Metal Insider contributor Anthony Maisano is listening to a different metal album that was released on that day every day this year. 34 years ago today, Ronnie James Dio saved Black Sabbath with the release of Heaven and Hell.
This is the album that saved Black Sabbath, and the first with Ronnie James Dio. It’s heavy, it’s melodic, and it’s memorable. Ronnie brought a power and energy to Sabbath that I believe they never had before. That’s not to say they didn’t have power or energy with Ozzy, but what they had with Dio was much different. “Lonely is the Word,” not only has an amazing Iommi solo, but the line “maybe life’s a losing game” always struck me as amazingly powerful. Ronnie was truly in a class of his own. Songs started to use more instruments, like acoustic guitar and keyboards that only ever got use on select tracks in the Ozzy era. The band sounds like they’re actually having fun making music again. The title track has one of the greatest Iommi riffs of all time, and “Neon Knights” was one of the first metal songs to have such an apparent sword and sorcery theme. “Children of the Sea” remains a fan favorite to this day, and even inspired greats like Iron Maiden. It certainly isn’t the heaviest Sabbath album, but it’s one of the most multi-dimensional ones that showed what all four members of the band really had in them. From Metallica to Twisted Sister to Scorpions to Candlemass and far beyond, you’d be hard-pressed to find a metal band that didn’t take inspiration from this album.
My biggest hatred on this album is the track placement on the second side. “Die Young,” one of the darkest songs on the album is sandwiched right in between “Wishing Well” and “Walk Away,” which are the two most upbeat tracks on the album. Then, you follow “Walk Away” with “Lonely is the Word,” which is the saddest song on the album. Why? The songs are so jarring that way! If they had just switched “Walk Away” and “Die Young” it would have sounded a LOT smoother! “Walk Away” in general is a song that I feel is a bit sub-par for the album.
Favorite Tracks: “Die Young,” “Lonely is the Word,” “Children of the Sea,” “Heaven and Hell,” “Wishing Well,” “Lady Evil,” “Neon Knights,” “Walk Away.”
This is not only an incredible album, but it’s also an album that changed everything. It’s not my favorite of the Dio-era Sabbath albums, but it undoubtedly had one of the biggest and most lasting influences. If you haven’t yet picked this one up, I highly suggest you do so. This is another album that my words really cannot do justice.