Heaven and Hell - The Devil You Know
When you combine Ronnie James Dio with half of the original Black Sabbath line up and a talented drummer with a prestigious background you can't help but have high expectations of anything they release for public consumption. And indeed history has taught we would not be wrong to expect excellence.
After all this is the line up that gave us the Mob Rules album in 1981 and Dehumanizer in 1992. And 3/4ths of this line up created the magnificent Heaven and Hell album which reignited Sabbath's black flame and from which this band take their name.
By now everyone knows the story of how Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler and Dio started talking about writing new songs together after they were informed by their record label that a Dio era Sabbath best of would be released. And most of the people who were thrilled by that tale have probably heard the three new tracks that made it on to said best of.
Those three songs raised the bar even higher for all involved, they showed that the chemistry was still there, that Tony had nowhere near exhausted his supply of riffs and that Dio was still a metal master with an ear (in the wall) for a great melody and a propensity for shameless lyrical flights of fancy.
After a globe-spanning tour the band got down to writing an albums worth of brand new material, the fruits of their labour are exhibited on The Devil You Know.
I've been living with this album since it came out a few months back, letting its slow burning groove seep into me and its swirling riffs wash over me. I'm glad I didn't rush into writing this review because to be perfectly honest, on first listen it left me a bit deflated.
It's perhaps the initial lack of any real stand-out tracks that lead to my early disappointment. There were plenty of riffs, solos and other moments that lift the soul but there did not seem to be one song that completely attained the highs previously set by the band.
The Devil You Know was still staring straight down the barrel of a pretty middle of the road 6 out of 10 rating on its second listen. But I resolved to persevere a little longer to see if the magic that I knew the band was capable of would slowly envelop me.
On the third or fourth listen it happened, and I can tell you the exact moment I started to believe in the band again. It was the moment when sitting in the dark listening to Bible Black, the majesty of Dio's ageless voice took hold of me during the intro, with Tony's emotive soloing and Geezer's bass runs backing him.
It's a wonderful opening that builds up tension and when Dio screams the warning of "Don't go on, put it back, your reading from the Bible black" the song is taken away on Vinnie's pounding drums and Tony's eternally amazing riffing.
For some reason after Bible Black cast a spell over me the rest of the album started to make sense. Take a  track like Double The Pain, it starts off with an ominous deep bass riff from Geezer that had previously left me unmoved but this time got me hooked from the start.
I'm still not a massive fan of the opening riff from Rock and Roll Angel but as soon as that crunching riff kicks in I'm convinced of its worth as an addition to the Sabbath cannon. The soloing from Iommi in the instrumental section of the track is excellent and shows that even at sixty-one he can still be inventive. Oh and the melodic "Perfect strangers" section is, as Dio himself would say, bloody brilliant.
I think one part of the albums problem is it just doesn't sound as heavy as it should. Listening to the drawn out doomy riffing of The Turn of The Screw or the belting anger of Eating The Cannibal's you just can't help but wish that some of the studio sheen was removed and that the album sounded as just heavy as Dehumanizer. Don't get me wrong its certainly still a bona- fide Heavy Metal record, I just wish there was a slightly heavier bottom end and possibly a more spacious feel to the music.
There are a couple of songs that even after a few listens don't completely convince me. Looking at the track listing just now I can't even remember how Fear goes and the chorus of Follow The Tears just falls a bit flat for my liking.
The last two songs are the one's that benefit most from repeated listening as previously I had felt I was struggling to reach them. Neverwhere is a fast paced rocker which wouldn't sound out of place on Dio's early solo albums and Breaking Into Heaven casts an spine-tingling ominous pall over the end of the album
In summing up I would say that a casual fan hoping for a quick fix which matches the three previous Dio fronted Sabbath albums may be let down by The Devil You Know. But if you are a true devotee and are willing to give the album some time I would recommend giving this old devil a chance to get better acquainted with you.
Inspired by the lyrics to Atom And Evil I have recently written to The Oxford Dictionary to have the word "snakes" stricken from the Dictionary and in its place have the word "sliders" as testament to the brilliance of Ronnie James Dio's lyrical style. I'm sad to report that I have yet to hear back from them but I'm sure their reply is in the post...only a matter of time now..

Written by Stuart
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
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Stuart: 7.5/10

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Review by Craig (Member) - Tuesday, August 11, 2009
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Comments: 134
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Hmmmyep pretty close to my own thoughts. Just because it's not a classic doesn't mean it's a bad album.

Rating: 7.5/10

Posted by Craig
Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Review by notrap (Member) - Tuesday, November 3, 2009
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Rating: 7.5/10

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Review by Little Drummer Boy (Member) - Friday, November 6, 2009
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Comments: 166
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I think this review is relatively accurate and have to agree that this does not match up to the previous Dio era of Sabbath releases. However it is solid.

What was a treat was the tour for support of this release. Dio may be getting on in years but he still sounds magnificent live. The fact he can nail down the old material to this day is a testament to his dedication to keep him self in fine form. Evidence that Dio required no compression in the studio.

Rating: 7/10

Posted by Little Drummer Boy
Friday, November 6, 2009

Review by Stuart

Released by
Rhino - 2009

1.Atom & Evil
3.Bible Black
4.Double the Pain
5.Rock & Roll Angel
6.The Turn of the Screw
7.Eating the Cannibals
8.Follow the Tears
10.Breaking into Heaven

Heavy/Doom Metal

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