Heaven and Hell (Black Sabbath album)

Heaven and Hell is the ninth studio album by English rock 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, and was certified platinum for 1 million sales in the United States alone.[1] In the band's native country, it sold well enough to be certified silver by the British Phonographic Industry in April 1982.

Heaven and Hell
Black Sabbath Heaven and Hell
Studio album by Black Sabbath
Released25 April 1980
RecordedOctober 1979 – January 1980
StudioCriteria Recording Studios, Miami, Florida
Studio Ferber, Paris, France
GenreHeavy metal
Warner Bros. (US/Canada)
ProducerMartin Birch
Black Sabbath chronology
Never Say Die!
Heaven and Hell
Mob Rules
Ronnie James Dio chronology
Long Live Rock 'n' Roll
Heaven and Hell
Mob Rules
Singles from Heaven and Hell
  1. "Neon Knights"
    Released: July 1980
  2. "Die Young"
    Released: December 1980


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 described in his autobiography as a "highly frustrating, never-ending process". In his own autobiography, 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 behaviour". In his memoir, Iommi revealed that he still has a tape featuring Osbourne singing an early version of what would become the song "Children of the Sea" with a different lyric and a totally different vocal melody.

Ronnie James Dio was first introduced to Iommi in 1979 by Sharon Arden, who would later marry the band's then-recently fired vocalist Osbourne.[2] Initially, Dio and Iommi discussed forming a new band, rather than 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] a song Iommi had abandoned prior to Osbourne's firing.

Black Sabbath's line-up was in chaos leading up to the recording of Heaven and Hell. Not only had the band recently replaced its lead vocalist, 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 longtime bassist Geezer 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 doubled 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 and Rainbow bassist Craig Gruber also rehearsed with the band during this period, though the 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 says he co-wrote most of Heaven and Hell's songs and that it was he and not Butler who played bass on the album.[5] Despite not being credited for his contributions, Gruber asserted, "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.

Black Sabbath Cardiff 1981
Black Sabbath performing in Cardiff in 1981

Heaven and Hell was recorded at the Criteria Studios in Miami (the same studio in which the band had recorded Technical Ecstasy) and Studio Ferber in Paris. 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 ..."

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] 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. As such, the Heaven and Hell album represents the only material recorded by Dio-era Black Sabbath/the Heaven and Hell band that does not have Appice on drums.


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
AllMusic4.5/5 stars[1]
Drowned in Sound8/10[10]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide4/5 stars[11]
Martin Popoff10/10 stars[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] In 2017, it was ranked 37th at Rolling Stone's "100 Greatest Metal Albums of All Time".[16]

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 done ... it's one of the best doom metal songs ever recorded."

While Dio's addition revitalised 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?" Regardless of what Ozzy loyalists thought, Sabbath was back, with Mick Wall noting in his book Black Sabbath: Symptom of the Universe: "For once their timing was spot on. In Britain, Sounds magazine had begun championing a new musical phenomenon it dubbed 'The New Wave of British Heavy Metal' ... The reborn Black Sabbath, with their glistening new sound, incomparable new singer and top-drawer new album, were seen as part of a widespread revival in rock fandom."

Track listing

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

Side one
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
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

Disc one contains the original album with no bonus tracks.

Disc two
No.TitleOriginal releaseLength
1."Children of the Sea""Neon Knights" live B-side6:24
2."Heaven and Hell""Die Young" live B-side7:19
3."Lady Evil"Mono Edit, 7" Single3:54
4."Neon Knights"Live, Hartford, CT, 19804:49
5."Children of the Sea"Live, Hartford, CT, 19805:58
6."Heaven and Hell"Live, Hartford, CT, 1980 & 12" single version12:34
7."Die Young"Live, Hartford, CT, 19804:36


Year Song Chart positions
US Singles Chart UK Singles Chart
"Neon Knights" 22
"Die Young" 41


Black Sabbath
Additional performer

Release history

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[17] (United States)

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

BPI certification[18] (United Kingdom)

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

CRIA certification[19] (Canada)

