When this album was released; good old Heavy Metal wasn't in its glory days. MAIDEN were in the worst part of their career, with Bruce leaving around this time. METALLICA had turned real crap and there just weren't classics released like in the 70's and 80's. It was of course a good time for Extreme Metal. And of course there were some exceptions to the rule; JUDAS PRIEST released their smashing "Painkiller" album only a few years before SABBATH's "Dehumanizer" hit the stores, which is the other exception in my opinion.
The line-up on this album is the same as on "The Mob Rules", with the mighty Ronnie James Dio on vocals. Now in-between "The Mob Rules" and this album, SABBATH had three singers singing for them, including legends as Glenn Hughes and Ian Gillan and most important, Tony Martin. But the success SABBATH had with these incarnations wasn't that big, even though the quality was present. And thus Iommi and Butler decided to reunite with Dio for at least one album. Dio had been working on his solo project in-between and also released numerous classics. "Dehumanizer" is the result.
Already after the first listen one should realise that this is one of the heaviest if not THE heaviest SABBATH albums ever. Only "Born Again" is another contender. Iommi's riffs kick major ass and Dio has adapted a really raw vocal style for this album, moreso then on his other SABBATH albums and certainly different from his RAINBOW years. A pleasant suprise here is that Dio wrote most of the lyrics and they aren't about Rainbows and Wizards for once! In fact, they are futuristic and more reality based. Opener "Computer God" is a superb song, starts of as a mid tempo song and near the end with the guitar solo it's a pretty fast song, with an amazing vocal delivery by Ronnie. "After All (The Dead), "Letters from Earth", "Master Of Insanity" and "Too Late are all great slow and pounding Doom songs, with very impressive heavy riffing, great vocals and a very heavy and tight rhythm section by Geezer Butler and Vinny Appice. The latter is really doing some great work on this album by the way, while I think that "The Mob Rules" would have been better with Bill Ward on it; here Appice gives a great performance, in his heavy style, without too many fills in it.
A song that doesn't quite follow the typical slow style, is "TV Crimes", a real favourite of mine. Without a doubt the fastest song from the band ever. It's a short track but heavy as hell, again some great lyrics here. Other outstanding tracks are fan-favourite "I", which sounds a bit like DIO's later albums and "Sins Of The Father" which is a bit reminiscent of 70's SABBATH. The song "Time Machine" was even used in a movie called Wayne's World, albeit in an edited version, which is a bonus track on the American version. It's a good song, but probably the most commercial sounding.
Most people will probably consider this the least good album of SABBATH with Dio. But it certainly ain't bad. I will always love this album, also because it is so damn heavy. And what band can top classics like "Heaven And Hell" and its successor ten years later? Unfortunately, Dio got into a conflict with Iommi and Butler near the end of the “Dehumanizer” Tour, because Dio did not want to open for his rival Ozzy Osbourne, who was on one of them fake "farewell tours". This did lead however to 2 shows being fronted by PRIEST's Rob Halford, not the worst stand-in one could imagine. After the split, Dio and Appice reformed DIO once more and SABBATH got Tony Martin back for two more studio efforts. It is a shame we will never see a SABBATH with Dio again, because they released some of the finest Metal ever! (Online March 5, 2005)