For the many of life-long SABBATH-fans the leaving of Ozzy was too much to bear and his replacement was not going to get an easy time of it. Try filling the shoes of the guy who sang "Paranoid" and "War Pigs"! However SABBATH not only replaced the Oz-man, but also delivered their strongest and most acclaimed album in years.
So in steps one Ronnie James Dio whose earlier stint with Blackmore in RAINBOW was considered to be a risky step. But as fate would have it Dio was not only a better singer, but could add more scope and new emotion to the old SABBATH-classics and the songs on "Heaven And Hell". He also took on board much of the lyric writing that had been left to Butler in the past.
"Neon Knights" is straight out of Iommi's riff master catalogue and opens the album to quickly dispel the myth that SABBATH could be losing direction. "Children Of The Sea", "Lady Evil" and the tectonic "Heaven And Hell" featuring another of Iommi's most enduring riffs are all true SABBATH-classics and propelled the band on from the disillusionment of the "Never Say Die"-period.
There is no doubt that Dio was a technical gifted and far superior vocalist to Ozzy, but still had to fight to claim his place as band front man. He did these more than admirably and looking back on this album, now some 20 years old, the closing tracks on the record are as strong as any on the previous Ozzy-albums. Particularly "Die Young" and "Lonely Is The Word" with its ultra-heavy riff and great vocal performance from the new man; were showing SABBATH's new more commercial metallic direction.