Ozzy Osbourne-era Black Sabbath were doom-metal pioneers, specializing in dark, apocalyptic blues at a time when peace and love reigned. Upon Ozzy's departure and Ronnie James Dio's arrival, the band's sound moved deeper into mainstream hard-rock territory. It was only after Dio embarked on a solo career that the baddest little man in metal nurtured his musical aggression. When he returned to Sabbath with 1992's underappreciated Dehumanizer, the band's doomier roots were on full display, resulting in the last necessary Sabbath document.
Due to legal wrangling on Ozzy's part, a Dio-fronted Sabbath has to work under the name Heaven and Hell (the title of a Dio/Iommi composition). Which is exactly what the band delivers—awesomely heavy riffs (heaven), with all of them sounding similar (hell).
Opener "Atom and Evil" is one of those terrific nuke-warning dirges Sabbath once specialized in (the line "someday you can cry for everyone / who burned when you were clever" is particularly haunting), but by the time the second, plodding track, "Fear," stumbles forward, it's clear Heaven and Hell is giving old-school fans exactly what they want: slow metal.
"Eating the Cannibals" is the only full-throttle number, yet it, too, is hamstrung by a weak chorus. Perhaps the band should've gone with an outside producer or, better yet, crafted an album wherein each song possessed unique sonic qualities.