Listen to Black Sabbath on Rhapsody...

By: Dennis Cook

Heaven And Hell :: 04.24.07 :: HP Pavilion :: San Jose, CA

Outside the arena that normally hosts San Jose Sharks hockey, a lone wack job paraded with a huge sign that announced eternal damnation for fornicators, murderers, and worst of all - based on the oversized font - homosexuals. Heavy metal will always draw finger pointers like this but in an era where rock is pretty domesticated it's good to know there's still a subset that can angry up the blood of both fans and its detractors.

Machine Head by Dirt Junior
The slaughterhouse grind that greeted me did make me feel my soul might be in peril. That distress only quickened my steps into the auditorium where Oakland's Machine Head had churned up the biggest mosh pit of assholes and elbows this side of Altamont. "If you know this next song I want to hear you scream it till your eyes pop out," barked lead singer/guitarist Robb Flynn, a former member along with lead guitarist Phil Demmel of SF underground metal lords Vio-Lence. When things looked truly out-of-hand on the floor, Flynn muttered, "Fucking beautiful." Machine Head have the technical savvy of Voivod but the ball-rattling buzz of Pantera and Motorhead. Around since '94, they may be a slow grower but this take-no-prisoners set shows they're ready for the big time. Every other teenager had a Machine Head shirt on, and it's always the next generation of metalheads that point the way.

All night I was struck by how metal acts excel at cool logos, memorable graphics and other conceptual stuff that deepens the connection for the listener. By actively playing to rock's innate tribalism they imbue everything with a richer symbolism than the mainstream or indie sphere. Before I got too thoughtful, I pounded whiskey and watched a balding Dr. Johnny Fever look-alike amble past the bar wearing a scrolling LED belt buckle that read, "No Fat Chicks." The dudes-to-does ratio was 10-to-1 but that's no surprise at a gig with the testosterone level of a junior high locker room.

Lights out and I threw the horns for Megadeth. I offered the Devil's salute out of respect for surviving 25 years in a game that eats its young but within minutes found myself pumping for real. Dave Mustaine has one of metal's classic silhouettes, a lion's mane and his trusty Flying V guitar. The opener plowed the phrase "No one is safe" into our skulls, and laid waste to any doubts about Megadeth coming back strong after their 2002 hiatus (Mustaine had surgery for radial nerve damage in his left arm). In fantastic voice, Mustaine introduced songs from their forthcoming United Abominations (out May 15), saying, "What would life be without little political songs?" New one "Washington Is Next" shows his anger hasn't subsided a lick since he penned the line, "It's still we the fucking people, right?" The set closing "Peace Sells" made it clear this is the best lineup since Megadeth's mid '80s heyday. Better still, the heaviness and speed are leavened now by Blue Cheer boogie, UFO flash and Humble Pie strut. This thrash/speed pioneer remains in fighting form.

Tony Iommi
It took about five seconds of Tony Iommi and Geezer Butler dueting in the shadows to remind me Black Sabbath truly are the heaviest motherfuckers on Earth. Even before the Valhalla shattering drums of Vinnie Appice or Ronnie James Dio's great elfin wail swept us off to chromium seas, the simple, perfect picking of Butler's bass and Iommi's guitar let us know that these old dudes have no intention of releasing heavy metal's mantle anytime soon.

Out of respect for Ozzy, the quartet is touring as Heaven And Hell, taken from the title of their first collaboration in 1980, an album as hugely influential on metal as Iron Maiden's The Number of the Beast or Judas Priest's British Steel. That Sabbath was still able to reinvent the wheel a decade into their career with a new singer was pretty impressive. After the superb studio follow-up (1981's Mob Rules) and a dodgy live album (1982's Live Evil) it seemed Sabbath's pairing with the former Rainbow/Elf singer was over. A lackluster reunion album and tour in '92 did little to inspire future hopes. Well, we were all wrong. Having seen the reunited original Sabbath a couple times, I wasn't expecting to have my dick knocked in the dirt. But that's just what these middle-aged masters did.

">Ronnie James Dio
Sabbath has always understood the theatrical appeal of metal better than most of their peers. The stage set looked like a hunk of Disney's Haunted Mansion with a big ass drum riser in the middle. The background shifted from album covers to hyperdrive fantasias to sulphuric flames. Pinpoint spots made it rain during "Children of the Sea" and soared into outer space during the magnificent "The Sign of the Southern Cross," just one of many deep album cuts they explored. In fact, they stuck to Dio-only Sabbath including a number of freshly inked numbers that hold their own. The easier route would have been to spice things with "Iron Man" or "War Pigs" but this outing is clearly about a special chemistry unique to this quartet.

