After finishing several heralded world tours as Heaven & Hell last summer, Ronnie James Dio, Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler, and Vinny Appice were tighter than ever before, both musically and personally. Agreeing that it would be a shame to stop making music together at tour's end, the quartet began writing, first in England at Iommi's home studio and later in Los Angeles at Dio's studio. "The band had gotten too good to just walk away," Dio says. "We wanted to show people that we were still capable of giving them new music that measured up to what we'd done in the past."
With that goal in mind, the band once again converged on Rockfield Studios in Wales last winter, the same place they used 17 years earlier to record their last album, Dehumanizer. The result is the long awaited new album The Devil You Know, featuring 10 soon-to-be-classic tracks from the Dio-fronted version of Black Sabbath. The highly anticipated set arrives on April 28 from Rhino for a suggested list price of $18.98 (physical) and $9.99 (digital).
It took less than three weeks to finish the album, with most of the songs only needing a couple of takes. "It was good to play them live in the studio. It keeps you on edge," Iommi says. "I mean, somewhere along the line we were gonna have to play them live; might as well start in the studio." Butler adds: "We've learned from the past that you can kill a song doing it over and over. The first Sabbath albums were done in two or three days. Technically they weren't great, but vibe-wise they were great. If you capture that feeling, that's all you need."
"Bible Black," the epic first single, begins with Iommi on acoustic guitar behind Dio's plaintive wail before the rhythm shifts to a menacing stomp for the rest of this dark tale about a book of sinister scriptures. One of the first songs written for the album, Dio says it established a tone for the rest of the album. "When you start off with a blockbuster like that, it makes the rest of the album so much easier because it gives you a benchmark to measure the other songs against."
Iommi proves he hasn't lost the ability to inspire six-string envy, unleashing riffs like a pack of rabid hellhounds on "Atom and Evil," "Fear," "Neverwhere," and "Eating The Cannibals," a tune about doing more than biting the hand that feeds. Butler and Appice slow the pace while ramping up the intensity on "Follow the Tears" and "Double the Pain" and "Breaking Into Heaven," the latter diverging from its glacial procession for Dio's majestic chorus about fallen angels planning an attack on paradise.
The Devil You Know Track Listing:
1. "Atom And Evil"
3. "Bible Black"
4. "Double the Pain"
5. "Rock and Roll Angel"
6. "The Turn of the Screw"
7. "Eating the Cannibals"
8. "Follow the Tears"
10. "Breaking Into Heaven"