This week saw the re-release of deluxe packaged versions of several Black Sabbath albums.
Black Sabbath have been around for over 4 decades and were (and still are among many) considered one of the most prominent and influential heavy metal bands in the world – often being dubbed as The Beatles of the genre. The band have produced a fairly stable back catalogue since their late sixties formation despite having a very turbulent history.
Favourite’s among your underground, pierced, black clothed goth fans as well as having a general metal genre fan following the band are notable for increasing the awareness and popularity of the genre and carving the pathway for bands such as Metallica, Alice in Chains, Iron Maiden and Pantera. The band are also recognized for producing bat eating axeman, Ozzy Osbourne.
Before listening to these records I anticipated hearing a lot of heavy guitars piled on top of each other with around 3-4 drum sets kicking off over a screaming deep voice singing what I would try to be convinced as being meaningful lyrics. Not usually my thing but I will give anything a go – and to be completely honest – I’m glad I did. I was proved wrong and though I’m not a converted Black Sabbath fan I can definitely appreciate the attraction.
These are the first albums minus frontman Ozzy and featuring newly recruited vocalist Ronnie James Dio at centre stage.
The Ozzy Black Sabbath and the Ronnie Black Sabbath sound like two completely different bands. Ronnie’s induction adds a more precise approach to the music. Vocally the two couldn’t be more different either – where Ozzy’s voice is a lot more distinctive and possesses the dark showman factor the latter has the quality of a stadium rocker – a style that reminds me a little bit of a lesser James Hetfield of Metallica.
Heaven and Hell was the first album for the band following the firing of Ozzy. Dio contributed significantly to the changing style and input of the band from this point. The album gave Black Sabbath a much needed urge of inflation from a declining popularity in the public eye. This album was the sink-or-swim album for the band following many inter-band issues leading up to its release and I suppose its a miracle that it seen the light of day.
Opener Neon Knights, the last song to be written for the album, is a catchy and guitar laden track written by Dio with a medieval and mythological theme. Children of the Sea calms the album down slightly and contains an anthemic although slightly generic chorus. Both have notable live versions on the accompanying second disc.
Adopting the more commercial rock approach is Walk Away which is given a rough Van Halen going over. The song is big and show off Dios vocals perfectly. This one has to be the stand out on the album. Some great guitar riffs and Dios delivery of the song is flawless. Closing the album is Heaven and Hell. The records dynamic seven minute title track is powerful and gives the record its roughest edge and is unadulterated rock at its best.
The repackaging is sealed off with a second disc of the album favorites including Children of the Sea, Heaven and Hell and Lady Evil.
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