Heaven and Hell is the ninth studio album by the English heavy metal band Black Sabbath, released on 25 April 1980. It is the first Black Sabbath album to feature vocalist Ronnie James Dio, who replaced original vocalist Ozzy Osbourne in 1979.

Produced by Martin Birch, the album was a commercial success, particularly in the United States, where it reached number 28 on the Billboard 200 chart.[1] In the band's native country, it sold well enough to be certified silver by the British Phonographic Industry in April 1982.


 [hide*1 Osbourne sessions

Osbourne sessions[edit]Edit

The initial sessions for what became the Heaven and Hell album actually began with Ozzy Osbourne after Black Sabbath's Never Say Die! tour, when the band moved to Los Angeles for eleven months in an attempt to record a new album, a process that guitarist Tony Iommi describes in his autobiography Iron Man: My Journey Through Heaven & Hell with Black Sabbath as a "highly frustrating, never-ending process." In his own autobiography I Am Ozzy, Osbourne states that he had become fed up with the experimentation on the band's previous albums Technical Ecstasy and Never Say Die!, preferring the band's earlier, heavier sound, but also admits "it was clear they'd had enough of my insane behavior." By all accounts, although each the band member was experiencing substance abuse problems, Osbourne's was the worst, and this contributed to his estrangement from the others. Graham Wright, who was Bill Ward's drum tech, and former Osbourne personal assistant David Tangye write in their memoir How Black Was Our Sabbath, "The fundamental problem between the singer and the guitarist had not gone away. Ozzy was frustrated by Tony's musical ambitions and willingness to spend extended periods in the studio. He believed Sabbath had lost their direction...Iommi, for his part, was livid at Ozzy's apathy, his lack of commitment and contribution for the next album, which was suppose to be a brand new start for Sabbath." According to Wright and Tangye, the atmosphere was terrible and the rehearsals ground to a halt when Iommi, always the band's creative catalyst, "went into hibernation in his bedroom."

In his memoir, Iommi reveals that he still has a version of Osbourne singing "Children Of The Sea" with " a different lyric and a totally different vocal melody to what Ronnie did with it" but soon after this initial interest the singer "sort of fizzled away." Bassist and lyricist Geezer Butler was also frustrated with Osbourne, telling Joe Matera in 2007, "I was sick and tired of like coming up with lyrics and I was also running out of things to write about. Ozzy was so out of it at the time and I had spent weeks doing all these lyrics and yet he wouldn't even read them. So I was so pissed off that I stopped writing lyrics and wanted to concentrate on bass playing, which is why I am a bass player in the first place." Osbourne was fired from Black Sabbath on April 27, 1979. Although he saw his dismissal coming, Osbourne remained very bitter that Iommi, who had always been "the boss" of Sabbath, had Ward settle the matter over the phone, stating in the 1991 documentary Don't Blame Me, "When it came to the firing of me, he got Bill - who was my best friend, my closest member of Black Sabbath - to do the dirty deed. I didn't see him; he was locked away in his room." In the same documentary, Osbourne also states that he knew Iommi had already been talking to Ronnie James Dio, anticipating his departure. Iommi counters in his autobiography, claiming to have been acting on behalf of the other band members in an effort to move things forward, and admits that Don Arden (father of Sharon Arden, Osbourne's future manager and wife) was adamant that Osbourne be reinstated, famously quipping, "You can't have a midget singing for Black Sabbath!' - a derogatory reference to Dio. Ironically, Dio was first introduced to Iommi in 1979 by Sharon Osbourne.[2] Initially, Dio and Iommi discussed forming a new band, not a continuation of Black Sabbath.[2] The pair met again by chance at The Rainbow on Sunset Strip in Los Angeles later that year.[3] Both men were in similar situations, as Dio was seeking a new project and Iommi required a vocalist. Said Dio of the encounter, "It must have been fate, because we connected so instantly."[3] The pair kept in touch via telephone, until Dio arrived at Iommi's Los Angeles house for a relaxed, getting-to-know-you jam session. On that first day, the duo finished the song "Children of the Sea".[3]

Osbourne was famously quoted at the time as saying Dio would need a "bullet-proof vest" to sing with Sabbath on stage and later wrote in his autobiography, "I don't have anything bad to say about the guy they hired to replace me, Ronnie James Dio...He's a great singer. Then again, he ain't me, and I ain't him. So I just wish they'd called the band Black Sabbath II." Speaking to John Stix in 1992, Dio reflected, "I gave them (Sabbath) a level to come up to. They had a singer who sang, not a singer who was a caricature of himself, so that made the band more important."


