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Heaven and Hell (Black Sabbath album)

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Released  25 April 1980
Heaven and Hell (1980)  Mob Rules (1981)
Artist  Black Sabbath
Label  Warner Bros. Records
Genres  Heavy metal, Doom metal
Length  39:46
Heaven and Hell (1980)  Mob Rules (1981)
Release date  25 April 1980
Producer  Martin Birch
Heaven and Hell (Black Sabbath album) httpsuploadwikimediaorgwikipediaenthumbf
Recorded  October 1979 – January 1980
Studio  Criteria Recording Studios, Miami, Florida Studio Ferber, Paris, France
Similar  Black Sabbath albums, Heavy metal albums

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. In the band's native country, it sold well enough to be certified silver by the British Phonographic Industry in April 1982.


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 described in his autobiography as a "highly frustrating, never-ending process". In his own autobiography, 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 behaviour". 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.

Ronnie James 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 leading up to the recording of Heaven and Hell. Not only had the band recently replaced its lead vocalist, 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 longtime bassist 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 doubled 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 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 says he co-wrote most of Heaven and Hell's songs and that it was he and not Butler who played bass on the album. Despite not being credited for his contributions, Gruber asserted, "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) and Studio Ferber in Paris. 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 set The 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."

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."

Track listing

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

2010 deluxe edition

Disc one contains the original album with no bonus tracks.


Black Sabbath
  • Tony Iommi – guitar
  • Geezer Butler – bass guitar
  • Bill Ward – drums, percussion
  • Ronnie James Dio – lead vocals
  • Additional performer
  • Geoff Nicholls – keyboards
  • Production
  • Produced and engineered by Martin Birch
  • Assistant engineer – Joe "C" Foglia
  • Equipment: Graham Wright and Mickey Balla
  • Remastered by Dan Hersch (2008 reissue)
  • Album cover art Smoking Angels by Lynn Curlee
  • Back cover illustration by Harry Carmean
  • Art direction by Richard Seireeni
  • Covers

  • Queensrÿche covered "Neon Knights" on their 2007 album Take Cover.
  • Iron Savior covered "Neon Knights" on their 1998 album, Unification.
  • "Heaven and Hell" was covered by American doom metal band Solitude Aeturnus on their album Adagio, and by San Diego-based band Benedictum on their debut album, Uncreation (which also featured a cover of Black Sabbath's "The Mob Rules").
  • "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.
  • Jørn Lande covers "Lonely Is the Word" on his album Unlocking the Past.
  • Stryper covered "Heaven and Hell" on their 2011 album, The Covering.
  • Following Dio's death in 2010, Machine Head's Robb Flynn recorded an acoustic version of "Die Young".
  • The heavy metal band Manowar covered "Heaven and Hell" on the 2010 album Magic: A Tribute to Ronnie James Dio.
  • Elis covered "Heaven and Hell" on an extended edition of their album "Griefshire". The album was already produced when suddenly their singer Sabine Dünser died.
  • Songs

    1Neon Knights3:53
    2Children of the Sea5:35
    3Lady Evil4:24


    Heaven and Hell (Black Sabbath album) Wikipedia