Black Sabbath The Dio Years

It’s relatively difficult to screw up a collection of material from one of the masters of heavy metal. As long as you pepper the disc with hits and fan favourites, it’s a winning situation that even allows room for the band to throw in a vanity track or two. Naturally, such is the case with The Dio Years, a compilation of Black Sabbath material that obviously honours the band’s time with second front-man Ronnie James Dio. As expected, the track listing features the likes of "Neon Knights,” "Heaven And Hell,” "Mob Rules” and more. There’s no surprise or upset in this case so the question naturally falls to the validity of new recordings "The Devil Cried,” "Shadow Of The Wind” and "Ear In The Wall.” Do they hold a candle to the band’s decades-old classics? The answer is a surprising yes. All of Dio’s bravado in Metal: A Headbanger’s Journey was quite justified. He coolly croons and wails away over guitarist Tony Iommi’s guitar, which is a feast of meaty, distorted blues. Equally impressive, Vinny Appice treats his drums like a punching bag, keeping a looming, ominous pace, while Geezer Butler wanks his bass like a madman. One almost hopes that this is the only new music Black Sabbath will deliver for a long time so as not to tarnish their "gods of the underworld” status. (Warner)