Black Sabbath's line-up was in chaos prior to the recording of Heaven and Hell. Not only had Osbourne recently been replaced, but drummer Bill Ward was battling personal issues that would see him eventually leave the band. Original demo recordings for the album featured Geoff Nicholls on bass, as Butler was going through a divorce and his future with the band was in question.[3] In fact, when Dio first joined the band he was doubling as bassist and vocalist,[2] having played bass in the band Elf in the early 1970s. At one point Iommi contacted close friend Frank Zappa for help finding a bassist;[2] Zappa offered his bassist for the Heaven and Hell sessions but Iommi preferred a permanent member.[2] Eventually, Butler returned and Nicholls stayed on as the band's unofficial keyboardist.[3] Former Elf andRainbow bassist Craig Gruber also rehearsed with the band during this period, though the true extent of Gruber's involvement is unclear. In a 1996 interview, Iommi stated that Gruber rehearsed with the band only "for a bit".[4] Gruber has stated that his contribution was much more substantial; he claims to have co-written most of Heaven and Hell's songs and that it was actually he and not Butler who played bass on the album.[5] Despite not being credited for his contributions, Gruber claims "we came to a suitable financial arrangement".[5] Iommi later stated in his 2011 autobiography that Gruber did in fact record all the bass parts on the Heaven and Hell album, but that Butler re-recorded the parts upon his return to the band without having listened to Gruber's bass tracks.

Heaven and Hell was recorded at the Criteria Studios in Miami, the same place where the band had recorded Technical Ecstasy. Dio suggested the band hire producer Martin Birch for the album.[3] Birch was the first outside producer the band had used since 1971's Master of Reality, as Iommi had primarily produced the band's albums since that point on his own.[2] Iommi stated that the band felt that they were creating something very special, writing in his memoir that, "Ozzy would sing with the riff. Just listen to 'Iron Man' and you'll catch my drift: his vocal melody line copies the melody of the music. There was nothing wrong with that, but Ronnie liked singing across the riff instead of with it, come up with a melody that was different from that of the music, which musically opens a lot more doors. I don't want to sound like I'm knocking Ozzy, but Ronnie's approach opened up a new way for me to think..." Dio was equally invigorated, explaining to Guitar for the Practicing Musician in 1992 that Sabbath was "the happiest band I'd ever been with in my life" and that it was more fun working with Iommi than his former Rainbow bandmate Ritchie Blackmore because "Tony just played what came off the top of his head. That's why you hear simple heavy riffs like 'Iron Man.' Ritchie would never have done that. That would be too common for Ritchie. Tony just played what came from his heart." As Butler later explained to in 2007, "When Ronnie came in and with him being a lyricist also, he came with a total different attitude so it totally freed me up to concentrate on the music side of it."

