Happy 25th: Black Sabbath, DEHUMANIZER
25 years ago today, Black Sabbath released their 16th studio album, an effort made particularly notable by being the first LP by the band to feature Ronnie James Dio on vocals in more than a decade.
“After Ronnie departed back in 1982, we didn’t speak for many years,” wrote Tony Iommi, in his memoir Iron Man. “It wasn’t like there was a lot of bad blood, but it was just a little uncomfortable. And he and Vinny were off doing the Dio stuff and they were doing quite well with it, so it was highly unlikely that we were going to team up again. But one day Geezer [Butler] got on stage at one of Ronnie’s shows and played on ‘Neon Knights’ with them. They hadn’t seen each other for ages and got on really well. Geezer said to me, ‘It was really good. It felt great to play with Ronnie again.’ When I saw Ronnie, again, we talked about doing a lineup.”
Recorded at Rockfield Studios in Wales, DEHUMANIZER wasn’t just a reunion with Dio, it was also a reunion with Vinnie Appice, who’d been MIA from behind the band’s drum kit for more than 10 years himself. That didn’t happen immediately, however, as Black Sabbath had been contemplating using Cozy Powell. This didn’t go down swimmingly with Dio in the picture: despite – or possibly because of – having been in Rainbow together, the two gentlemen didn’t really get along. While it’s hard to use the phrase “fortunately” when detailing this next bit, it must be said that, when Powell suffered an equestrian accident (his horse had a heart attack and fell on him), it made it much easier for Appice to step back into the band.
The album was recorded in just six weeks, and it sold relatively well, hitting #44 on the Billboard 200 and #28 on the UK Albums chart, but Iommi admitted in his memoir that the band had expected it to do better, given how long it had been since this lineup of the band had been together. Still, it did score a minor hit single in the UK with “TV Crimes,” and although the reunion proved to be a one-album wonder (by 1994’s CROSS PURPOSES, Tony Martin was back fronting the band), it wasn’t the last the world would hear from this lineup: in 2006, they regrouped as Heaven & Hell.