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“Heaven And Hell” (remaster) by Black Sabbath

Artist: Black Sabbath
Title: “Heaven And Hell” (remaster)
Label: Rhino Entertainment
Release Date: 10/7/2008
Genre: Heavy Metal
Rating: 4/5

In order to properly celebrate the reunion of the “Mark II” version of Black Sabbath, Rhino Entertainment recently released a four CD boxed set called “Rules Of Hell”. The set featured remastered editions of all the albums with singer Ronnie James Dio on them and I am speaking of “Heaven And Hell”, Mob Rules”, “Live Evil” & “Dehumanizer”. This was a great way to once again enjoy some truly killer Metal from a lineup that was at first met with a lot of hesitation. The albums were packaged in a beautiful slipcase box and each featured brand new liner notes from notable journalists – truly this served the needs of those who had been clamoring for all of these releases to finally receive the remastering treatment. Of course, there are many who only liked one or two of these albums and those listeners might not have had any interest in shelling out the necessary dollars for the package of four and would instead prefer to purchase the one or two that were their favorites of the bunch. Lucky for them, Rhino Entertainment has chosen to release individual versions of these four genre-defining albums. Having already reviewed the boxed set in an album by album fashion we have chosen to break that commentary up by individual release and expand ever so slightly upon those first thoughts to better focus on each unique album and what it meant to the Heavy Metal legions. Read on.

Out went Ozzy Osbourne and in walked Ronnie James Dio – and to many of the Metal faithful this action was truly unthinkable, because how dare Black Sabbath fire their lead singer and choose to replace him with anyone. This was the mindset of many of the bands fans and some of these people would choose to drop the band right then and there and find themselves missing out on some truly exceptional Metal. The others who kept on supporting them through such an upheaval would find that their replacement wasn’t just some nobody who got the job, but instead was Ronnie James Dio, who they knew and loved from Rainbow with Ritchie Blackmore. Perhaps even some of them followed him during his time with Elf, but it was without question that the man could sing, and also compose worlds of mystery in heavy music without any difficulty. With Dio as the new singer in Sabbath, the music that they had done for so many years would morph ever so much and no longer focus solely on the Doom and Gloom side but instead retain its darkness and deliver a little more up tempo evil for the Metal community. The sure sign of this was with the albums opener “Neon Knights”, which was a superb track and a powerful kick off tune for the new album. It was fresh and quite exciting for a song and immediately introduced you to the way that Black Sabbath was sounding now. Dio’s voice was perfect for the new music they were doing and it was instantly accessible had you an open enough mind to keep loyal with the band. “Heaven And Hell”, the albums title was also one of the more riveting of tunes they would compose and it has become a legendary part of the Sabbath catalog since it was written. The remastering on this one is incredible and makes everything sound terrific, but there are tracks that come off stronger with it like “Die Young” and “Children Of The Sea”. “Heaven And Hell” was an album that definitely proved that Black Sabbath still had fire in their eyes and were looking ahead to their future instead of lingering in the past. The only downside was that with this album, the bands original drummer Bill Ward would choose to step down from the drum chair and move on.

A booklet is included that offers the listener relevant information about the release and its place in Black Sabbath history of the time. The fantastic read comes courtesy of Dave Ling for this album. The only downside for me was the lack of song lyrics since it would have been nice to have them and perhaps even some additional photographs of the members during each era or even unused artwork that was originally debated for this albums use. Any of that would have been nice as an addition to an already excellent release. There aren’t any bonus tracks presented on the release as one often sees on such remasters but one would hardly care based on the excitement around it finally seeing the light of day in this manner. The old saying of “the third time’s the charm” does ring true in some sense as in 2007 the music world would see the return of the Mark II lineup once again. Together they would record some new material and present it on a compilation “Best Of” that only focused on the times with Dio. The title was “Black Sabbath: The Dio Years”, and it was an album that would lead to one of the biggest tours ever. Now calling themselves Heaven And Hell; Tony, Geezer, Ronnie and Vinny would sell out night after night and perform before tens of thousands of the Metal faithful.

The individual releases of the Dio fronted Black Sabbath come to us shortly after the bands completion of a successful tour with Judas Priest, Testament and Motorhead that was dubbed “The Metal Masters” tour. The high energy dose of classic Metal superpowers on that bill should be enough to sate the fans until the band returns in early 2009 with a new studio album. If the new tracks that were recorded for the 2007 compilation were any indication of what the guys have up their sleeves then I am sure that we shall all be pleased. Remember that while these releases can be purchased as stand alone items now collectors might still be interested in picking up the boxed set “Rules Of Hell”. There is no difference on any of them outside of the slipcase box that holds them all together in one place.

Track Listing:
1. Neon Knights
2. Children Of The Sea
3. Lady Evil
4. Heaven And Hell
5. Wishing Well
6. Die Young
7. Walk Away
8. Lonely Is The Word

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