Drummer Bill Ward has stated that he has "no memory" of making the album, due in large part to his alcoholism.[6] His behaviour became quite erratic; when the band began touring in support of Heaven And Hell, Ward began dictating long and rambling press releases to the band's public relations representatives after every show, instructing them to "get that out on the news wires tonight".[3] In his autobiography, Iommi recalls that during rehearsals for the album at Barry Gibb's house, Ward would start his day with about ten beers in the morning and his mood would darken as the day went on, to the point where "We'd avoid him by nine or ten o'clock at night, because he would get into a real down state of mind and become aggressive. Meanwhile, his playing was fine." Iommi also recounts several practical jokes that he pulled on his long-suffering bandmate (including setting Ward on fire and causing third-degree burns to his legs), but one particular incident incited an unexpected reaction: he tricked the drummer into calling Alcoholics Anonymous, making him think it was an interview. According to Iommi, "...he freaked out completely. I'd never seen him like that. The phone went up in the air and crashed to the floor. We all fucked off as fast as we could. He didn't take it as a joke at all and was in a terrible mood for ages." Ward's personal issues, which included the deaths of both his parents, would soon force him to leave the band. Dio reportedly answered the telephone in his hotel room one morning mid-tour to hear Ward say "I'm off then, Ron", to which Dio replied "That's nice Bill, where are you going?". "No, I'm off mate. I’m at the airport now...", indicating that he was incapable of completing the tour with the band.[3] American drummer Vinny Appice was quickly brought in to replace him. In the book How Black Was Our Sabbath, Ward's former drum tech Graham Wright recalls speaking to the drummer outside McNichol's Arena in Denver: "I went out to talk to him in the camper van, and I saw a relatively young man, very tired, very drunk and very confused who was nevertheless certain about one thing: he wanted to quit and he did, right there and then." The book also quotes Ward as saying, "After I got sober, I realized that I'd lied to Tony, Geezer, Ozzy and myself. I didn't want to be in a band without Ozzy."


Dio always cited the song "Heaven And Hell" as his over-all personal favorite song of his career, emphasizing to Craig Goldie in 1992, "'Heaven and Hell' will always be my favorite song. 'Children of the Sea' and 'Lonely is a Word' were great songs from the first period together. Although if I had to point to one, it would be 'Heaven and Hell'." In an interview for VH1's Heavy: The Story of Metal, Dio stated that the song is about the ability of each human being to choose between doing good and doing evil, essentially that each person has "heaven and hell" inside themselves. When the song has been performed live by Black Sabbath, Dio or Heaven & Hell, it's usually stretched out with an extended guitar solo, audience participation, ad-libbed lyrics, or additional lyrics regarding angelic and demonic apparitions and personaljudgment. In the liner notes for the 2008 box set The Rules of Hell, Butler says he was "blown away by 'Die Young' when I came back to the band. I wasn't around when it was written, so the whole thing was fresh to me. I couldn't believe my ears!" "Die Young" was performed live during almost all Dio era concerts and later on sometimes with Ian Gillan and Tony Martin on vocals. Iommi customarily plays a lengthy instrumental introductory passage to the song when performing live with heavy atmospheric keyboard backing. Of "Children of the Sea" Dio said, "Tony had this great riff he played me but nothing to go with it. I said, 'Gimme a minute' and went into the corner and started writing down the words." Iommi recalled the moment as a turning point in Black Sabbath's career, recalling to Jon Hotten in 2013, "It was exciting and challenging because we were doing things that quite frankly would have been beyond us with Ozzy. He wasn't that sort of singer." Speaking to Dave Ling in 2008, Dio revealed that "Walk Away" was inspired by his wife and longstanding manager Wendy while "Lady Evil" was about no one in particular, "other than maybe just some old hag who lives in a swamp somewhere." "Neon Knights" was the last song written by the band for the Heaven and Hell album; it was quickly written and recorded at Studio Ferber in Paris simply to fill time on the album's first side. The lyrics were written by Dio. It is the only song on Heaven and Hell to definitely feature songwriting input from bassist Geezer Butler.


The album's cover art was taken from a painting by artist Lynn Curlee, Smoking Angels, inspired by a 1928 photograph of women dressed as angels smoking backstage during a break at a college pageant.[7][8] Curlee was also commissioned to do an album cover for Blue Öyster Cult by Sandy Pearlman, who managed both bands. The album's back cover illustration of the band was drawn by artist Harry Carmean.[9]


Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic [1]
Drowned in Sound 8/10[10]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide [11]
Sputnikmusic (5.0/5)[12]
Martin Popoff [13]

