 pm

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