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Heaven & Hell - The Devil You Know (CD)

Heaven & Hell
The Devil You Know
by Mike Novak at 10 May 2009, 2:29 PM

When I found out that BLACK SABBATH with Dio…ahem, HEAVEN AND HELL, was in the studio writing a new album, I could barely control my excitement. I loved the three new tracks that appeared on the The Dio Years compilation, and for several months the band members had claimed that nothing other than those three new tracks would result from this lineup. I figured that those three songs would be the last from a Dio-fronted BLACK SABBATH. I was happy that I was wrong.

The Devil You Know starts off on a bit of a low note with Atom And Evil. The riffs are fairly weak (something rare from any project that Iommi is involved with) and the sluggish tempo is not really suitable for an opener. This is one of the weakest tracks on the album, but do not let that deter you, because they follow this low-point with two of the best songs. Fear is everything that I expected when I eagerly anticipated this album: it has several wonderful riffs and Dio sounds as good as he ever has been. The centerpiece of the album is leadoff single, Bible Black. It starts out with clean guitars and gentle crooning before a colossal main riff kicks in. This song is an epic similar to Sign Of The Southern Cross, although it falls only slightly short. This is definitely the best song on the album; it's a true classic.

The rest of the album ranges from good to below average. Iommi's riff-writing slips here and there. Dio, who is pushing 70, still sounds good for his age. He can still hit the notes with power, but some of his vocal lines, especially in the choruses, are forgettable. This album should be listened to on good speakers or headphones, so that one can fully experience what an amazing sound Iommi achieves on his guitar. His sound is unique throughout all of music, and he has a gift for creating riffs that few - if any, still even today - can match.  Even if the riff itself is not so strong, the tone is absolutely lethal. His playing makes this album worth the purchase price. The lyrics were unfortunately handled by Dio, who fills the album with his typical nonsensical lyrics. I wish they would let Geezer Butler handle the lyric-writing, like he did in SABBATH's early days. Special kudos to whoever designed the album artwork, which is some of the best album art that I have seen in years.

Was this album worth the wait? The answer is a definitive and resounding Yes!. The Devil You Know is far more consistent than Dehumanizer was. However, this easily falls short of the two Dio-fronted SABBATH albums from the 80's. This even falls short of Dehumanizer in that there is nothing as fist-pumping as I and no kick-ass opener that achieves the level of Computer God. So despite the fact that this is a very good album, it still falls short of expectations. Granted, the expectations for this album were sky-high, but I think that much of this material should have been stronger considering the length between this release and the last SABBATH studio album. Overall, this is a very good release, but it falls short of greatness.

Mike: 8/10

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What's this world I see? Who are you and who are me?. Yes, the album of HEAVEN & HELL, The Devil You Know is a fact, and is greatly stuffed with amazing lyrics and music. Does not matter the season, doom is back, so carry your cross and walk along dark, muddy paths, crawl if that's what it takes to continue. The passion begins.  

Atom & Evil kicks off and the Earth reveals its morbid underground. The gates of Hell are open. You can feel their heavy creaking sound through the huge bass lines and the guitar riffs that contempt you into suffering from the beginning till the end. You have no choice but to go through this path. Despite the Fear, you experience a whole unknown dimension and superstition goes away since you read from the Bible Black. Then you realise what it was and what is about to follow, which doubles your pain. You try to fall into oblivion in order to overcome it, but your Rock And Roll Angel helps you through this. But still the agony continues, and you will suffer a lot (The Turn Of The Screw, Eating The Cannibals) before you burst out in tears. It is then when you realise that the demon lies in you. Neverwhere you will find peace unless you accept that demons are children of the angels and that Heaven is just the garden of Hell.

Yes this album accompanies you in the darkest paths of your mind, with great guitar compositions from Tony Iommi and the powerful voice of Ronnie James Dio. It brings inspiration, it brings images, it brings pain, it brings war and no salvation. So, welcome to this horrifying trip, it will double your pain and you will be relieved to know that you are still alive. As Dio had said almost a decade ago: No one gets to Heaven till he lives a while in Hell, and even then it's rare, that you'll be going there. So brilliant an album!

