For some reason, I've been listening to a lot of Black Sabbath lately. But I find myself focusing more on the albums "Heaven and Hell" and "Mob Rules" with Ronnie James Dio as the singer, as opposed to listening to the classic tunes with Ozzy. Sure, I like "Fairies Wear Boots," "N.I.B," and "Sabbath, Bloody Sabbath" just as much as the next guy. But for me, Sabbath really got more believable when RJD joined up.
Now, rock critics will tell you that Black Sabbath never really meant to be over the top with the whole "devil" image. If you listen to a lot of their songs, there aren't many that are deliberately about the devil, worship of the devil, hell, and such. Especially the Ozzy songs. There's a lot of self-doubt in those Ozzy songs, which, when you look at Ozzy, makes sense.
Dio just seemed to try to move the band more in that direction. I just feel for the most part, the Dio songs are more evil, if you will. And when I'm listening to a band called Black Sabbath, that's what I want to hear; heavy and ominous music.
Sure, you can say that RJD's lyrics were too full of the "Dungeons and Dragons" imagery. Check out his video for Holy Diver. Jesus Fuck, I never knew what that song was about, and the video sure as hell doesn't give me any clues. Just Ronnie running around with a sword bashing people and turning them into rats. Ronnie isn't even that pretty. He probably has the worst heavy metal hair I have ever seen.
But we're talking about Black Sabbath here, not just RJD alone. The combination of Tony Iommi's heavy riffs on those two albums along with RJD's lyrical imagery is nothing short of metal genius. I rather enjoy how the songs "Heaven and Hell" and "Sign of the Southern Cross" are intertwined on the "Live Evil" album. Those two songs alone are worth owning both albums.
Now Dio did have a bit of a decent career after being in Black Sabbath, especially that "Holy Diver" album. I find it funny that metal aficionado Chuck Klosterman didn't have it as one of his all-time favorites in "Fargo Rock City," but what do you expect from a guy who thinks KISS is one of the better metal bands out there? For the record, Chuck did pick some decent albums for some of his all time best, but he totally skirted Black Sabbath in his book. Still, I recommend it. The defense of heavy metal as a genre with a purpose is kind of tiring, but Chuck's writing and personal stories are worthy of the read.
RJD just got back together with Black Sabbath, only Ozzy isn't letting themselves be called Black Sabbath. This is kind of amazing since it's Tony Iommi carried on the band after he axed Ozzy, and there have been something like 3 different singers and since Ozzy left and 12 albums. But I guess it's a mutual agreement, so it appears that RJD and company are going under the moniker, Heaven and Hell.
I can't wait.