The album was successful, becoming their highest-charting album (No. 9 UK, No. 28 US[14]) since 1975's Sabotage and the third highest-selling album of Black Sabbath behind Paranoid and Master of Reality, respectively. It was eventually certified platinum in 1986 for selling 1 million copies in the United States. In the UK, it became the third Black Sabbath studio album to attain silver certification (60,000 units sold) by the British Phonographic Industry, achieving this in November 1980. It subsequently attained gold certification (100,000 units sold) in April 1982, the only Black Sabbath studio album to be thus certified. Heaven and Hell was re-released as part of the Black Sabbath box set The Rules of Hell in 2008.[15] Greg Prato of AllMusic calls Heaven and Hell "One of Sabbath's finest records" and maintains that the band "sounds reborn and re-energized throughout." Giving the album five stars, Sputnikmusic's Tyler Munro opines, "Musically, the album speeds thing up, while still retaining the Sabbath sound...Complete with a slow plodding bassline and repetitive drumming, the album's title track is quite possibly the best thing Sabbath have ever's one of the best Doom Metal songs ever recorded." calls Heaven and HellSabbath's "most potent offering since Master of Reality." While Dio's addition revitalized Sabbath and brought them a younger, more enthusiastic fan base, there were some critics and listeners who insist Sabbath had been irretrievably altered, with Rolling Stone contending, "Although Dio could belt with the best of them, Sabbath would never be the same." In his autobiography Iommi admits, "We were doing big shows and it was difficult for Ronnie to go out and stand in front of people who had seen Ozzy in that spot for ten years. Some of the kids hated it and they'd shout: 'Ozzy, Ozzy!' But eventually Ronnie won them over." In an interview with Songfacts, former Osbourne guitarist Zakk Wylde of Black Label Society dismisses the idea of the Dio-era being authentic Sabbath: "You listen to Black Sabbath with Ronnie James Dio in it, and it’s not Black Sabbath. They should have just called it Heaven & Hell right from the beginning. Because you listen to that Heaven and Hell album, that doesn’t sound anything close to Black Sabbath. I mean, that sounds about as much like Black Sabbath as Blizzard of Ozz sounds like Black Sabbath. If you were to play Black Sabbath for me — and I’m a huge Sabbath freako — and then with Father Dio over there, I’d be going, 'Oh, cool, what band is this? This is good stuff.' I mean, the songs don’t even sound Black Sabbath-y. I mean, 'Neon Knights,' could you picture Ozzy singing over that song?"

Track listing[edit]Edit

All music written and arranged by ButlerDioIommi, and Ward; lyrics by Dio[9]

Side one
No. Title Length
1. "Neon Knights"   3:53
2. "Children of the Sea"   5:34
3. "Lady Evil"   4:26
4. "Heaven and Hell"   6:59
Side two
No. Title Length
5. "Wishing Well"   4:07
6. "Die Young"   4:45
7. "Walk Away"   4:25
8. "Lonely Is the Word"   5:51

2010 deluxe edition[edit]Edit

Disc one contains the original album with no bonus tracks.

Disc two
No. Title Original release Length
1. "Children of the Sea"   "Neon Knights" live B-side 6:24
2. "Heaven and Hell"   "Die Young" live B-side 7:19
3. "Lady Evil"   Mono Edit, 7" Single 3:54
4. "Neon Knights"   Live, Hartford, CT, 1980 4:49
5. "Children of the Sea"   Live, Hartford, CT, 1980 5:58
6. "Heaven and Hell"   Live, Hartford, CT, 1980 & 12" single version 12:34
7. "Die Young"   Live, Hartford, CT, 1980 4:36


Year Song Chart positions
US Singles Chart UK Singles Chart
"Neon Knights" 22
"Children of the Sea"
"Die Young" 41


Black Sabbath
Additional performer

Release history[edit]Edit

Region Date Label
United Kingdom 1980 Vertigo Records
United States 1980 Warner Bros. Records
United Kingdom 1996 Castle Communications
United Kingdom 2004 Sanctuary Records
United States 2008 Rhino Records


RIAA certification[16] (United States)

Date Designation Total Sales
6 January 1981 Gold 500,000
13 May 1986 Platinum 1,000,000

BPI certification[17] (United Kingdom)

Date Designation Total Sales
4 November 1980 Silver 60,000
28 April 1982 Gold 100,000

CRIA certification[18] (Canada)

Date Designation Total Sales
1 June 1982 Gold 50,000


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