Black Sabbath

Dehumanizer

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Sabbath and Dio were dealing with a dwindling fan base, unsuccessful albums, and a longstanding creative rut when they decided to reunite the Mob Rules lineup. In a perfect world, they would have created a monster of an album and shot back into the limelight with a vengeance. But with ten-year-old internal tensions still gnawing away at the band, they hastily created Dehumanizer, a weird side note in their long history. Ronnie James Dio delivers his strongest performance since the early '80s, and hearing Geezer Butler and Tony Iommi play together after nine years is inspiring. But they cannot seem to overcome the challenge of crafting classic Sabbath material, and it is this issue that haunts the recording from moment one. "Sins of the Father" is a good example; they attempt a "Children of the Sea"-type slow jam with the same ringing guitar and up-tempo vocals, but the hook is just not there and the band sounds like its creative wheels are spinning in place. The bandmembers do craft enough good riffs to make songs like "Time Machine" and "After All (The Dead)" at least sound interesting, but they don't deliver a "Heaven and Hell" or "E5150" like they could have. And instead of Butler's classic doom-laden lyrics making their triumphant return, Dio takes on the writing duties and manages to pen some true stinkers. "Computer God," "TV Crimes," and "Master of Insanity" are all decent songs that are tanked by his cheesy "contempt for humanity" lyrics. At least he doesn't sing about dragons, but it wouldn't be that much worse than what is here. Dehumanizer isn't terrible, but it should have been the sign for the band to call it a career. Instead, Dio split when he refused to open shows for Ozzy Osbourne's retirement tour; they used Judas Priest singer Rob Halford for a few shows, and then everyone left but Iommi and Butler, who stayed on to paste a new lineup back together for the marginally better Cross Purposes.

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