Progressive rock? No definitely not! But so many of the musicians from today name these godfathers of hard rock as their heroes, so it seems appropriate to have a review on the The Devil We Know, the new album by Heaven & Hell. In fact this band is the same as Black Sabbath from around 1980, when Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler, Ronnie James Dio and Vinnie Appice were playing together and recorded the albums Heaven & Hell and Mob Rules, which are certainly not Sabbath’s worst albums. On the contrary! This album is not as wistful and gloomy as Dehumanizer but one recognizes immediately Iommi’s guitar riffs. Songs like Atom And Evil and Fear are in the same vein as the other songs in this line-up. Dio’s voice is still holding out remarkably well, but seems to lose only just a tiny bit of power. Bible Black starts off with beautiful acoustic guitar play and a bluesy lead guitar is playing melodies in the background. When the band kicks in, it’s top class hard rock again. Butler plays his bass as no one else in this genre and I must admit that although it’s nothing new, it sounds like pure heavy delight to my ears. It might be coming from hell, but I’m likely not the only one who thinks he’s in heaven with this album! Butler opens Double The Pain with another catchy riff. A heavy but slower song is Rock And Roll Angel, very suitable for smoothly headbanging. A beautiful interlude in the same style as the opening of Bible Black shows these guys were pioneers for progressive metal for sure! Parts of Turn Of The Screw reminds me of Dehumanizer indeed. Straight rockers are Eating The Cannibals and Neverwhere. The first time we hear keyboards more clearly is the organ in Follow The Tears, while an occasional orchestration can be heard throughout the album. Breaking Into Heaven is the closing masterpiece with a catchy chorus and superb harmonies by veteran Ronnie Dio. Go see them live this summer!
On the DVD are some interviews with the four members of the band as can be seen on their website with some shots from the men at work in the studio. The Devil We Know says it all: music from hell, but with a wink, and yes, we do know indeed! No one on this earth but Tony Iommi is capable of finding such heavenly heavy riffs over and over again and still being able to avoid repeating himself.