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Revisit Black Sabbath’s “mystical” sound with deluxe reissues of Ronnie James Dio-era albums

This Friday, Black Sabbath will release deluxe reissues of 1980’s Heaven and Hell and 1981’s Mob Rules, the iconic metal band’s first two albums with new lead singer Ronnie James Dio.

Dio had joined Sabbath in place of Ozzy Osbourne, who was fired from the group in 1979. While Osbourne’s vocals perfectly reflected humanity’s darkness in songs including “Iron Man,” “War Pigs” and “Paranoid,” Dio’s brought a more fantastical aspect to Sabbath with a voice that sounded like it came from a world of elves and fairies.

“It was more mystical,” guitarist Tony Iommi says of Dio’s vocals. “Definitely a different approach altogether into the mystical side of it, absolutely.”

Dio was not only a much different kind of singer than Osbourne, but he was also a much different kind of songwriter.

“Ozzy really didn’t get involved in the musical side of it that much,” Iommi recalls. “We would sort of play something, and Ozzy would sing to it. I would jam along and play, and Ozzy would sing a melody line, and that was his way of sort of working, really.”

“With Ronnie, I could actually sit down and we could exchange ideas, ’cause Ronnie also was a musician,” he continues. “That’s no disrespect to Ozzy, ’cause it was great what he had done. But, it was just two different ways.”

Dio left Sabbath after Mob Rules to form his namesake band, but returned in the early ’90s. In 2006, Dio and Iommi formed the band Heaven & Hell with bassist Geezer Butler and Mob Rules drummer Vinny Appice. The group put out one album, and toured up until Dio’s untimely death in 2010.

Had Dio not passed, Iommi believes Heaven & Hell would’ve continued.

“I think we probably would have done another album and more touring,” he says. 

By Josh Johnson
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