Heaven and Hell is the ninth studio album by English rock band Black Sabbath, released on 25 April 1980. It is the first Black Sabbath album to feature vocalist Ronnie James Dio, who replaced original vocalist Ozzy Osbourne in 1979.
The initial sessions for what became the Heaven and Hell album actually began with Ozzy Osbourne after Black Sabbath's Never Say Die! tour, when the band moved to Los Angeles for eleven months in an attempt to record a new album, a process that guitarist Tony Iommi describes in his autobiography Iron Man: My Journey Through Heaven & Hell with Black Sabbath as a "highly frustrating, never-ending process." In his own autobiography I Am Ozzy, Osbourne states that he had become fed up with the experimentation on the band's previous albums Technical Ecstasy and Never Say Die!, preferring the band's earlier, heavier sound, but also admits "it was clear they'd had enough of my insane behavior." In his memoir, Iommi revealed that he still has a tape featuring Osbourne singing an early version of what would become the song "Children Of The Sea" with a different lyric and a totally different vocal melody.
Ironically, Dio was first introduced to Iommi in 1979 by Sharon Arden, who would later marry the band's then-recently fired vocalist Osbourne. Initially, Dio and Iommi discussed forming a new band, rather than a continuation of Black Sabbath. The pair met again by chance at The Rainbow on Sunset Strip in Los Angeles later that year. Both men were in similar situations, as Dio was seeking a new project and Iommi required a vocalist. Said Dio of the encounter, "It must have been fate, because we connected so instantly." The pair kept in touch via telephone, until Dio arrived at Iommi's Los Angeles house for a relaxed, getting-to-know-you jam session. On that first day, the duo finished the song "Children of the Sea", a song Iommi had abandoned prior to Osbourne's firing.
Black Sabbath's line-up was in chaos prior to the recording of Heaven and Hell. Not only had Osbourne recently been replaced, but drummer Bill Ward was battling personal issues that would see him eventually leave the band. Original demo recordings for the album featured Geoff Nicholls on bass, as Geezer Butler was going through a divorce and his future with the band was in question. In fact, when Dio first joined the band he was doubling as bassist and vocalist, having played bass in the band Elf in the early 1970s. At one point Iommi contacted close friend Frank Zappa for help finding a bassist; Zappa offered his bassist for the Heaven and Hell sessions but Iommi preferred a permanent member. Eventually, Butler returned and Nicholls stayed on as the band's unofficial keyboardist. Former Elf and Rainbow bassist Craig Gruber also rehearsed with the band during this period, though the true extent of Gruber's involvement is unclear. In a 1996 interview, Iommi stated that Gruber rehearsed with the band only "for a bit". Gruber has stated that his contribution was much more substantial; he claims to have co-written most of Heaven and Hell's songs and that it was actually he and not Butler who played bass on the album. Despite not being credited for his contributions, Gruber claims "we came to a suitable financial arrangement". Iommi later stated in his 2011 autobiography that Gruber did in fact record all the bass parts on the Heaven and Hell album, but that Butler re-recorded the parts upon his return to the band without having listened to Gruber's bass tracks.
Heaven and Hell was recorded at the Criteria Studios in Miami, the same studio in which the band had recorded Technical Ecstasy. Dio suggested the band hire producer Martin Birch for the album. Birch was the first outside producer the band had used since 1971's Master of Reality, as Iommi had primarily produced the band's albums since that point on his own. Iommi stated that the band felt that they were creating something very special, writing in his memoir that, "Ozzy would sing with the riff. Just listen to 'Iron Man' and you'll catch my drift: his vocal melody line copies the melody of the music. There was nothing wrong with that, but Ronnie liked singing across the riff instead of with it, come up with a melody that was different from that of the music, which musically opens a lot more doors. I don't want to sound like I'm knocking Ozzy, but Ronnie's approach opened up a new way for me to think..."