Few bands do big entertainment like Black Sabbath/Heaven And Hell. The combination of archetypal riffing, instrumental prowess and epic/cartoon storytelling is, to say least, stimulating. Dio is simply the best metal vocalist of all time. His bright tongue has lost very little luster in the years since he introduced us to the "Man On The Silver Mountain" (1975 if you're curious). Butler played bass like Dave Schools' grandpappy, which fit Appice's wonderfully busy percussion. Stock still at stage left, Iommi quietly reminded us all night that his tunings and crazy picking style birthed this freakin' genre. That may sound like hyperbole but I doubt that any of the musicians watching slackjawed stage side would argue with me.

Like some sort of Black Sea Scroll, Sabbath sketches the past and the future of metal for anyone willing to be an acolyte. That primal force was far more readily apparent with Dio at the helm than the never-lucid Ozzy Osbourne. It's almost unfair to compare the shambling reality show star to one of metal's royal purists but the pudding, sirs, is where the proof lies. I'd see Heaven And Hell again in a heartbeat but think twice about checking out Black Sabbath proper again.

JamBase | San Jose
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[Published on: 5/1/07]

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knibbs starstarstarstarstar Tue 5/1/2007 08:39PM
+5 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


Hey yeah! Killer review, I just saw that this bill is rolling through Chicago. That's awesome that Jambase is repin' some metal, from uber-qualified musicians.

RedHeaven star Wed 5/2/2007 08:41AM
Show -7 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!
RedHeaven starstarstar Wed 5/2/2007 08:42AM
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HOWEVER, I will give props to the writer for doing a good job in that dept.

dedhed6111 Wed 5/2/2007 09:03AM
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DIO IS GOD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

matthau starstarstarstarstar Wed 5/2/2007 09:09AM
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How can anyone say that this music is not Jam related? The Jam music today would be nothing without classic metal bands of the seventies and eighties. That is an ignorant comment RedHeaven. Go see the show and then make a comment. Great review Dennis.

funkyriddims starstarstarstar Wed 5/2/2007 09:37AM
+6 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


Great review, whio doesn't dig some Sabbath. As far as the "festive-eclectic" vs. the "rocker" comment. Its good to mix it up, in my early DeadHead days I used to love to put The Dead and Sabbath together on mix tapes,They always seemed like polar opposites to me and I loved the contrast.

Estimated>Fairies wear Boots>Terrapin>Lovelight>War Pigs

Now thats a setlist!

TravlynnJoe starstarstarstarstar Wed 5/2/2007 10:39AM
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Heaven & Hell Tour 2007

Date - Location/Venue - Openers:

May 2 Houston, TX Cynthia Woods Pavillion Megadeth, Machine Head

May 3 Grand Prairie, TX Nokia Theatre Megadeth, Machine Head Advertised as "Dallas"

May 5 Chicago, IL All State Arena Megadeth, Machine Head

May 6 Minneapolis, MN Theatre @ Target Centre Megadeth, Machine Head

May 8 Cincinnati, OH US Bank Arena Megadeth, Machine Head

May 10 Philadelphia, PA Wachovia Arena Megadeth, Machine Head

May 11 Cleveland, OH Tower City Amphitheatre Megadeth, Machine Head

May 12 Detroit, MI Cobo Hall Megadeth, Machine Head

May 14 Albany, NY Times Union Center Megadeth, Machine Head

May 15 Uncasville, CT Mohegan Sun Arena Megadeth, Machine Head

May 17 Lowell, MA Tsongas Arena Megadeth, Machine Head

May 18 Baltimore, MD Merriweather Pavillion Megadeth, Machine Head

May 19 Holmdell, NJ PNC Arts Center Megadeth, Machine Head

Jun 2 Zurich, Switzerland Eishalle Deutweg

Jun 3 Milan Italy Gods of Metal Festival

Jun 7 Solvesborg, Sweden Sweden Rock Festival

Jun 9 Tampere, Finland Sauna Open Air Festival

Jun 10 Helsinki, Finland Jaahalli (Icehall)

Jun 16 Biddinghuizen, Holland Fields of Rock Festival

Jun 19 Warszawa, Poland Torwar

Jun 20 Katowice, Poland Spodek Hall

Jun 22 Balingen, Germany Bang Your Head Festival

Jun 23 Dessel, Belgium Graspop

Jul 1 Athens, Greece Rockwave Festival Dream Theatre, Iced Earth, Anathema, Kinetic

