Release Date: Apr 28, 2009
Record label: Rhino
Genre(s): Rock, Metal
This is a heavier album than any of its three predecessors; whether it's due to the bandmembers' advancing age or the influence of anxieties felt throughout the world outside the studio, it's the closest in spirit to the first two Black Sabbath albums, themselves forged in the psychic darkness that was the tail end of the 1960s. It's not until "Eating the Cannibals," track seven of ten, that the band revs into high gear the way it did on "Neon Knights" and "Turn Up the Night" 20-plus years ago. The songs that begin the album, and make up the bulk of its running time, are like slow-motion avalanches, Iommi's riffs and Appice's drumming punishing the listener like medieval monks scourging unbelievers.
Review Summary: The Devil You Know is shockingly good and reassuringly gimmick free.Heaven and Hell's The Devil You Know is an album based on lies and misdirection. First and perhaps most notably is the band's line-up. While they are of course a Dio-fronted four-piece consisting of Black Sabbath alumni Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler and Vinny Appice, the incarnation of Heaven and Hell that appears on The Devil You Know is not the line-up that recorded Heaven and Hell, but instead the line-up from its 1981 follow-up Mob Rules (as well as its 1992 follow-up Dehumanizer).
There is a small group of Black Sabbath fans who believe the band produced its best work after singer Ronnie James Dio replaced Lord of Darkness/future variety-show host Ozzy Osbourne in the late ’70s. Alas, their case will not be aided by their new album, The Devil You Know, from that (renamed) lineup, with metal tracks such as ”Double the Pain” and ”Atom and Evil” sounding turgid compared with the 1980 song that gifted the quartet its new name. The lively ”Eating the Cannibals” boasts some nice shredding from guitar legend Tony Iommi.
Ronnie James Dio is part of that second-best singers club among elder metal gods. This includes Sammy Hagar and Brian Johnson, which is impressive company, of course, but there's a reason why this project isn't called Black Sabbath, and that's to preserve the Ozzy brand even though this is the exact same lineup as Sabbath's early 80s incarnation. [rssbreak] While Tony Iommi churns out stock riffs, Devil You Know's success largely depends on whether you can take Dio seriously - not as a vocalist (he's one of the best in the metal game), but as a diminutive old man bellowing innocuous dungeons-and-dragons lyrics, and so unconvincingly that you have to wonder if he actually believes a single word.
Anyone who loves Black Sabbath must cringe at the mere mention of the much-ballyhooed studio tracks “Psycho Man” and “Selling My Soul”. The songs appended the otherwise excellent 1998 live album Reunion, the celebrated reunion with Ozzy Osbourne back at the helm of the heavy metal progenitors, and fell disastrously flat. Because the resulting tours from 2007 and 2008 of Black Sabbath’s mach-three lineup of guitarist Tony Iommi, bassist Geezer Butler, singer Ronnie James Dio and drummer Vinny Appice proved to be surprisingly spirited affairs and a resounding success, fans had every right to believe a new album by the beloved old coots would be an unmitigated triumph.