Date Designation Total Sales
1 June 1982 Gold 50,000


  • Queensrÿche covered "Neon Knights" on their 2007 album Take Cover.
  • Iron Savior covered "Neon Knights" on their 1998 album, Unification.
  • "Heaven and Hell" was covered by American doom metal band Solitude Aeturnus on their album Adagio, and by San Diego-based band Benedictum on their debut album, Uncreation (which also featured a cover of Black Sabbath's "The Mob Rules").
  • "Heaven and Hell" is briefly covered acoustically by Tenacious D for Dio's "Push" music video. At the beginning of the video, Jack Black and Kyle Gass are shown standing on a sidewalk busking and singing "Heaven and Hell" with a few alternate lyrics. They stop when Dio walks up to them and tells them that he'll pay them if they would just play some Tenacious D songs.
  • Jørn Lande covers "Lonely Is the Word" on his album Unlocking the Past.
  • Stryper covered "Heaven and Hell" on their 2011 album, The Covering.
  • Following Dio's death in 2010, Machine Head's Robb Flynn recorded an acoustic version of "Die Young".
  • The heavy metal band Manowar covered "Heaven and Hell" on the 2010 album Magic: A Tribute to Ronnie James Dio.
  • Elis covered "Heaven and Hell" on an extended edition of their album "Griefshire". The album was already produced when suddenly their singer Sabine Dünser died.

See also


  1. ^ a b Prato, Greg. "Black Sabbath: Heaven and Hell at AllMusic. Retrieved 24 September 2011.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Iommi, Tony (2011). Iron Man: My Journey Through Heaven and Hell with Black Sabbath. Da Capo Press. ISBN 978-0306819551.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h Hotten, Jon. "The Dio Years" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 24 January 2009. Retrieved 13 June 2013.
  4. ^ "The Iron Man Speaks". black-sabbath.com. March 1996. Archived from the original on 10 September 2011. Retrieved 14 September 2011.
  5. ^ a b Dome, Malcolm (1 October 2009). "Craig Gruber: 'I Played On The Heaven & Hell Album'". Classic Rock Magazine. Retrieved 13 June 2013.
  6. ^ Brien, Jeb (producer/director); Hardiman, Monica (producer/director) (1999). Black Sabbath: the Last Supper (Documentary/Concert). Automatic Productions.
  7. ^ Time-Life Books: This Fabulous Century 1920–1930, pg. 200
  8. ^ Black Sabbath Online (http://www.black-sabbath.com/2008/12/lynn curlee interview)
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Heaven and Hell (CD) album notes. Warner Bros. Records, Inc. 1980. pp. 2–3.
  10. ^ Stannard, Joseph (8 April 2010). "Black Sabbath: Heaven and Hell; Mob Rules; Live Evil (remastered)". Drowned in Sound. Retrieved 24 September 2011.
  11. ^ "Black Sabbath: Album Guide". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 5 June 2012.
  12. ^ Munro, Tyler (15 August 2006). "Black Sabbath: Heaven and Hell". Sputnikmusic. Retrieved 24 September 2011.
  13. ^ Popoff, Martin (1 November 2005). The Collector's Guide to Heavy Metal: Volume 2: The Eighties. Burlington, Ontario, Canada: Collector's Guide Publishing. ISBN 978-1-894959-31-5.
  14. ^ "Heaven and Hell: Charts & Awards > Billboard Albums" at AllMusic. Retrieved 30 January 2009.
  15. ^ Welte, Jim (22 April 2008). "Legends align for Metal Masters Tour". MP3.com. Archived from the original on 24 April 2008. Retrieved 23 April 2008.
  16. ^ Greene, Andy (21 June 2017). "100 Greatest Metal Albums of All Time". Rolling Stone. Wenner Media LLC. Retrieved 21 June 2017.
  17. ^ "American album certifications – Black Sabbath – Heaven and Hell". Recording Industry Association of America. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH. 
  18. ^ "British album certifications – Black Sabbath – Heaven and Hell". British Phonographic Industry. Select albums in the Format field. Type Heaven and Hell in the "Search BPI Awards" field and then press Enter.
  19. ^ "Canadian album certifications – Black Sabbath – Heaven & Hell". Music Canada.

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