The Ronnie James Dio era of Black Sabbath was looking good by this point. The previous Black Sabbath album Heaven and Hell had done considerably well for the group, against all odds. By the year after, in amongst a flurry of activity and heavy drug use by the group, this album was delivered to the masses, without the original Black Sabbath drummer Bill Ward. Despite the fact that this was well received, it didn’t go as far as Heaven and Hell did as a record critically or commercially. Still, Black Sabbath was back and the music is the most important thing here, so let’s take a listen to this album and see what it sounds like.
Turn Up The Night begins with a hi-hat intro, fast drums and riff heavy music by Black Sabbath. Immediately, this sounds quite good. There is a fantastic frenzy of Black Sabbath style Metal here, and Ronnie James Dio’s singing is awesome. There is some amazing wah-wah guitar soloing by guitarist Tony Iommi. Black Sabbath was back and had a load of spirited energy and promise here. A really wonderful listen at a fast pace, this is a good, fresh listen. A tuneful and decent listen to begin this album with, this sounds really fantastic. Tony Iommi’s playing, in particular, must be heard in this song. The rest of the band is just as good as well, and this piece fades out well at the end. Brilliant.
Voodoo begins with some interesting guitar work that sounds tasty and riff heavy, before the rest of the band kick in. This is instantly fantastic to listen to, and the whole group have a wonderful groove to boot. This album is very amazing and worth listening to, and it is mindblowing with songs such as these. The chorus in particular is an excellent listen, with a whammy bar dive and Ronnie James Dio’s voice in sync at points. The rest of the song is amazing, too. The guitar solo present in this song is nothing short of impressive, and it shows the creativity of Tony Iommi. A very enjoyable listen that is timeless, this is no doubt one of the highlights of Black Sabbath’s long and creative career. Towards the end is a wonderful guitar solo by Tony Iommi on his Gibson SG. Great song, it fades out gloriously.
The Sign Of The Southern Cross begins with some excellent sounding acoustic and what sounds like a ukelele. This is a lengthy piece at nearly eight minutes long. Some gorgeous and plain singing, reminiscent of The Incredible String Band, is here, to begin with. Ronnie James Dio puts in a truly excellent performance here. Before long, a punchy drum roll occurs and we launch into the chorus present. This is suspenseful, awesome and amazing to listen to, and it is another slice of classic Black Sabbath. The riffing throughout by both guitarist Tony Iommi and bassist Geezer Butler is awesome, the groove present here is fantastic. This album and song are both so good that both demand repeat listens. Ronnie James Dio sounds somewhat akin to a Metal Opera singer, he is seriously amazing to listen to, with a multi-octave vocal range. The second half has some clever use of sound effects and guitar violining, in particular. A tremendous effort, this track eventually launches into a longer solo section that is very interesting and brilliant, with a nod towards Progressive Rock. This song is a really classic piece of Black Sabbath glory, although not with Ozzy Osbourne at the helm. Towards the end, a combination of brilliant singing by Ronnie James Dio and supporting structure by the rest of the band finishes this song off well, with more legendary soloing by Tony Iommi. Nice work. This segues into the next track.
E5150 begins with some cyber keyboard sounds that are very strange, yet interesting listening. Not much else to say here, as it is a sub-three-minute instrumental by the group. There are some very strange sounds and distorted vocals present on this track. This isn’t really necessary to listen to from this album, but it is by no means awful. The sounds here are very 1980s, as though Black Sabbath had been directly paying attention to trends ongoing in music at the time. Weird, out there and awesome, there are some doom laden chords present towards the end of this rather strange instrumental, before the cyber beeps and bleeps return, segueing into the next track.
The Mob Rules begins with an amazing guitar riff, a glorious scream by Ronnie James Dio and this tune gets going into Metal madness. This song is one of the best of this era, and indeed, this album alone. Catchy, fun and headbangingly excellent, Black Sabbath proved that they still could make excellent tunes after all these years. A manic guitar solo is in the middle of this song, which is also worth your time. A really cool and excellent listen, this is music to hear when you feel like causing chaos. Another great guitar solo wraps this amazing song up. Essential listening, and totally awesome from start to finish.
Country Girl begins with some rather unusual sounding riffs. This is another good piece, which has Ronnie James Dio singing about said country girl. A really strange musical turn and topic to hear, this song isn’t a hit single, but it still rocks hard. In any case, this is a good song to hear from this album, and you can certainly go much worse than this. There is a wah-wah solo section present in this song which sounds different and experimental. This is followed by some nice vocal harmonies and a very manic guitar solo by Tony Iommi. This song is very cool, and it sounds very dark and heavy. An awesome piece of music, although rather repetitive towards the end, this fades out gradually. Good tune.
Slipping Away begins with some very AC/DC sounding riffs, launching into a pseudo-Led Zeppelin groove. This is the musical equivalent of anything on the Houses Of The Holy or Physical Graffiti albums by Led Zeppelin, it just sounds loud, demonic and monstrous. This is something that Metalheads and Rock fans could easily dig, it just sounds like a heavy song but an enjoyable one at that. There is a call-and-response section in the second half between the guitars and drums, which is super cool and different. This is followed by a guitar solo and bass guitar solo battling it out for attention. A very underrated listening experience, this is a fine and great tune. This sounds really well done and is proof that Black Sabbath could still Rock well in the 1980s. Awesome stuff.
Falling Off The Edge Of The World is a melancholy sounding piece of music, with wah-wah guitar and string section. Ronnie James Dio gets singing away in a bold, yet sad way. This song eventually launches into an interesting piece with an acoustic guitar. Ghostly harmonies then enter, only to be down pitched, prior to this song being launched. There is again, an excellent groove here, especially with the drumming at hand. A completely different riff then enters, and this tune gets rocking. A very enjoyable piece of music with some dark and morbid lyricism and some equally dark instrumentation to match, Black Sabbath deliver very well on this song. A really cool tune to listen to, with a manic guitar solo in the second half of the song. Tony Iommi really had great chops by this point as a guitarist. The song continues very well, all the way through to the end. Excellent work.
Over And Over is the last track on this album. It begins with some slow guitar riffs and a slower tempo than you’d expect. A really worthwhile and interesting listen, although it is fairly clear by this point that the album is burning out a little bit towards the end. Despite that, this is still very listenable, and superbly so. This is a slow burner but nonetheless is okay to hear. Towards the middle is another tremendously awesome guitar solo, which makes the song a little less repetitive to listen to. Black Sabbath was back, and although the personnel had changed, the musical intention had not. An album that deserves repeat listens, along with this song, is an awesome and great tune to hear. There is more pseudo-Shred guitar to finish off this wonderful album, and it is mindblowing and amazing to hear. A great finish to yet another excellent Black Sabbath album, with a crazy sounding fade out.
This is a fine album that, although maybe not as good as Heaven and Hell before it, still sounds very focused and well delivered to this day. There are plenty of good Metal numbers for Black Sabbath fans to sink their teeth into, and there is very little to complain about. The only small suggestion to improve things would be to perhaps shorten some of the lesser known tracks. Otherwise, a great album that you should hear if you love Metal or Rock. Ronnie James Dio ultimately left Black Sabbath to pursue a solo career shortly after this release, but all the same, these songs are a good match for both himself and the group. If you love Black Sabbath and this album, be sure to check out the expanded edition of this album as well.