After Ozzy Osbourne left Black Sabbath in the late 70's the band has more or less had a revolving door of lead vocalists. While some lead singers lasted for only an album or two, others enjoyed stints of several years. The revolving door even let Ozzy back in briefly in '97-'98 when Black Sabbath headlined Ozzfest.
In 2006 Sabbath got back together with the singer who first replaced Ozzy back in 1980- Ronnie James Dio. Dio's first stint with Sabbath produced 2 solid studio albums (Heaven and Hell & Mob Rules) and the band's first double-live album (Live Evil). Thereafter Dio left Black Sabbath and started his namesake band, Dio, which was very successful in the 80's & early 90's. Ronnie again joined Black Sabbath for another album in 1992, Dehumanizer, only to go back to his solo project a couple years later.
With the '06 reunion, the intent appeared to be to record a couple new songs for the compilation album, Black Sabbath-The Dio Years. However since then, this version of the band has toured several times, and recorded a new full-length album, The Devil You Know.
The Devil You Know is both heavy and melodic, dark and ominous. In the same instant it captures the essence of classic Black Sabbath as well as the lyrical and thematic elements from Ronnie James Dio's previous work. The atmosphere of this album is as full of doom and gloom as any Black Sabbath album. It seems at this point that these veteran musicians have found a formula they are all comfortable with. Although the new music generally follows the same formula they developed in their previous periods of collaboration, The Devil You Know sounds like a more polished and refined effort.
Whether the songs are built around a slow, grinding heavy riff; a softer interplay between clean guitar and vocal melody; or a fast-tempo chord progression infused with blues-rock roots, they always seem like classic Black Sabbath (Dio-era). This time around however, they are calling themselves Heaven and Hell. Look for them when they come to your town.
In the meantime, check out these songs:
-Atom and Evil
-Eating the Cannibals
-Follow the Tears
(Cover art from heavenandhelllive.com)