Drummer Bill Ward has stated that he has "no memory" of making the album, due in large part to his alcoholism. His behaviour became quite erratic; when the band began touring in support of Heaven And Hell, Ward began dictating long and rambling press releases to the band's public relations representatives after every show, instructing them to "get that out on the news wires tonight". Ward's personal issues, which included the deaths of both his parents, would soon force him to leave the band. Dio reportedly answered the telephone in his hotel room one morning mid-tour to hear Ward say "I'm off then, Ron", to which Dio replied "That's nice Bill, where are you going?". "No, I'm off mate. I’m at the airport now...", indicating that he was incapable of completing the tour with the band. American drummer Vinny Appice was quickly brought in to replace him.
The album's cover art was taken from a painting by artist Lynn Curlee, Smoking Angels, inspired by a 1928 photograph of women dressed as angels smoking backstage during a break at a college pageant. Curlee was also commissioned to do an album cover for Blue Öyster Cult by Sandy Pearlman, who managed both bands. The album's back cover illustration of the band was drawn by artist Harry Carmean.
The album was successful, becoming their highest-charting album (No. 9 UK, No. 28 US) since 1975's Sabotage and the third highest-selling album of Black Sabbath behind Paranoid and Master of Reality, respectively. It was eventually certified platinum in 1986 for selling 1 million copies in the United States. In the UK, it became the third Black Sabbath studio album to attain silver certification (60,000 units sold) by the British Phonographic Industry, achieving this in November 1980. It subsequently attained gold certification (100,000 units sold) in April 1982, the only Black Sabbath studio album to be thus certified. Heaven and Hell was re-released as part of the Black Sabbath box setThe Rules of Hell in 2008. Greg Prato of AllMusic calls Heaven and Hell "One of Sabbath's finest records" and maintains that the band "sounds reborn and re-energized throughout." Giving the album five stars, Sputnikmusic's Tyler Munro opines, "Musically, the album speeds thing up, while still retaining the Sabbath sound...Complete with a slow plodding bassline and repetitive drumming, the album's title track is quite possibly the best thing Sabbath have ever done...it's one of the best Doom Metal songs ever recorded." Amazon.com calls Heaven and Hell Sabbath's "most potent offering since Master of Reality."
While Dio's addition revitalized Sabbath and brought them a younger, more enthusiastic fan base, there were some critics and listeners who insist Sabbath had been irretrievably altered, with Rolling Stone contending, "Although Dio could belt with the best of them, Sabbath would never be the same." In his autobiography Iommi admits, "We were doing big shows and it was difficult for Ronnie to go out and stand in front of people who had seen Ozzy in that spot for ten years. Some of the kids hated it and they'd shout: 'Ozzy, Ozzy!' But eventually Ronnie won them over." In an interview with Songfacts, former Osbourne guitarist Zakk Wylde of Black Label Society dismisses the idea of the Dio-era being authentic Sabbath: "You listen to Black Sabbath with Ronnie James Dio in it, and it’s not Black Sabbath. They should have just called it Heaven & Hell right from the beginning. Because you listen to that Heaven and Hell album, that doesn’t sound anything close to Black Sabbath. I mean, that sounds about as much like Black Sabbath as Blizzard of Ozz sounds like Black Sabbath. If you were to play Black Sabbath for me — and I’m a huge Sabbath freako — and then with Father Dio over there, I’d be going, 'Oh, cool, what band is this? This is good stuff.' I mean, the songs don’t even sound Black Sabbath-y. I mean, 'Neon Knights,' could you picture Ozzy singing over that song?" Regardless of what Ozzy loyalists thought, Sabbath was back, with Mick Wall noting in his book Black Sabbath: Symptom of the Universe: "For once their timing was spot on. In Britain, Sounds magazine had begun championing a new musical phenomenon it dubbed 'The New Wave Of British Heavy Metal'...The reborn Black Sabbath, with their glistening new sound, incomparable new singer and top-drawer new album, were seen as part of a widespread revival in rock fandom."
"Heaven and Hell" is briefly covered acoustically by Tenacious D for Dio's "Push" music video. At the beginning of the video, Jack Black and Kyle Gass are shown standing on a sidewalk busking and singing "Heaven and Hell" with a few alternate lyrics. They stop when Dio walks up to them and tells them that he'll pay them if they would just play some Tenacious D songs.