Heaven and Hell (Black Sabbath album)

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Heaven and Hell
Black Sabbath Heaven and Hell.jpg
Studio album by
Released25 April 1980
RecordedOctober 1979 – January 1980
StudioCriteria Recording Studios, Miami, Florida
Studio Ferber, Paris, France
GenreHeavy metal
Length39:46
LabelVertigo
Warner Bros. (US/Canada)
ProducerMartin Birch
Black Sabbath chronology
Never Say Die!
(1978)
Heaven and Hell
(1980)
Mob Rules
(1981)
Ronnie James Dio chronology
Long Live Rock 'n' Roll
(1978)
Heaven and Hell
(1980)
Mob Rules
(1981)
Singles from Heaven and Hell
  1. "Neon Knights"
    Released: July 1980
  2. "Die Young"
    Released: December 1980

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.

Produced by Martin Birch, the album was a commercial success, particularly in the United States, where it reached number 28 on the Billboard 200 chart, and was certified platinum for 1 million sales in the United States alone.[1] In the band's native country, it sold well enough to be certified silver by the British Phonographic Industry in April 1982.

Overview[edit]

The initial sessions for what became Heaven and Hell began with Ozzy Osbourne following the conclusion of Black Sabbath's Never Say Die! tour. The band convened in Los Angeles for an eleven month period to record a new album, a process described by guitarist Tony Iommi as a "highly frustrating, never-ending process". Osbourne has stated that he had become fed up with the experimentation on the preceding albums Technical Ecstasy and Never Say Die!, preferring the band's earlier, heavier sound. In his memoir, Iommi revealed that he still possesses a tape featuring Osbourne singing an early version of what would become "Children of the Sea" with a different lyric and a totally different vocal melody.

Ronnie James Dio was introduced to Iommi in 1979 by Sharon Arden, who would later marry Osbourne.[2] Initially, Dio and Iommi discussed forming a new band, rather than a continuation of Black Sabbath.[2] The pair met again by chance at The Rainbow on Sunset Strip in Los Angeles later that year.[3] Both men were in similar situations: Dio was seeking a new project and Iommi required a vocalist. "It must have been fate," Dio recalled, "because we connected so instantly."[3] 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 "Children of the Sea",[3] a song Iommi had abandoned prior to Osbourne's firing.

"Sabbath was a band that was floundering," Dio observed. "And, with my inclusion in it, we pulled ourselves up by our bootstraps, cared a lot about each other, and knew that we could do it again – especially under the banner of a band that had been so successful."[4]

Sabbath's line-up was in a state of chaos as the band prepared to enter the studio to record what would become Heaven and Hell. Not only had the band replaced its longtime vocalist, but drummer Bill Ward was battling personal issues that would see him also leave the band within months. Demo recordings for the album featured Geoff Nicholls on bass, as longtime bassist Geezer Butler was going through a divorce and his future with the band was in question.[3] In fact, when Dio first joined the band, he doubled for a short time as bassist and vocalist,[2] 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[2]. Zappa offered his bassist for the Heaven and Hell sessions but Iommi preferred a permanent member.[2] Eventually, Butler returned to the band and Nicholls stayed on as the band's unofficial keyboardist.[3]

Former Elf and Rainbow bassist Craig Gruber also rehearsed with the band, though the extent of his involvement is unclear. In a 1996 interview, Iommi stated that Gruber participated only "for a bit".[5] Gruber has stated that his contribution was quite substantial; he says he cowrote most of Heaven and Hell's songs and that it was he and not Butler who played bass on the album.[6] Despite not being credited for his contributions, Gruber says he and the band nonetheless reached "a suitable financial arrangement".[6] Iommi conceded in his 2011 autobiography that Gruber had indeed recorded all the bass parts on Heaven and Hell, but Butler had re-recorded them upon his return, without listening to Gruber's bass tracks.

