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The Friday Morning Listen: Black Sabbath – Dehumanizer

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I have this weird form of synesthesia related to our yearly calendar. When looking back at the previous year from the view point of the start of the new, time looks like a jagged and gnarled landscape. Looking forward though, I see a relatively smooth surface, much like those long and sandy slopes found in the Sahara desert. Is this because I perceive the challenges endured as a series of ordeals? Yes, that's about right. The mind can inflate the stresses encountered until they appear as insurmountable objects.

But then, what's with the relative calm of the desert sands? Hope, I suppose. With nothing (yet!) imposing on time's horizon, it's easy to look forward and see tranquil contours.

Or… my brain just gets a lot of enjoyment out of odd juxtapositions of things. That would explain why, well into the Thanksgiving season and beyond, the torturous sounds of Black Sabbath could be heard emanating from my car and home stereo, as well as my work computer earbuds. Here we have "the holiday season" cranking itself up all around me… while I have Ronnie James Dio, Tony Iommi & company making sheer aural blasphemy. I just couldn't help myself as I'd recently discovered a third record (the first two being Heaven and Hell and The Mob Rules) done by Sabbath with Dio as front man.

Hey, it wouldn't be the first time I've gone for this sort of thing. In fact, my first and only concert experience with Black Sabbath had an element of the bizarre. We of course were looking forward to Sabbath, riding high on the sonic wave of Heaven and Hell. The warmup act was to be the British metal band Riot. They were something of an unknown quantity but the song "Swords & Tequila" from their Fire Down Under record had us salivating.

So there we were, hunkered down on the wooden bleachers of the lovely Bangor Auditorium. At some point, there was an announcement stating that Riot would not be playing that evening. The band had not made it into the country for reasons that are unclear to me now. It must not have been all that exotic of a problem or it would be part of the story. "Band misses Sabbath show after private jet pilot mistakes Nova Scotia for Maine. Drug use involved." Nah, nothing like that.

As a last minute replacement for Riot, we had a band called The Dogs. Given the time frame, you might think that a band with such a name was of the punkish/hardcore variety… and you would be wrong. The Dogs were closer to Cheap Trick, but with more Beatles tendencies and less heavy guitar. I actually liked The Dogs (and still have two of their albums) but, oh my, it was not good. Fans at heavy metal shows can be unkind to the openers and no exception was made here. The boos. The bellows of "Sabbath!!!". The shouts of "Get the f**k off the stage!!!" Not good at all.

After that set of torture, Black Sabbath did finally come out and present, with crushing authority, much of the Heaven and Hell record along with other assorted Sabbath tunes. Pretty glorious, it was… even if it took some time to get used to that huge rock voice coming out of that little Ronnie James Dio body. Yes, many "devil horns" symbols were flashed. Yes, the giant cross made an appearance during "Black Sabbath" (and I'm fairly certain I hadn't seen This Is Spinal Tap yet, so that effect didn't seem goofy).

Admittedly, this music is an odd accompaniment to the velvet time landscape stretching out before me today. In my mind, the chords travel out to infinity, there being no obstructions to produce even the slightest echo. Don't worry though, something is always on the horizon.

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About Mark Saleski

  • http://www.djradiohead.com DJRadiohead

    I am reminded of an Oasis album title when I read this: Heathen Chemistry. Dio, Sabbath, and Thanksgiving/Christmas. That is a tremendous juxtaposition.

    I’ve been known to boo an opening act or two in my day.

  • Mark Saleski

    yea, the early 70’s with all of those Bill Graham odd multi-bills…are gone.

  • http://www.lookoutforhope.com Tom Johnson

    I might just get myself banned from the Metal Club, but the post-Ozzy Sabbath was the only Sabbath I ever cared for. I remember loving the albums with Tony Martin singing – The Headless Cross especially.

    I’ve been meaning to pick up the Dio/Sabbath discs again for years. I haven’t heard them in ages, probably since around the time Dehumanizer came out, actually. Dio’s just freakin’ cool – little dude that that voice and his big swords-and-capes fetish. You’ve gotta love him.

  • Mark Saleski

    woa! not even the first record? yow.

  • Brian aka Guppusmaximus

    Holy Christ! You’re kidding when you say that you just heard Dehumanizer,right? Honestly, you can’t get any heavier with a Dio or Black Sabbath album…Well maybe Strange Highways. Dehumanizer was akick in the pants back then for metal and for a Black Sabbath release, it was awesome!
    Hey, Tom, you wouldn’t be banned from my Metal Club as I think most stuff from Ozzy including his days with Sabbath are highly overrated. RJD has that awesome voice for metal and his solo work alone kills anything that Ozzy came out with especially the album Holy Diver.

  • Mark Saleski

    i’m tellin’ ya…somehow, the release of Dehumanizer flew completely under my radar.

  • Brian aka Guppusmaximus

    Well, I’m glad that you have found the light,Mark…*Smirk*

    Seriously, I give you credit for covering such an awesome album.

  • Mark Saleski

    i think what happened was that i was with ‘em right up to and including Live Evil and then went straight to my jazz snob phase.

  • reborn rolla

    Dio is the best heavy metal singer of all time.
    Despite the little body snafu, this was an ok topic read.