It's taken me a bit of time to review this historic piece - MK II SABBATH's first live album - because I've been thrashing away on my guitar aiming to compete with the riff meister Iommi and may I add totally unsuccessfully!
Let's be honest the man put the Metal in Heavy Metal. It wasn't Blackmore; it wasn't Page nor indeed Hendrix or Townsend it was Tony Iommi and to this day the man a SABBATH's music has still to be beaten.
"Live Evil" was SABBATH's first official live album and superseded the dreadful and dull "Live At Last" from 1980. "Live Evil" is a band at the top of their game proving there was much more to the SABBATH name than Ozzy Osbourne. The sound is powerful and fresh the playing tight and supremely heavy.
SABBATH fronted by Ronnie James Dio, Iommi, Geezer Butler on bass and the Bill Ward replacement Vinnie Appice on drums joined forces and delivered the next best thing to actually attending a SABBATH show.
The sledgehammer riff that initiates the arrival of "Neon Nights" is intense. Just feel the power as Iommi welcomes you to the show. Next up "N.I.B", "Children Of The Sea", "Voodoo" and an eerily heavy and depressing "Black Sabbath", "War Pigs" and "Iron Man" all floor the expectant crowd with Heavy Metal hysteria.
Far from trying to sound like Ozzy Dio goes one better and turns the Ozzy period songs into more of a theatre type affair lending his own unique voice to expand the darkness and bleakness of Iommi's monster riffs.
The mixture of MK 1 and Mk II SABBATH continues with "The Mob Rules", the mighty "Heaven And Hell", a lengthy sojourn through "The Sign Of The Southern Cross" then back to the climax of "Heaven And Hell" followed by the expected "Paranoid" - again sung very well by Dio and the show closes with a tectonic plate moving "Children Of The Grave" and whilst the music fades into the memory the haunting finger picking of the acoustic "Fluff" serenades the exhausted crowd home.
Shortly after this release Dio was to quit and take Appice with him to form DIO who brought us the excellent "Holy Diver" to much critical acclaim and ironically BLACK SABBATH, that had given Dio so much solid grounding, was to struggle through many difficult and lean years to come. (Online May 31, 2003)