Maria: 8/10

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For whatever reasons at the end of the day The Devil You Know has been created under the name HEAVEN AND HELL which makes it a debut album from a formation of Metal masters- and it is one hell of a debut album!
Tony Iommi has returned showing every doubter why he is still the king of Heavy Metal. Every single one of his riffs feels like a thunderstorm that is going to explode out of your speakers and engulf you. This is by far some of his heaviest riffs in years, maybe not heard since Sabbath Bloody Sabbath all those years ago. Whether they are the fast blitz attacks heard on songs Eating the Cannibals and Neverwhere or the slower atmospheric engulfing riffs heard on Fear and Bible Black, they all produce a sense of dread and doom, yet at the same time, it is the Heavy Metal you know and love. Oh and for all those who say Tony Iommi cant shred…well, listen to the solos on any track on this album and you will get epic solos, shredding solos, whatever kind of solos you want, his guitar playing is out of this world.  

It is lucky that Dio is on board for HEAVEN AND HELL's debut album as he is quite simply the only singer that could have pulled this off. Dio's voice is as powerful as ever and really is quite simply incredible the way he can convey so many different emotions through his voice. Dio weaves the feelings of dread, fear, doom and pain together with Iommi's so well it does make you wonder why this album hasn't come about sooner. I must also give a special mention to Geezer who I feel is one of the most underrated bass players in Metal, his bass runs and fills are brilliantly constructed and should be enough to move him up higher in peoples minds.

What else can I really say about this album? The song construction is brilliant, each song building anticipation and then exploding at the climax. The lyrics have been written well and for any fans of Dio's solo work they will recognise his stamp that has been firmly planted onto each song. In terms of other Dio era Sabbath albums? It is better then Dehumanizer by a mile but not topping the brilliance of Heaven and Hell - think of it on par with Mob Rules if you like.
This is an album that has not one bad track, whether it's on in the background to chill out to or on loud to rock out to; The Devil You Know has something for everyone, definitely one of the best albums of 2009 and an instant classic. Every single Heavy Metal lover should own this album…no, they need to own this album.

Josh: 9/10

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One of the most anticipated releases for 2009 since it was announced, for sure. It's kinda abnormal for both traditional Metal fans and younger followers to wait eagerly for when the Iommi/Dio collaboration would release this new album (the 'Ozzy' era can resemble as something more into 'simple/ancient Rock' in the ears of the young); meaning, what the hell…you can't expect anything groundbreaking but also cannot let go the stamp of the 'classic' that bites you.
The Devil You Know is - overall - slow and groovy. That's not something we'd get way with anyway. Ronnie James Dio's voice and Tony Iommi's guitar sound/riffs are again the trademarks and who'd oppose in any case. So, what's left overall is the songwriting's weight in a pile of ten songs summing it up to 54 minutes of what I'd personally expect to be punched with. The production's volume is – once again – one of the keys to the album's upper hand plus Dio's throat is on top (never fade away?). As pre-said, most of the songs are of crawling tempo, Bible Black kicks serious ass and the candy-titled Eating The Cannibals may bring the TV Crimes pattern to mind. The solos feature the memorable post-70s Iommi harmonies, not to forget.
Need a challenge? Well, can you recall the time you first listened to the The Dio Years compilation CD's newly penned songs (Devil Cried, Shadow Of the Wind and Ear In the Wall)? Expand this experience to a full album, then. I feel I'm more in delight because of my beloved Iommi/Dio duo releasing a new album and not due to The Devil You Know's outstanding spell. Maybe the band had this also in mind as its - prime? - promotional aim.

Greg: 7/10

4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
Atom And Evil
Fear
Bible Black
Double The Pain
Rock And Roll Angel
The Turn Of The Screw
Eating The Cannibals
Follow The Tears
Neverwhere
Breaking Into Heaven
Lineup:
Ronnie James Dio - Vocals
Tony Iommi - Guitar
Geezer Butler - Bass
Vinny Appice - Drums
Record Label: Rhino Records
     


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