Nov 4 Newcastle, UK Metro Arena Lamb of God, Iced Earth

Nov 6 Glasgow, UK SECC Hall 4 Lamb of God, Iced Earth

Nov 7 Sheffield, UK Hallam FM Arena Lamb of God, Iced Earth

Nov 9 Manchester, UK Evening News Arena Lamb of God, Iced Earth

Nov 10 London, UK Wembley Arena Lamb of God, Iced Earth

Nov 11 Brighton, UK Brighton Centre Lamb of God, Iced Earth

Nov 13 Birmingham, UK NEC Lamb of God, Iced Earth

Nov 14 Cardiff, UK Cardiff International Arena Lamb of God, Iced Earth

Nov 15 Nottingham, UK Nottingham Arena Lamb of God, Iced Earth

Nov 17 Plymouth, UK Plymouth Pavillions Lamb of God, Iced Earth

Nov 18 Bournemouth, UK Bournemouth BIC Lamb of God, Iced Earth

Find out all the latest news at the web link listed below:


May 18th at Merriweather Post Pavilion will be AWESOME !

blower starstarstarstar Wed 5/2/2007 12:18PM
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Decent article, but pay some respect to Ozzy. The reunion recordings rock. Ozzy is the real deal. The man is even a little bit eclectic I must say. I must agree-Sabbath is the heaviest band of all time with Dio or Ozzy. Not to mention their song writing abilities are top notch.
I can't believe I let this show slip by the radar. Damn!

So liking Sabbath means you are closed minded? Wow! This site has everyting from Willy Nelson, to Jazzfest, to Buddy Guy to STS9 to Megadeath all on the same page and you imply that the site material is closed minded. Take a look in the mirror, hypocrit.

jglynn starstarstarstarstar Wed 5/2/2007 02:10PM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Excellent review, thank you! I have twelfth row center for Saturday night in Chicago and haven't been this excited for a show in a long time. The Dio era of Sabbath has been overlooked and disregarded for years but when you stop and take a listen to Heaven and Hell or Mob Rules you can see how great a sound they really had at that time. Sign of the Southern Cross and Children of the Sea are truly epic songs. Great to see them put this together and take it on the road. It's a nice treat for an old guy like myself.

kaiserbun starstarstarstar Thu 5/3/2007 06:28AM
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i'm scared

mrkrinkle6884 starstarstarstarstar Thu 5/3/2007 07:20AM
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Cant believe Iced Earth is still around......actually yeah I can.

MangoNutbag Thu 5/3/2007 08:47AM
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Funkyriddims - that mix is pure gold, you my friend have talent in the mix tapes.

ClaypoolFunksMe starstarstarstar Thu 5/3/2007 10:21AM
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So i´m a huge sabbath fan, but have never listened to the Dio years. Is it worth while, or does it pale in comparisson to Black Sabbath through Sabotage? I only mention these first 6 Ozzy years albums because Tecnical Ecstacy and Never Say Die are both hit and miss. Some good songs, but certainly not of the stellar quality of the original 6. Lemmie know, as i´d like to hear more of them if its worth it.

All Loving Liberal White Guy Thu 5/3/2007 01:33PM
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All Loving Liberal White Guy

Remember that time when Dio was on South Park ?

STEG187 starstarstarstarstar Thu 5/3/2007 02:51PM
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As always stellar work from Dennis. Long Live the Metal!!

Chapelchilla Thu 5/3/2007 03:20PM
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Sabbath with Dio was good too "Claypool Funks Me". Worth a listen for sure. Also, Dio's solo albums HOLY DIVER and THE LAST IN LINE are excellent early 80's metal prototypes.

Good metal Jams too ya'll.

The musicianship of the 1975-1985 era metal was superb. After '85 girly hair metal lowered the bar and the sound got poppier and less dark. Thankfully, grunge killed that.

TheWeight22 starstarstar Fri 5/4/2007 04:28AM
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Hahaha The southpark episode where Dio plays the 4th grade dance might just be my fav of all time

All Loving Liberal White Guy Fri 5/4/2007 02:18PM
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All Loving Liberal White Guy

Ha. It was also Dio who invented that pitchfork sign that everybody throws up at metal shows. Gene Simmons calims that it was him, but it reallyt was Dio. And Dio has no reseverations about talking shit on Gene, either.

guitardave Mon 5/7/2007 01:46PM
-1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


too bad he didn't do "holy diver" or "rainbow in the dark".