Heaven & Hell Info
Heaven & Hellâ€™s journey began serendipitously in 2006, when Rhino asked the quartet to record a few new songs for The Dio Years, a collection spotlighting the Mob Rules lineup of Black Sabbath â€“ Ronnie James Dio, Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler, and Vinny Appice.
The impromptu get-together quickly proved the creative spark was still burning 14 years after the bandâ€™s last album. â€œThose songs came so easy that we decided we had to keep going,â€ Dio says. â€œWhere it would lead was a question no one really asked at that point.â€
The answer began to take shape in 2007, when the band launched a yearlong tour. Selling out concerts around the world, the trek included the bandâ€™s triumphant return to the U.S., where they played a show in New York City at Radio City Music Hall that was immortalized on a live CD/DVD. When the quartet finally got off the road at the end of the year, they all agreed that it would be a shame to call it a day. â€œThe band had gotten too good and everyone was having too much fun to just walk away,â€ Dio says. â€œWe wanted to show people that we were still capable of giving them new music that measured up to what weâ€™d done in the past.â€
With that lofty goal in mind, the group convened in early 2008 at Iommiâ€™s home studio in England to begin writing for THE DEVIL YOU KNOW. â€œWe finished â€˜Breaking Into Heavenâ€™ and put together ideas for several more tracks before taking a break. The chemistry was there straightaway. It was like no time had passed,â€ the legendary guitarist says.
To Butlerâ€™s delight, one aspect had changed since the bandâ€™s last album, 1992â€™s Dehumanizer. â€œBecause of technology, everyone now comes in with a CD of ideas that we can pull from. None of that endless jamming about in the rehearsal studio until someone comes up with something. It was such a pleasure to make this album and very much a band effort.â€
Following the initial writing session for THE DEVIL YOU KNOW, the band spent the summer of 2008 on the road before relocating to Dioâ€™s home studio in Los Angeles to finish writing. The first song they completed there, â€œBible Black,â€ would become the albumâ€™s first single. The epic track about a book of sinister scriptures set the tone for the rest of the session. â€œWhen you start off with a blockbuster like that, it makes writing so much easier because it gives you a benchmark to measure the other songs against,â€ Dio says.
Exceeding those expectations, the band wrote 10 songs that are rich in sonic detail. Each uncoils with a three-dimensional fullness thanks to a macabre mix of snarling riffs, bone-crushing tempos, and evocative tales from the dark side. While the album is definitely steeped in hellfire and brimstone, Appice notes that its black clouds are lined with gleaming melodies that give the music depth. â€œThe contrast makes all the emotions and sounds feel even more intense.â€
Each band member finds room to shine on the album. Iommi burnishes his status as a six-string deity with sinuous riffing on â€œAtom And Evil,â€ â€œFear,â€ and â€œNeverwhere.â€ Dioâ€™s dynamic voice shows its versatility with the majestic melodies of â€œBreaking Into Heaven,â€ while his pen tells twisted tales like â€œEating The Cannibalsâ€ with provocative flair. Butlerâ€™s thunderous groove slips out of the rhythmâ€™s deep pocket to add wicked countermelodies and dexterous runs during â€œDouble The Pain,â€ while Appiceâ€™s tasteful timekeeping on â€œFollow The Tearsâ€ shows that less is more, giving the slow-burning song enough room to catch fire.
After the band finished writing for the album, everyone spent several weeks on their own fine-tuning their parts before rehearsing. Appice says the break was invaluable. â€œWe had a few months to live with these songs. It gave everyone enough time to work out ideas on their own and find out what worked best for them and the song.â€
Following a week of rehearsals in Los Angeles last winter, the foursome returned to Rockfield Studios in Wales, the same place they recorded Dehumanizer 17 years earlier. Playing live in the studio, the band worked quickly, needing less than three weeks to record the albumâ€”two weeks ahead of schedule.
Many of the songs were captured in one or two takes, Iommi says. â€œWhen you have a great band like this, it makes sense to go in and play them together. Thatâ€™s the way weâ€™ve always done it. I mean, somewhere along the line we were gonna have to play them live; might as well start in the studio,â€ he says with a laugh.
Because of the rehearsals, Butler says playing came easily, allowing them to focus more on expressing the feeling of each song. â€œWeâ€™ve learned from the past that you can kill a song doing it over and over. The first Sabbath albums were done in two or three days. Technically they werenâ€™t great, but vibe-wise they were great. It goes to show, if you capture that feeling, thatâ€™s all you need.â€
When the songs were finished, Dio says he and his bandmates marveled at their own brutal efficiency. â€œWe almost felt guilty to tell you the truth. We looked at each other at one point and said: â€˜Is it really done? I canâ€™t do it any better. Can you? No. Then I guess were doneâ€™,â€ he recalls laughing. â€œAt the end of the day, I think what separates this band is that we know who we are. We want to do one thing well and not try to be something weâ€™re not.â€
Heaven & Hell truly is The Devil You Know.
For more on Heaven & Hell, you can visit the official site here: http://www.heavenandhelllive.com