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The Greatness Goes On And On... (HEAVEN AND HELL - A Black Sabbath Tribute)

 Many, many years ago I went into a Sam Goody store. Not a lot of physical music media sold these days. A small section at places like Target and Walmart, and though I'm lucky enough to have a local record store in my city, they just aren't plentiful like they used to be. 

When I was in there I saw a cassette tape that was a two-for-one special. Two whole albums, one on each side of the tape. The first side was Black Sabbath's classic PARANOID. I had heard a handful of songs from the album on classic rock radio and loved the band. Grabbing this was a no brainer.

On the other side was another Black Sabbath album. And this one was HEAVEN AND HELL. This was a while back and they never really played Ronnie James Dio's music on the radio. I think I had heard him fleetingly but not enough to make a judgement on him or the music. But since I was buying the tape for PARANOID, this album was a bonus for me. If I didn't like it...oh well. I can still wear out Side A.

So when I went home, I went straight to my garage (which was like a musical sanctuary for me since my family weren't into heavy music) and blew right through PARANOID. A classic...to this day.

So I was really curious to hear this other side of Black Sabbath. The version without the great Ozzy Osbourne. As soon as I got into "Neon Knights" I liked it. Still wasn't 100 % sold since what I heard was good but wasn't the doom and gloom Sabbath I was accustomed to. Next was "Children Of The Sea" and I started to become quite fond of it. A mystic sound that dipped into a mysterious magic that I really loved through books and movies but never quite heard it in music. All of a sudden this album had my attention.

"Lady Evil" was a fun rocker, giving some diversity to the previous two tracks. Then...the title track. Blown away. It basically had everything the previous songs had...killer riffs, the memorable opener and the rocking closer. The mystic vibes of the lyrics, which had double meanings if you felt like one or the other. And a rather beautiful medieval style acoustic closing at the end. An absolute epic. 

Funny enough I wasn't crazy about "Wishing Well" when I first heard it. I was already absorbing the very strong first side of the album. I think the track is AWESOME now. Which is great when a classic album ages like a fine wine. "Die Young," though hit me right in the feels. A fantastical digital opening leading into a rocking song which also could mean two things. But most would lean towards it's 'live for today' message. "Walk Away" sounded nothing like any of the previous tracks. It sounds more of its time. A jamming '80's swagger. The closing track, "Lonely Is The Word" closed the album brilliantly with it's blues rock strength and the great Tony Iommi's masterful solos.

The album changed my feelings towards rock. It wasn't Ozzy era Sabbath but it was just as great as anything the classic era put out. All of a sudden I stopped caring about who put what on a list of Greatest Albums and a great album could be great even without mainstream exposure. I started to gravitate towards that fantastical style of metal music, first to Dio's other band Rainbow, then to his self-titled band, then to the power metal genre that hosted a great many fantasy themes.

Now with a 2021 remastered reissue, a whole new generation can discover this amazing album. And I truly envy those youngsters listening to it for the first time. What a feeling it was...



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