Black Sabbath's The Rules of Hell
A couple of years ago, Black Sabbath guitarist Tony Iommi reunited the band's Dio-lead line-up under the banner Heaven & Hell, named for their 1980 album, as a way to promote 2006's The Dio Years set. The band recorded three new songs for that compilation, the collaboration resulting in a lengthy tour and a subsequent live recording. To satiate the tastes of those who have come around to Sabbath after experiencing Heaven & Hell, Rhino Records has done their 16-song The Dio Years one better by boxing up all four of the Dio-era Sabbath albums as the five-disc The Rules of Hell set.
Long-time Sabbath drummer Bill Ward left the band due to personal problems, to be replaced for 1981's Mob Rules by former Rick Derringer skin-basher Vinny Appice. The foursome recorded a suitable follow-up to the Platinum™-selling Heaven And Hell, following much the same blueprint, i.e. heavy riffing, scorching fretboard runs, and bombastic rhythms. The album-opening "Turn Up The Night" is a dark, rumbling rocker with histrionic vox, while "The Sign of the Southern Cross" is a Goth-tinged molten doom-stomp that starts life on gossamer wings before emerging from its chrysalis as a light-chewing, flesh-rending carnivore. For Sabbath, Mob Rules was the right album at the right time: capital-H Heavy with plenty of metallic theatrics.
When the smoke had cleared after the release of Live Evil, Dio would bolt from the Sabbath ranks in '82 to form his own band; bassist Geezer Butler would depart a couple of years later. A decade passed, heavy metal was seemingly on the ropes, and as both Dio's self-titled band and the Sabs were floundering in the tidal wave emerging from Seattle, the original Heaven And Hell crew reunited for the middling Dehumanizer in 1992.
The Reverend's Bottom Line
Dio would return to his solo career, while Iommi continued to carry Black Sabbath on his shoulders throughout the '90s and into the new millennium – even reuniting with Ozzy once upon a time – until the band's current reincarnation. For the crazed and the curious, The Rules of Hell captures every note of the often-overlooked Dio-era Sabbath, taking the listener back to the storied roots of Heaven & Hell, warts and all… (Rhino Records, released July 22nd, 2008)
Buy the CD box set from Amazon.com: Black Sabbath's The Rules of Hell