Released: 2007, Rhino Music
Reviewer: Lord of the Wasteland
In what is arguably one of the most welcomed reunions of the past few years, Black Sabbath, circa 1980-1983 (to now be dubbed Heaven and Hell) put aside its differences and resuscitated some of the band’s finest post-Ozzy material. Long dormant, tracks like “Die Young,” “Heaven and Hell,” “The Mob Rules,” “Neon Knights” and “Voodoo” were played live again for the first time in fifteen years. I was fortunate enough to see Heaven and Hell’s very first show since reuniting (read review at http://www.metal-rules.com/zine/content/view/834/28/
) and the excitement was at a feverish pitch. Ronnie James Dio, Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler and Vinny Appice together again. Who would have thought?
It was only fitting that Heaven and Hell recorded their first show on U.S. soil three weeks later for future CD/DVD release and the end result is LIVE AT RADIO CITY MUSIC HALL 2007. Backed by a huge brick castle-like set rounded out by torches and iron gates, the two-hour set is chock full of Dio-era material (no “Paranoid,” here, thank God) and the singer’s voice is absolutely flawless on “Voodoo” and “The Sign of The Southern Cross.” As he approaches sixty-five years of age, Dio’s voice appears to have been rejuvenated after a less-than-stellar performance on his own band’s HOLY DIVER - LIVE release a year earlier. Iommi’s crushing, doomy riffs on “After All (The Dead)” and jaw-dropping solo between “Shadow of The Wind” and “Die Young” shows this old dog still has some life in him. Even Butler, whose occult-based lyrics helped drive the band’s earliest material to near-godlike status and define heavy metal as we know it, delivers some wicked basslines, most notably during the intro to “Lady Evil.” Of course, Iommi and Butler must be pleased to finally drop the predictable set trotted out for Ozzy Osbourne every year on Ozzfest and it has truly been a grave injustice to have this chapter of Black Sabbath’s history closed for so many years. Unlike many reunions, Heaven and Hell seems genuine and not forced or driven by the almighty dollar as the band members truly appear happy to be on stage together once again.
Extras include a twenty-minute documentary explaining how the reunion came about and actually features rehearsal footage from the Vancouver show. Three short featurettes chronicle the influence of Black Sabbath, the band’s still potent fanbase and a tour of the stunning Radio City Music Hall.
Anyone who managed to catch Heaven and Hell live already knows what a timeless band remains, but for those who missed out, do not hesitate for a second to pick up LIVE AT RADIO CITY MUSIC HALL 2007. Black Sabbath fronted by the ever-more-cartoonish Ozzy Osbourne is as good as dead and after witnessing the band going through motions of the same tired set year after year, it is even more refreshing to see Ronnie James Dio at the helm once again. The band is currently prepping for The Metal Masters Tour with Judas Priest, Motorhead and Testament during the month of August, so it is nice to see that Heaven and Hell has kept its differences out of the picture and soldiered on not only for themselves, but most importantly, for the fans of that short, but exceptional chapter in Sabbath history.