I have been a BIG Black Sabbath fan for decades.. i have owned most of the records in vinyl before CDs existed, i have over 100 live audio shows and many video boots from years of patiently collecting and trading..
I remember when i was growing up in South America, it was impossible to find any of Sabbath’s records with Ozzy and the only way i was able to hear Paranoid was to borrow a cassette copy from a kid who lived in Los Angeles and was had returned to live back home. The first time i heard Paranoid, i was ecstatic.
The first LP i have ever owned was ironically ‘Heaven and Hell’ when a friend and I pooled some saved allowance money and bought a locally released copy. (neither one of us could afford to buy the record on our own.. remember, i grew up in a third world country and we were just kids with no money.) We used to take turns and hold the record to listen to it.. so, when i first got the Heaven and Hell LP i spent hours listening to it many times in my bedroom using a really cheesy turntable with a built-in speaker. It was an amazing experience.
When i made my first trip to the USA, the first thing i did was to buy every single Sabbath vinyl record i could get my hands on..
When i went back home to South America two years ago, i brought the same friend who i had purchased the Heaven and Hell LP with, a copy of the live Heaven and Hell DVD.. and he loved it.
When i heard the band had decided to record an album after their successful tour as “Heaven and Hell” i started counting the days.. and now.. finally the record is here!
NOTE: The band are calling themselves Heaven and Hell NOT because “they do not want to be bothered by Ozzy-obsessed fans when playing live” as one clueless reviewer wrote here in amazon.com. The truth is that Sharon Osbourne forced Tony Iommy legally to use the Black Sabbath name ONLY when playing with Ozzy as a condition do a reunion tour(s) with him.
After listening to “The Devil you know” i can tell you the following:
1-The production is flawless (if you are a long time Sabbath fan, you know some of their records suffer from less than stellar production.. like Born Again)
2-Dio’s voice is amazingly intact. The guy is truly one of the most amazing metal singers of all time (if you’ve heard Ozzy go out of tune singing with Sabbath in Ozzfest more than once, like i have, i am sure you can relate.)
3-The songs are heavy and powerful.
Most of the them are midtempo (slow). Older songs that i think are closer to the songs on “The Devil you know” are “Falling off the Edge of the World” or “Lonely is the word”
There are no fast songs like Neon Knights or Turn up the Night, and while that is not a bad thing, it may put off some fans.
This is not a remake of “Heaven and Hell”, “Mob Rules” or “Dehumanizer”, this album stands on its own.
IMHO, the songwriting is better than Sabbath’s last album with Dio, Dehumanizer, which seemed to me like the band was forced to write the songs just to release an album.
A few reviewers have criticized this album for sounding the same, that the lyrics are not that good. that there are not GUITAR HERO anthems!!
Well.. i am glad the band didn’t write a Heaven and Hell, Mob Rules or Dehumanizer clone.. that would have been too easy.I am glad they didn’t write any cheesy guitar hero anthems for clueless teenagers, and if for some reason you think Dio’s lyrics are too juvenile or trivial, maybe you shouldn’t be listening to pop music!
The lyrics in “The Devil you Know” are just fine, after all this is a BLACK SABBATH record (even if the band is called “Heaven and Hell”) and the lyrical subjects are not up for a change, not 30 years ago, not today.
Let’s face it.. the band doesn’t really need to release another album.. they don’t need to write some cheesy billboard charting single or Guitar Hero track, they don’t need to be on tour (specially if you consider the fact that these guys are in their sixties!) they have enough money.. they are still touring and releasing albums because they still have the passion for writing and playing music, and this album demonstrates that.
“The Devil you know” ranks right along some of the great Sabbath albums, with or without Dio!
The days of watered-down commercial Sabbath records are gone (if you’ve heard the “Forbidden” album you know what i am talking about).. this is pure Black Sabbath!
This album is recommended to ANY metal fan!
Black Sabbath invented HEAVY Metallic music and the fact that the band can still write GREAT music after more than 30 years is a testament to the greatness of Black sabbath (er.. i mean “Heaven and Hell”)