Personal issues aside, drummer Bill Ward wasn't completely happy with the direction Black Sabbath was moving in creatively. "Heaven and Hell for me wasn't a turning point," he recalled. "Heaven and Hell was the beginning of a new band of which I had no idea what band I was in… It was almost like Ron was capable of coming up with lyrics that seemed to fit his idea of how Black Sabbath ought to be, and I sensed a kind of... unrealness about the lyrics. My favourite song on Heaven and Hell was a blues song that we did, 'Lonely Is the Word' – and that seemed to be real… But things like 'Lady Evil', they seemed almost like bandwagon-type lyrics… 'Lonely Is the Word', I definitely liked playing that song. And 'Children of the Sea' – I did like to play that too. I thought Ronnie was a very good singer."[7]

Black Sabbath performing in Cardiff in 1981

Heaven and Hell was recorded at Miami's Criteria Studios (in which the band recorded Technical Ecstasy) and Studio Ferber in Paris. Dio suggested the band hire producer Martin Birch, who he had worked with as a member of Rainbow in the 1970s.[3] Birch was Sabbath's first outside producer since the band parted ways with Rodger Bain following 1971's Master of Reality, with Iommi primarily producing the band's albums since that point by himself.[2] Iommi stated that the band felt that they were creating something special in Heaven and Hell. In his memoir, he wrote, "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 ..."

Black sabbath had a long history of playing pranks on drummer Ward, and this continued during the recording of Heaven and Hell. During a slow day in the studio, Iommi doused Ward with a solution used by studio technicians to clean the tape heads, and he then set light to the solution, which was much more flammable than he had anticipated. Ward suffered third degree burns as a result and still has scars on his legs from the incident.[2] Ward has stated that, due to his alcoholism, he has no memory at all of the period in which the album was recorded.[8] His behaviour became erratic; on the Heaven & Hell Tour, 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".[3] Ward's personal issues, which included the deaths of both his parents, would soon force him to leave the band. Dio recalled answering 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.[3] American drummer Vinny Appice was quickly brought in to replace him. The Heaven and Hell album represents the only Sabbath material recorded during the Dio-era that does not feature Appice on drums.

Artwork[edit]

Back cover artwork of the album

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.[9][10] 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.[11]

Reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
SourceRating
AllMusic4.5/5 stars[1]
Drowned in Sound8/10[12]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide4/5 stars[13]
Sputnikmusic5/5[14]
Martin Popoff10/10[15]

The album was successful, becoming their highest-charting album (No. 9 UK, No. 28 US[16]) 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 set The Rules of Hell in 2008.[17] In 2017, it was ranked 37th at Rolling Stone's "100 Greatest Metal Albums of All Time".[18]

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."

While Dio's addition revitalised Sabbath and brought them a younger, more enthusiastic[citation needed] 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."

Track listing[edit]

All music written and arranged by Butler, Dio, Iommi, and Ward; lyrics by Dio[11]

Side one
No.TitleLength
1."Neon Knights"3:53
2."Children of the Sea"5:34
3."Lady Evil"4:26
4."Heaven and Hell"6:59
Side two
No.TitleLength
5."Wishing Well"4:07
6."Die Young"4:45
7."Walk Away"4:25
8."Lonely Is the Word"5:51

2010 deluxe edition[edit]

Disc one contains the original album with no bonus tracks.

Disc two
No.TitleOriginal releaseLength
1."Children of the Sea""Neon Knights" live B-side6:24
2."Heaven and Hell""Die Young" live B-side7:19
3."Lady Evil"Mono Edit, 7" Single3:54
4."Neon Knights"Live, Hartford, CT, 19804:49
5."Children of the Sea"Live, Hartford, CT, 19805:58
6."Heaven and Hell"Live, Hartford, CT, 1980 & 12" single version12:34
7."Die Young"Live, Hartford, CT, 19804:36

Singles[edit]

Year Song Chart positions
US Singles Chart UK Singles Chart
1980
"Neon Knights" 22
"Die Young" 41

Personnel[edit]

Black Sabbath
Additional performer
Production

Release history[edit]

