Posted in Whathaveyou on May 16th, 2010 by H.P. Taskmaster
There were rumors floating around some last night, but Wendy Dio has now confirmed via Blabbermouth that her husband, LEGENDARYmetal vocalist Ronnie James Dio has died of the stomach cancer he’d been battling since winter. As a longtime fan of Dio‘s work, I on behalf of this dinkly little website The Obelisk send condolences to Wendy and others who knew Ronnie in either a personal or professional capacity.
I don’t know what to think and I’d feel dirty editorializing. He was my hero. We knew he was sick and we could extrapolate if we wanted to that it wasn’t going well when Heaven and Hell canceled their touring plans. I didn’t want to extrapolate. I wanted to think he’d beat cancer like it was a giant rubber dragon in 1983 and be back putting out Magica II and III in no time.
…because I am awesome. How was your afternoon? And was I the only one who didn’t realize Neurosis is opening for Heaven and Hell in Seattle on Saturday? That’s the kind of show that’ll let you call your grandkids wusses. “In my day, Scott Kelly and Geezer Butler got on the same stage and killed everyone in the place!”
Since now I can’t concentrate, here’s a relatively recent video of Mr. Iommi‘s glory:
Number four is kind of a no-brainer, and I’m honestly surprised you didn’t see it coming. The Devil You Know is the first studio release with the lineup of Ronnie James Dio (after whom the couch-dwelling little dog Dio is named), Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler and Vinny Appice since Black Sabbath‘s 1992 album, Dehumanizer. Of course, today’s Heaven and Hell band is a different animal than the Sabbath roster that birthed the album of the same name in 1980, but The Devil You Know shows there’s still creative life in them yet. If nothing else, there’s “Eating the Cannibals.” That shit rules.
Fueled by the power of Tony Iommi‘s moustache, The Devil You Know achieves everything a Heaven and Hell studio album should; songs ranging from fast rockers in the tradition of “Neon Knights” to creepy doom numbers like “Bible Black” or the excruciating closer “Breaking into Heaven.” Yeah, we all know it’s ProTooled to death, but as far as corporate metal goes, this is still the best you’re going to get.
In the spirit of sharing, here’s “Bible Black.” Any interested parties can also find about 7,000 live versions on YouTube. This one’s right off the album.
Posted in Reviews on March 24th, 2009 by H.P. Taskmaster
Let’s get this out of the way first: anyone who goes into this record expecting the team of Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler, Vinny Appice and Ronnie James Dio to come out with a new Heaven and Hell or Mob Rules is out of their minds. 1980 was 29 years ago. It’s like asking Al Pacino to be Michael Corleone from the first Godfather movie again, or doing a sequel to Dr. Strangelove. The first two albums Black Sabbath released with Dio on vocals captured a special moment in time, one that couldn’t even be revisited on 1992′s reunion album, Dehumanizer. To think they’d pull it off 17 years after that is just ridiculous. They’re simply not those people anymore.
To their credit, they know it, and rather than try to recreate something from their past as Black Sabbath, the band Heaven and Hell are moving forward. The Devil You Know (Rhino) meets every reasonable expectation that could possibly be placed on it. It’s never going to be as influential or top albums that have already had 30 years of deifying, but it sounds modern, heavy and like the four legendary players in the band are enjoying making music together. We all know Iommi‘s been itching to do another Sabbath record for years. This is his opportunity, and he makes the most of it.
The band has hinted that The Devil You Know has the most in common with Dehumanizer, and to a certain extent, it’s true, but thankfully, the early ’90s production that now makes that album sound so dated where its two Dio-fronted predecessors are timeless is nowhere to be found. This is a modern album with classic players, and though that can be an awkward fit, Dio, Iommi, Butler and even Appice pull it off sounding fresh and not overly overproduced.
Posted in Whathaveyou on February 10th, 2009 by H.P. Taskmaster
The current Ronnie James Dio-fronted incarnation of Black Sabbath, Heaven and Hell has announced the title of their highly-anticipated new album is… The Devil You Know. Hardly inspirational. Nothing starts the buzz going like naming your album a clich?, let alone one that denotes something familiar and/or generic. Might as well call it Playing it Safe.
Yes, I know it’s blasphemy to defame anything that comes from the fingers of Tony Iommi — we just won’t talk about Forbidden — but an album named The Devil You Know hardly fills my heart with excitement. Also revealed on Blabbermouth were the song titles “Bible Black” (uh huh), “Rock & Roll Angel” (pure Dio, that one), “Breaking into Heaven” (as opposed to being hungry for it, okay), “Atom & Evil” (sounds way Dehumanizer) and my personal favorite, “Eating the Cannibals.” That song, no matter what, will rule.
Iommi himself has compared the record to Dehumanizer, and the truth is that no matter how much it sucks, it’s going to rule. Vinny Appice is one of the least interesting rock drummers I’ve ever seen, but it doesn’t matter. It’s Black Sabbath, you have to like it. There’s no choice. You signed up? Well, this is what you signed up for.
In all seriousness, I am looking forward to… The Devil You Know… ugh… but I have no delusions that it’s going to be a great album. I think Dehumanizer is a cool record, and if this sounds like modernized Dehumanizer, fine, but anyone who’s thinking it’s 1980 again and the band are about to unleash a second Heaven and Hell on the world are out of their minds. That time has simply passed — 30 years ago.
Approached with reasonable expectations, this Devil may yet be worth knowing, even with that crappy, crappy title. I mean, come on. It’s got Geezer Butler and a song called “Eating the Cannibals!” What could possibly go wrong?