Heaven & Hell
The classic Dio-era line-up of Black Sabbath reformed.

Gothic Soul
Heaven and Hell - Live at Radio City Music Hall
(Rhino) 2007

1. "E5150 / After All (The Dead)" (8:30)
2. "The Mob Rules" (4:04)
3. "Children of the Sea" (6:52)
4. "Lady Evil" (5:20)
5. "I" (6:27)
6. "The Sign of the Southern Cross" (9:06)
7. "Voodoo" (7:42)
8. "The Devil Cried/drum solo" (11:39)
9. "Computer God" (6:41)
10. "Falling Off the Edge of the World" (5:45)
11. "Shadow of the Wind" (6:05)
12. "guitar solo/Die Young" (7:44)
13. "Heaven and Hell" (15:15)
14. "Lonely Is the Word" (6:48)
15. "Neon Knights" (7:58)

1. "E5150
2. "After All (The Dead)"
3. "The Mob Rules "
4. "Children Of The Sea"
5. "Lady Evil"
6. "I"
7. "The Sign Of The Southern Cross"
8. "Voodoo"
9. "The Devil Cried"
10. "Drum Solo"
11. "Computer God"
12. "Falling Off The Edge Of The World"
13. "Shadow Of The Wind"
14. "Guitar Solo / Die Young"
15. "Heaven And Hell"
16. "Lonely Is The Word"
17. "Neon Knights"

Geezer Butler & Ronnie James Dio

Vinnie Appice & Tony Iommi

I was lucky enough to catch the Heaven & Hell tour when they hit Albuquerque with Megadeth and Machine Head opening. It was a great show. Megadeth tore it up! However, I had just recently seen Megadeth on the end of their Gigantour, so it was really Heaven & Hell, aka Black Sabbath I was there to see. I had seen Sabbath in 1983 at the Spectrum in Philadelphia with Ian Gillan behind the mic and Quiet Riot opening. That show was one of the most memorable shows I have ever been to. The stonehenge stage setup and the band's performance is permanently engraved in my memory. I had seen Black Sabbath again during their reunion with Ozzy when they shared the headline performance of Ozzfest with Judas Priest. Again, the performance was outstanding and I was in awe of the band. All those classic songs came alive that night. However on April 28, 2007 in Albuquerque, NM at the Journal Pavilion I had tickets to see the much revered Dio line-up of Black Sabbath. As with the "Born Again" tour, the stage setup and performance were spectacular and shall forever be engraved in my brain. Having been blessed to attend this awesome tour, this CD and DVD are going to be a spectacular nostalgic listen for me each and every time. Upon my initial return from seeing the show, I had posted this on the Heart of Metal message board:

Heaven & Hell (aka Black Sabbath w/ Dio) were also outstanding! Geezer is still the man. Shouts of DIO, DIO, DIO, rang out throughout the show. Indeed, Dio commanded the stage and never sounded so great. As alway, Tony Iommi is amazing. I was in awe watching these veterans perform. I've seen Black Sabbath several times, including the "Born Again Tour" with Ian Gillan. This was actually the first time with Dio and I must say they were technically a lot better with Dio than they ever were with Ozzy. This could also be that there was none of the Ozzy material played. The entire set list consisted of Dio-era material. Every song was phenomenal. I know some people don't care for "Dehumanizer", but the songs from this album sounded just as great as the rest of the material. "I" was incredibly heavy! While I liked "Dehumanizer" before this show, hearing them live really made the songs come alive and made me appreciate the album even more than I did before.

The set was based around a castle. The band wasn't overly active, but there was enough going on with lighting effects and such to keep your eyes busy while injesting the heavy music that was being played. On either side of the stage there were windows with crosses in them. Smoke would emerge from these windows with lights that looked a bit like rays of sunshine coming through. It was very cool effect. For each song there was something different happening on the stage. I can't explain it all. All I can say is, if you get the chance, don't miss this tour.

The DVD/CD captures the magic live at Radio City Music Hall in New York City, NY, March 30, 2007. This was a special performance by the band, featuring no opening acts. The show sold out in less than an hour. The sound here is spectacular, capturing that live energy, while at the same time offering a clear recording.

I wanted to address one other thing, since it seems to come up continually. The extended live version of "Heaven and Hell" contains what many anti-rock preachers of old called the "devil's alter call" and used as ammo against all the "evil" rock band in the 70's and 80's. The band did this on their previous tours together, on Live Evil, and Dio did the same thing on his solo tours. What it is in reality is a dramatization and pure fantasy, as much of Dio's lyrics are, complete with red lights on Dio's face and lots of smoke and mirrors. His rant that end with, "I'm gonna burn in hell with you, and you, and all of you." may put some people off who see this as something aside from the stage show it is. I personally see it as part of the show. I am secure in what I believe, but I can also understand how this might put some people off.

