Heaven and Hell (Black Sabbath album)

Heaven and Hell is the ninth studio album by Black Sabbath, released in 1980.

This is their first album featuring Ronnie James Dio, and first with producer Martin Birch.

Album information

Heaven and Hell became one of Black Sabbath's best-selling albums, revitalising Sabbath's fortunes after what many saw as the death of the group following Ozzy's departure.

The album was released in the Black Sabbath box set The Rules of Hell.

Lineup changes

This was the first album after singer Ozzy Osbourne was fired from the band and replaced with Ronnie James Dio. Geoff Nicholls of Quartz also joined the band as a possible replacement for Geezer Butler who had not been around through most of the writing sessions and was going through a divorce at the time. When Butler decided to stay with the group, Nicholls switched to keyboards. Nicholls remained as Black Sabbath's keyboard player for over twenty years, usually playing live shows from off-stage.

Drummer Bill Ward completed this album, but drinking and other personal factors would eventually lead him to drop out of the subsequent tour. His mid-tour replacement Vinny Appice would become an official member.

Writing and composition

The exact origins of much of this album's material is still a topic of debate. Ozzy apparently attempted to record some of what would become "Heaven and Hell" before being fired; all of this material was scrapped. Sabbath had in fact begun demoing material with singer Dio before Ozzy was formally fired.

The song "Children of the Sea" was written by Dio and Iommi during their very first session. When Butler returned to the recording studio, all but one track ("Neon Knights") had already been written for the album. Former Elf and Rainbow bassist Craig Gruber was said to have been brought in temporarily for these sessions, and rumours were circulated (although recently dispelled by Iommi) that it was Gruber who actually played on the album.

Bill Ward says he has "no memory" of making the album, due in part to his alcoholism. It is unclear how much of the album, if any, was actually written by bassist Geezer Butler or drummer Bill Ward.


The album's cover art was taken from a painting by artist Lynn Curlee, entitled "Smoking Angels". Curlee was also commissioned to do an album cover for Blue Öyster Cult by Sandy Pearlman who was at the time manager of both Black Sabbath and Blue Öyster Cult.


The album was quite successful, becoming their highest charting album (#9 UK, #28 USA) since 1975's Sabotage. Ronnie James Dio himself cites the title track as his over-all personal favourite song of his career, the one of which he feels most proud.

Track listing

All songs are credited (writing and arrangement) to Ronnie James Dio, Tony Iommi, Bill Ward and Geezer Butler. Lyrics by Ronnie James Dio.

Side one

  1. "Neon Knights" – 3:49
  2. "Children of the Sea" – 5:30
  3. "Lady Evil" – 4:22
  4. "Heaven and Hell" – 6:56

Side two

  1. "Wishing Well" – 4:02
  2. "Die Young" – 4:41
  3. "Walk Away" – 4:21
  4. "Lonely is the Word" – 5:49

Track information

"Children of the Sea"

This was the first song written by the new line-up of Sabbath and resulted from an impromptu jam session with Ronnie James Dio shortly before he joined the band.

"Heaven and Hell"

The title track was written mainly by Tony Iommi, but credit is given to the entire band. The lyrics, written entirely by Dio. In Metal: A Headbanger's Journey, Dio explains the song is about how every individual has "heaven and hell" inside them self, as well the ability and the choice whether to choose good or evil.

In live performances by Black Sabbath or Dio, the song is usually stretched out with extended guitar solos, audience participation, and new or ad libbed lyrics. When Ian Gillan was in the band "Heaven and Hell" featured on the US Tour and was included in the RKO "Captured Live" performance. Tony Martin also sang the song live with Black Sabbath as well as with his solo band.

The song is featured on the soundtrack for the 2007 movie Halloween and the 2008 video game Grand Theft Auto IV.


Year Song Chart positions
US Singles Chart US Mainstream Rock US Modern Rock UK Singles Chart
1980 "Neon Knights" - #17 - #22
"Heaven and Hell" - - - -
"Children of the Sea" - - - -
"Die Young" - - - #41



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



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