Black Sabbath: Ronnie James Dio (vocals); Tony Iommi (guitar); Geezer Butler (bass); Bill Ward (drums).
Additional personnel: Geoff Nicholls (keyboards).
Recorded at Criteria Recording Studios, Miami, Florida and Studio Ferber, Paris, France.
While Black Sabbath remained one of heavy metal's top concert draws throughout the late '70s, the band's albums of the era proved to not be on par with its earlier work. This creative weakness was what caused vocalist Ozzy Osbourne to split from the band in 1979 to launch a highly successful solo career. Sabbath used the opportunity to refocus its direction, eventually replacing the group's batty frontman with ex-Rainbow member Ronnie James Dio. The new line-up's first album, 1980's HEAVEN AND HELL, proved to be Black Sabbath's most successful (both commercially and artistically) in a long time. The opening number, "Neon Knights," remains one of Sabbath's most ferocious, while "Children of the Sea" alternates between dark, brooding metal and a gentle melodicism that's stressed even further on "Lady Evil" and "Die Young."