Heaven & Hell - The Devil You Know (Rhino) 2009

1. "Atom & Evil" (5:15)
2. "Fear" (4:48)
3. "Bible Black" (6:30)
4. "Double the Pain" (5:25)
5. "Rock & Roll Angel" (6:25)
6. "The Turn of the Screw" (5:02)
7. "Eating the Cannibals" (3:37)
8. "Follow the Tears" (6:12)
9. "Neverwhere" (4:35)
10. "Breaking into Heaven" (7:03)

Black Sabbath hasn't release a new studio album in many, many years. After the Ozzy reunion, then the Dio reunion and the subsequent tours, fans have been anxious for some new material for years. Finally in 2009 the masters of heavy metal return to give the masses yet another lesson on how heavy metal should be done.  A couple years ago, the band release a collection titled "Black Sabbath - The Dio Years" in which they recorded three new songs. Those three songs are an excellent indicator as what to expect on "The Devil You Know".  This album is a dark, moody, doomy, heavy album. Thick layers of heavy sound built around Tony Iommi's crunchy guitar sound, Geezer's thick bass, Vinny Appice's steady drumming and, of course, the unmistakable vocals of Ronnie James Dio. 

I was expecting this album to start off with something heavy and up-tempo, not unlike "Neon Knights" or "Turn Up the Night". "Fear" kicks up the tempo slightly, but nothing on this album quite hits the speed or intensity of the aforementioned tracks. Instead, the album starts off with "Atom & Evil" a slow, doomy, goth-dirge complete with Dio's theatrical, mythological lyrics. The first single from the album "Bible Black" is most certainly going to be one of the band's concert favorites. This song has a an undeniable hook and is easily as good as anything the band has recorded before. The song also sports a great solo in the middle. "Double the Pain" is a standout cut with a great riff, a very dark feel and a nice bridge. Dio's vocals sound fantastic throughout. The man has lost nothing over time. "The Turn Of The Screw" features some of Ronnie's finest vocals to date. "Follow the Tears" is perhaps my favorite song on this disc. The song could have easily been part of the first two Black Sabbath/Dio records. The opening moments with those eerie keys and Iommi's menacingly heavy guitar tone is spellbinding. The song is slow and melodic, but heavy as a freight train packed full of shrapnel! 

As usual, the imagery and lyrics paint a rather gloomy picture. Dio's lyrics rarely paint a picture that is easily understood. Instead he rhymes and weaves the lyrics into a sort of dark poetry, that sounds spooky but in reality doesn't have much meaning. Buzz words like devil, evil, death, dark, black, and of course, rock and roll have been a part of Dio's arsenal since his days in Rainbow. His goth-tinged poetry hasn't changed much over they years and is no different here. Of course, there is the purposely offensive cover art depicting some demonic creature holding a nail riddled crucifix that is sure to cause an uproar in religious circles. Frankly, the cover art reminds me of Celtic Frost's, HR Geiger illustated cover "To Mega Therion". Wal-Mart has an alternate cover that may appeal to some fans. 

Best Buy offered an exclusive version featuring a DVD with unreleased video of the band recording the album including studio performances, interviews, and other behind-the-scenes content. iTunes is offering an exclusive version with previously unreleased live recordings of "Die Young" and "I" from the band's 2007 European tour.

Heaven & Hell Heaven & Hell - Neon Nights: Live In Europe (Armoury) 2010

1.   Mob Rules (3:46)
2.   Children of the Sea (6:30)
3.   I (6:16)
4.   Bible Black (6:29)
5.   Time Machine (4:39)
6.   Fear (4:36)
7.   Falling Off the Edge of the World (5:39)
8.   Follow the Tears (6:11)
9.   Die Young (6:41)
10. Heaven and Hell (17:48)
11. Neon Knights (5:45)

I saw Heaven & Hell three times touring under that name and each time they were as good as the time before. This line-up had never sounded so great! It's sad and unfortunate that Ronnie James Dio passed away because of cancer. CANCER SUCKS! It has stolen the lives of many family and friends from my life.

"Neon Nights: Live in Europe" was recorded live at Wacken, Germany on July of 2009 and would prove to be Heaven And Hell's final tour. As would be expected, the album focuses mostly on the 80's Black Sabbath material with commanding performances of "The Mob Rules," "Children Of The Sea" and an extended version of "Heaven And Hell." Three songs from "The Devil You Know"  are part of the set as well, including the band's final hit "Bible Black". I"m glad they chose to play "Follow the Tears", one of the band's finest songs. From several years of touring, Heaven & Hell sound like a well-oiled, heavy metal machine. Iommi's thick riffs and guitar wizardry, Geezer's rumbling bass, Vinny Appice's precise drumming and Dio's signature wail are all well represented here. At 67 years old, Dio's vocals sound great and he has no problem hitting any of the notes. The sound quality is fantastic as well.

Being that this disc was released just a few short years after the "Live At Radio City" CD/DVD, comparisons will most likely be made. I have a hard time deciding if I like one over the other. Frankly, I think both are fantastic. "Live At Radio City" captured the band on their reunion, while  "Neon Nights: Live In Europe" captures Heaven And Hell in all their power and glory on their final tour. It is fitting legacy of a legendary band and a legendary singer.

A DVD version on ""Neon Nights: Live In Europe" is also available with bonus material including interviews with all four band members as they reflect on the 30th anniversary of the "Heaven And Hell" album and tributes to Dio from Iommi, Butler and Appice.

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