Heaven and Hell
If this night were just about Ronnie James Dio, it would be one hell of a send-off for the only man on earth who might have been as metal as Lemmy (he invented the devil horn salute, for fuck’s sake). He will be missed. If this night were only about Tony Iommi, then it would be a vindication, a laser through the bullshit Osbournes fog that’s seen him relegated to mere sideman status and obscured the mesozoic potency of his riffs. Take a look at him in regulation leather’n’crucifix tossing off blood simple guitar lines one after the other; the man’s like heavy metal’s Pete Townshend. If this night were just about settling the age old question about which version of Sabbath is better, the Ozzy one or the Dio one, I daresay you put the performance on this disc against any night’s Sabbath set from the 2005 Ozzfest, and Dio ain’t gonna be raising the white flag. None more black, man.
This night is about that feeling of strange and amazing community that comes from seeing the old guys fucking bring it one last time. First of all, they look great, fighting fit, and decked out in various types of regulation black dandy/biker wear (Dio in particular looks like the heavy metal Peter Murphy, meow). Second of all, everyone’s performances are fucking ON. Appice dials in the showy and concentrates instead on pure power, Geezer Butler is all solid bottom end and rocksteady foundation, Iommi plays guitar like a teenage kid discovering all the most evil notes on a downtuned guitar, strings flapping in the breeze, and Dio — fuck me — his voice was pure thunder and fury — no cheating on the high notes either! The set is a dream mix of songs from the classic albums (Mob Rules, Heaven And Hell) and underrated gems (am I the only one who loved Dehumanizer, and was a little disappointed when that lineup fragmented ‘pon the Ozzman’s return?). It sounds gigantic; the shit’s like metal fantasy camp, there’s even audience singalong segments. Heaven and Hell (can’t call themselves Sabbath because of some legal nonsense) bring the creepy, the occult, the epic, and the oddly affecting in equal measures. In this performance are countless strands of DNA for thrash metal, power metal, doom metal, black metal — pick yer poison. Highlight: Dio gurgling demonically, “I’d rather burn in Hell… here with YOU!” But that’s just one of many.
There’s a companion DVD, and that’s beyond dandy too. Everyone looks like a million bucks. Check out Dio’s black velvet flares! HELL. YES.
Eagle Rock: www.eagle-rock.com