Region Date Label
United Kingdom 1980 Vertigo Records
United States 1980 Warner Bros. Records
United Kingdom 1996 Castle Communications
United Kingdom 2004 Sanctuary Records
United States 2008 Rhino Records

Certifications[edit]

Covers[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Prato, Greg. "Black Sabbath: Heaven and Hell at AllMusic. Retrieved 24 September 2011.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Iommi, Tony (2011). Iron Man: My Journey Through Heaven and Hell with Black Sabbath. Da Capo Press. ISBN 978-0306819551.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h Hotten, Jon. "The Dio Years" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 24 January 2009. Retrieved 13 June 2013.
  4. ^ Ronnie James Dio interview with Tommy Vance for BBC Radio 1's Friday Rock Show; broadcast 21 August 1987; transcribed by editor Peter Scott for Sabbath fanzine Southern Cross #11, October 1996, p27
  5. ^ "The Iron Man Speaks". black-sabbath.com. March 1996. Archived from the original on 10 September 2011. Retrieved 14 September 2011.
  6. ^ a b Dome, Malcolm (1 October 2009). "Craig Gruber: 'I Played On The Heaven & Hell Album'". Classic Rock Magazine. Retrieved 13 June 2013.
  7. ^ Schroer, Ron (October 1996). "Bill Ward and the Hand of Doom – Part III: Disturbing the Peace". Southern Cross (Sabbath fanzine) #18. p. 16-17.
  8. ^ Brien, Jeb (producer/director); Hardiman, Monica (producer/director) (1999). Black Sabbath: the Last Supper (Documentary/Concert). Automatic Productions.
  9. ^ Time-Life Books: This Fabulous Century 1920–1930, pg. 200
  10. ^ Black Sabbath Online (http://www.black-sabbath.com/2008/12/lynn curlee interview)
  11. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Heaven and Hell (CD) album notes. Warner Bros. Records, Inc. 1980. pp. 2–3.
  12. ^ Stannard, Joseph (8 April 2010). "Black Sabbath: Heaven and Hell; Mob Rules; Live Evil (remastered)". Drowned in Sound. Retrieved 24 September 2011.
  13. ^ "Black Sabbath: Album Guide". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on 27 April 2012. Retrieved 5 June 2012.
  14. ^ Munro, Tyler (15 August 2006). "Black Sabbath: Heaven and Hell". Sputnikmusic. Retrieved 24 September 2011.
  15. ^ Popoff, Martin (1 November 2005). The Collector's Guide to Heavy Metal: Volume 2: The Eighties. Burlington, Ontario, Canada: Collector's Guide Publishing. ISBN 978-1-894959-31-5.
  16. ^ "Heaven and Hell: Charts & Awards > Billboard Albums" at AllMusic. Retrieved 30 January 2009.
  17. ^ Welte, Jim (22 April 2008). "Legends align for Metal Masters Tour". MP3.com. Archived from the original on 24 April 2008. Retrieved 23 April 2008.
  18. ^ Greene, Andy (21 June 2017). "100 Greatest Metal Albums of All Time". Rolling Stone. Wenner Media LLC. Retrieved 21 June 2017.
  19. ^ "American album certifications – Black Sabbath – Heaven and Hell". Recording Industry Association of America. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH. 
  20. ^ "British album certifications – Black Sabbath – Heaven and Hell". British Phonographic Industry. Select albums in the Format field. Type Heaven and Hell in the "Search BPI Awards" field and then press Enter.
  21. ^ "Canadian album certifications – Black Sabbath – Heaven & Hell". Music Canada.
  22. ^ "Machine Head Frontman Releases Cover Of Black Sabbath As Debbie Abono Tribute". Blabbermouth.net. 25 June 2010.
  23. ^ Christopher Gonda (16 February 2010). "Warrior Post Cover Song of Black Sabbath's "Neon Knights"". PureGrainAudio.com.
  24. ^ "Anthrax Recording Black Sabbath's 'Neon Knights' For Dio Tribute". Blabbermouth.net. 9 July 2012.

External links[edit]