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Heaven & Hell: The Devil You Know

When Black Sabbath 3.0 got back together to record new material for 2007 anthology The Dio Years, the three resulting songs were shockingly good. The band must have thought so as well, embarking on two years of worldwide touring to large, hungry audiences — billing themselves as "Heaven & Hell" freed them from Ozzy-era baggage — and emitting a live CD/DVD. Unfortunately, those three tracks would have risen to the top on The Devil You Know, a new studio disc filled with plodding, generic thumpers like "Atom and Evil," "Double the Pain," "Neverwhere" and the embarrassing "Rock and Roll Angel." Ronnie James Dio is still in amazingly strong voice, but he proffers too many similar cadences, like you're following the bouncing ball of a sing-songy satanic Mitch Miller. Guitarist Tony Iommi and bassist Geezer Butler sound constrained, with only drummer Vinny Appice going for broke. There are a few bright (make that black) spots: "Bible Black," about the Bad Book, and chaotic closer "Breaking into Heaven" evoke the power of the band at its peak, while "The Turn of the Screw" has its evil moments. But if this Fearsome Foursome made a pact with the Beast for a quality comeback, they should have read the fine print — or at least consulted with that Faust guy.

 
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