Time does heal some things.
One of these is the caution I often display when first listening to new or changed personnel in pivotal roles in bands I really like. Like Black Sabbath that isn’t Ozzy, Tony, Geezer and Bill. I’ve spoken about this in my ‘Cross Purposes’ review here, so won’t get into this again unless coaxed.
When ‘Dehumanizer’ was released in 1992, I also didn’t quite get it. Often with the personnel changes also come stylistic changes, and this change (technically a reformation, but that’s not important for now) seemed odd. It sounded tinny, and bass heavy. No actual mid-range work to give the bass drone and treble pitches their place.
The version of this album I got was the 2011 re-issue with the bonus disc of live material from that era. These live recordings are great. They seem to take the awkward edge off the studio work and add just the right amount of cohesion to generate a suitable amount of appreciation from me for them. This has enabled me to listen to the original album with a slightly changed aural attitude.
The album still doesn’t flow well, but I haven’t tried changing the track order to make it work better yet. The songs are good. They’re heavy and powerful. Tony Iommi’s guitar is menacing. Geezer Butler’s bass is as doom-ridden and active as it is at his best. Dio’s vocals are really good. Relaxed and flowing, but with a little grit replacing the high end of his ‘Mob Rules’-era soar. The slight let-down is Vinny Appice’s drum sound. A big cardboard box comes to mind. It’s probably not as bad as I it might sound like I’m making it out to be, but it has remained a slight agitation for me.
Production was done by Reinhold Mack, who has many years of very creditworthy of work on his list of achievements, but may not be accurately matched for this kind of heavy.
This should be listened to at high volume, with lots of space in the room for air guitar, air drumming and vocalist posturing. You’ll feel brilliantly rejuvenated if can just let it all go for 53 minutes.
Worth a long drive into the country with a good boom box or audio set-up in your car if you don’t have a large enough room at home.
‘Master Of Insanity’
‘Letters From Earth’
Ill-conceived video for ‘T. V. Crimes’
‘I’ performed live by the same line-up - as Heaven and Hell - in 2009
Geezer Butler, Ronnie James Dio, Tony Iommi and Vinnie Appice as Black Sabbath
Photo by Mark Weiss - used without express permission
PS. I’ve just worked out a possible improvement for the track order.
1. Time Machine
2. Master Of Insanity
3. Buried Alive
4. Letters From Earth
5. Computer God
6. Too Late
7. Sins Of The Father
8. T. V. Crimes
9. After All (The Dead)
(Images used for illustrative purposes and without express permission. If you’d like to object to their use, or give permission for their use - please let me know.)