“The Devil You Know,” by Heaven and Hell
For my heavy metal money, Black Sabbath were there first and they still are among the best practitioners of the form. Ozzy Osbourne is long gone, and the group is thriving with lead singer Ronnie James Dio under the moniker Heaven and Hell. The Devil You Know is the first studio album under the Heaven and Hell name (to differentiate from the band led by Ozzy) and guess what – it’s ominous, plodding, and occasionally rocking.
Guitarist Tony Iommi and bass player Geezer Butler snap into wicked grooves or slow it down to a dinosaur pace (think brontosaurus trudging through ten miles of mud) while the voice of the 67-year-old Dio rides over the top of it all. I actually listened to the lyrics: mostly they tell of some experience with a sometimes-real, sometimes-metaphorical devil, but are sufficiently murky enough not to alienate God-fearing headbangers as well as devout demon worshipers.
Who really listens to this shit for the lyrics, anyway? The Devil You Know is marred a bit by a sluggish first half, but Iommi’s guitar atmospherics and Dio’s old lady choirmaster quiver save the day. All hail Black Sabbath! And Heaven and Hell too!