Heaven & Hell was Black Sabbath’s ninth studio album released back on the brink of the glossy-eyed 1980s on the 25th of April 1980.
The album heralded in the new decade with typically polished stylings, representing a slight departure for Sabbath’s usually more distorted tones. Now, in a demo unearthed from the 1979 pre-production rehearsals, that grimier sound has returned with a recording of the albums title track.
The release comes through an unlikely source. Keyboardist Geoff Nichols is considered by many to be the fifth member of Black Sabbath although he never appeared on stage with the band until the fall of the ’80s, opting instead to pound the keys off-stage. He was, however, an integral part of the bands sound and his playing features on a vast chunk of the albums.
Now for the first time, this early demo has surfaced feature Nichols playing base, following a discovery of the unheard tape by Nichols stepson and estate executor, Gary Rees.
The tape laying amidst a vast archive of dusty old ‘forgotten-abouts’ hints that more such demos may be forthcoming. As Rees states, “I have uploaded the most complete version closest to the album version. This recording, in my opinion, is from July 1979 in their rented house in Bel Air, California. On And On Heaven And Hell may have been the original working title.”
Although the album Heaven & Hell may have been a contested note for some as it was the first without the iconic frontman Ozzy Osbourne, Ronnie James Dio stepped up admirably and to fill rather enormous shoes and the album went on to go platinum.
Stream the song, below.