On April 28, 2009, "Heaven & Hell" released its Eponymous album.
The album's story begins 4 years earlier - in 2005. After several attempts by Tony Iommi and Geezer Butler to bring about the reunion of Black Sabbath in the original lineup, they realized that Ozzy Osbourne was not really interested, and approached Ronnie James Dio with an offer to return and work together. Dio had just finished touring the "Master of the Moon" album and Tony Iommi was just after the release of his second solo album "Fused". The thought of the two returning to writing together after 13 years since the 1992 album "Dehumanizer" was a dream come true for all Metalist. Dio, Geezer, and Iommi initially approached drummer Bill Ward to join the union, but since he declined the offer Vinnie Appice has been recruited in his place to complete the lineup.
The quartet entered the studio in 2006 and recorded 3 new songs: "The Devil Cried", "Shadow of the Wind" and "Ear in the Wall", which were included on the album "Black Sabbath: The Dio Years" - a compilation album that brought together the best of Black Sabbath's Dio-era. After the release of the album, the band went on a tour in 2007, under the name "Heaven & Hell". Guitarist Tony Iommi said it was intended to avoid confusion with the band's original lineup with Ozzy Osbourne, who had been performing together in 2005. Iommi noted that the aim was to prevent audiences from expecting to hear songs like "Iron Man" or "War Pigs" associated with the Ozzy era. Needless to say that two years later, in May 2009, Ozzy filed a lawsuit against Iommi for royalties from the name "Black Sabbath", but this lawsuit was filed about a month after the release of this album.
After completing the tour, Ronnie James Dio's first thought was to return to his solo lineup and start working on the sequels to the excellent concept album "Magica" from 2000 - "Magica II" and "Magica III". However, the warm and excellent reactions from the performances and the three new songs that the band wrote for the compilation album "Black Sabbath: The Dio Years", convinced him to continue with the momentum and he agreed to record a full album.
Anyone looking for the genius of the album "Heaven And Hell" or the perfection of "Mob Rules", will have a hard time finding them in this album. In a sense, this album lacks even the heaviness and power of "Dehumanizer". It is very difficult for us to write this, because it is still one of our favorite lineups in Metal, but in our humble opinion, except for a few great moments here and there, this album does not match any of the three albums we mentioned above and it seems the years since its release only reinforce this conclusion. In our youth, we held the view that any "record" that includes at least 3 powerful and memorable songs is for us a "great" record. With great sorrow and a heavy heart, it is difficult for us to find in this album more than 2.5 such songs. Maybe it's the gothic vibe that surrounds some of the songs, and maybe it's the fact that this album corresponds more with Doom than Heavy Metal when we were expecting another "Heaven And Hell" style album, but listening to this album sometimes feels like a monotonous road trip, with an arid desert landscape, with no ups and downs and no surprises and curves, and this is very different from what we got from this lineup previous three albums. Some of the songs on this album sit on a monotonous 4/4 rhythm with repetitive and uninspired riffs, so much so, that even today after dozens of listens and over a decade since its release, it is difficult for us to remember the names of some of the songs and/or even distinguish between them.
It's not that this album is bad. Definitely not!!! If we compare it to the materials that came out at that time it is even very good and for a moment we would not have considered not having it on our record collection.
There are great tracks here like the opening song "Atom and Evil", the epic track "Bible Black" or "Follow The Tears" with the gothic opening. There are also sweeping and interesting riffs like the one from "Fear" or "Rock and Roll Angel", but still something does not work well enough here, if some of the songs fail to "hold" and continue to play in our heads after we finish listening to them.
Either way, this album is an amazing ending chord to the glorious career of singer Ronnie James Dio. A few months after the album's release, in November 2009, Dio will be diagnosed with stomach cancer. The tests initially looked positive and the band even planned to continue with their tour. But in the end, the tour was canceled on May 4, 2010, due to Dio's health condition. He passed away a few days later on May 16, 2010, and is 67 years old.
As for the album cover, it is based on a painting called "Satan" by artist Per Øyvind Haagensen. The numbers 25:41 that appear to the right and left of the symbol of "Black Sabbath" are the chapter and verse number in the book of "Matthew", from the New Testament, which deals with the Last Judgment where "those who sit at the left side of God are cast down into Hell"