Sacrilege to many but in my opinion this is the greatest Black Sabbath album! Don't get me wrong the Ozzy fronted band invented heavy metal and are a classic band however Ronnie James Dio is simply a better singer than Ozzy and crucially he sings melodies rather than following the riffs as was Ozzy's default setting.
|Heaven and Hell|
Sabbath had fired Ozzy Osbourne in 1979 for being unreliable, drunk, stoned and generally incapable of performing. The band were being upstaged by support acts such as Van Halen and were up a creative blind ally. Enter Ronnie James Dio, master vocalist and definitive fantasy lyricist. Dio had recently left Rainbow after a fall out with Ritchie Blackmore. In Rainbow Dio had contributed greatly to the invention of an epic fantasy inspired heavy rock style which reached a peak with the Rising album. Heaven and Hell took a lot more from Rainbow than previous Sabbath albums in my opinion and is none the worse for it. Dio worked closely with founder member and lead guitarist Tony Iommi as bassist and usual lyricist Geezer Butler and drummer Bill Ward were going through personal problems not too dissimilar to the recently departed Osbourne. Ward has no recollection of the sessions and left the band soon after the album was released.
The album sets a template for Dio's future career as band leader and contains classic songs such as "Neon Knights", "Children of The Sea", "Lady Evil", "Heaven and Hell" ... basically all of them!