Zakk Wylde Says Dio-Era Black Sabbath is “Not Black Sabbath”… is He Right?

  • Axl Rosenberg

Sabbath Vs SabbathHere’s a fun quote from a recent Songfacts interview with Zakk Wylde:

“You listen to Black Sabbath with Ronnie James Dio in it, and it’s not Black Sabbath. They should have just called it Heaven & Hell right from the beginning. Because you listen to that “Heaven and Hell” album, that doesn’t sound anything close to Black Sabbath. I mean, that sounds about as much like Black Sabbath as Blizzard of Ozz sounds like Black Sabbath. If you were to play Black Sabbath for me — and I’m a huge Sabbath freako — and then with Father Dio over there, I’d be going, “Oh, cool, what band is this? This is good stuff.” I mean, the songs don’t even sound Black Sabbath-y. I mean, “Neon Knights,” could you picture Ozzy singing over that song?…It’s weird. It’s a whole different band.”

I suspect this assertion is gonna make for some angry RJD fans… but I don’t think they should get too worked up. I love Dio-era Sabbath, but I also completely understand Wylde’s point — it really was a whole different thing from Ozzy-era Sabbath (I mean, for starters, Ronnie James Dio could sing). And he’s obviously not being disrespectful — I doubt that “Father Dio” was facetious.

[Semi-digression] Wylde is also speaking about a highly-idealized world all of which ignores the fairly simple reason most bands don’t change their names when they change their line-ups: branding. Guns N’ Roses’ quote will always be higher than Axl Rose & The Hired Guns (or whatever he might have chosen to call the band). Same would have applied to Sabbath with Ozzy back in the day. And I’m sure all parties involved would have much preferred that Heaven & Hell be called Black Sabbath; but even if everything went swimmingly for H&H, that’s following multiple albums as “Black Sabbath” which had been out for years and years. [/Semi-digression.]

SO! I’d like to know what you think. Do you agree with Wylde’s position that Dio-era Sabbath isn’t really Sabbath? Do you think he’s a fool? Do you not even like one of these two Sabbath incarnations? Vote in the poll below, then debate amongst yourselves in the comments section.


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