Friday, April 10, 2009

Review: Heaven and Hell "The Devil You Know"

The devil you know, indeed! The long awaited new album from Black Sabbath with Dio is exactly what you expect in a very satisfying way. You are getting an awesome slice of pizza, a great cheeseburger. Not an exotic new take on an old favorite, but something you love done extremely well.

The first thing you will notice is the stellar production. The guitars are crisp and placed really well within the stereo field. Long gone are the early Sabbath days where a single guitar track could make your ears feel lopsided when listening in headphones. This record screams its way to you with thumping drums, hyper present bass and those great stereo tracked guitars.

However the crisp digital production is the last nod to anything remotely modern. This album exists in a time warp that seems unaware of not only any music that came after Sabbath, but that the power of classic Sabbath spawned several genres of its own, like Doom and Stoner Metal. The Devil You Know could have been released in 1986 or 1993. Don't expect the masters to come back and show the kids how to further the Sabbath sound. This is staunchly classic Sabbath for better or worse.

So what did the dream team of Iommi, Butler and Dio bless us with? A very solid 10 track effort of mid-paced rockers which would all fit right at home on Dehumanizer. This album doesn't have a "Neon Nights" or a "Turn on the Night." The closest you get is track 7, "Eating the Cannibals" which would have made an amazing opener. It kicks a ton of ass and I look forward to seeing them play it live. For the rest of the album, from the thumping "Bible Black" (which I do like a lot more in context than when I heard it as a single) to the tasty hooks of "Double the Pain," you can feel the proverbial hand of doom holding this album together.

"Follow the Tears" is probably the best recorded example this lineup has made of their gothic metal hybrid. The tritone is in full swing as are the orchestral synths, spooky atmospheres and nonsensical Dio lyrics. And if sung by anyone else the chorus vocal would be horribly emo, not completely bad ass: "If you want to know where I've been hiding all these years/follow the tears."

In summary, this is the album everyone has been waiting for. You are not getting a revolution, barely even an evolution. But that is not the point now is it? Black Sabbath has made a new record. Iommi's riffs are killer, Dio's voice is killer, and Butler holds it all together like a champion. Consider yourself blessed by comfort food from the depths of hell.

1 comment:

Eric said...

And really, sometimes no progress is the best progress.