, The name alone means so much to so many, A band that arguably created this whole entity now known as Heavy Metal back in the 70's, that tore apart the hippy dream of peace and love, replacing it with nightmarish visions of war and despair and most importantly a band that has released some of the most thrilling, demonic and trance inducing music ever committed to tape. Who among us doesn't remember that feeling of someone walking over their grave as Ozzy wailed "Oh no, no please God help me!" over the lurching riff in the opening song from their debut album?
But by the start of the nineties it was all change for Sabbath. Ozzy was off putting the fear of God (or should that be the Devil?) into Bible Belt America with his own highly successful (if not exactly always satisfying) solo career, Dio
was long gone after a bust up about the mixing of their 1982 live album Live Evil and Tony Iommi
, the man who the term "Guitar God" may as well have been invented for was putting out a collection of reliable but hardly stunning hard rock albums with various different singers and far too many different musicians under the Sabbath banner.
Luckily this limbo-like state was not to affect Sabbath forever as in 1992 the metal world breathed a sigh of relief when Tony reformed the Mob Rules
line up of himself, Geezer Butler, Ronnie James Dio
and Vinny Appice for a blistering return to form with the Dehumanizer album.
The album starts with about 15 seconds of "spooky" noises followed by Appice's booming drum intro and a trademark Iommi
riff as Computer God
kicks proceedings off in fine style. Dio
, as if it needs to be said sounds fantastic, his lyrics on this song dwell on the adverse effect that new and even more powerful technology can have on mankind. Lines like "Mankind's a mistake so we'll fix it"
and "Robotic hearts bleed poison on the world we populate"
present Sci-Fi visions of a world ruled by machines no longer shackled by mankind's control. The song itself is excellent with a memorable soaring chorus and a rather nice picked guitar break at 3.05 which allows time to breath before the main riff slams back in at 4.05.
The next track After All (The Dead)
begins with Dio
ominously intoning "What do you say to the dead, Will you forgive me for living?"
over a riff that brings back memories of that aforementioned opening track from the bands first album. This song develops in a notably different direction though and highlights the more melodic ability that Dio
brings to the band.
, one of the three singles from the album, is a fast paced rocker which finds Dio
admonishing the US craze of TV preaching in scathing fashion. Similar in lyrical outlook to Iron Maiden's "Holy Smoke" from their "No Prayer For The Dying" album, Dio
has no love for money grabbing TV evangelists, who he accuses of providing a fake "supermarket of salvation" to exploit the desperate and lonely who are just searching frantically for something to hold on to. Its serious stuff, and the music doesn't let up for a second, with a thrashing riff from Tony and a driving rhythmic bass line courtesy of Geezer.
The pace then slows down for Letters from Earth
, which finds us squarely back in Doom territory with a grinding, twisting guitar line which, like the rest of the album shows that Sabbath really did set out to make another classic heavy metal album with emphasis on "heavy". One of the most impressive things about this album is it's the sound of an older band tightening up their sound to match the standards of the time but never sounding like a bunch of old men trying to be down with the kids (see Jugulator and Demolition by Judas Priest
or St Anger *Ick* by Metallica
if you want to hear how badly this sort of thing can be done)
Masters of Insanity
keeps up the intensity of the album with its menacing bass intro leading onto an almost prog guitar section which breaks into a glorious, crunching staccato riff. Yet again Ronnie delivers the goods on the song with apocalyptic lyrics of a world left in the hands of a mad-man dead set on destruction.
I've got fond memories of the next track Time Machine
from listening to the Wayne's World 2 soundtrack back when I really didn't know too much about the world of Heavy Metal. For some reason it took me a further 13 years to buy the album but I was pleased to find out that the track has stood the test of time. It's just such a fantastic melodic monster of a song which makes me want to bang my head every time I even think about it. Dio
sounds so impassioned when he sings "You've got to see the promise they've made, They're bloody lies and broken dreams"
. The wonderfully tight solo section at 1.58 helps keep up the pace and the chorus does what all the best metal should do and suggest freedom not ordinarily accessible in everyday life.
I'm not a massive fan of Sins of The Father
, perhaps its just that it's unfortunate to follow on from Time Machine
but the first two and a half minutes of the song just seem to pass me by until the tempo picks up and it turns into a decent affair with a nice stomping rhythm and excellent fills provided by Appice.
's acoustic intro brings to mind the opening section of Children of the Sea
from "Heaven and Hell". And like that song it's a mid paced epic which claims the albums longest running time at 6 minutes and 55 seconds. It's wonderful rising and falling structure helps to get the best of Dio
's vocal range which allows the whole thing to drift along magnificently in the manner of all Sabbath's best work
It's a two way fight between Time Machine
and the next song for the crown of Dehumanizer's best track. I
is the proud owner of an excellent heavy riff which just cries for the stereo to be cranked up to 11 and the head to be banged until breaking point. The vocals Dio
has laid down are some of the most forceful and violent of his career with the ego-maniacal cry of :
"I'll smash your face in
But with a smile
Be stronger than me"
The last in line on this album is Buried Alive
and it might just be the heaviest song on display here. Again it's that mix of heavier new influences, the old school Black Sabbath
sound and Dio
's more melodic solo work which has been brought together so well on this album. The riff really grinds along until the bridge lets the song spread its wings and then take off when it hits the chorus. Iommi
's soloing is as usual impeccable despite the fact that he keeps tight reigns on the solo sections on this album when compared to his earlier work.
As a footnote I should regretfully say that this reunion didn't last long and Dio
was out of the band before the touring for the album was even completed. This led to another couple of Iommi
controlled albums under the Sabbath name with Tony "The Cat" Martin on vocals and then to a reunion with Ozzy in 1998. Then came the shock news that Dio
and the rest of the Dehumanizer line up were re grouping for a tour under the name of Heaven and Hell. Will this lead to an album of all new material? I for one hope so but only time will tell.
Written by Stuart
Thursday, October 18, 2007Show all reviews by StuartRatingsStuart: 8/10
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For me, this is the best Black Sabbath cd with Dio. Yes, it's better than "Heaven And Hell... · Read more ·
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